About Me

My photo
My favorite memories have all centered around friends and family enjoying a meal together! It might have been a special holiday or a celebration, or it might have been dinner with friends at a great restaurant. I hope you will enjoy some of my favorite recipes and take time to fellowship with those seated at your table. You might make a memory to last forever!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bananas, Bananas, Bananas

What do you do with lots and lots of bananas?  I bought a 3 pound bag of ripe bananas at the grocery store a couple of days ago for $1.47!  I thought, wow, what a great bargain!  The only thing about over-ripe bananas is...I don't like to eat them with black spots on them!  So, that means I need to get busy using them before they go to the compost pile!  We have been drinking a lot of smoothies lately and bananas are one of my favorite fruits to use!  It is super easy to freeze bananas...I'll share more on smoothies later! 

Now, let's get busy using some of these ripe bananas!  Everybody has their favorite Banana Bread recipe...either handed down from Grandma or your own personal creation!  Some people like chocolate chips, peanut butter, cream cheese or other interesting additions!  My favorite Banana Bread recipe is one that I have been making for years and I'm not sure where I found it, so I have no one to give the credit to!  I guess I'll claim it!  The interesting ingredient used in my recipe is a yellow cake mix!  It is not as dense as some recipes, but it is so rich, buttery and moist!  It can be served as a cake with a broiled topping or caramel frosting, but I like it warm, out of the oven with a glass of milk!  I usually bake it in a tube pan, but tonight I used two loaf pans...so I can share one with a friend!  I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Banana Bread

1 stick butter, melted
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
3 bananas, mashed
1 box yellow cake mix
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
Crushed graham cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix melted butter, oil sugar and eggs together.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour into greased pan(s), floured with crushed graham cracker crumbs.  Bake at 350 degrees for appx. 1 hour.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Make Ahead Dessert

Do you ever have left-over brownies?  I didn't think so!  Well, my family is strange and I ended up with a full pan of brownies sitting on my counter.  Of course, I could have finished them off...but, I thought better and quickly put them a ziplock bag and threw them in the freezer!  Temptation averted...until I decided to make a dessert for my school friends and remembered the frozen brownies!  Trifle recipes seem to be making a comeback from the 70's and many of them start with brownies.  So, there you go...dessert will be served on Friday!  Great way to end the week!

A Trifle can be made with so many different choices for your base ingredient...cake pieces, day old brownies, broken cookies!  You can drizzle syrup, liqueor, or fruit puree over the base and then start layering your other ingredients...pudding, fresh fruit, whipped topping, chopped nuts, chopped candy bars, coconut...the list is endless!  This dessert is best served in a trifle bowl or a large glass bowl, so you can see the different layers!  Trifles are also fun to layer in individual servings...I like to use a Mason Jar!  A jar with a lid makes a trifle a convenient dessert to take to the beach or on a picnic! For "just a bite" of dessert, use any small glass jar that you have.  A shot glass works great, but I happened to have a couple of baby food jars in my cabinet!  Stores like Pier 1 actually sell cute little single serving glass dishes!  Have fun and try different flavors!

Brownie Trifle

Brownies (your favorite recipe or a box mix)
Caramel/Butterscotch Ice Cream Topping
2 boxes Chocolate Pudding (mixed according to directions)
Heath Bits of Brickle
Whipped Topping (appx. 2 small containers)

Start layering with 1/2 of brownies, drizzle with syrup, carefully spread 1/2 of pudding over syrup, sprinkle Heath brickles next and top with 1/2 of whipped topping.   Repeat layers, ending with whipped topping.  You can top with syrup or a sprinkle of brickle!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's For Dinner?

What's for dinner is always the question after work!  There are always a few staples that I have on hand...ground meat, taco seasoning and cheese!  There are so many things to make with those ingredients...and who doesn't love tacos?!  I recently read a recipe that used a pizza crust to make something called "Trash Pizza"...which means you use any left over ingredients that you might have to make a pizza!  But, it is not an ordinary pizza...it is a pizza roll!  Fun and something different!  So, I thought, why not make a Taco Pizza Roll!  I have all the ingredients and it doesn't seem too hard!  The hardest thing for me is rolling out the crust...I'm not a pizza maker!  The fun thing about a "Trash Pizza Roll" is that you can use any meat, any sauce and any cheese you like!  I hope you will give this recipe a try, but also change it up a bit and have fun!

Trash Pizza Roll

Pizza Crust (I used a package mix, but the refrigerated roll is great!)
Ground meat seasoned with Taco Seasoning
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 to 1 cup sour cream
Taco Sauce
Shredded Cheese (Monterey Jack or Cheddar)
Sauteed onions (optional)
Jalapeno Peppers (optional)
Salsa (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown meat and season with taco seasoning. Combine cream cheese and sour cream; mix until smooth.  Add taco sauce to taste. Roll pizza crust into a rectangle on greased, wax paper. Spread cream cheese mixture on crust; top with seasoned meat. Add onions and peppers, if desired. Top all with shredded cheese; the amount is to your liking!

Start with long side of dough and begin to roll, jelly roll fashion, guiding with waxed paper.  Continue to roll, very gently. Carefully transfer pizza roll to a greased pan, using the waxed paper to aid in moving it; placing it seam side down.  Bake in 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.  Serve with sour cream and salsa, if desired.

(This recipe was created by me, to please my family's taste!  Feel free to adjust any, or all, of the ingredients to please you and your family.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Happy Spring!

Wow, it has been a long time since I have posted anything on my blog! I could tell you that I was too busy, too tired, on vacation or spending too much time on Pinterest! Yep, the last one would be true! I really like reading other peoples recipes and ideas, but I am ready to get back in the groove and share some of my favorites with you! Spring is here, or depending on where you live, summer is here! I look forward to sharing some of my springtime recipes with you!

I will also be throwing in some ideas for healthy alternatives for those of us that have tummy issues! Digestive problems are very common in our society, and I have enjoyed reading and learning about more foods that will help with these tummy issues!

Cheesy Ckicken Doritos Casserole

Isn't it great to be prepared for dinner a day or more ahead of time!  I love being at work and think "what's for dinner?"....and then remember that I planned and prepared earlier in the week!  Sometimes the meal can be complete or at least have cooked the majority the day before!  This recipe is so easy and quick to put together...especially if you already have the chicken cooked!  This is a dish that is sure to please everyone...who doesn't like cheese and Doritos!

Cheesy Chicken Doritos Casserole

1 bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
8 oz sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can Rotel Tomatoes
2 cups Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Garlic Powder, Salt and Pepper to taste
Green Onions or sweet onion, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Crush the entire bag of Doritos and cover the bottom of the dish;  saving some for top of casserole.   Reserve one cup of cheese; mix together remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour chicken mixture over the Doritos.   Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Top casserole with the remaining cheese and Doritos and bake 5 additional minutes or until melted.

Any kind of cheese works well...of course I used more than the recipe calls for!
Use a rotisserie chicken for quick preparation.  I actually cooked my chicken the day before and chopped it before mixing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lemon Drop Cookies

A friend of mine gave me the idea of this delicious, tart lemon cookie!  It's a little crunchy, a little like candy, and a whole lot tart; a true lemon lover's treat!  It is so easy to make...give it a try!

Lemon Drop Cookies

1 package sugar cookie mix
1 small bag of Lemon Drop candy

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare sugar cookie mix as directed on bag...for drop cookies.
Using a mallet, crush lemon drops into tiny pieces.
Mix well into cookie dough.
Place 1 tablespoon cookie dough 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes.  Cool completely before moving to cooling rack.

Easy Lemon Pound Cake

I had the privilege of making my best friend's birthday cake this evening!  I ask her what "flavor" she wanted, but, of course I knew what it was...Lemon!  It is so awesome to have a friend that you know so much about!  One of the reasons I know so many things about my friend is...we have so much in common!  Well, food, that is! (Her movies are way to scary for me!)  We like the same fast food, the same adult beverages, the same restaurants, etc.!  The list goes on and on!  So, of course, with my love for lemon...I knew exactly what "flavor" to make!  I love making everything from scratch, but sometimes there isn't enough time in the day!  That's when a cake mix comes in real handy!  Of course, it need not fly alone...there are so many ways to dress it up!  So, always keep one or two boxes of cake mix in your pantry...and you will be prepared to make a yummy cake on a moments notice!  This Lemon Pound Cake is so moist; it is delicious served just as it is...warm from the oven or with a lemon glaze drizzled over top! (This happens to be my Dad's favorite cake!)  But, for my friend, I thought it needed a creamy, lemony frosting!  Enjoy!!

Easy Lemon Pound Cake

1 Lemon Cake Mix
1 (3.4 oz) pkg instant lemon pudding and pie filling
4 large eggs
1 cup water (or milk or buttermilk)
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 10-inch tube pan.

Combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water and oil in large bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Pour into pan.

Bake at 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 25 minutes. Invert onto heat resistant serving plate. Cool completely.

Glaze: Combine 2 cups powdered sugar and enough lemon juice to make it a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Easy Lemon Icing:  Combine 1 tub of lemon frosting with 1 8 oz. cream cheese (softened).  Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy; add lemon frosting and blend until well combined.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Aunt Barbara's Peanut Butter Pie

Happy National Pie Day!  I never need a reason to make a pie, but today being National Pie Day, I had no choice!  I have many recipes, as I love to make pies for dessert; they are so much easier and faster than cakes!  The one that I chose to celebrate on National Pie Day is a very old recipe that has been handed down through the generations; to be exact...my husband's side of the family! I suppose this is probably his favorite dessert (he's not much of a cake man!).  He remembers his Aunt Barbara making this rich, creamy, peanut buttery pie when he was a child.  It is a true compliment for him to say "it's just like I remember"!  It might seem a little time consuming, but it is worth every minute!  I made my own crust, recipe below; but you can definitely use a store bought crust.  However, I  wouldn't take short cuts on the custard...so delicious!  I prefer to eat this pie after it cools a little, but still warm!  Of course, make sure you have a tall glass of milk to go with it!

Aunt Barbara's Peanut Butter Pie

1 baked pie crust
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter

basic custard:
2 cups milk
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yokes (whites reserved for meringue)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbl. butter

3 egg whites (room temperature)
1/4 tsp. cream of tarter
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar

Combine powdered sugar and peanut butter in medium sized bowl.  Stir, with a fork, until crumbly.  Set aside.

Make custard.  Combine flour and sugar in medium saucepan; stir.  Slowly add milk, while stirring, over medium heat.  Cook until bubbly and beginning to thicken.  Slightly whisk egg yokes; temper by stirring a small amount of hot mixture into the yokes; slowly stir into hot milk mixture.  Add vanilla.  Cook until thickened (pudding consistency); remove from heat and stir in butter.  Stir until smooth and creamy.  Cool slightly.

While custard cools, make meringue.  Beat egg whites in a large bowl at high speed of an electric mixer until foamy; sprinkle cream of tarter, vanilla and salt over egg whites; continue beating until soft peaks form.  Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.  Spread over filling to edges of crust, covering filling.

Place all but 1/2 cup peanut butter crumbles in bottom of cooled crust.  Pour custard over all.  Top with meringue; sprinkle with remaining crumbles. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven until slightly brown.

Foolproof Vodka Pie Dough

This is my favorite pie dough, so tender and flaky!

from America's Test Kitchen
Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor — do not substitute.

2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

Process 1½ cups flour, salt and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening, and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds, and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

For a custard pie or prebaked pie shell, I half this recipe. 

Flour work surface well.  Roll pie dough in a circle to fit your pie pan, with about 1 inch hanging over.  Place in pie plate.  Fold edges under and flute or stamp with tines of a fork. Using fork, poke small holes in crust before baking.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for appx. 25 minutes or until lightly brown.  Cool completely before filling.

Tip:  Fold rolled pie crust in half and then in half again.  Place point in center of pie plate and unfold.  Easy way to transfer crust to pie plate.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lidia's Baked Ziti


I wanted to share this recipe with you from Lidia's Italy.  It is absolutely the most amazing Baked Ziti I have ever made!  It seems a little time consuming, but it well worth the time!  The addition of fresh Basil leaves and Ricotta cheese gives this dish the most intense flavor!  It is very important that you use fresh Mozzarella (found in the deli section of store) and fresh Basil leaves.  I also bought the Provolone in the deli; it is so much better than the pre-shredded, bagged kind; ask for about an 1 1/2 inch slice of the cheese and shred it yourself!  You will be glad you used the freshest ingredients!  This makes a lot, so be sure to invite someone over for dinner! 
serves: 6-8

Baked ziti is a real crowd pleaser. It is easy to assemble, so it's one of those recipes that you can double or triple on those occasions when you have to feed your kids' whole soccer team. It is also a versatile recipe as we become more aware of our intake of nutritious proteins and vegetables; it is delicious if you add chicken or steamed vegetables (even leftover veggies would make a great filling). Legend has it that as Attila approached Rome, Pope Leo I brought baked ziti with him to meet the invader. After the meal, Attila developed serious gas, considered a bad omen by the gods, and turned around and left Rome untouched. I don't know many who could leave a steaming plate of baked ziti untouched. Sicilian in origin, this was a favorite of many Italian immigrants, who could take the ziti into the fields or mines with them and have a tasty lunch.

Baked Ziti
kosher salt
1 pound ziti
1 pound fresh ricotta , drained
9 fresh basil leaves
1 pound low-moisture mozzarella, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 cup shredded provola (Provolone)
5 cups Marinara sauce (Recipe below.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add ziti. Cook the ziti until just al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes, and drain.

Meanwhile, bring the marinara sauce to simmer in a large skillet. Stir in the ricotta and basil leaves. (I only added about 4 basil leaves to this mixture.)

Spread ½ cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 15-by-10-inch Pyrex baking dish. Layer half of the ziti on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella cubes and half of the provola. Pour 2 cups of the sauce over the cheese, and spread in an even layer. Top with the rest of the pasta, and spread 2 cups sauce over that layer of pasta. Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses, and dollop with the remaining ½ cup of sauce.  (I used a 9 x 13 dish.)

Place the dish in the oven and bake, uncovered, until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting. (If you want to assemble this ahead of time, bake for 15 minutes covered with foil, then, when ready to serve, uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes.)


The difference between marinara sauce and tomato sauce is this: Marinara is a quick sauce, seasoned only with garlic, pepper, and, if you like, basil or oregano. The pieces of tomato are left chunky, and he texture of the finished sauce is fairly loose. Tomato sauce, on the other hand, is a more complex affair, starting with puréed tomatoes and seasoned with onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf, and left to simmer until thickened and rich in flavor. Make this sauce with fresh tomatoes only when the juiciest, most flavorful ripe tomatoes are available. (Increase the amount of olive oil a little if you make the sauce with fresh tomatoes.) Otherwise, canned plum tomatoes make a delicious marinara sauce.

Marinara Sauce

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 35-ounce can peeled Italian plum tomatoes, seeded and lightly crushed, with their liquid
kosher salt
peperoncino (I used about 1 1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes.)
10 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a 2 to 3-quart nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Whack the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife, toss them into the oil, and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Carefully slide the tomatoes and their liquid into the oil. Bring to a boil, and season lightly with salt and peperoncino. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer, and cook, breaking up the tomatoes with a whisk or spoon, until the sauce is chunky and thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in the basil about 5 minutes before the sauce is finished. Taste the sauce, and season with salt and pepper if necessary.