Wednesday, October 28, 2009

7-Up Apple Dumplings

Apple dumplings just scream fall comforting desserts to me. Although I'm not an apple dessert fan, per say, I do like apple dumplings once or twice a year.

This happens to be one of my husbands favorite desserts. When I found this recipe at Annie's Recipes, I knew that I had to try it. The recipes on this website are all pretty simple to make and most of them use basic, every day ingredients. I'm adding it to the Cooking with Alicia & Annie Blog Event for October.

True to that statement, here's the simple ingredients and the directions to this recipe: (my changes in bold). This recipe seemed to be a little jumbled up but with my additions and changes, the apple dumplings turned out beautifully.

7-Up Apple Dumplings

2 (10 oz.) bottles of 7-Up
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 c. butter - the recipe calls for butter but does not include the amt. in the ingredients. I add this
2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c. shortening
1/2 c. milk - I subbed 1/4 c. vanilla yogurt + 1/4 c. water, stirred together
1/4 c. butter - you will need extra butter but probably not this much -directions on what I did below in recipe.
6 med. apples - my apples were on the small-to barely medium size and worked well- much bigger and there wouldn't have been enough dough to cover them.
7 TBSP sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon to sprinkle on apples - I used 4 TBSP sugar and 1 TBSP cinnamon


In a saucepan combine 7-Up, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves.

Add butter (amt. above added by me) and stir until melted. Set aside.

Pare and core 6 apples, leaving apple whole.

Sift flour, salt, baking powder.

Cut in shortening.

Add milk and stir until moistened.

Roll out and cut into 6" to 7" squares. Place apple in center of each square.

Combine 7 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon in center of each apple.

Dot each with 2 teaspoons butter. (I cut 2 TBSP butter into 3 equal pieces and stuck one piece into the center of each apple.)

Fold corners of pastry over apple and pinch edges.

Arrange in 9"x13" baking dish.

Dot with 3 tablespoons butter. -I didn't do this step.

Pour 7-Up syrup over all.

Bake in 425 degree oven for 35 minutes.- Mine were done in 30 minutes.

It smells so good in our house! I wish that you could click on a button and smell it!

Linking up with:

Gooseberry Patch: Fall's Favorite Fruits

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Birthday Cake!

Happy Birthday to you.....
Happy Birthday to you....
Happy Birthday dear Andy...
Happy Birthday to you!

Now let's eat cake!!

The design of this cake was all planned out by Andy. He decided that he wanted me to bake a white cake with white icing in a bundt pan and then fill in the middle with ice cream.

I tossed this idea around for almost a week before I decided "what the heck", I would make it just the way he wanted it. I decided to color it orange and green like a pumpkin since it was so close to Halloween. Both kids got a kick out of that.

This recipe for the cake turned out very light and fluffy with a great taste. Simply a good birthday cake recipe!

I changed the number of servings from 12 to 15 on to make sure that I had a full bundt pan. That amount was perfect.

Simple White Cake - 15 servings
(My changes in bold)

1-1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons butter, room temp.
2-1/2 eggs - I used 2
2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour - I used 1 3/4 C. only
2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons milk
orange paste food coloring - I added it for color

My instructions on baking:
Preheat oven to 350*

Lightly grease and flour a bundt pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time. Mix until well combined. Stir in vanilla.

In a separate bowl stir together flour and baking powder. Mix the dry ingredients into the sugar mixture. Add milk and mix until creamy. Stir in orange food coloring.

Spoon cake mixture into the bundt pan.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until a knife stuck into the center of the cake, comes out clean.

Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan, and then invert onto a plate. Cool completely before icing.

We are a buttercream icing family. Thankfully, it's one of the easiest recipes to whip up with very few ingredients.

I knew that I was going to color the icing so I wasn't worried about it being off white from using all butter and brown vanilla. If you want a bright white icing, replace some or all of the butter with shortening and the brown vanilla with clear vanilla.

Easy Buttercream Frosting

4 C. powdered sugar
1 C. butter - room temp.
1 tsp vanilla
2TBSP milk
paste food coloring of your choice

Cream all ingredients together, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl frequently. As a rule of thumb, mix this icing for at least 5 minutes to make sure that it is light and fluffy. Stir in food coloring until thoroughly mixed.

Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

To finish our birthday cake....

Frost cake and fill the middle of the cake with scoops of chocolate ice cream.

Refrigerate any leftover cake.

Happy Birthday Baked Mac 'n' Cheese & Meatloaf

Today is my son's 12th's birthday so we celebrated with all of his favorites. On the menu was a new recipe for baked macaroni and cheese and family favorite recipes for meatloaf and sauteed green beans.

Both of the kids helped with cooking dinner and dessert. It's fun to get them involved to see how they are growing up and what they are able to do to help. Andy did a lot of chopping and stirring today. Alexis helped out a lot by being the "gofer".

I found a new recipe for baked macaroni and cheese today. This dish turned out creamy and cheesey and really good. I followed the recipe as per the directions with the only changes being that I cooked 2 lbs of small shell pasta and multiplied the rest of the ingredients by 3 to make sure that I had plenty of leftovers. This made enough for a full 9 x13 dish + a full 9 x9 dish.

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Cooking Procedure:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
3. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes.
4. Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
5. Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

You can see the original recipe here.

Such a great dinner!

The recipe for this fabulous meatloaf is here on my blog.

The sauteed green beans are super easy:

1 bag of frozen thin string beans
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp onion powder
drizzle of olive oil

Saute all in a frying pan over medium heat until heated through.

There's leftover meatloaf for sandwiches and plenty of mac n cheese for another meal.

Be on the lookout for birthday cake in the next posting!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes & Ham

I love being able to throw dinner into the crockpot and walk away from it! The problem I find a lot with this method is that many meals turn out tasting the same way no matter what you do to switch thing up a bit.

Tonight's dinner wasn't like that. It was scalloped potatoes and ham in the crockpot. Even my husband said that this meal brought back nice memories of meals when he was growing up.

Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Ham - I used about 1 lb of deli ham
8-10 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 onions, diced- forgot to add them!
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Peel potatoes and dice up the ham.

Layer half of the potatoes, ham and onions into the crockpot. Top with half of the cheese.
Repeat for a second layer. Spoon the soup on top of the cheese on the second layer.

Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.

I found this recipe on a blog called The Coupon "High". Check it out if you get the chance. It's a great blog. She does a break down for the cost of this meal.

I followed her recipe but I forgot to add the onion. I was also going to add canned mushrooms to it but I forgot them, too. (trying to do too many things at once.) The meal was still really good even without those ingredients. The next time I make this (yep, I will definitely make this again!), I will use ham steak instead of deli ham for a better texture.

I had planned on baking apple dumplings today but I ran out of time this evening because I had to hunt down a work coat that we ordered for my husband. After finding the order, someone on their end sent the wrong size inner coat (2 coats in one) so I had to call 2 times to straighten things out but since I called after hours, I was on hold for long periods of time. So... no dumplings.

Hopefully I'll get them made tomorrow. I'm still not sure what I am going to do for a BD cake for my son. It will be a spur of the moment decision. Tween emotions and hormones are definitely flying around here! UGH!! Calgon take me away!


Adding this one to Crock Pot Wednesdays! Take a few minutes to check out tons of other crockpot recipes over there!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I'm posting both a dinner menu for this week and a dessert menu since we are celebrating Halloween and my son's birthday this week.

Dinner Menu

Sunday - Chicken & Dumpling Soup with Grilled Cheese

Monday - Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes & Ham

Tuesday - Andy's 12th Birthday! His favs--meatloaf, baked mac & cheese, sauteed green beans

Wednesday - Turkey Sloppy Joes (didn't make these on the other menu), Pasta Salad

Thursday - Lasagna & Homemade Bread

Friday - Stir Fry Teriyaki Pork Fajitas w/rice - will post the recipe after dinner

Saturday - Homemade Pizza (bread machine recipe) and Salad - will post the recipe after dinner

Dessert Menu

Sunday - Black Widow Bars (Cakes)

Monday - recipe to be announced Cooking with Alicia and Annie Contest (postponed)

Tuesday -Andy's BD cake -- his choice: White Cake with Chocolate Icing with Ice Cream in it. OMG, I have to get creative here! Wish me luck!!

Wednesday - Harvest Muffins & Pumpkin Smoothies - will post recipes after trying them

Thursday - Ice Cream Pumpkin Pie - will post recipe after trying it

Friday - My daughter's School Fall Festival - making crispy rice treats from "My Girl Paula" group - will post recipes afterwards

Saturday - Out Trick or Treating! :)

Thanks for looking!! Why not sign up to follow me and to receive emails so that you don't miss out on any recipes that are being posted after I post my menus! I'll be sure to return the favor!

Looking for more menu ideas? Look here for many more ideas!!

Halloween Black Widow Bars

I've decided to join in on this month's fun over at the Cooking with Alicia & Annie Blog Event.

My entry is call Halloween Black Widow Bars.

The recipes says to bake it in a round pan so that the cake will resemble one large spider web but since I don't have a pan like that, I decided to bake it in a 9 x 9 square pan and then cut the cake into small individual servings using a round cookie cutter.

My little individual cakes turned out to be very cute. But when eating it, the cake and icings, are very rich...making even my little cakes just too much for one serving. To me, the cake has sort of peanut butter/chocolate chip bread consistency instead of a cake consistency. The chocolate icing is soooo good! I think that my daughter and I could've just sat there eating it out of the bowl. The icing on my little cakes did not get hard like a cake icing would. I'm going to store the leftovers in the frig. I might even pop one or two into the freezer.

If you read the instructions all of the way through, you will see that it says that this cake serves 20. I thought for sure that this was a typo but now that I've made it, I assure you that it is not. A small sliver of this cake with it's delicious icing is all that is required to satisfy your sweet tooth least for a few moments. I would suggest using a round cake pan as instructed in the recipe.

(and now for an embarrassing OOPS! Look at the spider webs on my little cakes. I indented the lines the wrong way. Instead of drawing the lines on the circles from the inside circle out, I started at the outside circle and went in. Oh well, this is our secret! They'd still look cute with little spiders sitting on the webs.)

Chicken & Dumpling Soup with Grilled Cheese Sammies

I made an easy, peasy meal today that everyone was more than happy with. I love it when dinner comes together easily and I still get rave reviews from my family.

We had a crazy fun afternoon cheering our Steelers on to victory!! Then we watched my dh's Jets go crazy and win their game, too! It was a great day for football!!

Ok....back to the food.

Growing up, my Mom used to make homemade flat dumplings to go into pots of soup or beans. I've always been a bit afraid to try making them myself. I've been told that homemade dumplings are so easy to make but now that I've found the next best thing, I'm not really eager to go through the trouble of making them myself. I've been using a frozen flat dumpling called Anne's old fashioned flat dumplings. These dumplings are so good!

Chicken & Dumpling Soup
12 C. of chicken stock or chicken broth
5 lg. carrots, diced into small pieces
2 celery ribs, diced very small -my family won't eat it any other way
2 C. of leftover cooked chicken
1 box of flat dumplings

Dump everything except dumplings into a pot. Bring to a rolling boil and then reduce heat to low, simmering for 45 minutes.

Turn the heat back up to high and bring soup to a boil once again. Drop dumplings into the soup, stirring frequently so that they don't stick together. Cook as directed on box. I broke the dumpling strips into thirds so that they weren't so hard to keep on a spoon when you are eating the soup.

Serve with grilled cheese sammies.

I used honey wheat bread and Colby-Jack cheese for the grilled cheese sandwiches. MMM! They were so good with the ooey gooey cheese dripping out of them!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

I love trying new recipes that include pumpkin in the ingredients. You can use pumpkin so many different ways! Today I'm using it to make a wonderful cheesecake bar.

It's hard to eat just one of these!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

1 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. packed golden brown sugar
5 tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans or walnuts
1 (8 oz.) pkg. softened cream cheese
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. Libby's solid pack pumpkin
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350*

* Combine flour and brown sugar in medium bowl.
* Cut in butter to make a crumb mixture.
* Stir in nuts.
* Set aside 3/4 cup mixture for topping.
* Press remaining mixture into bottom of 8 x 8 baking pan.
* Bake for 15 minutes. Cool slightly.

* Combine cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, allspice, and vanilla in large mixer bowl. Blend until smooth.
* Pour over baked crust.
* Sprinkle with reserved topping. Using a knife, make an "8" pattern through the mixture to mix it up
* Bake an additional 30-35 minutes.
* Cool before cutting into bars.

**Notes** I used 3 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice in place of the cinnamon and allspice. I like a lot of pumpkin flavor in my dishes. Use less if you don't like such a strong flavor.

My husband and I thought that the bars tasted much better once they were refrigerated and completely cold.

Here is the link for the original recipe.

4 Ingredient Chicken Casserole

Yep, that's right....just 4 ingredients. This chicken casserole is quick to the table on busy nights.

So, what's the ingredients?

What you need:

Cooked shredded chicken - perfect to use a store bought rotisserie chicken or any leftover chicken that's in the frig. I used both chicken breasts from the rotisserie chicken.

4 C. cooked white rice - I used Minute rice but you could use regular long grain, too. I wouldn't recommend Jasmine or any rice like that because it tends to get mushy in this casserole.

2 cans of turkey or chicken gravy, 2 cans of cream of chicken soup or cream of mushroom soup

1 bag of Stove Top stuffing
, cooked per instructions on box.

What you do:

Heat oven to 350*

Lightly spray a 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray.

Spoon the rice into the bottom of the casserole dish.

Top rice with chicken

Spoon stuffing on top of chicken

In a large pot on the stove, combine soups and gravies. Stir in 2 cans of milk. Heat through until warm.

Ladel gravy over the all of the casserole. Use a spoon to push chicken and rice around to make sure that the gravy is seeping down into the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until heated through and the top of the stuffing is starting to brown.

This is one dish that my entire family enjoys. No, it's not a meal that I've slaved over the stove for hours but it does taste like it could be. It's sure is nice to sit down to a home-cooked meal at the end of a busy day!

  Linking up to: 
Gooseberry Patch

Monday, October 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

The flu and viruses wiped out my whole family last week. There wasn't a whole lot of cooking going on. By the beginning of this week, my husband and kids were begging for a good home-cooked meal.

Here's what planned for the week.... Lots of warm fall meals to help make up for the rainy, cold weather that we're having.

Sunday - penne arrabbiata --recipe coming!

Monday - chicken quesadillas

Tuesday - crock pot Asian pork stew with rice - recipe coming!

Wednesday - grilled salmon with honey-soy marinade, sauteed green beans, potatoes - recipe coming!

Thursday - my crock pot chicken stew

Friday - not planned

Saturday - stuffed pasta shells served with white cheese sauce or red sauce (have to please everyone. lol!) - recipe coming!

Be sure to check back throughout the week for each day's recipes! Better yet, sign up to receive my emails or sign up to follow my blog that way you won't miss a recipe!

Check out other menu plans at I'm an Organizing Junkie!
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