Sunday, September 30, 2007

Coke Cake (aka Tony's Favorite Cake)

This is Tony's absolute favorite cake! His birthday is tomorrow and when I asked what kind of cake he wanted he said "A Coke Cake, of course!". It's an old fashioned chocolate cake with a light chocolate flavor. It is definitely NOT a healthy cake- anything with equal parts flour and sugar and that includes both butter AND oil is going to be sweet and sinful! I suggested trying to make a Diet Coke Cake and Tony looked at me like I had lost my mind!

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3 T cocoa
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
1/2 cup small marshmallows
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs

1 box powdered sugar
3 T cocoa
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 t vanilla
1 cup pecans (optional)
6 T Coca-Cola

Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flour and sugar in large mixing bowl. Set aside. In small saucepan, bring the following to a boil; butter, cocoa, oil, and Coke. Remove from heat and add to the dry ingredients; mix by hand. Add vanilla, soda, marshmallows, sour cream, and eggs. Mix well. Bake in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan for 45 minutes.

Icing: Melt butter, cocoa, and Coke in small saucepan. Place powdered sugar in large bowl. Pour hot Coke mixture over sugar and stir till well mixed. Stir in vanilla and nuts. Pour over warm cake.

TIP OF THE DAY: While this cake is baking, start the icing but do NOT finish it. The icing needs to be warm and needs to be poured on the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. I use the same saucepan for the cake and icing- it includes the same ingredients so you don't even have to rinse it out. As soon as the cake goes in the oven, I put the cocoa, butter, and Coke in the saucepan and set it on the stove- but do not turn the burner on. The butter usually melts while it sits there. I get the powder sugar ready and when there are about 3 minutes left in the baking time, I turn it on and start the icing.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Swiss Chicken

This is an easy chicken recipe that even my chicken hating husband likes. The low prep time makes it a perfect weeknight meal.

1 package chicken tenderloins
2 cans cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup (I use the 98% fat free version)
1 cup Swiss cheese
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
1 package wide egg noodles

Boil noodles and set aside. Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken tenderloins with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and cook for 4 minutes on each side till done. Remove chicken from pan. To pan add soup and Swiss cheese. Cook over medium heat till bubbly. If sauce is too thick- add a bit of water to dilute. Turn heat down to low and add chicken. Simmer for 15 minutes- stirring often. Serve over wide egg noodles.

TIP OF THE DAY: When pressed for time, use wide egg noodles because the cooking time is much shorter than that of regular pasta. I buy the NO YOLK brand and just love them.

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Coke Cake

Friday, September 28, 2007

Everyday Biscuits

These simple biscuits are so easy you can make them EVERYday if you wanted to!

2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1/2 cup butter or shortening
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal.
If using a food processor, just pulse a few times until this consistency is achieved. Add the buttermilk and mix JUST until combined. If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk. Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Gently, gently PAT (carefully) the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick. Use a round glass dusted with flour to cut into rounds. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet- if you like soft sides, put them touching each other. If you like more crusty sides, put them about 1 inch apart- these will not rise as high as the biscuits put close together. Bake for about 10-12 minutes- the biscuits will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom.

TIP OF THE DAY: Do NOT over bake these and handle the dough as little as possible or you will have tough biscuits.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Swiss Chicken

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Debbie's Squash Casserole

This recipe is my friends Debbie's absolute favorite. In fact, she loves it so much that I kept the recipe a secret from her for years. I told her that instead of giving it to her- I would simply make it for her any and every time she wanted. When Tony and I started planning our wedding, she told me she wanted it the week we would be on our honeymoon. So, before leaving for our cruise, I made it and took it over to a friends house who delivered it to her while we were gone. I also gave her a copy of the recipe as a gift for being my maid of honor. I always think of her when I make this recipe. Even if you don't like squash, you will love this recipe!

1 pound yellow squash, sliced
1 pound green zucchini, sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup butter
7 1/2 ounces herbed dry bread stuffing mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook squash and onions in boiling salted water until tender. Drain and stir in 1/2 cup butter or margarine. Stir in sour cream, cream of chicken soup, cream of celery soup, and cheese. Set aside. Melt remaining 1/2 cup butter and stir it into the stuffing mix. Pour the squash mixture in 9 x 13 inch greased pan. Pour stuffing on top of squash mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Everyday Biscuits

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

SOUPer Simple Sausage and Beans

A big pot of beans is a wonderful and filling meal that my family absolutely loves. As the weather gets cooler, this meal appears more and more on the Long's dinner table along with some of Nana's Cornbread.

1 package dry pinto beans or mixed beans
1 small white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 package spicy venison (or any type) sausage
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
Creole seasoning, to taste
white or brown rice, prepared

Place beans in pot of water and rinse. Remove any beans that float to top. Drain water off and put beans in deep pot with 8-9 cups water. Bring to boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let set for 2 hours. Pour out water and add 3 quarts fresh water. Chop onion and garlic. Add to beans. Add salt, pepper and Creole seasoning. Cover and cook on low heat 4 hours. Stir often and add water as needed. Cut sausage in quarters. Add to beans and cook 45 minutes more. Be sure to stir beans occasionally while cooking. Serve over rice and with cornbread.

*This recipe is also fabulous with a ham bone included while cooking and diced ham instead of sausage.

TIP OF THE DAY: When putting beans on the stove to cook, also put a saucepan of water on low heat. When you need to add water to your beans, add the heated water. If you add cold water, your beans will break down and turn to mush!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Debbie's Squash Casserole

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Orange Slice Oatmeal Cookies

I made these cookies for the first time this weekend and they were a big hit! The combination of orange slice candies, oatmeal, and coconut are a fabulous one! When I make these again (and I will make these again), I plan to add some walnuts and make them in a 9 x 13 pan as a bar. YUMMY!

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped orange slices candy (I will increase this to 2 cups the next time I make these)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets with cooking spray. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in the oats, coconut and candy orange slices. Drop by spoonfuls (or cookie scoop) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool. Do not skip this step or the cookies will stick!

TIP OF THE DAY: The hardest part of this recipe is cutting up the orange slices because they are so sticky. To make it easier, sprinkle a little flour on your cutting board and knife so they won't stick together. Once you have cut them all up- mix them up with a bit of flour so that they do not stick together in the dough.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 8-10 minutes per batch

Tomorrow's Daily Special: SOUPer Simple Sausage and Beans

Monday, September 24, 2007

Apple Puffs

This is a super easy one bowl recipe that is light and yummy!

2 cups biscuit mix (I use the low fat kind)
1/4 cup sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 cup applesauce (I use cinnamon)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 T cooking oil
1 t vanilla

2 T butter or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
1 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine biscuit mix, sugar and cinnamon. Add applesauce, milk, egg, and oil. Beat vigorously for 1 minute. Fill greased muffin pan 2/3 full. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool slightly. Remove to cooling rack. Melt butter. Mix together sugar and cinnamon. Brush tops of puff with butter. Dip in cinnamon sugar.

TIP OF THE DAY: If you don't have a pastry brush in your kitchen, you really should invest in one. They can be used for so many things and only cost a few dollars. If you don't have one- just dip the tops of the puffs into the bowl of butter.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Orange Slice Oatmeal Cookies

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Questions and Answers

I've received a few questions over the past few months I've been posting recipes here and decided today was the day to try and answer them.

Could you add prep and cooking times to the recipes?
I absolutely can and will- when I remember to. Sometimes it's hard for me to determine how long prep takes because I often do prep work for two things while cooking something else and the time tends to run together. I am working on paying closer attention and noting both on each recipe. If it's not there- I'm trying to go back and add it after I have made the recipe again.

Do you actually make all of these recipes?
I have made all of the things I have posted on this blog- I won't post a recipe I haven't personally tried and liked. Most recipes each week are things I am currently making. All of the sweet things- which is what I most love to make- are things I make for school events, teacher treats, dance snacks, church events, parties, potlucks, or if we are having guests for dinner. So typically if you see a recipe for something sweet, I'm making it to take somewhere. This way- we get a taste but don't have it sitting here at home calling our names to eat it. Probably once a week I post a recipe that is something that I am not currently making but that is a tried and true recipe that I love.

And if you do, how come you don't weight a million pounds?
This question cracked me up! Sometimes I feel like I weight a million pounds but basically I don't eat much of what I bake- although I do try everything (or have one of my testers try it) to make sure it turned out okay. That's something I would suggest to everyone- never serve something to guests that you haven't tried yourself. I love to cook but mostly for other people so the joy I get is not in eating the things I bake- but in seeing others enjoy those things.

What happened to the pictures?
I have been struggling with some stomach issues for the past 5+ weeks and as a result have not had my usual amount of energy. I've still been cooking and posting recipes, but had basically gotten lazy and not added pictures (although I have taken a few- which I will go back and add now). I know I personally love seeing pictures of items I am making (my favorite cookbooks have pictures) and promise to start posting them!

Where do you get all of your recipes?
Many are my grandmothers and mothers and many are from cookbooks. My mother was a cookbook junkie and I inherited her addiction- as well as all of her cookbooks. I usually make the recipe once as written in a cookbook and then adapt it the second time. Some recipes I simply make up- usually as a combination of two recipes.

Okay, so now I have a few requests for you!

A few of you leave comments and I often get emails from friends who read and tell me they tried something I posted here. What I would love to ask you to do is to post a comment on a recipe after you try it to let me know how it worked and if you liked it. You won't love every recipe you read here and that's okay. I'd like to hear about your successes and failures. If the recipe doesn't work for you- maybe we can figure out why together.

Secondly, if you have a cooking question or something that you would like me to post a recipe for- leave me a comment (or email me) and let me know. I literally have millions of recipes and probably have the recipe you are looking for!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Applesauce Puffs

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nana's Cornbread

I have to admit it- I am a cornbread SNOB! I will only eat my mother's cornbread recipe. I truly don't like any other. It's what I was raised on and all others pale in comparison. The biggest difference is that you use white cornmeal- not yellow- and that seems to make a huge difference.

1 cup white cornmeal
1 t salt
1 T baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup flour
3/4 t baking soda
1 T sugar
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a tablespoon of cooking oil in a cast iron skillet and heat in oven. Mix all dry ingredients together. Stir in egg and buttermilk. Pour into hot skillet. Bake for 20-30 minutes until nicely brown.

TIP OF THE DAY: Cornbread in a cast iron skillet is the BEST way to make it because the cast iron skillet creates a crunchy edge that is soooo yummy! But if you don't have a cast iron skillet it can be made in a 9 x 9 pan or if you double the recipe- a 9 x 13 pan.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Questions and Answers

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nutty Orange Coffee Cake

This is a Paula Deen recipe and it is GREAT! Of course I think all Paula Deen recipes are great, but this one really is a yummy breakfast dish! Tony and his dad are going to my dad's to go hunting this weekend and it's one of the breakfast treats going along with them!

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 t orange zest
2 (12 ounce) cans refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
, sifted
2 T fresh orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees . In a small bowl, combine the sugar, pecans, and zest; set aside. Score and cut the cream cheese into 20 equal pieces, approximately 3/4 teaspoons each. Separate the biscuits. Place about 3/4 teaspoon cream cheese in the center of each biscuit. Fold each biscuit in half over the cheese, pressing the edges to seal. Dip the biscuits in melted butter, then in the granulated sugar mixture. Place the biscuits, curved-side down, in a single layer in the hollows of a lightly greased 12-cup bundt pan, spacing them evenly (do not stack). Place any remaining biscuits around the tube, filling any gaps. Drizzle any remaining butter over the biscuits, and sprinkle with any remaining sugar mixture. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Immediately invert the cake onto a serving platter. Combine the confectioners' sugar and orange juice, stirring well; drizzle the glaze over the warm cake. Serve warm.

TIP OF THE DAY: This can also be made in a 9 x 13 inch pan. I just used three cans of biscuits and a little less cream cheese in each biscuit and it worked perfectly! Another option is to omit the orange zest and orange juice. In it's place you can add maple flavoring.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Nana's Cornbread

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cinnamon Roll French Toast

This is a great breakfast dish to make for guests. Tony loves it almost as much as he does Monkey Bread- which is saying A LOT!

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 cans Pillsbury Refrigerated Cinnamon Rolls with Icing
6 eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup maple syrup
Icing from cinnamon rolls
Powdered sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour melted butter into ungreased 13x9-inch glass or metal baking dish. Separate both cans of dough into 16 rolls; set icing aside. Cut each roll into 8 pieces; place pieces over butter in dish. In medium bowl, beat eggs. Beat in cream, cinnamon and vanilla until well blended; gently pour over roll pieces. Sprinkle with pecans; drizzle with 1 cup syrup. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 28 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Meanwhile, remove covers from icing; microwave on medium for 10 to 15 seconds or until drizzling consistency. Drizzle icing over top; sprinkle with powdered sugar. If desired, spoon syrup from dish over individual servings. Serve with the additional 1/2 cup maple syrup.

TIP OF THE DAY: Do not try to use regular syrup with this recipe. It's really important for this recipe to have the real maple syrup flavor. Spend the extra dollar to buy real maple syrup and I promise you will NOT be disappointed!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Nutty Orange Coffee Cake

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


This recipe is so easy that the first time I read it I thought- that will NOT be that good. I was also hesitant because I like pineapple but just wasn't sure it would be good in a dessert. But I made it and boy was I wrong. It's SUPER EASY and so yummy out of the oven with ice cream or cool whip. You do not taste the pineapple at all because it's so mixed in. The best part about it is that with only a few ingredients it's easy to have all these things on hand in your pantry when you need to make a last minute dessert.

1 yellow cake mix (I usually use the butter recipe yellow)
1 can crushed pineapple with juice
1 can any flavor pie filling
1 and 1/2 sticks of butter
Chopped nuts (optional)
Coconut (optional)
Vanilla ice cream or Cool Whip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray. Dump can of pineapple (juice and all) in pan. Next dump pie filling over pineapple. DO NOT MIX. (That's why it's called a DUMP cake :) Sprinkle cake mix over pineapple and pie filling. Slice butter into pats and place over cake mix or melt butter and pour over top. Sprinkle nuts and coconut on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes until browned and bubbly. Best served warm!

TIP OF THE DAY: To totally change this cake, you cake use different kinds of cake mix and pie filling. Chocolate cake mix and cherry pie filling is yummy as is spice cake mix and apple pie filling. Don't be afraid to experiment.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Cinnamon Roll French Toast

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Spicy Potato Chip Chicken

This is a variation of a Weight Watcher recipe I got a few years ago and it is one of my family's favorites. It's speedy, spicy, and as a bonus- healthy!

1 package chicken tenderloins
2 cups Baked Potato Chips (I use Lay's)
Tony's Chachere's Famous Creole Seasoning (or any other seasoning you prefer)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Place potato chips and seasonings (as much or as little as your family prefers- be careful if using Tony's- I used too much one day and our chicken was so spicy that Tony almost couldn't eat it) in large Ziploc bag. Seal the bag and crush up chips using your hands or the back of a wooden spoon. Lay chicken tenders out on a piece of wax paper and spray with cooking spray. Turn over and spray other side. Place chicken pieces in the bag a few at a time and shake to coat. Lay on foil lined cookie sheet. I usually sprinkle any remaining potato chip mixture on top of chicken tenders before baking. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping once during baking, until chicken fingers are golden brown. One serving would be 4 WW points.

TIP OF THE DAY: To skip the seasoning step in this recipe and make it even easier, just use flavored baked potato chips like BBQ or sour cream and onion. Your kids will love it!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: SUPER EASY Dump Cake

Monday, September 17, 2007

Banana Nut Cake

When I have bananas that are a little too ripe, I almost always make this cake to take to work and share. It's a yummy cake and a nice change from traditional banana bread.

3 cups sugar
1 cup shortening, butter, or oil (I use butter)
2 t vanilla
4 whole eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
2 t soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 c buttermilk
6 small bananas
1 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream shortening, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time. Sift flour, soda, and salt together and alternately with milk. Mash bananas and add; then add nuts. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan. Let stand 20 minutes. Bake for 1 and 1/2 hours.

TIP OF THE DAY: When making a cake (especially a bundt cake) use Baker's Joy cooking spray. It is hands down the BEST cooking spray EVER. It greases and flours your pan and your cake will pop out PERFECTLY ever single time. It's a bit pricier than normal cooking spray but so worth it because you will never have to grease and flour a pan again!!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Spicy Potato Chip Chicken

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches

This is a great crock pot recipe for a busy day. Just toss all of the ingredients inside and turn it on. When you get home at the end of the day, your house will smell fabulous and dinner will be ready.

1 pork roast
1 small white onion, diced
1 bottle BBQ sauce
garlic powder
minced onion
1 cup water (I actually just fill the BBQ sauce bottle with water to get all of the BBQ sauce out)

Spray crock pot with cooking spray. Place roast in crock pot and cover with remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Pull pork apart with fork and serve on buns with coleslaw for a great dinner!

TIP OF THE DAY: To make any BBQ dish that was made inside taste like it was cooked outside, add a tiny bit of Liquid Smoke- which can be found near the spices at the grocery store. A tiny bit will make it seem like your meat was smoked outside for hours. I add it to this roast as well as to a brisket or ribs I cook in the oven.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Banana Nut Cake

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Eclair Cake

This is one of the easiest desserts I know how to make and is perfect for taking to a potluck dinner. It's so yummy and tastes just like an eclair!

2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip, thawed
3 cups milk
1 (16 ounce) package graham crackers
1 (16 ounce) can chocolate frosting

In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the pudding mix, Cool Whip, and milk. Arrange a single layer of graham cracker squares in the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking pan. Evenly spread half of the pudding mixture over the crackers. Top with another layer of crackers and the remaining pudding mixture. Top with a final layer of graham crackers. Spread the frosting over the whole cake up to the edges of the pan. Cover, and chill at least 4 hours before serving.

TIP OF THE DAY: To make frosting easier to spread on a 9 x 13 inch cake that you are planning to leave in the pan, simply place the frosting in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. It easily melts and you can simply pour it on instead of using a knife.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches

Friday, September 14, 2007

Apple Brownies with Buttery Cinnamon Frosting

My mom used to make these and they always remind me of fall. The recipe below only makes a 9 x 9 pan but I always double it and make a 9 x 13 inch pan and 4-6 muffins. (You will have to increase the baking time as well) The frosting is VERY rich so I do NOT double it.

2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

1 cup finely chopped apples
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts)

1 stick butter, softened
1 T cinnamon
1 box powdered sugar
1 T vanilla

For brownies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together sugars and butter; add eggs and vanilla. In large mixing bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to sugar mixture and mix well. With wooden spoon (called the spanking spoon in our house) stir in apples and nuts. Spread in greased 9 x 9 inch pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Frost with Buttery Cinnamon Frosting.

For frosting:
Cream butter. Add cinnamon and powdered sugar. Add vanilla and enough milk to reach spreading consistency. Spread over warm apple brownies.

TIP OF THE DAY: Instead of chopping up nuts in a mini chopper or food processor, simply place them in a ziploc baggie (not fully sealed) and beat with a meat mallet or rolling pin. If I am using a whole package of nuts, I simply do this while they are still in their original bag.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Saturday Surprise (ie I don't know yet :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Strawberry Bread

This is a great change from traditional banana nut bread.

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
4 eggs, well-beaten
1 t. salt
2 (10 oz) packages strawberries
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 c. chopped pecans (or any other nuts)
1 1/4 c. vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together baking soda, flour, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Place into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Place strawberries with juice, eggs, oil and pecans in the well. Stir until all ingredients are moistened. Pour into 2 loaf pans sprayed with cooking spray. Bake in 350 degree oven for 60-70 minutes, testing after 60 minutes. Cool in pans 30 minutes before turning onto cooling rack. Bread freezes well.

TIP OF THE DAY: When you make breads like this one that are pretty hearty, double the batch and freeze them for another day.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Apple Brownies with Buttery Cinnamon Frosting

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Candy Bar Brownies

These brownies are very easy and very gooey! The great thing about them is they take only a few simple items and can be changed simply by using a different type of candy bar.

1 (18.25 ounce) package German chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup melted butter
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
4 (2.16 ounce) bars chocolate candy bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cake mix with melted butter or margarine and condensed milk. Spread out 1/2 of the mixture into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Slice candy bars into little slices. Lay these on top of the baked crust. With the remaining batter-place it on top of the candy bars. I usually get my hands wet or spray them with cooking spray, then pick up some dough and pat it down and lay it over the candy bar layer. You won't be able to cover the entire pan and that's okay. Put pan back into the oven and bake it for another 20 minutes.

TIP OF THE DAY: Buy the long flat packages of 8 little candy bars when they are on sale for $1.00 (which is so much cheaper than the little ones in a bag) and throw them in the freezer to use in recipes like these. Depending on how much your family loves chocolate, you might have to hide them! :)

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Strawberry Bread

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mexican Lasagna

This is one of my family's favorite Mexican dishes. It's a great make ahead dinner that provides lots of leftovers.

1 lb. lean ground beef or chicken
1 small onion, diced
2 cans refried beans (I use fat free)
1 to 1 1/2 cup salsa
1 (8 oz) container sour cream (I use low fat)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I use 2%)
12 flour tortillas (I use low carb)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef or chicken with onions in large Dutch oven. Drain meat and return to pan. Add beans, salsa, and sour cream. Mix till combined and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring often. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Cut tortillas into wedges. Spoon a small amount of meat mixture in pan and spread to cover bottom. Layer tortilla wedges to cover bottom of pan. Spoon 1/2 of meat mixture on top of tortillas. Spread 1/3 of cheese over meat mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining tortillas and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

TIP OF THE DAY: When covering a dish with foil that is topped with cheese- spray the foil with cooking spray before putting it on top of the pan. It keeps the cheese from sticking.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Candy Bar Brownies

Monday, September 10, 2007

Snickerdoodle Muffins

As much as I love Snickerdoodle cookies, when I saw this recipe for Snickerdoodle Muffins- I just knew I had to try it! Even though I couldn't taste any of them (my tummy does not like food right now) they were a BIG hit with both my family and Madison's teachers.

2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp cream of tarter
1 and ¼ cup sour cream
2 and ¼ cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup sugar and 2 TBSP cinnamon mixed together for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar until soft about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix until each is incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and cream of tarter. Add the flour mixture and the sour cream alternately to the egg-butter mixture. Start with the flour and end with the flour. Scrape the bowl occasionally. Using a cookie scoop or an ice cream scoop, scoop out muffin batter one at a time and drop into a shallow bowl filled with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the muffin around in the mixture until it is covered completely in cinnamon sugar. Place muffin in muffin tin sprayed with cooking spray. I made mini muffins and got 48 tiny muffins but if you use a regular muffin tin, you should get about 12 to 14 muffins. Bake them for approx. 12-15 minutes for mini muffins and 20-22 minutes for regular muffins in a 350 degree oven or until they are golden brown. Do NOT overbake.

TIP OF THE DAY: If you don't want to take the time to sift the flour for a recipe, simply put your flour in a bowl and fluff it up by mixing it gently with a fork.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Mexican Lasagna

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Lemonade Cookies

These lemon cookies are so moist and lemony! They are nice change from the normal chocolate chip, oatmeal, or peanut butter cookies. Madison and I made these today to take them to a nearby nursing home since today is National Grandparents Day. They were a big hit!

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 t baking soda
6 oz. can lemonade- divided in half (pink lemonade also works great)
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven at 400 degrees. Cream butter and sugar with mixer. Add eggs and mix till combined well. Sift flour and soda together. Add to butter mixture alternating with 1/2 the lemonade (3oz). Drop dough using teaspoon or cookie scoop on cookie sheet. Bake 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately brush tops with remaining lemonade. Sprinkle with sugar. Place waxed paper between stored cookies so they don't stick together.

TIP OF THE DAY: It's very difficult to find lemonade in a 6oz. can so I usually buy a large can and divide it. I freeze the extra portion for use later or simply double the batch.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Snickerdoodle Muffins

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Bacon and Cheddar Dip

This is a fabulous and easy way to spice up plain ranch dip. It's great with veggies like carrots and celery as well as with chips.

1 pt sour cream (I use reduced fat)
1 oz. packet Hidden Valley Original Ranch Party Dip
6-8 slices bacon (I use turkey bacon when I can get away with it :)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook bacon till crisp. Cool and crumble into small pieces. Mix sour cream and ranch dip mix. Stir in bacon pieces and cheese. Mix together and serve with veggies or chips.

TIP OF THE DAY: When in a time crunch, this recipe (along with many others that call for crumbled bacon) works great with bacon bits or precooked bacon in place of bacon.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Lemonade Cookies

Friday, September 7, 2007

Corn Casserole

My family (minus me) loves corn and this is a great alternative to corn on the cob.

1 pkg Mexican corn bread mix (I use Jiffy brand)
1/2 cup cooking oil or 1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cans cream style corn
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1-2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients well in large bowl. Spray 9 x 13 inch pan or 1 quart baking dish. Pour mixture into pan and bake for 45-60 minutes. Do not over bake- the more you bake this, the more like cornbread it becomes.

TIP OF THE DAY: Shredded cheese can be frozen for up to 2 months, so when you catch it on sale, buy an extra package, write the date on it with a Sharpie, and toss it in the freezer.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Bacon and Cheddar Dip

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Turtle Cake

If you love turtle candies, you are going to LOVE this cake. It's a little time consuming to make- but so worth it!

1 box German chocolate cake mix (w/ pudding)
All items listed on cake mix to make cake
½ can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
½ stick butter, melted

½ can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
½ stick butter
½ cup chopped pecans
1 package caramels, unwrapped

1 stick butter
¼ cup cocoa
¼ cup milk
1 box powdered sugar

Mix cake mix as directed on box, adding ½ can Eagle brand milk and ½ cup melted butter to batter. Bake in 2 round (greased and floured) pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool in pans for 20 minutes then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

For filling melt caramels, ½ can Eagle brand milk, ½ stick butter over medium heat, stirring often. Stir until melted and then stir in pecans. Place one cake layer on a cake plate with wax paper around edges (this is important!). Pour half of filing over cake. Carefully put second layer on top of first layer, and repeat process. The filing is liquid and will spill over the sides so be careful. When filling has cooled and hardened, run a knife around the edge of the cake and remove wax paper along with extra filling.

For icing, combine butter and cocoa in mixer until well mixed. Add milk and then slowly add powdered sugar. Mix until frosting consistency- add extra milk if necessary and frost cake.

TIP OF THE DAY: Rather than putting a whole sheet of wax paper under a cake while frosting it- and then trying to transfer the cake,use small strips of wax paper. Tear off three narrow strips and angle one under each side- scooting it to cover about 1/3 of the edge of the cake. When you finish frosting the cake, carefully remove the wax paper strips to leave a clean plate!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Corn Casserole

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mushroom Pork Chops and Potatoes

My sweet mother made this often and it's one of my little family's favorites. My dad often requests this when I come to visit because he loves it and misses it so much!

4-6 lean pork chops with bones
4 baking potatoes
1 cup sour cream (I use low fat)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (I use low fat)
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown pork chops in large frying pan- about 4 minutes on each side. Do not worry about cooking them completely- they will finish cooking while in the oven. Wash and peel potatoes. Slice potatoes in thin slices. In large bowl mix sour cream, soup, onion and mushrooms. Add potato slices and mix till combined. Add more salt and pepper if desired. Spray 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray. Pour potato mixture into pan and then place pork chops on top. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

TIP OF THE DAY: To cut the cooking time down on this dish, peel potatoes, boil them briefly, and then cut into small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the less time it takes to cook.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Turtle Cake

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Fruit Dip

This simple dip is so yummy- you will want to eat it by the spoonful! I have to only make it to take somewhere because I could sit down and eat the entire bowl by myself!

1 cup sugar
1 cup pineapple juice (drained from a can of pineapple chunks)
2 T flour
1 egg
8 oz container fat-free Cool Whip
Fresh fruit (sliced apples, pineapple, strawberries, grapes, cantaloupe, mandrian oranges, bananas)

Beat together sugar, pineapple juice, flour and egg. Cook over medium heat in small saucepan until thickens- stirring constantly. You'll know it's done when it changes from cloudy to clear. Chill. Fold in Cool Whip and serve with fruit.

TIP OF THE DAY: When trying to hull a strawberry, use a drinking straw. Poke the straw through the end of the strawberry and it will easily and cleanly poke out the top- leaving you with a pretty berry!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Mushroom Pork Chops and Potatoes

Monday, September 3, 2007

Monkey Bread

We used to have this every Christmas morning at my grandmother's house so it's a recipe that has great memories attached to it for me. It's now one of Tony's favorites so it gets made just about every time we have company come to town.

4 cans biscuits
1 stick butter or margarine, melted
2 t cinnamon
1 cup sugar

1 stick butter,melted
1/2 cup brown sugar

Cut biscuits into quarters. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Spray bundt pan with cooking spray. Dip biscuit pieces into butter and then into cinnamon/sugar mixture. Drop covered pieces in pan. Mix melted butter with brown sugar and any remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture. Pour over biscuits in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Place platter on top of pan and VERY carefully flip over. Be sure the platter has an edge as the hot syrup like mixture will spread out.

TIP OF THE DAY: Make this the night before, cover with foil, and place in the refrigerator. When you wake up, immediately take it out of the fridge and let it sit for about 20 minutes before baking or be sure to add about 20 minutes baking time.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Fruit Dip

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Banana Pudding Bread

This is great alternative to banana nut bread and not only tastes great, it smells super yummy too! If you love banana pudding, you will love this too!

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
30 vanilla wafers, finely crushed
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts, divided

Beat butter in mixer at medium speed till creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time; beating after each one. Combine flour and next three ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with banana and milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix at low speed after each addition. Stir in 3/4 cup walnuts. Spoon batter into a greased and floured loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes- 1 hour or till a toothpick comes out clean- loosely covering with foil after 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.

TIP OF THE DAY: When you have bananas that are overly ripe- instead of throwing them away, peel them and place them in a freezer bag and freeze them. When you get the urge to make banana bread or a banana cake, just take a bag out of the freezer and let it thaw in refrigerator!

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Monkey Bread

Shrimp Dip

This is one of the best dips EVER! Even people who don't like shrimp love this dip. It's a family favorite.

1 lb. shrimp, boiled , peeled
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
salt and pepper
dash lemon juice

Finely chop onion and garlic in food processor. Add shrimp, cream cheese, lemon juice, and spices. Fold in mayonnaise. Serve with Fritos.

TIP OF THE DAY: In a recipe like this, use frozen shrimp which is much cheaper than fresh shrimp. I watch for them to go on sale at Kroger and try to always keep a bag in the freezer.

Tomorrow's Daily Special: Banana Pudding Bread