Monday, July 27, 2015

4th of July Layered Jello Salad:

Someday, I will be ahead of the game, and post a holiday recipe BEFORE the holiday is over.
In the meantime, though, here's a great recipe to add to your collection for next year!!
I love Jello salads, as I've stated many times before, and I also LOVE the 4th of July!!
So when I see a red, white and blue jello recipe, I'm all over it!!
This was super simply to make, and really yummy!
The yogurt in the middle layer may seem strange, but you can't really taste it. It just helps to make a really nice, creamy layer, which compliments the jello layers perfectly!
I hope you try it out!!

(Sorry, not the best picture, but the bowl was cold, so it just kept fogging!)

1 (3 oz.) pkg. blue Jello
1 (3 oz.) pkg. red Jello
1 envelope Knox gelatin
1 cup vanilla Greek Yogurt

Important Notes:
-Make sure to allow the white layer, and red layer to come to room temperature before adding them to the other layers. Otherwise they could melt through the previous layer, which is not beautiful!
-When pouring the white layer onto the blue layer, or the red layer onto the white layer, be careful to pour slowly, so that you don't make a whole into the next layer. Again, not pretty!

In a medium bowl, mix blue jello with 1 cup boiling water. Stir until gelatin is dissolved. Add 1/2 cup ice and stir until melted. Pour into serving dish. Chill until completely set.
Place Knox gelatin in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup cold water, and stir lightly; set aside.
Place yogurt in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup boiling water and mix with a hand mixer until well combined. Add Know gelatin mixture and mix well. Let stand until mixture reaches room temperature, stirring occasionally. Pour slowly and gently over blue layer in serving bowl. Chill until completely set.
In a medium bowl, mix red jello with 1 cup boiling water. Stir until gelatin is dissolved. Add 1/2 cup ice and stir until melted. Let stand until mixture reaches room temperature, stirring occasionally. Pour slowly and gently over white layer in serving bowl. Chill until completely set, preferably over night.

-You could definitely use other colors of jello and make it for different holidays and occasions, as well.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Chocolate Chip Raspberry Muffins:

We have had so much rain where I live lately! I'm normally all about the rainy days, but even I'm starting to wish for a little sun now and then! Last month, we only had 6 days without rain. So far, this month, it's rained every single day!
But I'm thankful for the rain, and I know other places would love to have it, so I'm not complaining!
One thing about rainy days, though, is it just makes me want to bake!
I was craving muffins one morning, and decided to give these a try. I'm not normally crazy about raspberries (I don't like the fuzzy feeling on the roof of my mouth!), but I loved them in these muffins!
They were light and fluffy, yet yummy!
And they tasted so perfect on this dreary, rainy day!
But, rain or shine, and with or without the glaze, I hope you'll give these a try!!

1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 & 3/4 cup Flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
3/4 cup sugar
1 tblsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)

1/3 cup powder sugar

In a large bowl, whisk together butter, milk and eggs. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, xanthan gum, sugar, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips. Slowly pour dry mixture into milk mixture, stirring with a spatula as you pour. Mix just until combined.
Add berries, and stir very gently to incorporate.
Using an ice cream scoop, pour into paper-lined muffin cups.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and muffins are very light golden brown.
Let cool in pans for 10 minute.
Place a cooling rack over a piece of wax paper, and transfer the muffins from the pans to the cooling wrack. Let stand 10 more minutes.
Mix up glaze by adding milk to the powder sugar, one teaspoon at a time, until mixture reaches a thick, yet pour-able consistency.
Drizzle over muffins and let stand for about 5 minutes until glaze is set.
Serve or let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

-If you do not want these to be gluten-free, just use regular flour, and omit the xanthan gum.
-I love my muffins to have a slightly crunchy top, so after these were done baking, I actually put them under the broiler for just a minute, to give them a darker brown color and to make the tops just a tad crispy. 

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Dirt Dessert:

My Grandma used to make this recipe all the time. I remember her bringing it to a lot of church events. She generally would layer it in a brand-new flower pot, and put fake flowers in the top to give it the full "dirt" affect!
It had been so long since I had eaten any, and I had never actually made it.
Someone requested it for the 4th of July, so I thought why not!!
I was really happy with how fast and easy it was to make! I always thought it was one of those things that took a while to put together, but I was so wrong!
As you can tell from the picture below, we got our gluten-free sandwich cookies at Walmart. We have also tried the "Glutino" brand, and they are good as well!

With all the picnics, family reunions and get-together's that happen around this time of year, this is an excellent dessert that can be made way ahead AND feeds a crowd!
I hope you give this recipe a try this summer! I don't think you'll be disappointed!

2 ( 10.6 oz.) pkg. Gluten-Free chocolate sandwich cookies
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 cup powder sugar
3 & 1/2 cups milk
2 ( 3.4 oz.) boxes vanilla pudding mix
12 oz. container Whipped topping

Place cookies in a food processor, and pulse into crumbs; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, cream cheese, and powder sugar; set aside.
In another bowl, mix together milk and pudding mix. Fold in whipped topping.
Add cream cheese mixture to pudding mixture, and stir until well combined (I actually used a hand mixer for this).
Layer 1/3 of the cookie crumbs in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Press out evenly.
Pour half of the cream mixture over the cookies and gently spread out evenly.
Repeat, ending with cookies.
Allow to chill overnight before serving. 

-If you do not want this dish to be gluten-free, simply substitute a family-size package of regular Oreo's for the gluten-free cookies.
-This can also be frozen. Just allow to thaw for an hour or so before serving.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Baked Spaghetti:

I am generally a pretty big fan of spaghetti as it is, but I really love this.
Just a simple twist on spaghetti, yet adding cheese always makes everything even better!
Easy to half, double and/or make-ahead, I hope you give it a try!!

1 package Spaghetti Pasta
1 & 1/2 cups of your favorite Spaghetti Sauce
1 & 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped

The pasta I like to use, cooks for 7 minutes. For this dish, I cook it for 4 minutes, so that is doesn't turn too mushy when I bake it.
So cook your pasta according to the package directions, just until it starts to bend and curl, but not cooked completely; drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
In a skillet, brown beef and onion until beef is no longer pink; drain.
In a large bowl, combine meat, onions, sauce and cheese. Mix well. Add pasta and toss to combine. Place in a greased, 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with an additional 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

-This could easily be made a meatless dish, by simply leaving out the ground beef, if you wanted.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Homemade Crunch Candy Bar:

I was recently asked what my favorite candy bar is, and I honestly had no clue! I had really never thought about it before! I tend to like a wide variety of things, including candy bars!
As I was thinking about it, I realized that it would probably be next to impossible to actually pick a favorite, but there are a few that I really, really like.
Crunch Bars would definitely be one of them! I love the simple factor of them...just creamy chocolate and crunchy rice crispy's.
So when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to give it a try! The fact that the ingredient list was 2 ingredients long, made me both excited and nervous!
However, they turned out SO good!!
Extremely easy to make, and so delicious!!

But I'm rather embarrassed to admit that I have a cooking dilema. I can't melt chocolate in the microwave. I burn it every.single.time no matter what I do.
However, I seem to have success whenever I melt it over the stove.
So I have included both microwave AND stove-top instructions, just in case, by some chance, there is someone else out there who struggles with melting chocolate as well!!
Either way, though, I hope you give this recipe a try!

2 (12 oz) packages chocolate chips
1 & 1/2 cups rice crispy cereal

Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with foil and coat with cooking spray; set aside.

Microwave directions:
Place chocolate in a microwave safe dish. Microwave for 1 minute; stir.
Continue cooking and stirring in 30 second intervals, until chocolate is melted.
Add cereal and stir until well combined.

Stove-top directions:
Place chocolate in a medium saucepan. Cook and stir constantly over medium-low heat (I set my stove on 3) until chocolate is almost melted.
When there are still some small chunks of chocolate left, remove from the heat, and continue to stir until completely melted.
Add cereal and stir until well combined.

Pour into a prepared pan and spread out evenly. Chill for at least 30 minutes or until set. Remove from the pan and take off the foil. Cut or brake in pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

-You can use milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate...whatever you like!

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Monday, June 22, 2015

The BEST Rice Crispy Treats:

I know. 
A recipe for rice crispy treats? Really? 
You can find that on just about every bag of marshmallows and every box of rice crispy cereal out there. 
That's what I thought too. 
Until I got tired of wishing I was eating a store-bought Kellogg's rice crispy treat, rather than the dry, hard homemade ones.
So I went searching.
And I'm SO excited to share what I found!!
There is really nothing super special about this recipe, and it's just as easy to make as any other rice crispy treat recipe. It's just that it tastes WAY better!!
These are so fluffy and soft and chewy and mouth is watering just thinking about them!
I won't be making rice crispy treats any other way from now on!
Hope you give them a try!!

10 cups rice crispy cereal
2 (10oz.) packages mini marshmallows
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1 & 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Measure exactly 10 cups of cereal into a large bowl; set aside.
Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with foil. Lightly coat with cooking spray and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, reduce heat to medium- low and add marshmallows, vanilla and salt. Stir continually until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth.
Pour marshmallow mixture over the cereal. Stir quickly, but make sure that all the cereal is well coated.
Pour into prepared pan and press down with a spatula. Then use the bottom of a glass or something sturdy and flat, and press down all over the mixture to make it as even as possible.
Let rest at room temperature until cool and set. Remove from the pan and discard the foil. Cut into squares and serve or store in an airtight container.

-The heat at which the better and marshmallows are melted is very important. If it's too hot, the better will almost scorch the marshmallows and they will melt too fast. This results are not a smooth and creamy consistency like you want.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Cake-Mix Banana Muffins:

When I first saw a recipe similar to this, I couldn't see how it would ever possibly work.
Plus, I mean, dry cake mix, mixed with bananas? Even if it did work, it wouldn't taste all that great.
However, my mom was going on a business trip, and wanted muffins to take with her. I didn't have much time at all, but oddly, we had a cake mix and several bananas that either had to be used or thrown out, so I gave in and tried them out.
All I can say is, I'm glad I did! They had a completely unexpected consistency and taste.
And they were just really good! I don't even know how to describe them, but I hope you'll try them out! 

4 medium size ripe bananas
1 yellow or white gluten-free cake mix
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips, mini or regular, optional

Place bananas in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add cake mix and cinnamon and pulse until well combined (you may need to scrape down the sides and across the bottom with a spatula, depending on how well your food processor mixes things.) Stir in chocolate chips, if desired, by hand.
Fill paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full - I use a cookie scoop for the mini-size and an ice cream scoop for the regular-size muffin cups.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until lightly golden brown and toothpick inserted in the centers out clean.
Remove from the pans, and cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

-As you can tell, I didn't use chocolate chips, but I'm sure they would taste great!
-I've read of some people using a chocolate cake mix instead! Just omit the cinnamon.
-After these cool, the tops are pretty sticky, so I would recommend layering them with wax paper, if you have to stack them in a container.
-This recipe can of course be made with a regular, wheat cake mix as well.

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Double-Chocolate Cookies:

I'm not a chocoholic like some people, but I do usually enjoy it, and I really like dark chocolate.
Every now and then, I get a craving for a nice piece of something "chocolaty."
I'm not talking about wanting to eat a whole cake by myself or something like that. 
Just a bite or two will do!
When I saw the recipe for these cookies, I wanted to try it, but honestly, I was concerned that they might be a little over-the-top in the chocolate department. I know some people think that's not even a possibility, but for me, it could be!
However, they turned out really good! They have a little fudge-like consistency, are pretty thin, and are great as is or with a filling or something.
Whether you're a chocoholic lover, or just enjoy some chocolate here and there, I hope you'll give these a try!

1 pound of chocolate chips, see note
2 cups flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 & 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. strong brewed coffee, see note
2 tsp. vanilla

In a microwave safe dish, melt the chocolate by heating at 30 second intervels and stirring well in between each one; set aside.
Combine flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended.
In a stand mixer, beat together butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add vanilla and coffee; mix well.
Pour the chocolate into the mixing bowl and mix well.
Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Cover and let stand for 35 minutes to let the chocolate harden.
Using a cookie scoop, drop onto greased cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. They probably won't look done, but take them out anyways.
Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 
Fill with your favorite icing, filling, peanut butter, etc., if you want or leave them plain.
Store in an airtight container.

-The chocolate chips can be semi-sweet or milk chocolate
-One pound is roughly between 2 & 1/4 - 2 & 1/2 cups. I have a small kitchen scale, so I measured them by weight, which is what I would recommend.
-You could also use 2 tsp. of instant coffee granules, if you prefer. Otherwise, you will want to brew some coffee, because regular coffee granules will not dissolve, and that will taste disgusting!
-I filled mine with THIS Oreo cookie filling.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

My Grandma's Sloppy Joe's:

So, I really like Sloppy Joe's. A lot. I always have. It used to be something we had a lot during the Fall (I'm sure we had them other times, too, it's just that time of year stands out to me!). Dad liked to go hunting, and where I live, that means it was cold! So mom would generally make Sloppy Joe's and have them in the crock-pot, ready for whenever Dad would pop in for something to eat. And as a side note, that was before we had cell phones, so it's not like he could call and say he was on his way. I just thought that was kind of an odd, funny, weird, random thing that I wanted to point out.
Anyways, I've been making this recipe for Sloppy Joe's for years now, but as it turns out, it's been the wrong recipe!! Not the one my mom used to make!
So I dug up the old recipe and decided to try it out!
They turned out fantastic, actually, and pretty much my entire family loved them way more than what I've been making! I still like the old version too, but this one definitely brings back more memories!!
I hope you try them out and enjoy them as much as we do!

3 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 tblsp. sugar
1 tblsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1 bottle Heinz Chili sauce

Brown beef in a large skillet until no longer pink; drain. Meanwhile, place celery and onion in a microwave safe dish and cover with water. Microwave on high until the water begins to boil - allow to boil for 30 seconds; drain. Add celery and onion mixture to ground beef and stir until well combined. In a small dish, whisk together tomato sauce, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add to beef mixture. Pour the chili sauce into the meat mixture. Fill the bottle 1/2 full of water and shake well; add to meat mixture. Cook and stir over low heat. Cover and simmer until ready to serve.

-How fine you chop your celery and onion is up to you, but please don't leave it out! It adds SO much flavor!
-Prepare this ahead of time and place it in the crockpot on warm or low until ready to serve!
-This freezes really, really well.
-We love this served on a slice of THIS BREAD.
-Some of us also like to add a slice of cheese, but that's purely optional!
-This amount would serve my family for two meals, so I like to make it once, and freeze half for another day.

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Butterscotch Blondies:

We used to make these ALL the time. I think we had them so much that we didn't want to make them anymore and so we kind of forgot about them.
I needed a dessert to take to a friends house the other week, and it seemed like we were out of everything, of course!! I had no chocolate chips, no cocoa powder...and of course I could only think of desserts that took one or both of those ingredients. One of my sisters suggested blondies, and for some unknown reason, we were overflowing with butterscotch chips, so I decided to give it a try.
It had been SO long since I made them, that I had forgotten how good they were!
And how fast they come together!
I'll try not to make them too often, but we will definitely be adding these back on our dessert list!!
I hope you try them out!

2 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
2 & 1/2 cup flour
1 & 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups butterscotch chips
Vanilla Ice Cream
Butterscotch or Caramel Ice Cream Topping

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, brown sugar, butter and vanilla.
Add flour, xanthan gum and salt. Mix until well combined.
Stir in butterscotch chips.
Pour into a greased jelly-roll pan and spread out evenly (I like to use an offset spatula like for cake decorating for this).
Bake at 350 degrees for 23-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. You don't want to over-bake these, or they will be hard.
Let stand for 20-30 minutes before serving, or cool completely until ready to serve.
Top with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch or caramel syrup.

-You could bake them in like a 9x13 pan or something, but I find that makes them pretty thick, and then it takes a long time to get the middle done, while the edges are already burning.

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