Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sparkling Butter Toffee Cookies

This is one of my favorite cookie recipes!!! I've been making this yummy cookie for several years now. (since 2009) I originally copied this recipe on an index card from the Land O' Lakes website. So that is your first clue that these cookies have lots of buttery goodness!!!

Sparkling Butter Toffee Cookies

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup English or almond toffee bits

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, butter, egg and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy.  Add flour, baking powder and baking soda; reduce speed to low.  Beat until well mixed. Stir in toffee bits by hand.  Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are just lightly browned. (Do Not Over Bake) Sprinkle with sugar while warm. (Makes 5 dozen cookies)

Love this sweet buttery cookie!!! The addition of toffee candy makes it such a unique surprise....a fun change from your typical chocolate chips.  Sometimes I buy the bag of English toffee chips (which you can find in the baking section of the grocery store) or I just break up two or three Heath bars.  These cookies never last long in my house so I like to double the recipe. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pork Chop Marinade

While reorganizing my recipe boxes I came upon this marinade recipe. I always pencil in the date that I first make any new recipe and this recipe was dated April 4, 2007. According to my notes I copied the recipe from a CD-ROM called "Easy Chef's BBQ Master".  

Pork Chop Marinade

1/2 cup cooking oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tablespoon paprika
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
dash Tabasco sauce
2 Tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
8 to 10 lean pork chops

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Place pork chops in a flat casserole pan and pour the marinade over them.  Marinate for several hours (or for about half a day). Keep turning the meat over so they get well soaked.  Grill the chops over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes.  

This is definitely one of my favorite marinade recipes!!! The ingredients are basic staples that you will find in your kitchen. The flavor of the pork chop is so good! Not too spicy...with just enough yummy flavor that doesn't overpower the meat. My kids always ask for seconds....which makes this a perfect family meal!! I've also used this marinade for chicken breasts too!! Thankfully my husband is skilled at the grill and does a great job cooking the meat slowly.  Add this to your weekend grilling routine and I'm sure you'll love it!! Enjoy!

Monday, August 26, 2013

King Ranch Chicken

One of my favorite foods is any type of Mexican style dish!! I love this recipe because it doesn't take much time to put together and can be adapted for your own personal can easily spice it up or keep it mild for the kids.  

I just had to share a picture of my new casserole dish! I found this gorgeous painted 13 x 9 dish at Target recently and have been anxious to use it. Typically I bake desserts and casseroles in clear glass to add this colorful design to my collection was exciting! Such a unique look to bring to the next potluck event!!!

King Ranch Chicken
adapted from the Eat & Explore Oklahoma cookbook

corn tortilla chips
4 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup milk
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Rotel (I use mild)
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 pan with broken tortilla chips. Spread shredded chicken over the top. In a large saucepan, mix and heat the remaining ingredients, except cheese, then pour over the chicken.  Top with the shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake about 15 minutes; remove foil and bake until cheese bubbles.  

Notes: Another short cut would be to use rotisserie chicken. Also you can replace the Cream of Mushroom soup with a can of Cream of Chicken. I've also topped the casserole with shredded Monterey Jack cheese or a Mexican blend cheese. Super yummy with a dollop of sour cream or guacamole and a side of chips!!!  It is an easy casserole that you can make your own! I've even seen some recipes that add a can of drained corn or black beans to the casserole......although I like to serve the corn & beans on the side. Enjoy!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Purex Crystals for baby

I've been a stay-at-home mom for 11 years!!! A long time ago when I had my first child, I used only Dreft detergent to wash all of my babies clothes. As they grew older I transitioned to using All free clear detergent. At the time we lived in Colorado where my kids experienced really dry skin and spells of eczema in the wintertime. I never used any type of fabric softener or even a dryer sheet. Unfortunately this meant that all of my laundry was "scent-free".....

Many times I've been over at a friend's house for a playdate and noticed the wonderful smell of fresh laundry going in the washing machine. While we lived in base housing (at Keesler AFB) we shared carports with another family next door. Almost daily I would be able to smell the scents of lavender & fresh soap coming from her house. She always used the name brand detergents that were heavily scented. I always wished my "laundry day" smelled just as good!  Yet I was willing to sacrifice the heavenly scents for the health of my kids skin.

So of course I was thrilled when I came across the Purex Crystals while shopping at Wal-Mart one day.  I immediately grabbed the Purex Crystals for baby and noticed that it is hypoallergenic, dye free and contains a "Natural Formula".  It also states it is safe for children's sleepwear. You simply add a cup-full (or less) to each load of clothes before you start the wash. Most important of all.....I loved the clean floral scent with a hint of baby powder!!!

I've also tried the Purex Crystals in Lavender Blossom....which smells you can tell by the empty bottle pictured below! Other scents that I haven't bought yet are "Fresh Spring Water" and "Tropical Splash".  

Purex crystals for baby has such a fresh fantastic scent!! It does not affect my children's skin and is so easy to add to the washing machine (along with whatever detergent you regularly use).  Please let me know if you try it and if you have your own favorite laundry scents!!! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Extra Cheesy Mac & Cheese is Monday again!! Which means it is crockpot night!! Typically our Monday evenings are very busy. We tend to get home around 6:30pm or so. By the time I get in the kitchen, I lack any motivation to prepare a meal. I've tried many different versions of "crockpot Mac & Cheese". It usually is a kid pleaser and a great side dish to any meat such as a rotisserie chicken, sliced ham, etc.  I also like to make crockpot Mac & Cheese whenever I have friends over for dinner....especially when the main course that I'm preparing for the adults might not be very kid friendly. Just throw together Mac & Cheese in the crockpot and it is sure to please the picky eaters!!!

Extra Cheesy Mac & Cheese
adapted from the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook

16 oz pkg. elbow macaroni, uncooked
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), melted
2 eggs, beaten
12 oz. can evaporated milk
10 3/4 oz. can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
4 cups (16 oz) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
(I've also made this substituting 4 cups diced Velveeta instead of cheddar cheese)

Cook macaroni according to pkg. directions.  Drain and place in crockpot. Stir in melted butter.  In a bowl, combine eggs, evaporated milk, soup, milk, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, dry mustard and 3 cups cheese.  Pour over macaroni in crockpot. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on Low for 3-4 hours.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Cook 15 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted.  

Tonight I served the Extra Cheesy Mac & Cheese along with fresh fruit and sliced ham. If I had thought ahead I would have added diced ham to the crockpot and let it cook with the cheesy macaroni noodles.  Either way this was a yummy meal that the kids were happy to eat and we even have leftovers for tomorrow! Hope you enjoy this easy crockpot side dish also! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Half & Half Biscuits

I've always had a minor fascination with homemade biscuits....who doesn't???  Although I  believe it all goes back to my home economics class in 7th grade. One of the first recipes that we were given was a basic biscuit recipe. I was so excited to be able to cook while at school and it was a fun break from normal classwork. Now...don't get me wrong....I didn't struggle with school work...except maybe typing out my reports! Yet somehow there was always a part of me that is drawn to the simpler life of cooking from scratch and the skills of keeping a family running without all of the ease of technology/advancements we have today. 

Of course I'm a busy mom to three young kids so I definitely use canned biscuits most of the time. While the kids were home during summer break we were allowed more lazy mornings to take our time and attempt new recipes. I think I have made a dozen different varieties of biscuits and noodles over the years....and I'm still searching for the "perfect" one! This recipe is basic and relatively simple to fact, my 8 year old daughter made these biscuits while I just took pictures. It excites me to see her enthusiasm in the kitchen....reminds me of when I was her age. 

The Hastings book store in my parent's town was having a going out of business sale recently. Of course the first place I ran to was the cookbook section. Anyone that knows me is aware that I have somewhat of an addiction to collecting any kind of cookbook....I like to think of it as a "hobby" so that I can justify the boxes and boxes and boxes of cookbooks that I actually own. Anyway......I struck gold and purchased several "new to me" cookbooks that I had to have!!  

One of the first things I did with this particular cookbook was to look for a biscuit recipe. As soon as I saw the ingredient, Half-and-Half, I knew I had to try it. I was curious about the difference that it might add to the texture and flavor of the biscuits.  This recipe is adapted from the cookbook, The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

My daughter had a wonderful time with this recipe! She did every step on her own and was very proud of her work. I was only allowed to comment on the next step of the recipe. She made sure I stayed back and simply held the camera.

Half and Half Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold
3/4 cup half-and-half
(extra flour for rolling the biscuit dough)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, toss together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder.  Cut the butter into small pieces. Then using two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it turns into coarse crumbs. (we used a pastry blender) Add the half-and-half and stir gently until the mixture forms a ball.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead it for about 30 seconds, and then pat it out to form a 3/4-1 inch rectangle.  Using a biscuit (or cookie cutter), cut out circles. Place the cut biscuits about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet.  Bake until puffy and golden, about 14 minutes. (We baked our batch for 11 minutes) Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and allow to cool. 

Overall I thought the biscuits were pretty good. We ate them with a slice of butter on top but they would have been yummy served with eggs or gravy....or alongside a bowl of beef stew! They didn't last long in our house though. My daughter is already asking when she can make them again! 
Hope you enjoy them too!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Asian Cabbage Salad

I originally copied this recipe from my mother-in-law over 13 years ago. It tends to be a salad that I throw together in the warmer months and as an easy side dish for BBQ's and Asian meals.  I've seen several versions of this recipe over the years. I've even made this and added diced rotisserie chicken.  The longer the ingredients marinate together the better!! I served this last week along side my Crockpot Asian-Style Country Ribs. My kids asked for seconds on this salad before I barely had a bite of my own food. You can dice 1/2 a head of cabbage but I like to take the lazy route and just add a bag of shredded cabbage & carrots. 

Asian Cabbage Salad

In a large bowl combine....

1/2 head cabbage; chopped fine (or 1 bag of shredded cabbage)

1 cup sunflower seeds or chopped almonds

4 green onions, thinly sliced

crumbled noodles from 1 package of Oriental flavor Ramen Noodle Soup

In a small bowl whisk together:
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp vinegar
Seasoning mix packet from Oriental Ramen Noodle soup

Pour dressing mixture over the ingredients in the large bowl and mix all together.  Refrigerate overnight or serve immediately!!

So yummy! I love to eat this right out of the refrigerator as a late night snack! Enjoy!


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cube Steak in Wine Sauce

I originally posted this recipe back in 2009 but I thought I would share it again....with pictures!! This is one of my favorite weeknight comfort foods!!! I tend to make this more of an "Asian" style meal because I serve it over cooked rice and then add a drizzle of soy sauce over the top. This is also good with cooked egg noodles or alongside mashed potatoes.  


4 cube steaks

2 Tbsp flour (I used more flour)

1/2 tsp each oregano, garlic and salt (sometimes 

I use my Tastefully Simple seasonings: Onion, 

Garlic & Seasoning Salt)

2 Tbsp oil

1 1/4 cup water

1/3 cup cheap red wine

1 package brown gravy

1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained (or add 

an 8 oz. pkg. of fresh sliced mushrooms)

1 green pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch


1/2 large onion, diced (optional)

Mix flour and spices in a small bowl. Coat both 

sides of cube steak in flour. Brown steaks in oil 

over medium heat and then add in remaining 

ingredients and simmer 30 minutes over low 

heat. Serve over cooked rice.

Please let me know if you try this recipe by 

commenting below.....


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Crockpot Chinese-Style Country Ribs

I've been making this crockpot ribs recipe for over 10 years. It is quick to throw together and results in yummy fall off the bone ribs!! I like that it has an Asian twist to it rather than your typical BBQ rib sauce.  Sometimes if I want to increase the flavor, I will put 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 2 Tbsp. orange marmalade & 1 Tbsp. ketchup in a small saucepan. I will let the sauce boil for about 5 minutes before serving the ribs. I then remove the ribs from the crockpot and serve on top of cooked rice....with a little drizzle of the Asian sauce from the saucepan. 

Crockpot Chinese-Style Country Ribs

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 Tbsp ketchup
4 lb. country style spare ribs

Spray inside of crockpot with non-stick spray. Place ribs inside of crock.  Combine soy sauce, orange marmalade, ketchup and garlic in a small bowl.  Pour over the ribs and stir to cover all of the meat.  Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Tonight I served the ribs on top of cooked rice. I also added a little extra sauce that I had prepared in the small saucepan.  I also made one of my favorite salad recipes....Asian Cabbage Salad! I'll share that recipe on my blog soon! Please let me know if you try these easy yummy Chinese-Style Ribs!! Enjoy!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Grilled Lemon Chicken

Typically on the weekends we are away from the house......whether visiting family, making a trip to the "big" city or exploring the outdoors. We take time on Sunday night to slow down and prepare for the upcoming week. I usually write out a schedule of meals for the next 5-7 days and then buy groceries at the commissary on the base.  By the time I get home and unload groceries it seems like we always end up grilling whatever happened to sound good while shopping! This is just a simple marinade recipe that I can easily throw together with basic ingredients. You can also cut the chicken tenders into bite sized chunks, marinade for a few hours and then place onto skewers to grill.....especially yummy along side grilled veggies such as onions and green peppers!

Grilled Lemon Chicken 

Zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Onion Onion Seasoning Blend (or onion powder)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 package of chicken tenders (or any other grilling meat)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over chicken in a glass dish or gallon size plastic bag. Let marinade in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes to 2 hours.... Then grill until done!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Crockpot Lasagna

Living on a busy Air Force base and juggling three kids can be very time consuming!   So I definitely appreciate the slower Summer months!!! A lot of people think of crockpot cooking as only a Fall or Winter option but it is such a time saver in the warmer months also! It is so nice to come home from a day at the pool with the kids and have a yummy dinner ready in the crockpot. You don't have to worry about heating up your kitchen and most crockpot recipes are so fast to put together. 

 This recipe is a made up of your typical "lasagna" ingredients. You can easily alter this recipe to your family's personal preference. Simply substitute ground beef (or ground turkey) for the Italian Sausage. You can use small curd cottage cheese instead of ricotta. Also the flavor of the lasagna is dependent on which spaghetti sauce that you use.... I seem to buy a different spaghetti sauce every time that I'm grocery depends on my mood or which sauce is on sale that day.  Just be mindful of your crockpot though. My red crockpot tends to run super hot so this recipe only takes 2-3 hours on High....maybe 4-6 hours on Low.  

Crockpot Lasagna

1 pkg Italian Sausage, Mild
2 large jars Spaghetti sauce
8 oz. pkg Lasagna noodles
1 (15 oz.) container Ricotta cheese (or a larger size 
depending on how cheesy you like it!)
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese 
shredded Parmesan cheese

Spray inside of crockpot with Pam spray.  In a large skillet cook Italian sausage until no longer pink. Add to the skillet the two jars of spaghetti sauce and mix well. Then layer 1/4 of the meat sauce in the bottom of the crockpot. Then layer 1/3 of the noodles. I like to break the noodles up to fit & cover the entire surface.  Then layer 1/3 of the ricotta cheese and 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers two times! Then top with remaining meat sauce.

Here is a handy reference for each layer!!(because my mind needs a visual!!)

Layer 1:    1/4 meat sauce  1/3 noodles  1/3 ricotta cheese  1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese

Layer 2:   1/4 meat sauce  1/3 noodles 1/3 ricotta cheese 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese

Layer 3:   1/4 meat sauce 1/3 noodles  1/3 ricotta cheese 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese

Top with remaining 1/4 cup meat sauce

Cook on Low for 4-6 hours or on High for 2-3 hours.  Add the last 1/2 cup of Mozzarella cheese on the very top along with shredded Parmesan cheese the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Please let me know if you try this recipe or have an idea for another version!!  Enjoy!