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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It's Called POUND Cake For a Reason

Maybe it should actually be called pounds cake.

Each year at school, the teachers always give a little something to the people on their grade level.  This year I decided to make Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars and Cream Cheese Almond Pound Cake.  I can't share the cookie bars recipe because it belongs to a friend of mine and I didn't ask her permission.  The cake recipe is mine though.  You can make it a regular cream cheese pound cake and use vanilla flavoring or an almond cream cheese pound cake by using almond flavoring.  So good!!!



Cream Cheese Pound Cake

3 sticks of butter
3 cups of sugar
1 8 oz. cream cheese
dash of salt
6 eggs
1 Tb almond or vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups plain flour or Gluten Free flour

Cream butter, sugar, and cream cheese together until light and fluffy.  Add salt and flavoring of choice.  Beat well.  Add eggs one at a time and beat after each addition.  Mix in flour slowly and blend well.  Pour into greased and floured tube pan of angel food cake pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 
1 1/2 hours until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Two Of My Faves


Two of my favorite things are chocolate and peanut butter.  Together or separately ... it doesn't matter.  I found this recipe on Facebook, made a few minor changes and I made it for our Thanksgiving dinner.  I can't wait to taste it.  I would have added a picture, but I have lost my camera somewhere and I can't seem to make the pictures from my phone stay on the blog.  If any of you know the trick, please let me know.  I'll add to this post tomorrow and let you know how good the cake is.

UPDATE:  The cake was a huge, delicious hit!  It was so moist (that's what the  buttermilk does).  It is very rich so you will want to cut small pieces.  I will definitely be making this one again!!!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Cake

  Cake:


2 cups all-purpose Gluten free flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
      1  16 oz jar creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9” x 13” baking pan or glass baking dish.  Mix flour, sugar, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Set aside.  Place butter in a large pot. Melt over medium heat.  Using a large pot makes it easier to stir.  Add in cocoa powder.  Stir to mix.  Then, stir in water, buttermilk, and eggs. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils.  Remove the mixture from the heat and add dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Stir until smooth. Add in vanilla.  Pour batter into pan and spread out evenly.  Bake  25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Spread the peanut butter over the cake. If the peanut butter doesn't spread easily, put the cake with the peanut butter on it back in the (turned off) oven for 5 minutes.  Take back out of the oven and the peanut butter should spread nicely.  Allow to cool completely.
  Icing:

 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 3/4 - 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 
To make the icing, combine butter, buttermilk, and cocoa in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to boil.  Remove from heat and add in confectioners’ sugar. Stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla.  Pour icing over peanut butter and smooth out the chocolate. The cake should sit at room temperature for about 2 hours to allow the icing to set.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's All About The Pumpkin!



I can't leave my other friend out who shared the pumpkin cake recipe with me!  I used to work with Cindy and she made every day a happy one!  She retired at the end of the last school year and now she is living the lifestyle many wish to live.  She lives at the beach and does things at her own pace when she wants to!  I am so happy for her, but I miss her immensely!!!  Work will never be the same without her.  She is what made each day glorious.  I MISS YOU CINDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pumpkin Cake

1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant butterscotch pudding
4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup veg oil
1 cup of canned 100% pure pumpkin
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ can cream cheese icing

In large mixing bowl, combine ingredients. Beat on low for 30 sec, then on medium for 4 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured 10 in bundt tube pan.  Bake at 350 for 50-55 min or until wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 15 min.  Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Microwave icing for 30 seconds.  Spoon over the top of the cake.

Tis The Season!

Pumpkin season that is!  If you go to the store, everywhere you look, you'll see something pumpkiny.  I used to not be a fan of pumpkin, but I can't say that any more.  Last year a friend make a pumpkin spice cake.  It was really good.  Last weekend I made pumpkin spice cookies.  They were good too.  I don't have a recipe for that one because I bought the mix in the bag from the grocery store.  A week or so ago, I had a meeting at school and a friend made the best pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes!  She shared the recipe with me and I'm going to share it with you!  You are going to love how EASY it is!  Let's say this all together ... THANK YOU, KACEY!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

1 15 oz can of pumpkin
1 yellow cake mix
1 egg
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 bag of pumpkin chips
1/2 cup  chocolate chips

Mix first 4 ingredients until blended.  Add in chips. Spoon into a cupcake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Frost with cream cheese icing, if desired.

                              

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Welcome Fall!



I admit it.  I'm addicted to Facebook.  Sometimes you learn great things.  Sometimes, it's hours of your life you never get back.  I found this recipe on Facebook.  SCORE!  I did make a few changes to it.  I took out the salt because I figured the sausage had enough salt in it.  I also used a vegetable peeler on the celery.  It takes off most of the strings and makes it more tender.  I cut the onion in half and used essential oil instead of fresh Rosemary.  Besides Rachel Ray, who keeps fresh Rosemary around anyway.  Other changes I made were I peeled the apple, used reduced fat sausage and cooked it separately in order to remove more fat, and changed the kind of cheese it called for.  It turned out GREAT!  Hubby didn't care for it, but he's not much of a squash person.  He did like the stuffing though.  I thought it was a nice recipe to welcome the Fall.

Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

 2 medium acorn squash
1/2 chopped onion
2 chopped stalks of celery
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Pepper, to taste
1 drop Rosemary doTERRA essential oil
1-2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 lb sausage, cooked – I used lower fat sausage.
1 chopped apple, peeled
3/4 cup of plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded Italian pizza cheese

Using a sharp knife, cut off the top and bottom of each squash to create a flat base on each side. Slice the squash in half, scrape out seeds to create individual bowls for the stuffing. Drizzle each squash half with olive oil and sprinkle pepper on top.  Bake in a preheated oven at 400˚F for 40 minutes.

While squash is roasting, cook sausage and chop up.  In a large pan over medium heat - heat oil and add onion, celery, garlic, and doTERRA Rosemary essential oil. Cook until onions and celery are soft. Add sausage and apple. Mix in bread crumbs and Italian pizza cheese. Remove from heat.

Once squash has finished roasting, remove from oven and fill each with the prepared stuffing mixture. Return to oven for 20 minutes - adding a little Italian pizza cheese to the top when it comes out of the oven.
                         
                          

Saturday, September 26, 2015

I'm in a Pickle and It's So GOOD!

When I was a kid, my mother would serve pickled peaches at dinner sometimes.  They were so good!  I bought a jar from the grocery store a number of years back, but they tasted terrible!  A couple of weeks ago, a friend brought me a jar of pickled peaches using the recipe her mother-in-law used.  I had an instant flashback to family dinners when I was young.  In my mind, I could see all of us sitting around the kitchen table having Sunday dinner.  The peaches were amazing!  I ate half the jar in one sitting!  I begged her for the recipe and she shared it with me.  She gave me permission to share it with you!  Her name is Jackie and she has started her own business called Cricket's Cupcakes & Sweets in Lawrenceville, Ga.  If you ever need cupcakes or some other dessert, you need to call Jackie.  Everything she makes is delicious!  She has some major skills!  She's also on Facebook, so check out her page and like it!  I'm so lucky to have her as a friend!




Pickled Peaches

4 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup distilled white vinegar
3 whole cloves or 1 tsp. ground cloves or 3 drops of doTERRA Clove essential oil
3 cinnamon sticks
5-6 large peaches or 10-12 medium sized peaches
3 qt sized sterilized jars

Peel and slice the peaches to the desired size. Pack the peaches in the jars.  Boil all the remaining ingredients (no peaches) with the spices for at least 5 minutes to form a syrup.  Pour the hot syrup (pickling liquid) over the packed peaches in the sterilized jars.  If you have left over syrup. you can process them as well in the hot bath.  Don't throw away the spices. Pack them with the peaches in the jars.

HOT BATH:

Sterilize your jars first. Pack the peaches in the sterilized jars and pour the hot pickling liquid in the jars of peaches. Close and clean the rims with wet cloth. I put water in a stock pot and place a steamer basket in the bottom to lift the jars off the pot.  I also removed the stem from the basket.  Cover the jars with water.  Bring the water to a boil with the jars in the pot. Boil for 15 minutes for small jars (1 pt) and 25 minutes for large (1qt) jars.

                        

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sad, But True

It's sad, but it's true.  I have to return to work in less than 2 weeks.  (Insert huge frowny face here.)  I love being on a laid back schedule ... sleeping late, staying up late, eating whenever, going to the bathroom whenever.  Yes, I enjoy going to the bathroom when I need to.  During the school year, our time is so regimented that we have scheduled bathroom times. If I have to go to the bathroom at an unscheduled time, I have to find another teacher to watch over my class.  It's a pain in the behind to have to interrupt another class for coverage when nature calls.  Nature does not always have the same schedule we follow in the plan book.

Lunch is also on a tight schedule.  Two classes arrive every 3 minutes.  If you are early or late, it throws a kink into the serving line, other teacher's lunch time, and the table you are scheduled to sit at.  If you are late picking your kids, you have a million people mad at you because you just messed up the lunch time of the class that follows you and the teacher of that class is losing precious time from eating her lunch.  By the time a teacher gets her class through the line, gets them seated, gets her lunch, heats it up, and goes to the bathroom, she has 12-15 minutes to actually eat.  That is why teachers don't want to have a mini conference with parents during lunch.  I have been known to completely miss my lunch because of this.  This is not good for me, my co-workers, or my students because if I don't eat, I get grouchy ...  very grouchy!  So parents, if you come to have lunch with your child, have lunch with your child.  A friendly wave and a smile will suffice.  If you need to talk to me, simply ask me to call you or send a note about your concern.

With that off my chest, I can get back to what this post is about.  Since school will be starting back soon, I have begun my annual cook-a-thon.  I decided to take the leftovers from the Braised Chicken and Mushrooms and put that in the freezer.  Yesterday I was on a chicken cooking frenzy.  I cooked and froze 4 bags of shredded chicken, 3 bags of cubed chicken, and 3 batches of chicken pot pie filling.  In the midst of all of that, I put a whole chicken on the smoker and had part of that for dinner.  Then I saved the chicken broth from the shredded and cubed chicken and froze it to use when I cook other things.  Next, I cooked squash, zucchini, and brussel sprouts and put them in the freezer.  I also roasted cauliflower, but we ate that with dinner.  I don't think cauliflower would freeze very well.  I used some of the chicken broth in the brussel sprouts.  It made such a difference in the flavor!  Today I made a HUGE batch of Three Cheese Chicken Penne Pasta Bake and separated it into 3 freezer pans.  I added a pound of fresh mushrooms to it this time!  I also filled a smaller pan to take to my mother.  She'll like that.  Next on my agenda is to make Chicken Crescents, but first I have to go to the grocery store for crescent rolls.  That will make 2 more meals.  After that, I will be making a pot of White Chicken Chili and regular Chili.  We won't eat all of this next month, but it will be nice to have it ready and waiting.  In total, this will make about 20 dinners.  Plus I will have a number of lunches from it.  All of these recipes are already on the blog so I won't post them again, but here's a picture of my menu.  I made the menu before I started my cook-a-thon.  You might be able to pick up a few ideas from it.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Braised Chicken and Mushrooms

I've had a little extra time this summer with school being out.  I have been able to kick back and relax, explore new interests (essential oils), enjoy time with my grandbabies, and start to clean things out of my house.  The hubby and I have a plan to downsize in the next few years.  We have a lot of things to get rid of to do this, but I must admit, it feels good to get rid of things we haven't used in a long time.  Goodwill is probably wondering where to put everything now, but that's their problem!  Since I have some free time right now, I was on Pinterest the other day and saw a recipe that looked interesting.  Of course, I had to make a few changes to it!  It's like they say on American Idol, "You have to make it your own!" and that I did.  The mushrooms came out with the best flavor I have ever tasted in a mushroom.  The meal was so good, I can't wait to have the leftovers tomorrow night.  This recipe takes a little more time to make, but hey, it's summer!



Braised Chicken And Mushrooms

  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
  • 1 pound fresh whole mushrooms
  • 2 ¼  cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic from a jar
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose Gluten Free flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Remove fat from chicken.  Lightly salt and pepper chicken.  Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and brown chicken. Place the chicken on a separate plate and set aside.  You may have to cook the chicken in 2 batches.  Sauté mushrooms, garlic, and onions until tender (about 10 minutes).  Remove veggies from pot.  Sprinkle flour into the pot with the juices that are left and cook for 1-2 minutes.  The flour will start to clump up.  Pour in the vinegars and chicken broth and whisk continuously until it’s smooth for about 3 minutes.  Add in crushed bay leaf.  Return chicken and veggies to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover your pot, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked completely.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Burritos

I had a busy afternoon today and needed something easy to fix for dinner.  I looked in the freezer and saw I had a bag of precooked, cubed chicken breasts that I had cooked one day.  I checked inside the refrigerator and pantry and came up with a plan.  We were going to have burritos.

Burritos

Tortillas - regular or Gluten Free
2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 can of black beans, rinsed well
1 red pepper, sliced in strips
1 onion, sliced in strips
2 Tb. water
1 package taco seasoning
1 cup shredded Monterrey cheese
olive oil
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, diced
Lettuce
Sour cream - I used fat free
Sliced black olives, optional
Salsa or hot sauce, optional
Cooked brown or white rice, optional

Put a little olive oil in a large pot with pepper and onions.  Heat until they get soft.  Use a large pot because it makes stirring everything up much easier.  Add water and cover so the water can steam the onion and pepper a bit.  Add chicken, beans, tomatoes, cheese, and taco seasoning.  Stir well and heat mixture.  Warm tortilla shells in the microwave.  In the tortilla shell, spread sour cream, lettuce, meat mixture, lettuce, olives, rice, and hot sauce.  Roll up and eat.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sweet Simplicity!

In my desire to simplify, I have been trying to reuse things for a different purpose.  In this case, it's orange juice containers.  I don't drink juice because it has too much sugar in it, but I know other people do.  In this case, it is my mother.  I asked her to save her orange juice carton for me.  She saved two of them because they were different sizes.  I cut the the top section off and now I use them to hold bags for me to pour things into.  As you can see, the top was not cut off perfectly in a Martha Stewart fashion.  I'm trying to get away from the perfection thing too.  It causes too much stress and I don't need any more than what I already have.  As a matter of fact, I'd like to get rid of it too, but that's another story for another time.  Back to the OJ cartons.  It's hard to put left over soup in a bag to freeze without another person standing there holding the bag open.  The big one is good for gallon sized ziploc bags and the smaller one is good for the quart sized bag.  Just put the bag in the container and fold the sides of the bag over the edges of the juice container.  TA-DAA!  Today I put a gallon bag in the bigger one and poured in chocolate chip banana muffin mixture.  That recipe is already on the blog.  I zipped the bag closed, squeezed out the air, snipped the corner off the bag, and squeezed the mixture into the cups of the muffin pan. I will NEVER spoon cupcake or muffin batter into the cups again!!!!!  It was not messy in any way and then I just threw the bag away.  I know.  I am a simple person.  It's the small things that make me happy!  Ahhh!  Sweet Simplicity!




Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Bunch of Randomness

Wow!  It's been a while since I've posted anything!  Life has been CRAAAAZY.  School has ended and I'm on summer break now ... a MUCH needed summer break.  Next year I will be teaching 3rd grade.  This was not my decision.  I loved teaching 2nd grade and I loved the people I worked with.  However, the forces that be felt I should be in 3rd grade. In the mean time, I get to sleep in, eat when I want, go to the bank during the day, run errands when I want, and best of all, go to the bathroom whenever I choose!  Yes, summer is good!

On a happier note, my beautiful, amazing, smart, sweet granddaughter turned 4 years old last week.  I love her so much!!!!  It's hard to believe she's already 4! She loves her family and friends, singing, drawing, church, and so much more.

I have also found the most miraculous thing around!  Essential Oils!  Have you heard about them?  They are natural and have been around for thousands of years.  They are used to add in healing so many ailments from bug bites to pneumonia!  They kept my husband out of the hospital a couple of months ago, helped clear up a sinus infection I had, helped co-workers with plantar fasciitis and headaches, drove mosquitoes away, and many other things.  You ca eve cook with some of them!!  Let me know if you are interested in learning more.  I'd love to share what I know with you!

I went to the grocery store this morning and the people passing out samples were there.  One of the samples was salmon with a mango salsa.  I thought the lady would have a recipe to pass out, but she didn't.  The lady told me how she fixed it and I ran around the store picking up what she said she used.  I made it for dinner tonight and I must say it was pretty good!


Salmon with Mango Salsa

1 diced mango
Pepper to taste
½ fresh lime squeezed
2 drops doTERRA Lime essential oil
Olive oil
Salmon

Mix the first 4 ingredients in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate.  Put the salmon on a baking sheet and cook at 425 degrees for 25 min.  Top with salsa and cook for 10 – 15 more minutes.


The sample lady said you could add jalapenos if you'd like, but I don't care for jalapenos so I didn't include them.

This post was a little bit of everything.  I'll try to stay focused more on one topic next time. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

TGIF



I never thought Friday would get here this week.  It has been a LOOOOONG week!  Hubby was out of town and I was busy with different things.  He got back home this afternoon, so everything can fall back into place now.  I brought chicken home for dinner, but didn't know how I wanted to prepare it.  I went through some recipes and found one I don't think I ever tried.  It was easy, quick, and very tasty!  Perfect for a Friday night!

Chicken Nacho Bake

4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz. each)
1/2 cup  chunky salsa
2 drops of doTERRA Cumin essential oil
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
1/2 cup  crushed corn tortilla chips
1/2 cup 2% Mexican Style Finely Shredded Four Cheese 

Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Place chicken in a baking dish. Slice three cuts on top of each chicken breast with sharp knife.  In a bowl, mix salsa and sour cream.  Sprinkle the top of the chicken with the crushed tortilla chips.  Evenly spread salsa mixture on top of the chips.  Bake the chicken for 20 min. Remove from oven; sprinkle with cheese. Bake for  an additional 10 min.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lazy Day Recipe




Today was a lazy, lay around kind of day.  I enjoyed every minute of it too.  Too bad I have to go back to work tomorrow.  I could do this all the time.  This is the perfect recipe for a lazy day.  You put everything in one pot to cook so you only have one pot to clean up.

I tried to take a picture, but my camera battery was dead.  Dang!



Chicken Zucchini Mushroom Pasta

4 ½ cups of water
1 lb mushrooms
2 Tb. minced garlic
1 cup of peas, frozen
Italian Seasoning to taste
2 zucchini, sliced
1 lb. spaghetti or fettuccini (I used whole grain)
salt and pepper to taste
½  cup milk
2 Tb. butter
2 tsp. flour
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1 diced chicken breast, if desired

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, combine spaghetti, mushrooms, zucchini, peas, garlic, Italian seasoning, and 4 1/2 cups water; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until pasta is cooked thoroughly and liquid has cooked out, about 10 - 14 minutes. Mix milk, butter, and flour.  Stir in Parmesan and milk mixture.

Add chicken, if desired.  Mix well.

 

What is Heavy Cream?

Have you ever gone to the store and looked for Heavy Cream?  I have.  I couldn't find it.  It must go by another name.  I did discover that whipping cream is NOT the same as heavy cream.  I went online and found this recipe.  It sounds easier to make your own than go to the grocery store and buy it.

Heavy Cream Substitute

3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup butter

Melt the butter.  Pour it into the milk, and stir until blended.

Tip: If you use low-fat milk, add a tablespoon of gluten free flour to the mixture to thicken.
          Makes 1 cup of heavy cream.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Oh, Bananas!

I found this recipe on another person's blog and made a couple of changes.  She was using some types of flour I had never heard of.  I'm sure that using those types of flour are just as good and probably healthier, but I wasn't going out tonight to try and locate them.  We have had some snowy, sleety, rainy weather today and getting out tonight did not rank high in the things I needed to do.  These muffins are SO GOOD!!!  A couple of months ago, I had some bananas I didn't use.  I sliced them up, put them in ziploc bags, and put them in the freezer.  They worked GREAT!  I squished them up in the bags before putting them in the mixture.  So ... if you have some bananas that are going bad, don't throw them away!  Slice them up and put them in the freezer so you can use them later!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups of self - rising flour
3 over ripe bananas
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup of almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup of milk chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix first 5 ingredients together.  Mix well.  Add in chocolate chips.  Spoon into muffin tins.  Bake for  15-18 minutes until golden brown.  Cool completely and store in the refrigerator.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

This one is so Versatile!

I wanted something new for dinner the other night and a friend (Thanks Suzanne!) told me about a recipe she found on Pinterest. It's good, easy, and delicious.  We ate it over rice the first night, made burritos with it another night, and then I ate it over a salad for lunch.  Just thinking about it makes me want it again!

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chile


2 frozen chicken breasts
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can corn kernels, do not drain
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
1 Tb. cumin or 3 drops doTERRA cumin essential oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese

Cook in a crock pot for 6- 8 hours.  Stir a couple of times during the day. 
Before serving, use 2 forks to shred the chicken up. Stir again.
Serve over rice.