Sunday, May 29, 2016

You Can't Drink This Version


My son loves root beer floats and asked my mom if she could make a root beer float cake. Well, of course she can! There's a recipe for everything out there these days!


Root Beer Float Cake


1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist white cake mix
1 1/4 cups root beer
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon root beer concentrate or 1 tablespoon root beer flavored syrup
1 container Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting
1/3 cup crushed root beer flavored hard candies (about 10)


Heat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees F for dark or nonstick pan). Spray bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with baking spray with flour.

In large bowl, beat cake mix, root beer, oil, and egg whites with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan.

Bake 32 to 36 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan, about 1 hour.

Stir root beer concentrate into frosting. Spread over cake. Just before serving, sprinkle with crushed candies. (Candies will begin to melt 1 to 3 hours after sprinkled on cake.) Store loosely covered.

Recipe notes: For maximum cake height, keep baking spray off the sides of the pan. The cake will climb the sides of the pan better. For a fun soda fountain touch, insert half of a plastic straw into each piece of cake.

Source: Betty Crocker. You can find it here.

Notes: This wasn't exactly what my son was expecting. I'm not sure what he was expecting though. He ended up pouring root beer on top of his cake and he was happy with it that way. Ha ha! As for the rest of us, we were happy with the cake without pouring root beer on top of it.

Eat Your Vegetables!


Cauliflower seems to be the "it" vegetable these days. There are a ton of cauliflower recipes out there these days. Cauliflower is so good though. It is so great in all its forms.

Roasted Cauliflower


8 cups cauliflower florets
3 tbsp. Country Crock Spread, melted
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pinch ground black pepper
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange cauliflower, Country Crock Spread, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper in 13x9-inch baking dish; toss to coat.

Roast 45 minutes or until cauliflower is golden and tender. Sprinkle with cheese.

Source: Country Crock. You can find it here.

Notes: This is simple, but oh so good.

Cheese and Potatoes...Yum!


There's nothing wrong with the combination of cheese and potatoes...unless you are trying to lose weight and you can't keep your portion sizes in check! Ha ha! Easy, right?


Gruyere-Crisped Potatoes Au Gratin


2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
3/4 cup finely shredded Gruyere cheese
Fresh basil, to garnish


Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and scrub your potatoes. Fix the slicer blade onto your food processor. Feed the potatoes in 1 or 2 at a time until they are all sliced. If you don't have a food processor, just use a very sharp knife to slice them into 1/8 inch slices. (A mandoline works great too.)

In a large pot, add the sliced potatoes, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and minced garlic. Set the heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally until the cream boils. (Stir gently so that you don't break up the potatoes.)

Pour the mixture into a 2.5 or 3 quart baking dish. Shake it around to settle the potatoes, then sprinkle with the shredded cheese.

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees F. for about 40 minutes, or until they are extremely fork-tender. You will know it is done when the cream is thickened and the top is dark brown. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools, so don't worry if you think it looks overly-liquidy.

Let the potatoes stand for about 15 minutes before serving with fresh chopped basil.

Recipe Notes: You can replace one cup of the heavy cream with whole milk. If you don't have Gruyere, fresh Parmesan works great too. This is a great make-ahead recipe, so it's perfect for holidays when you are super busy. Just do everything the same except don't add the cheese. When you are ready to bake, sprinkle on the cheese and bake about 15-20 minutes longer than normal, or until the top is dark brown.

Source: The Food Charlatan. You can find it here.

Notes: Comfort food at its finest, folks.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Taking the Easy Way Out

This year, we were in the middle of moving out of our house and into a new one right around my birthday, so I really didn't have the time or energy to bake myself a birthday cake. My son picked me out a cute cake at the grocery store (a pink and purple princess cake, awwww). However, I also saw these and since they were only about $3 each, I got one for each of my boys as well. They were so cute and I loved the idea because you could easily duplicate it at home.

In fact, it took me back to a cake decorating contest we had for an Family Home Evening activity in one of my single's wards years ago. We were give plain white cakes, frosting, and food coloring and given the task of decorating cakes. One girl cut her cake into pieces and created the cutest hot dog cake with fries and ketchup. I thought it was so creative. I can copy things, but I definitely can't come up with ideas like that on my own.

The fries here were made from simply cutting pound cake into slices and providing a dollop of red frosting for the ketchup to dip them in.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

From My Sister-in-Law's Blog


My lovely sister-in-law has a blog of her own where she shares recipes and DYI projects. This is a yummy and easy recipe that I found on her blog that I wanted to share here (and give a shout out to go check out her blog, Spoonful of Fun!).

Crockpot Chicken and Gravy


2 (0.87 oz) packets dry chicken gravy
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of chicken soup
2 cups water
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Garlic powder, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/8 cup sour cream, optional
Rice or mashed potatoes


Season chicken breasts with garlic powder and pepper.

In slow cooker, whisk together the gravy packets, cream of chicken, and water.

Add chicken and cover with gravy.

Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.

Shred chicken.

Stir in sour cream, if desired.

Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

Source: Again, this came from my wonderful sister-in-law, Robin. You can check out her blog here.

Notes: I served this over mashed potatoes and rice. I personally preferred the rice. The sauce over the rice really popped. Perhaps it was because I went the easy route and made instant mashed potatoes though (I was busy!) rather than making mashed potatoes from scratch. It was delicious either way though. This was so easy and it was such a welcome dinner on a crazy weeknight.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sneaking Things In


My son was allergic to almonds, but he grew out of that allergy. His allergist told me that I needed to make sure that he ate almonds to avoid having his almond allergy come back. The trouble with that is that  he has developed a distaste for almonds because he knows how his body reacts to certain nuts when things go he avoids nuts and I couldn't get him to eat almonds because of it. This was a recipe I found to sneak some almonds into his diet. He still didn't like it...but his dad and I did! Ha ha! He had no idea there were nuts in it, and he ate some of it without any harmful effects, so I guess that's something to celebrate. I'm thinking I will have to hide almonds in his dessert from here on out.

I did change the recipe a little bit, so be sure to check out my notes to see what I changed.

Noodles with Roast Pork and Almond Sauce


1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
1/4 cup almond butter
2 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Drizzle oil in an ovenproof skillet. Sprinkle pork with 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper; place pork in pan. Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes. Turn pork over, and bake an additional 10 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155 degrees F. Place pork on a cutting board; let stand 10 minutes. Shred pork into small pieces.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 2 tablespoons pasta water; keep pasta warm.

Combine almond butter, 2 tablespoons pasta water, remaining salt, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and chili garlic sauce. Divide pasta evenly among 4 bowls; top evenly with sauce, pork, onions, and mint.

Nutrition information: Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups), 398 calories, 12.7 g fat, 22.7 g protein, 49.3 g carbohydrate, 3.7 g fiber, 34 mg cholesterol, 3.7 mg iron, 763 mg sodium, 83 mg calcium.

Source: Cooking Light recipe found on MyRecipes. You can find it here.

Notes: I changed quite a bit of this recipe. I used a pork loin roast rather than pork tenderloin, because I had one in my freezer that I wanted to use. I cooked it in my slow cooker on low for about 8 hours and seasoned it with salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder. I also used 16 ounces (or a whole pound/package) of fettuccine. Because I increased the pasta, I doubled the sauce. I couldn't find my chili garlic sauce (because one of my sons had done some rearranging of my cupboard), so I got creative and used some spicy sesame oil that I had on hand. Rather than serving this dish as separate elements, I tossed the pasta and pork in the almond butter sauce to completely coat the pork and noodles. I topped each individual serving with mint and green onions (except I skipped that for my boys because they wouldn't have eaten that).

We really loved this. It was kind of like a sesame noodles or peanut noodles recipe, just made with almond butter instead. This is very flavorful and it was really easy to put together as well.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Nice Side or a Hearty Lunch


I love side dishes where the leftovers can double as lunch. This is a side dish like that. It will round out a Mexican-themed meal, or you can have a nice bowl of this for a healthy lunch.


Mexican Bean Salad


1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn kernels
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 clove crushed garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 dash hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder


In a large bowl, combine beans, bell peppers, frozen corn, and red onion.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, lemon juice, sugar, salt, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and black pepper. Season to taste with hot sauce and chili powder.

Pour olive oil dressing over vegetables; mix well. Chill thoroughly, and serve cold.

Source:, submitted by Karen Castle. You can find it here.

Notes: 5 stars and over 1,400 reviews can't be wrong! This is good stuff right here!

Looks Aren't Everything


Let's be honest here. Some food is prettier than others. This recipe is just an ugly duckling that is really a swan in the taste department (not that I am saying it tastes like swan...I've never eaten swan...or duck, for that matter). Trust me on this one, this is delicious. It's also a pity I didn't post it before the Super Bowl, because this is a great food to have on hand for game time.

Hot Bean Dip


1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 (16 ounce) cans refried beans
1/2 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
5 drops hot pepper sauce
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Monterey Jack cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese and sour cream. mix in the refried beans, taco seasoning, hot pepper sauce, parsley, green onions, 1/2 the Cheddar cheese, and 1/2 the Monterey Jack cheese. Transfer the mixture to an 8x12-inch baking dish. Top with remaining Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.

Bake in the preheated oven 20-30 minutes, until cheese is slightly browned.

Source:, submitted by J. Van Liere. You can find it here.

Notes: In all fairness to this recipe, it would have been prettier if the cream cheese had been mixed in a little smoother and if I had gotten a picture before it had been almost completely devoured. It didn't look too bad with the cheese melted on top, but once it had been dug into, it wasn't winning any beauty contests.