Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Super Easy Pumpkin Muffins

1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.
In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves until smooth. Spoon equal amounts of batter into the prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.

And that's it. I didn't forget any ingredients. This recipe is so fast and so easy to make variations to. Use whatever cake mix you have in the pantry (spice cake is extra yummy). Add nuts or raisins, or chocolate chips. Top with a powdered sugar glaze or serve with whipped cream. Or just take them out of the oven and pop them in your mouth. You can't lose with these puppies!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Toscana Soup

This soup recipe is SO delicious! It is similar to Olive Garden's Toscana Soup.

3/4 cup onions, diced 1/8 inch
2 slices bacon, 1/4-inch diced
1 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
4 (3.7 g) cubes chicken bouillon
4 cups water
2 medium potatoes, cut in half length-wise, then cut in 1/4-inch slices
2 cups kale leaves, cut in half, then sliced into 1/16-inch strips
2 links spicy Italian sausage cooked(300* for 15-20 minutes) cut in half length-wise, then cut at an angle into 1/2-inch slices
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Place onions and bacon into 3 to 4 quart saucepan and cook onions over medium heat until the onions are almost clear. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken bouillon, water and potatoes, bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients then simmer for 5 more minutes. Pour into bowls, sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Easy Pea Salad

In 9 x 13 casserole dish

Start with head of lettuce (chopped) then layer the following:

Bell pepper (chopped)
3 stalks of celery (chopped)
5 green onions (chopped)
bag of peas--I like to use the sweet english peas-birds eye kind
2 cups of hellman's mayo--spread over the peas, yes they will stick a little
2 tablespoon sugar sprinkled over mayo
1 lb shredded cheddar cheese
4.3 oz hormel real bacon bits

Cathy's Cheesecake (my sister)

1 piecrust (regular or graham-I try to get deep dish)
12 ounces of softened cream cheese (I get what's on sale-either two 8 ounce blocks and use 1-1/2 or 4 3 oz. bars)
1 can cherry pie filling (or blueberry)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 to 1 tsp. vanilla

Prepare piecrust by adding 1/2 can of cherry pie filling on the bottom and bake about 8-10 minutes or until just a little golden around the edges (if using graham cracker crust, just add the pie filling and put it in the oven after you have completed the cream cheese filling).After pie crust is finished, turn down oven to 325. Mix cream cheese and sugar together thoroughly. Add eggs (add one at a time and wait for one egg to completely mix in before you add second) and then the vanilla. Pour filling into hot pie shell (I wait about 3-5 minutes after taking it out of the oven to pour it on). Bake for about 28-35 minutes (check it starting at 25 minutes). It will be a little jiggly in the center, but pull it out anyway!! After cheesecake cools down, add rest of pie filling in the middle of pie and surround with whatever whipped topping you like.

Tips:I have found the easiest pie crust to use for this recipe is frozen pie crusts-then you don't have to use up a pan. Just let it thaw out a little before you start recipe. I have used ready-made by Pillsbury and they are great, but you MUST not stretch the dough when you put it into pie pan or it will shrink. I think the graham cracker crusts are better for this cheesecake when you just make it plain without the cherry pie filling.Also, your cream cheese must be soft, preferably at room temperature. If you know you are going to make pie in afternoon, then take cream cheese out in the morning and let it sit on the counter (don't worry about it sitting out, it will be fine).One thing that I had to learn was when to take pie out of oven. If you wait until it is not jiggly, it will be very dry. However, don't pull it out if it is jiggly for the entire surface area; it should just be jiggly in the center.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dinner in a Pumpkin

1 medium pumpkin
1 1/2 -2 lbs. ground beef
1 can of cream of chicken
1 onion chopped
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 can sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 cup sour cream
1 to 2 cups of grated sharp cheese

Cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin and clean it out.
Brown ground beef in a large frying pan and add onions

to sauté. When ground beef is no longer pink add the
rest of the ingredients and stir until completely mixed.
When mixed together pour into pumpkin.
Put the top back on the pumpkin and place on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 small can of hot chopped green chiles
  • 1 package of cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 1 large white onion chopped
  • chile powder
  • 1 package corn tortillas
  • approximately 1.5 lbs. of chicken breasts boiled and shredded
  • 1 16 oz. can of enchilada sauce
  • sour cream
  • shredded lettuce

(I don't have exact amounts because I usually just wing it)

  1. Wrap the 4 tortillas in a paper towel and warm them in the microwave.
  2. Take a tortilla and fill it with the chicken, onions, green chiles (small amount), and cheese. Sprinkle with the chile powder (you decide how much of everything).
  3. Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking dish.
  4. Roll the tortilla and lay it seam down in the pan.
  5. Repeat until you run out of ingredients or room in your pan.
  6. Sprinkle remaining cheese, green chile, and onions on top of tortillas. Sprinkle with chile powder as well.
  7. Pour enchilada sauce on top
  8. Bake in oven at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly (about 20 minutes).
  9. Serve with sour cream and shredded lettuce.

Spaghetti Pie

From my friend Beth - she says the kids love it!
  • 6 oz spaghetti noodles
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ c grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 lb Italian sausage (ground beef works, too)
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 c water
  • 4 oz mozzarella
  1. Break spaghetti in half. Cook till done. Drain.
  2. While still warm, combine spaghetti with eggs and parmesan cheese.
  3. Pour into well greased 10” pie plate and pat mixture up and around sides with spoon.
  4. Melt butter, add onion and sauté until limp.
  5. Stir in sour cream and spoon over spaghetti.
  6. Remove sausage from casing, crumble and cook. (I like to throw in some Italian seasoning too.)
  7. Drain, add tomato paste and water.
  8. Simmer 10 minutes.
  9. Spoon sausage mixture over sour cream mixture.
  10. Bake 350 F for 25 minutes.
  11. Spread mozzarella on top and return to oven until cheese melts.

Crispy Potatoes Au Gratin

from Aunt Patti: All of the following ingredients are estimates
  • extra virgin olive oil (to grease 9x13 baking dish -- or for smaller portions use GLASS pie plate)
  • 3 - 6 potatoes, VERY thinly sliced (I usually use red potatoes but Idahos are good too - clean well but don't peel)
  • salt (little)
  • 2 T (or less) of melted butter
  • shredded cheddar (at least 4 oz), I use more
  • bread crumbs (no more than 1/2 cup or they will be dry)

Preheat oven to 425. Lightly salt potatoes and arrange in even layer. Drizzle melted butter and sprinkle with cheese and bread crumbs. 20 minutes and voila! OR, if you can't use a 425 oven, you can put in @ 350 for 30 minutes or so. But they're crunchier (better) at higher heat.

Buffalo Chicken Wraps

From my friend Beth, who says: "they're not gourmet, but they're easy!"
  • Frozen breaded chicken tenders (the real white meat ones work best)
  • Large burrito-size flour tortillas
  • Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • Tablespoon or two of butter
  • Shredded carrots
  • Mixed baby greens (as is) and/or shredded romaine
  • Blue cheese dressing
Cook chicken tenders according to directions on bag. Depending upon # of tenders, melt one to two tbs. butter and combine w/Louisiana hot sauce. Coat chicken in hot sauce/butter mix. Warm tortillas in oven or better yet, grill in fry pan slightly coated with just a bit of butter or olive oil. Layer greens, shredded carrots, coated chicken tenders on tortilla, top with blue cheese dressing.

Voila, easy dinner!

Pumpkin Muffins

From my friend Sarah, who says: "the absolute easiest recipe ever! And they're REALLY good - especially with Devil's Food."
  • 12 serving spice Cake Mix (can substitute Chocolate, Devil's food or Carrot Cake mix)
  • 3 ½ serving Libby's canned Pumpkin

Mix both ingredients. Will be very dense - best to use mixer. Place in 12 count cupcake pan. Fill each section more than 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for about 22 minutes - use toothpick to check.


French Bread, thinly sliced

4 oz. goat cheese
¼ c. pesto

Mix together and spread on bread. Top with sliced Roma tomatoes and shredded parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° until edges are golden and parmesan starts to melt. (10 to 15 minutes) Delicious and very easy.

Applesauce Raisin Cake

From Aunt Wendy Lester:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup chilled applesauce
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream butter or margarine with sugar. Add applesauce; beat well. Stir in flour, soda, and spices. Add nuts and raisins. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8 inch. square pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 40 minutes, or until done. Cool completely. frost with butter cream or cream cheese frosting.

Mexican Chicken Rice Bake

From my friend Bernie in a recipe exchange. YUM!
  • 1 cup Instant uncooked Rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 chicken Bouillon cubes
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomato w/ mild green chiles
  • 1 15 oz. can Black beans
  • 1 cup cooked chicken (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernal corn
  • Toppings: sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips.

In large pot combine all ingredients except toppings. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Serve with toppings.

"Fancy" Mac and Cheese

This is from my friend Lamar, who is an incredible cook. No Kraft Dinner for him! It's not quick and easy, but it's fabulous!
  1. Pick your favorite pasta shape (I like the little shell shaped ones)and boil 1 pound in lightly salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving half a cup of the pasta water, just in case.
  2. Grate 1/4 pound each of Fontina, Gruyère, and Smoked Mozzarella (orpick your favorite cheeses)
  3. Make a bechamel sauce as follows:
  4. warm 1.5 cups of milk in the microwave. just enough so it's roomtemperature or so. doesn't need to be hot
  5. preheat the oven to 350°F
  6. mince 2 cloves of garlic
  7. over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan. sauté the garlic for about 1 minute in the melted butter.
  8. *before the butter browns*, add 4 tablespoons of flour. stir until thick and pasty. don't brown the rue.
  9. add 1/2 a cup of the milk, stirring to dissolve the rue. add as much of the remaining milk as you would like to make a sauce that's as think as you want.
  10. Add 1 teaspoon of finely ground white pepper (black is okay, but you get specks in the sauce)
  11. put the cooked pasta into a casserole dish that you've sprayed with non-stick spray and coated with unseasoned breadcrumbs
  12. in the casserole dish, mix the grated cheese, bechamel sauce, and pasta. reserve some of the gruyère to sprinkle on top, or grate more.
  13. if the sauce is too thick, add any remaining milk or some of the reserved pasta water until it thins to your liking
  14. sprinkle reserved gruyere on top and bake at 350° until the cheese on top is bubbly and starting to brown.

Awesome Potato Casserole

From my friend Michelle, in a recipe exchange. She says "I could live off this stuff; It's great for potlucks, too."

  • 2 Lbs Hash Brown Potatoes (thawed, if frozen)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 can cream of potato soup
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions, optional

Mix all ingredients in a gigantic bowl, transfer to a 13X9 casserole dish, add whatever topping you wish, Cover and Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Topping ideas: 2 cups corn flakes mixed with 1/4 cup butter works, but I usually just add about 1 c cheese when there's only 10 minutes left on the timer.

Cajun Pasta

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 oz. andouille sausage ( i use chicken sausage)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun Creole seasoning
  • 8 oz, raw peeled shrimp or crawfish
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound linguini pasta, cooked and drained
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped green onion

Heat a large saute pan and add butter, then saute the andouille until lightly browned. Add garlic, shallot, jalapeno, and Cajun seasoning and saute for a minute or 2. Add shrimp and toss for one minute, then add cream and simmer until slightly thickened. Toss with pasta and green onion.

I got this from my friend Julie in a recipe exchange - sounds fabulous!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Ham and Cheese Sandwiches for a Crowd

For 100 sandwiches

  • 100 soft bakery rolls, sliced but not all the way through
    (you can use buttercrust, kaiser, Texas or hamburger)
  • 1-1/2 5-pound Krakus Polish Ham, sliced thin
    other hams work but are too salty, I think)
  • 4-1/2 lbs Swiss cheese, sliced thin


  • 2 lbs unsalted butter, softened (may need a little more)
  • 1 9-oz jar horseradish mustard (may not want to use that much)
  • 1 1-1/4 oz jar Poppy Seeds
  • 1 cup minced onion or onion flakes

Spread filling on both insides of rolls. Add slice of ham and slice of cheese (if really thinly sliced, then use 2 of each). Wrap sandwiches individually in aluminum foil. Freeze. When needed, thaw and bake at 350* for about 15 minutes. If cooking directly from freezer, you'll need to increase time to approx. 30 minutes. Depending upon what roll you use, and the temperature variation in your oven, you may have to cook longer to get it hot in the middle.

This is another one of Aunt Diana's stand-bys - she always had these in the frezeer. It helps to have help making them (take a couple hours on a Saturday), but then you've got them for the winter - or a really big party.

Easy Chicken Divan

  • 4 chicken breasts, cook then cool and cut up
  • 1 pkg. Chicken Rice-A-Roni prepare as package directs
  • 20oz. frozen chopped broccoli, cooked
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. curry powder (it makes all the difference!)
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • cheddar or mozzarella cheese, grated
  • fine bread crumbs or crushed croutons/dressing cubes
Spread prepared Rice-A-Roni on the bottom of a 9"x13" pan. Spread cooked broccoli on top of rice. Mix the cut up chicken with mayonnaise, soup, curry powder, lemon juice. Spread chicken mixture on top of broccoli. Top with grated cheese and bread crumbs or croutons. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes.

This is straight from Aunt Diana's cookbook. Henri likes more chicken than rice, so I usually add a couple of more breasts...but you can modify for your family's tastes. It's one of my all-time favorites. It freezes well (before or after baking), and it's just as good the next day as leftovers.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Paula Deen's Symphony Brownies

OK, I guess by now y'all know that I love Paula Deen! So I had company over for dinner last night and I made these brownies. They were a huge hit. They are yummy warm and gooey served with French Vanilla Ice cream. We let ours cool so it would set and then we cut them into 2x2 inch squares and heated each square in the microwave for 10 seconds. We served with French Vanilla ice cream. I wish I had taken a picture, but by the time I thought about it, they were gone. I'm not even a big fan of nuts in my brownies, but these are amazing!

One 17.6-ounce package brownie mix with walnuts
Three 5-ounce Symphony candy bars with almonds and toffee chips

Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions. Line a 13x9 in cake pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Spoon in half of the brownie batter and smooth with a spatula. Place the candy bars side by side on top of the batter. Cover with remaining batter. Bake according to package directions. Let cool completely, then lift from the pan using the edges of the foil. This makes it easy to cut the brownies into squares.

Never Fail Sugar Cookies

4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup shortening

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut shortening
into flour mixture. Add sugar, eggs, baking soda, vanilla,
and milk to flour mixture. Chill dough before cutting into
shapes. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.
1 stick of soft butter
powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
I just add a little bit of powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk
to the softened butter. I just play with it until I get the
thickness I want.