Taco Ring

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I found this recipe over at Tried and True Cooking with Heidi and knew at a glance that my family would love it. I saved it for a crazy night when I was in a rush, had the kids help me throw it together, and sure enough I had to nab my husband's portion out quickly, otherwise they would have eaten it all. I might try and use some homemade bread dough with it another time, so I can add whole wheat flour, but then again that would take the ease out of preparing it. Thanks Heidi for a great idea!

The ingredients:

2 cans crescent rolls
1 lb. ground beef ( I used ground turkey)
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Shredded lettuce
Diced tomato
chopped onion
Sour cream
Black olives

Cook and drain beef (or turkey). Add seasoning and cook according to seasoning package directions (add 3/4 cup water and bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes).

Arrange unrolled crescent foll triangles in a circle shape, overlapping them with the points facing outwards.

Place meat around the ring and sprinkle with cheese. Fold triangle points over filling and bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes. Place toppings in the open part in the center and serve. Makes 6-8 servings. Thanks Heidi!(mine definitely did not turn out as pretty Heidi's)



Maple Muffins

Thursday, May 28, 2009

These muffins are perfect for either a hearty breakfast or a fun dessert. They're soft, moist muffins with a yummy crumb topping. I didn't have any maple flavoring, so I tried it without. They were still good, but the maple flavor definitely would have had a stronger presence with the extract in there. This recipe is extra cool since it is from a cookbook that I won from a giveaway from Harmony over at Wholesome Feasts. It was the first time I'd ever won anything from the internet and I've been having fun trying out all these fun new recipes. You'll have to be sure to go over to Wholesome Feasts and check out all of her ideas and recipes.

The ingredients:


2 cups flour (I used part whole wheat)

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sour cream

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. maple extract (optional)


3 Tbs. flour

3 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. nuts, chopped (I used walnuts)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbs. butter

TOPPING DIRECTIONS: Combine flour, sugar, nuts, and cinnamon; mix together with fork. Using pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut in butter until crumbly.

MUFFIN DIRECTIONS: In large mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In another bowl combine milk, butter, syrup, sour cream, egg, and vanilla; add to dry ingredients, mixing just until moistened. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins 2/3 full. Prepare topping; sprinkle over batter. Bake at 400° for 16-20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.



Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pretty much my daughter loves to bake. Of course this is a good thing and a bad thing. Ever since she started baking I've gained a few extra pounds that just won't seem to go away. On the other hand with the marvelous things that she bakes it's hard to complain too much. This is another recipe she found in the Taste of Home Baking Book we have checked out from the library. Now that she's tried a few of the recipes from there, I don't know if she'll ever be able to let it go. It may end up being her birthday present (which of course is really a present to me too.) This recipe makes a light cake-y brownie with the yummy moist cream cheese swirled in.

The ingredients:
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1-1/2 squares (1-1/2 oz.) unsweetened chocolate
2 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

1 package (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a small saucepan, combine the water, butter, and chocolate; cook and stir over low heat until smooth. Cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs and sour cream; beat on low just until combined. Stir in chocolate mixture until smooth.

In another bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla; set aside. Spread chocolate batter into a greased 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Drop cream cheese mixture by tablespoonfuls over batter; cut through the batter with a knife to swirl. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into 24 bars.



Pesto Tortellini and Vegetable Salad

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I had this recipe clipped out of the newspaper a from a few years ago. I adjusted it a little to fit our family's preferences, and ended up totally impressed with this fresh, flavorful, and easy summer meal. The kids picked around the onions, but otherwise all came back for seconds. I look forward to the little bit that there was left over for my lunch tomorrow. I love these filling meals that don't heat up my house and it's perfect for a Memorial Day picnic!

The ingredients:
1 Tbs. olive oil
16 oz. cheese filled tortellini (in the refrigerated or frozen section of grocery store)
1 yellow pepper, cut into matchstick pieces
1 red pepper, cut into matchstick pieces
2 Tbs. red onion, diced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 shallot, peeled and finely diced
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed and cooked in boiling water for 3 minutes
1/2 cup chopped black olives
1/3 cup prepared pesto
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil with a tablespoon of olive oil Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Remove tortellini to a bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the pasta water.

Add the peppers, onion, scallions, shallot, peas, olives, and pesto to the tortellini; toss to combine. If the "sauce" is too thick, add another tablespoon of the pasta water. Season with salt and pepper.

Refrigerate for up to 1 day before serving. Makes 6 servings.



Chipotle Chicken Fajitas

Friday, May 22, 2009

A year ago grilling was my husband's job, which pretty much meant we ate hot dogs or hamburgers every Saturday. One day last Spring I got a bug to give the grill a try too. Glen had to take me outside to instruct me on every tiny detail about how it worked, since I had always kept myself oblivious to this backyard appliance. What I soon discovered is that we had been missing out all these years and soon our summer menu was filled with fun things from the grill that didn't heat up our house! These Chipotle Chicken Fajitas are my first experiment of this summer and I have to say they were a smashing success.

Click here for printable recipe.  

The ingredients:
1 bottle (12 oz.) chili sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (MAKE SURE YOU TAKE THE SEEDS OUT or it will make it exceedingly spicy)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
4 medium green peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
10 flour tortillas (8-inch)
1-1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

Place the chili sauce, lime juice, and chipotle peppers (add one at a time to taste) in a food processor; cover and process until blended. Transfer 1/2 cup to a large resealable plastic bag; add chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 1-4 hours.

Pour remaining marinade into a small bowl; add the vinegar, brown sugar, and molasses. Cover and refrigerate.

On six metal or soaked wooden skewers, alternately thread chicken, green peppers, and onion. Brush with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 10-16 minutes or until chicken is not longer pink, turning occasionally.

Unskewer chicken and vegetables into a large bowl; add 1/2 cup chipotle/molasses mixture and toss to coat. Keep warm.

Grill tortillas, uncovered, over medium heat for 45-55 seconds on each side or until warmed. Top with chicken mixture, tomatoes, cheese, and remaining chipotle/molasses mixture. Makes 10 fajitas.



Polka Dot Cookie Bars

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My eleven-year-old daughter loves baking almost as much as I do!  I often find my recipe books dog eared on the pages where she has found a new recipe to try.  When I checked out the Taste of Home Baking Book from the library she was so excited she could barely contain herself at all the fun new recipes to try.  This recipe is one she found there and decided to make as a gift for her teacher for Teacher Appreciation Week.  Since none of the rest of the kids wanted to go empty handed to school, she was kind enough to share her tasty bounty with the rest of them as well.  I was left with exactly a 1-inch by 1-inch square as my sample, but that small sample was enough to realize that it was a recipe worth keeping.  

The ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2-1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. (10-12 oz.) vanilla or white chips

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in extract.  Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture.  Set aside 1/4 cup vanilla chips; stir remaining chips into batter.  Spread into a greased 15x10x1" baking pan.  Sprinkle with reserved chips.  

Bake at 375 degrees for 18-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Cut into bars.  Makes 3 dozen bars.  



Chili Cornbread Salad

Monday, May 18, 2009

Need something fresh and different to spice up your summer menu?  This is one of those old classics I found in a family recipe book.  My aunt and uncle make this all the time for their family in the summertime and after trying it we just loved all it's cool freshness and savory flavors.   It does make quite a bit, but since it tastes just as good the next day you won't mind eating this as leftovers.  
Click here for printable recipe

The ingredients:

The ingredients:
1 pkg. (8-1/2 oz.) Jiffy cornbread muffin mix

1 can (4-oz) chopped green chilies
1/8 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. cumin
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 envelope ranch dressing mix
2 cans (15-oz. each) pinto or kidney beans, rinsed, dried
2 cans (15-1/4 oz. each) whole kernel corn, drained
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
10 bacon strips, crumbled
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Prepare cornbread mix as indicated on box, then stir in chilies, cumin, and oregano and spread in greased pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  

In a bowl combine mayonnaise, sour cream, and dressing mix.  In a separate bowl, mix corn, tomatoes, green pepper, green onion, bacon, and cheese.  

Crumble 1/2 of cornbread into 9X13" pan.  Then layer 1/2 beans, then 1/2 mayonnaise mixture, and 1/2 corn/bacon mixture.  Repeat layers.  Refrigerate 2 hours.   Serve with a fruit salad and corn bread.   Makes 8-10 main dish servings. 



Lemon Delight Cake

Saturday, May 16, 2009

   With its layer of lemon pie filling and crumb topping this is a dessert you won't soon forget.   Add to the moist lusciousness that it's low fat and easy to make and you'll find this one in your keeper files too!  
The ingredients:

1 pkg. (18-1/4 oz.) lemon cake mix
1-1/3 cups water
3/4 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbs. poppy seeds

1 pkg. (8-oz) reduced fat cream cheese
1 can (15-3/4 oz.) lemon pie filling (our store didn't have this, so I just used a lemon Jell-o cook & serve pudding/pie filling)
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
3 Tbs. flour
1-1/2 Tbs. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp. lemon juice

In a large mixing bowl, beat the first five ingredients on medium speed for 2 minutes. Coat a 9x13x2" baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour; spread half of the batter into the pan.

In another large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in pie filling. beat in powdered sugar. Drop by teaspoonfuls over batter; spread gently. Top with remaining batter. Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Combine glaze ingredient; drizzle over cake. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 12 servings.


Mediterranean Dip

Thursday, May 14, 2009

This is one of those recipes I found in a magazine that I pretty much knew that I would love, just by looking at the ingredients.  I wasn't quite so sure what the rest of the family would think, but decided to try it anyway.   Everyone ended up enjoying it and Glen, in particular, couldn't stop raving over the perfect blend of flavors it had.  The only thing I would have done differently is to cut the tomatoes and cucumber into smaller pieces to make it a little easier to stay on the pita chip.  

The ingredients:  
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup (8-oz.) plain yogurt
1 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. ground coriander
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped 
5 pepperonicinis, sliced (I found these in a jar in the pickle/olive section of the grocery store)
1/2 cup pitted Greek olives, sliced
1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbs. minced fresh parsley
Pita chips or crackers

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, yogurt, oregano, coriander, pepper, and garlic powder.  Spread into a 9-inch pie plate.  Top with tomato, pepperoncinis, olives, cucumber, and parsley, and feta cheese.  Serve with pita chips.  Yields 3-1/2 cups.  



Flemish Carrot Soup

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I found this recipe in a little bit of a round about way. Originally I saw a picture and description of it by Kristen on Whatcha Eatin' , that then linked to Food For a Hungry Soul by Katy. After seeing the glowing reviews and yummy looking pictures on both of them, I decided to give it a try too. The whole time it was cooking, I had hungry kids (large and small) popping their heads in to see what smelled so good. After we actually ate it they were totally smitten, asking if I could make it again sometime soon(a sure sign of a winner!) Thanks Kristen and Katy!

The ingredients:
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 large onion, sliced
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
1-1/2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
1 large baking potato, peeled and cubed
1 Tbs. fresh thyme or 1-1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup milk, plus additional if needed
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs. minced fresh parsley
croutons or French bread

Melt the butter in heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the green onions and onions, cook, stirring until wilted but not browned, about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken broth, carrots, potato, thyme, and bay leaf. Cover, simmer until the vegetables are very soft, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a little. Discard the bay leaf.
Puree the soup in small batches in a blender or food processor. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the milk, adding a little more if the soup is too thick for your liking. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Reheat gently and serve sprinkled with minced parsley. Serve hot with croutons or French bread. Makes 6 servings.



Chocolate Swirl Cake

Sunday, May 10, 2009

In honor of Mother's day I thought I'd include this fun little story about what sweet kids I have!

While my husband was sick in bed for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, my kids found this fun recipe in one of my cooking magazines and surprised me with it (even taking pictures of it along the way). They did not know what a springform pan was, so ours didn't look quite like this one, but boy oh boy for its fun quotient and complete simplicity it was SO, SO good! I hope they surprise me with it another day too. ;)
The ingredients:
1 package (13-oz.) Swiss cake rolls
2-3/4 cups cold milk
2 packages (3.9 oz. each) instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
2 cups Cool Whip

Cut each cake roll into eight slices; set aside any chocolate coating that separates from rolls for garnishment. Line a 9-inch springform pan with cake slices, completely covering the bottom and sides.

Isn't that cute? They even knew enough to take pictures along the way, so I could put it on the blog.

In a small bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Pour over cake. Spread with whipped topping; sprinkle with any reserved chocolate coating. They drizzled ours with a little chocolate syrup. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Makes 8 servings. Happy Mother's Day!



Hearty Chicken Pesto Pizzas

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Every Friday night is pizza night at our house. Sometimes we order out, sometimes I make traditional pizzas, and other nights I'm just in the mood for something totally different. When I found this recipe I got excited. It was fun, different, easy, and looked delicious. Glen and I thoroughly enjoyed this sophisticated twist on pizza. The kids, however, were a little scared off by the non-traditional toppings so I ended up just letting them make their own pita bread pizzas however they wanted.

The ingredients:
4 whole pita breads
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup prepared pesto
2 packages (6-oz each) ready-to use Southwestern chicken strips (I did my own)
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Place pita breads on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. In a small bowl, combine sour cream and pesto. Top each pita with onion mixture;
spread pesto mixture evenly over the onion layer.
Top with chicken, tomatoes, and cheese. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serves 4.



Orange Jello Cream Cake

Monday, May 4, 2009

This easy peasy cake is cool, creamy, and perfect for hot summer days. My son chose this delightful moist cake as his birthday cake this year, except he wanted it lemon-lime flavored rather than orange. Substituting lemon-lime for orange worked great and I imagine any other flavor made by Kool-Aid and Jell-o would work well too!

The ingredients:

1 pkg. lemon cake mix (dry)
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 envelope unsweetened orange Kool-Aid
1 cup water

1 cup boiling water
1 pkg. (3-oz. each) orange Jell-o

1 pkg. (3.4-oz.) instant vanilla pudding
1 pkg. (3-oz. each) orange Jell-o
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups milk
1 carton Cool Whip

In mixing bowl combine cake, Kool-Aid, eggs, water, and oil. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into ungreased 9x13" baking dish and bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes.

Using a meat fork poke holes in cake, then cool for 30 minutes. In a bowl dissolve one package of Jell-o in boiling water, stir in cold water, and pour over cake. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours. In a bowl combine milk, pudding, remaining Jell-o, and beat on low for 2 minutes. Fold in Cool Whip and frost.
(I'm not known for my pretty cakes, but next time I make this cake I plan on making it in 2 round cake pans, popping them out, then adding the Jell-o topping and then putting a Cool Whip layer between them before stacking and frosting.)



Tortilla Turkey Sandwiches

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Need something quick and filling for lunch or dinner? Here's the perfect solution. Tortilla Turkey Sandwiches are filled with a tasty pesto sauce then combined with fresh veggies and deli meat. They're easy enough for the kids to make themselves and tasty enough for the adults to enjoy too!

The ingredients:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbs. mayonnaise
1-1/2 tsp. prepared pesto
4 flour tortillas (8-inches), room temperature
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/2 lb. sliced deli smoked turkey
3/4 cup chopped tomato
1 can (2-1/4 oz.) sliced ripe olives, drained
1 cup shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and pesto until blended. Spread about 2 tablespoons over each tortilla. Layer with lettuce, turkey, tomato, olives, and cheese; roll up. Secure with toothpicks. Makes 4 servings.



About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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