Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sooooo Good (Though Not Really Good For You)

This cake is so good. It is dense, like a pound cake. Eat it. Savor it. Enjoy it. Don't look at the calories. Don't weight yourself the next day. Have no regrets! (Just don't make this too often!)

Strawberries and Cream Butter Cake


1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 1/4 LAND O LAKES unsalted or salted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup strawberry preserves
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced (2 1/2 cups)


Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Spray 13x9-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Beak up cookie dough in pan; press to cover bottom of pan.

In large bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and 2 teaspoons of the vanilla until well blended. On low speed, alternately beat in about 1/3 of the flour and 1/2 of the condensed milk, ending with flour addition, until blended. Pour batter over dough in pan, spreading gently to cover.

Drop teaspoonfuls preserves onto batter; with knife, swirl preserves into batter.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until edges are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool until slightly warm, about 1 hour.

In small bowl, beat whipping cream, powdered sugar, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.

Serve warm cake with whipped cream and strawberries. Store covered.

Makes 16 servings.

Nutrition information: 590 calories, 34 g fat, 130 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 63 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 40 g sugar, 7 g protein.

Source: I found this on the Pillsbury website. You can find it here.

Notes: Seriously, this was sinfully good.

Containing a Surprise Frozen Ingredient

I owe my sister-in-law some special thanks for telling me that you can freeze mushrooms. Seriously, did you know that? Have you ever tried it? It totally works!

I saw some sliced mushrooms on sale, but I didn't have a recipe planned that required mushrooms. I got the mushrooms anyway and froze them on the advice of my sister-in-law. When it was time to cook this dinner, I simply sauteed the frozen mushrooms. It worked beautifully and tasted fantastic! Try it sometime! Oh, and the recipe below is a great place to try them...this was delicious.

Mushroom and Black Bean Tortilla Casserole


2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse salt and and ground pepper
1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
8 corn tortillas, warmed and halved
2 cups sals
1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (4 oz)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until browned, 7 minutes. Add garlic and cayenne; season with salt and pepper. Add black beans and stir to combine. Cook until beans are warmed through, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Arrange 5 tortilla halves in a 2-quart baking dish. Top with half the bean mixture and 1/2 cup salsa, then sprinkle with one-third the cheese. Repeat with another layer of tortilla halves, bean mixture, salsa, and cheese. Top with remaining tortilla halves, salsa, and cheese.

Cover with foil and bake until center is hot and cheese melts, 10 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is bubbling, 5 minutes.

Source: Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe, January/February 2011. You can find it here.

Notes: The corn tortillas in this casserole are a must. I used slightly more than the 8 corn tortillas the recipe called for--I think I used 10. This was so flavorful. Really good stuff!

Oh, and I blew it. I used up the last of my black beans a couple of days before I made this (without realizing it). All I had were pinto beans, so I used those. It was still fantastic. It would be great with black beans, but it was great with pinto beans too.

Breakfast: On the Go

My husband doesn't really like milk (it doesn't always sit well with his stomach). As a result, he doesn't eat cereal very often. So, I am always on the lookout for good breakfast ideas that he can grab on his way to work.

This is one of my recent discoveries. These muffins were really easy to make and they were delicious too!

Pumpkin Muffins


1 cup whole-wheat or all-purpose flour (I used whole-wheat)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 can (15 oz) Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup lowfat granola cereal, crumbled


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Paper-line or grease mini or regular muffin pans.

Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Beat sugar and oil in medium mixer bowl until blended. Add pumpkin and eggs; beat well. Gradually stir in flour mixture. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Sprinkle each with about a 1/2 teaspoon of crumbed granola. Press granola lightly into batter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store muffins in covered containers or resealable plastic bags.

Makes 20 servings, 3 mini muffins or one regular muffin per serving.

Source: I found this in a mailer. It was posted with a coupon for Libby's Pumpkin. I found the recipe online here.

Notes: I didn't have any granola cereal, so I skipped it. These were just easy, basic, and delicious. Nothing too fancy...just a good recipe to have up your sleeve.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why Can't We Eat This Every Day?

A lot of fun breakfast recipes are completely inappropriate for everyday consumption because if you ate a breakfast like that every single day, you would resemble a balloon---but it wouldn't be air that would make you that shape.

At any rate, I couldn't resist trying this recipe. It had so many good reviews on Allrecipes, and if there is anything I trust about Allrecipes, it is the reviews and ratings. There are a lot of great cooks that frequent that site, and if a recipe has over 5,000 reviews and has still maintained its five star rating, you had better believe it is a good recipe.

I recently made this recipe for cinnamon rolls. Delicious. There are 5,000 people out there who are very good cooks, and who have very good taste. You need to try this recipe.

Clone of a Cinnabon



1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast


1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened


1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt


Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.

After the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, and cinnamon.

Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter, and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

Nutrition information: 1 roll is 525 calories, 18.6 g fat, 6i mg cholesterol, 388 mg sodium, 82 g carbs, 2.2 g fiber, 9 g protein.

Source: You can find it here.

Notes: If you would like to make this without a bread maker, here is how you would go about it: Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, margarine, salt, and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Continue on with the recipe as written (starting with, "Roll the dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle.").

The only thing I might change is to add a couple of tablespoons of milk to the frosting. This makes a very thick, rich frosting. I think I would like it slightly less thick than it is. However, you do what you like!

Come back!

So, when I moved into my house about a year and a half ago, I was overjoyed to find a Mad Greek restaurant nearby. I love Greek food! Then, to my disappointment, it closed down. Nooooooo! Come back! I mean, even my boys would eat it! My picky, picky boys! They loved the chicken souvlaki, the lemon rice, and the fries (seriously, don't Greek restaurants have the best fries?).

There is still an Astro Burger nearby...but I miss my Mad Greek.

When my Greek cravings were too strong recently, I whipped up this dinner one night.

Chicken Gyros


2 teaspoons oil
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces (in hindsight, I think this would have worked better cut into strips, but it would work either way)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
2 teaspoons dried oregano


1/2 cucumber, finely chopped
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or mint
Salt and pepper, to taste


12 frozen Rhodes dough rolls, thawed and risen


Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add chicken, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until golden brown and cooked through.

In a medium bowl, make tzatziki. Combine chopped cucumber, yogurt, parsley or mint, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice; season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the pitas, divide the dough into 4-6 portions. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Stretch out each portion of dough (like you would for a small pizza crust). Place the dough onto the skillet (do not use oil or nonstick cooking spray). Cook until lightly browned, and then turn over onto the other side; about 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Serve the chicken inside each pita. Top with tzatziki and sliced tomatoes, and thinly sliced red onions, if desired.

Source: I used this recipe (posted previously on our blog) as inspiration.

Greek Festival Lemon Rice Pilaf


1/4 lb. butter
2 cups uncooked rice
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
5 cups hot chicken broth
salt and freshly ground pepper


Heat butter in a heavy skillet. When it is hot, add the rice and, stirring constantly, sauce over medium heat until transparent, but not brown.

Add the lemon juice, chicken broth, and salt.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let pilaf stand uncovered for 5 minutes before serving.

Source: I found this on You can find it here.

Notes: This isn't a fluffy rice pilaf, it is more of a sticky rice. It is so good. It is spot on with the Greek rice that you can get in a Greek restaurant. The recipe provides this note: "Every September, Salt Lake has an amazing Greek Festival. Back in 2001 I got a pamphlet of Greek recipes from the festival. This rice pilaf is very similar to the rice pilaf served at my favorite Greek restaurant. Opa!" This really does taste like the rice from the Greek festival. Good stuff!

The only change I made was to use half of the butter that the recipe called for. It was still fantastic.

Deserving of the Spotlight

 So, awhile back, I found a wonderful recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. You can find that here.

Then, I found a pretty similar recipe for spaghetti and meatballs and I thought, "What the hey. I'll give this one a try too." Well, I think this one is even better than the other. I could eat this for a week straight. Soooo good.

I was going to tack this recipe onto the other post I had made in March with the first spaghetti and meatballs recipe...but then I decided that this deserved a post of its own. Yum!

Spaghetti with Italian Meatballs


3/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can (28 ounces) Italian crushed tomatoes, undrained (or one 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, coarsely blended and 1 tsp Italian seasoning)
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper


4 slices white bread, torn
1/2 cup water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 package (16 ounces) spaghetti


In a large saucepan, cook onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, soak bread in water for 5 minutes. Squeeze out excess liquid. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cheese, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and bread. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls.

In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, brown meatballs in batches in oil over medium heat.

Add meatballs to sauce; return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until meatballs are no longer pink.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain. Serve with meatballs and sauce.

Yield: 10 servings.

Source: Taste of Home recipe. You can find it here.

Nutrition information: 3 meatballs and 1/2 cup sauce with 2/3 cup spaghetti equals 368 calories, 9 g fat, 73 mg cholesterol, 661 mg sodium, 50 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 20 g protein.

Notes: As mentioned above (in parentheses in the ingredients), I didn't have a can of Italian crushed tomatoes, so I improvised. I like things extra saucy so, I actually used 1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, coarsely blended, and 1 (15 oz) can petite diced tomatoes. I then added 1 tsp. Italian seasoning. Holy cow, this was just fantastic.

I also followed the other recipe's method of baking the meatballs instead of browning them in batches on the stove top (here are the directions from the other recipe: Place meatballs on a rack in a shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes or until no longer pink; drain.).

Simply Because of Curiosity

Sometimes when I read the list of ingredients, I will find something that seems so interesting, surprising, or out of place that I just have to try it. This was one of those recipes. What do you think of the surprise ingredient?

Creamy Key Lime Chicken Enchiladas


1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (4.5 oz) Old El Paso chopped green chiles
2 1/2 cups shredded deli rotisserie chicken
1 container (6 oz) Yoplait Greek 100 Key lime yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 medium lime
1 can (10 oz) Old El Paso enchilada sauce (hot or medium)
12 corn tortillas
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend (2 oz)


Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 13x9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook onion, chiles, and chicken over medium-high heat about 3 minutes, or until chicken is warm, and onion is starting to turn translucent. Remove from heat; stir in yogurt, 1/4 cup of the cilantro, and the lime juice. Stir in 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce.

Fill each tortilla with 1/4 cup chicken mixture. Roll up; place seam side down in baking dish. Spread remaining enchilada sauce over tortillas; sprinkle with cheese.

Bake about 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubble. Sprinkle remaining cilantro over enchiladas; serve warm.

Recipe notes: If you like a spicier enchilada, use hot enchilada sauce. If desired, serve enchiladas with salsa and shredded lettuce on the side.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: 280 calories, 7g fat, 740 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 23 g protein.

Source: This is a Betty Crocker recipe. You can find it here.

Notes: I thought that this might make the enchiladas too sweet...but I was too intrigued not to try it. Besides, I kind of like a sweet touch to Mexican food from time to time. I used regular enchilada sauce and these turned out pretty spicy, I thought. The Greek yogurt gave just a hint of sweetness, as well as toning down the spice just a bit. I really liked these. I'm always a sucker for a good enchilada.

I used poached and shredded chicken breasts instead of rotisserie chicken. I also used flour tortillas instead of corn tortillas. I thought I had enough corn tortillas for two recipes that I wanted to try, but it turned out that I didn't. I figured that the other recipe was more dependent on the use of corn versus flour tortillas (I was right). This recipe would be great either way. I can see how the corn tortillas would be super awesome, but the flour tortillas tasted great too. I also used a little bit more enchilada sauce because I like my enchiladas saucy.

Don't Wait Until Easter


Every five weeks I have the opportunity/duty to take dinner into a group that I work with in a museum. I was a little poor so I was looking for something really reasonable. Unfortunately, there are no pictures because it go slurped up...well, as much as you can slurp up egg salad. Everyone made lots of yummy know. Mmmm.....mmmmm.mmmmm.

So here it is, a keeper of an egg salad recipe.

Egg Salad Sandwiches


8 hard-cooked eggs, diced
1 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. dried onion flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dill weed
Bread for serving


In a bowl, gently mix all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight.  Serve on bread or rolls.

Source: by Sara Slade. You can find it here.

2015 Update: I (Sarah) was finally able to try this. I doubled the recipe except for the dried minced onion. In my experience, a little dried minced onion goes a long way. So, I kept it at 1/4 cup even though I doubled everything else. This was fantastic. So flavorful and super delicious on croissants (though it is great on sliced white bread as well). Good find, Mom!