Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kids Bake! Watermelon Poke Cupcakes

Watermelon recipes remind me of the sweet tastes of summer. Whether it's for a picnic, birthday or just a family barbecue, these watermelon poke cupcakes are easy for kids to make and look fabulous on your cookout table!

What You Need

1 box white cake mix
1 C. boiling water
1 small box of watermelon Jell-O -- or any red Jell-O
1 - 8oz container of Cool Whip, thawed
red & green liquid food coloring
mini chocolate chips

Getting Ready

Cover table with a plastic table cloth, or even an old shower curtain.

Gather supplies and have everything ready at the work table and within reach.

Make sure that children use pot holders and have some handy wipes or a sink nearby to
wash hands.

Now you are ready to start making watermelon poke cupcakes...

What You Do

Mix cupcakes and bake as directed on box, using cupcake liners. Cool cupcakes.

Stir boiling water into powdered Jell-O until dissolved. Pierce tops of cupcakes several times
with a meat fork or straw. Spoon Jell-O over cupcakes, making sure that the liquid is going
down into the holes. Refrigerate 30 min. Remove from pans.

Tint Cool Whip with red and green food coloring. Using plastic baggies to hold the whipped
topping, pipe a green circle around the outside rim of each cupcake. Fill in the middle with
pink whipped topping. Add mini chocolate chips to represent watermelon seeds.

Store in refrigerator. These cupcakes taste best if eaten the same day as they are made.

Linking up to:

Cupcake Tuesdays @ Hoosier Homemade

Gooseberry Patch Kids Recipe Round Up

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chicken & Peppers Pasta

Here's a hearty, delicious meal that takes just a few minutes to stir together.

I created this chicken dish out of using what I had in the frig. and not wanting to run to the store for anything. All of the flavors blend together so well. Everyone enjoyed it --even my daughter- who claims to hate tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Chicken & Peppers Pasta
1 - 2 lbs of pasta --I used Barilla Rigatoni
3 boneless chicken breasts,
cubed into medium-sized pieces
2 large green peppers, sliced into thin strips
2 small cans of mushrooms, drained well
fresh thyme
minced garlic
red pepper flakes
Italian seasoning
olive oil
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can of mild Rotel tomatoes

Cook pasta. Drain well and keep warm.

At the same time...

Into a large frying pan, add 1/3 C. olive oil, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme (leaves pulled from stems), 2 tsp. minced garlic, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 2 tsp. Italian seasonings and cubed chicken. Cooked over medium-high heat until the chicken is no longer pink - do not brown chicken. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Cover and keep warm.

Into the same frying pan, add 3 TBSP of olive oil, green peppers and mushrooms. Stir frequently, cooking over medium heat until peppers begin to soften. Stir chicken mixture back into the pan of peppers and mushrooms. Stir in Rotel tomatoes and crushed tomatoes. Mix well. Cook until warmed through.

Ladle sauce over warm pasta.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Makes a great casserole the next day. Stir together remaining sauce and pasta. Pour into a casserole dish. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes @ 350*.

Cookie Carnival - Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

After spending 4 days on the couch with an aching back, I decided that I needed to try to get back into the swing of things. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to squeeze in the time to make the cookies for this month's Clean Plate Club Cookie Carnival. Since we ate dinner early tonight, my son and I decided to go ahead and make them.

The recipe was simple enough for him to follow. As I cut up the strawberries, he measured out all of the dry ingredients. I didn't have enough all-purpose flour so I ended up using self-rising flour and leaving the baking power out of the recipe. I also didn't use sanding sugar, I just topped mine with extra granulated sugar.

Looking at the batter, I'm wondering how these will turn out--it looks a little soupy to me. I'm going to go ahead and bake them anyway.

I'll write more later on once they are done baking.

It's starting to smell really good in here. :)


I just took the cookies out of the oven. They baked for 25 minutes. They've spread a lot more than I thought they would so I have really big strawberry cookies. lol!

They're really pretty cookies. Great for a July 4th celebration where you want to add touches of red color in your dessert table.

They really do taste like strawberry shortcake. My husband and daughter liked them. Me, I'm not crazy about them. That shouldn't take anything away from these cookies because I really don't care for real strawberry shortcake.

While we were busy trying the cookies, my son was busy filling a bowl with chocolate pudding and whipped cream. I grabbed his spoon and added a dollop of whipped cream (with a little chocolate pudding in there, too!) in between 2 shortcake cookies. Much better! :)

Thanks, Kate, for another great month! I'm looking forward to next month!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

My husband really likes pineapple upside down cake. Me, I've never really been a fan of it. Every once in a while I make it for him.

I found this recipe in an old cookbook of mine. I decided to give it a try since it didn't require much time in the kitchen.

Most of the ingredients in this recipe are staples in most kitchens.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1/4 C. butter or margarine
2/3 C. packed brown sugar
9 pineapple rings (from 14-oz can), drained
9 maraschino cherries
1 1/3 C. all-purpose flour
1 C. granulated sugar
1/3 C. shortening
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 C. milk
1 egg

Heat oven to 350°F. In 9-inch square pan, melt butter in oven. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter. Arrange pineapple
slices over brown sugar. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice.

In medium bowl, beat remaining ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high
speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter over pineapple and cherries.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately place heatproof serving plate upside down
over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan.

Serve warm.

Store cake loosely covered.

***Comments*** The cake turned out really moist but I think that it's lacking flavor. I should've added some vanilla to the cake mix. It has potential but it definitely needs some added ingredients to please me.

***Update*** My husband loved this cake. He took two pieces of it to work with him since he didn't have any dessert last night. He told me that he doesn't want me to change a thing with the recipe.

Monday, June 22, 2009

BBQ Beef Sandwiches

I'm trying to come up with simpler meals for our busy summer schedules. Tonight's dinner worked out great because I cooked beef for the sandwiches in the crockpot during last night's beef stir fry dinner. The homemade bbq sauce took just a few minutes to put together and cook.

BBQ Beef Sandwiches

2 lbs beef, cooked and shredded
12 oz. ketchup
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. sugar
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 TBSP liquid smoke

Cook beef and set aside.

In a medium pot, over medium-high heat, stir together remaining ingredients. Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in shredded beef and heat thoroughly.

I served these bbq sandwiches on store bought Ciabatta rolls.

I had planned on corn-on-the-cob and microwaved potatoes to go along with the sandwiches but there wasn't a decent ear of corn to be found around our area. So...on to plan B....BBQ sandwiches, potatoes and canned corn.

Chocolate Covered Popcorn

My kids and I usually break out the popcorn for movie nights. Holding true with our tradition, we decided to make some popcorn before our movie on Saturday night. Because it was rather late, we decided on microwave popcorn instead of popping our own.

For an extra sweet treat, we decided to make a quick version of chocolate covered popcorn. You have a choice when you make this... to either use plain popcorn or butter flavored popcorn. The latter happens to be my favorite.

If you've never tried chocolate covered popcorn, you don't know what you're missing!

This version is quick and easy....

Pop 1 bag of butter flavored popcorn.

Spread the popcorn out on a baking sheet.

Melt 2-3 squares of almond bark the microwave.

Using a fork, drizzle the chocolate all over the popcorn.

Either leave the tray on the table for the chocolate to air dry or pop the tray into the freezer for 2 minutes. (Of course, we did the latter! We didn't want to wait.)

You can make this ahead of time and store it in plastic Ziploc bags.

It's great for gift-giving, too!

MMM!! Delicious!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thrifty Thursdays - Thrifty Finds

I love, love, love to shop at thrift stores and yard sales! I have found some really good things during the last two weeks.

Since this is Thrify Thursdays the cooking edition, I'll only talk about my kitchen finds.

At GoodWill, I found a spice rack:

I've been searching for glass containers for my array of different spices and herbs that are taking up cupboard space. This set is brand new with plastic shaker tops and screw on lids. They are just waiting for me to find the perfect little labels for them. ;) $2.99 for the this set.

Last weekend, I found this wok at a yard sale.

It was pretty dusty from sitting in the lady's basement but other than that in excellent condition. It was never used. She even kept the booklets that came with it. There's lots of recipes included in the booklets. Yay! For $1.00, I couldn't pass it up!

Has anyone else had luck at thrift stores or yard sales? I'd love to hear what you've found.

I'm still searching for a set of ramekins. I know that there's a set of 4 or more out there somewhere for a really good (aka cheap) price. I know that someone like me has them sitting on a shelf collecting dust and that one day they are going to set them out for me to find. I know this because I did just that... I bought 8 new ramekins from an Oneida outlet store in NY years ago. I never used them so I gave them to GoodWill....and now I'm kicking myself for it. Yes, I could go buy a new set of 4 for $10. or more but what fun would that be?!?

Are you searching for something like this?

See what others are talking about on

Thrifty Thursdays - Egglicious!

Two weeks ago I was thrilled to find that large eggs at Aldi's were on sale for 79 cents a dozen! This is a great thrifty find for me!

Since I've been cooking and baking more from scratch, I go through a lot of eggs. I bought 4 dozen that day but I now I wish that I'd bought twice that many.

Did you know that raw eggs that are stored continuously in the refrigerator will last 4-5 weeks beyond the expiration date on the carton?

Are you storing your eggs the right way? Eggs should be stored in the carton on a middle or lower shelf inside the refrigerator - not in the door.

Beyond using the eggs in recipes, here are a few of our favorites ways to prepare eggs:

Hard Boiled Eggs
(Pictured above)

With lots of practice, I've finally found a way to cook beautiful hard boiled eggs.

Add one layer of raw eggs to the bottom of a pot. Do not overcrowd the eggs. Cover with cold water. Over high heat, bring water to a rolling boil. Cook for eggs for 7 minutes.

Remove pot from burner and cover tightly with a lid, leaving the eggs and water in the pot to sit for another 7-10 minutes.

Rinse eggs in very cold water. The shells should come off very easily. Enjoy!

Refrigerate any leftovers for up to one week.

Poached Eggs on Toast

An easy way to poach eggs without an egg poacher is to make them in a big frying pan. Add 6 inches of water to the pan, along with a splash of white vinegar. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. If you are cooking several eggs, you will probably need to add more water to the pan in order to maintain enough water to poach the eggs.

Break the eggs, one at a time, into a small dish to make sure they are ok. Gently drop each egg into the water.

Cook for 3-4 minutes until the whites of the eggs are solid and not slimy, but the yolks are still soft.

Using a slotted spoon, gently scoop up an egg and place on top of a piece of warm (buttered if you prefer) toast.

Deviled Eggs

6 eggs sliced in half. Remove yellows and place in a small bowl. Stir in 1-2 TBSP of mayo and 1-2 TBSP spicy brown mustard. Stir until the mixture is really creamy.

Add mixture to a small plastic baggie. Snip of one corner of the baggie and pipe the egg filling into the egg white cups.

Sprinkle with spicy creole seasoning (optional).

**tip** An easy way to pack deviled eggs for a picnic is to add the yellows, mayo and mustard directly into a Ziploc baggie. Mix all of the ingredients together right in the bag. Store in a cooler along with the egg white cups. When its time to eat, simply snip an end off one side of the baggie and pipe the filling into the eggs. Throw the baggie away when you are finished. Minimal cleanup!

and last but not least...

Egg Salad

My recipe for egg salad is very simple and basically the same as a recipe posted at Annie's Recipes with a couple of exceptions highlighted below:

6 hard boiled eggs, grated fine - I rough chop mine with a knife
2 tablespoons minced parsley - I didn't have it so I left it out
1/3 cup minced pimiento-stuffed olives - left it out
1 tablespoons prepared Dijon mustard
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced scallions
Lettuce leaves- I used bread


Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, and mix thoroughly.

Refrigerate, covered, at least 30 minutes.

Serve atop lettuce leaves or spread it in a sandwich.

Leftovers can be kept a couple of days.

Makes about 2 cups.

**notes** We happen to like the extra zing that mustard gives to egg salad. If you don't like it, just leave it out of the recipe and replace it with mayo.

I don't usually add onion to my egg salad but this time I decided to give it a try. It was a nice change - even though you can barely see it because I had to chop it up so that my kids didn't notice it!

I am submitting this egg salad recipe to the Cooking with Alicia & Annie Blog Event going on this month.

This month's prize is really cool! Stop by and check it out.

I hope that you've found a thrifty way to celebrate Thursdays. Click here to see what others have come up with.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dad's Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

What could be more perfect than pairing chocolate and peanut butter? These delicious cupcakes bring both flavors together in one big bite. Personalize them for your Dad for Father's Day.

This frosting is so good and pairs perfectly with the cupcakes -- but it's just as good licking it off of a spoon. heehee!

1-boxed Devils Food Cake Mix, prepared for cupcakes
peanut butter frosting*
chocolate almond bark for melting
wax paper

Prepare cake mix for cupcakes as directed on box. Cool completely before frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/3 C. butter, softened
1 C. creamy peanut butter
3 TBSP milk
2-2 1/2 C. powdered sugar

Using an electric mixer beat all ingredients until thick and creamy. Chill frosting until ready to use. Bring to room temperature to use. Using an icing bag with a long pointed tip, stick the tip into the cupcake to fill it with frosting - be careful to not go through the bottom of the cupcake with the tip. Frost the tops of the cupcakes.

DAD Signs

Melt 4 blocks of almond bark in a microwave safe bowl for 30-second intervals until chocolate is melted. Pour chocolate into an icing bag fitted with a writing tip or into a plastic baggie. Snip off the very tip of one end of baggie.

Lay a sheet of wax paper on a baking sheet or directly onto the table. Pipe the word DAD onto the wax paper using the chocolate. Make sure all of the letters are connected so that it will harden as one piece of chocolate. Allow chocolate to dry and harden. Place a chocolate DAD on top of each cupcake.

Chinese 5-Spice Peanut Brittle

You’ll wake up your taste buds when you bite into our version of an old-fashioned favorite. In this recipe, peanut brittle meets tongue-tickling spices for a great new taste. It’s quick and easy to whip it since it all cooks in the microwave!

What You Need

½ C. light corn syrup
1 C. white sugar
1 C. dry roasted peanuts
¾ tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp baking soda

What You Do

1. Make sure to measure all ingredients carefully.

2. Very light grease a baking sheet with cooking spray or oil and set aside. Do not be tempted to oil the pan with a heavy hand because that will result in oily brittle.

3. In a large glass bowl that will fit into the microwave, stir together the corn syrup, sugar, peanuts and 5 spice powder until thoroughly mixed together.

4. Microwave on high for 6 minutes.

5. Stir in the butter and microwave for an additional 30 seconds.

6. Remove from microwave and gently stir in baking soda until the mixture is light and foamy.

7. Using a rubber spatula that has been sprayed with cooking spray, scrape the mixture out onto the greased baking sheet. Smooth out to a thin layer and allow to cool for at least 1 hour.

8. Once cool, break the brittle into pieces and store in a well-sealed container.

** You can easily omit the spices from the recipe for a plain version of peanut brittle.

Cheesy Herb Alphabet Breadsticks

Kids will love making Dad these cheesy breadsticks for Father's Day. This easy recipe for kids is perfect for little ones to show off their skills as they spell out D-A-D using bread dough. The best part of this gift is that they get to help Dad eat it!

What You Need

1 package - 8 sticks - refrigerated garlic breadstick dough
(or plain breadsticks if garlic is not available)
1 egg
2 tsp water
1/4 C. shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. dried Italian seasonings
1 tsp. garlic power (if using plain breadsticks)

What You Do

Preheat oven as directed on breadstick package.

Tear dough into 8 pieces (already precut). Unroll one piece at a time and then fold in half from tip to tip. Gently roll the dough sticks on a lightly floured table to remove the square edges. Lay the dough directly onto the baking pan as you are forming the letters. Form the letter "D" by using 2 breadsticks for each one (4 total) & the letter "A" by using 2 1/2 breadsticks. With the leftover dough you can make "#1" or an "!" to go along with DAD.

Make an egg wash by beating together 1 egg + 2 tsp. water in a small cup. Brush the egg wash over each letter. This will be the "glue" to hold the seasoning onto the breadsticks.

In a small bowl, mix together Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic (if needed). Sprinkle on top of each letter.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for 2-3 minutes on baking sheet. Serve warm with a side of spaghetti sauce.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Spicy Turkey Burgers

Tonight's dinner was quick to put together and very delicious. My spicy turkey burger recipe is sort of a spin off from Rachel Ray's Southwest Turkey Burger.

Spicy Turkey Burgers

2 lbs ground turkey - I used a mix of dark
and white meat to keep the burgers moist
2 tsp. of minced garlic
3 tsp. of Montreal steak seasoning
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 medium onion, chopped fine
Pepper Jack cheese
onion buns
Sweet Baby Rays bar-b-que sauce

Mix all ingredients together just until everything has been incorporated. Do not over mix.

Shape into 6 large burgers or 8 smaller burgers. Grill for 3 -5 minutes on each side, over med-high heat. Top with cheese, close the lid and grill just until the cheese melts.

Serve on onion buns with lettuce and bar-b-que sauce.

To go along with this, I made wacky mac pasta salad.

Wacky Mac Pasta Salad

2 bags of wacky mac pasta, cooked and drained well
1 bottle of Italian dressing
Salad Supreme seasoning
Colby Jack chunk cheese

This is a mix-to-taste salad where there really are no set amounts for the ingredients. For all of this pasta, I used about 3/4 of a lg. bottle of Italian dressing, 1/2 bottle of Salad Supreme, 1/2 block of Colby Jack cheese cut into small pieces, 3 plum tomatoes and 1 large cucumber.
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