Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies literally only take 5 minutes to assemble and only 12 minutes to bake. They are really easy and good, so you should make them tonight.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg (lightly beaten)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix sugar, egg, peanut butter, baking soda, and salt.
3. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Roll the dough into balls, about 1 inch in diameter.
5. Bake for 12 - 14 minutes, or until golden brown.
6. Depending on the size of your balls, this recipe makes between 10 - 12 cookies.


I'm Pretty Good, Huh?

This morning I woke up early and surprised Jason by making homemade cinnamon rolls. At Jason's old job, they had a cafeteria for the employees. Everyone morning this old woman would get up at the crack of dawn and make cinnamon rolls by hand. She rolled out the dough with her knuckles and made icing from her tears. Ok, ok, I'm kidding about that part. They were probably frozen and the old lady just warmed them up.

I found this recipe to make cinnamon rolls using frozen bread dough. Surprisingly enough, my Kroger had frozen bread dough. The package comes with four long oval pieces of bread dough. You have to let it thaw pretty much overnight. The dough didn't roll out very easily. It kept springing back together, but they tasted good and I was able to make a roll out of them, so I don't guess it matters too much.

(Stacy -- Before you get started, realize that these have to rise for 1 1/2 hours before you can bake them. I don't want another banana pudding episode!)

Since I have 3 more loaves of frozen bread dough in the freezer, I'll probably be making these again.

Easy Cinnamon Rolls:
1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I used pecans)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
Dash of vanilla extract
Dash of Jack Daniels (this is totally optional...just my way of saying "Good Morning")

1. Roll out thawed dough into a rectangle shape (about 18x6 if you can).
2. Brush with melted butter.
3. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts and sprinkle over dough.
4. Starting at the long edge, carefully roll up the dough into a jelly roll shape.
5. Moisten the edges and seal with melted butter.
6. Cut the roll into 20 slices (somehow I only got 14....I guess I slice big).
7. Place rolls into a lightly greased casserole dish or greased cake pans.
8. Leave the rolls on the counter and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours, or until they have doubled in size.
9. Pour the cream over the rolls and bake at 350 degrees fro 25 minutes.
10. To make the icing, combine confectioner's sugar, milk, vanilla, and Jack Daniels. If you like your icing thick, add a little more sugar. If you like it thin, add a little more milk (or Jack).
11. Drizzle icing over rolls while they are still warm.

This picture sucks, but this is what they look like before they are cooked. Sad huh?

This is what they look like after the have cooked. Delicious, yes?


Drop Cookies

Today I made some of Jason's favorite cookies....drop cookies. You've all probably had these before, but have you ever made them? There is no baking involved. You just heat everything up in a pot and drop on wax paper to cool. They are really good so if you have oats on hand (and who doesn't? kidding) then you should make these cookies this weekend.

Drop Cookies:
1/2 cup milk
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3 cups oats
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Bring butter, cocoa, sugar, and milk to a boil, stirring constantly.
2. Boil for 3 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, oats, and vanilla.
4. With a spoon, drop cookies onto wax paper or a Silpat.
5. Let cool completely (they cool pretty quickly though).


Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Today, we spent Thanksgiving with our dear friends Ashley & Julia. I had to bring the mashed potatoes. This week on Food Network, they've been playing show after show on how to cook Thanksgiving dishes. I saw Ina Garten make these buttermilk mashed potatoes and I knew that's what I wanted to make. Jason really liked them, so I will probably make them again for us (just not so many). The buttermilk gives the potatoes a great flavor....it almost tastes like you've added sour cream.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes:
1 - 3lb bag of Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup milk
1 stick butter
1 cup buttermilk
Salt & Pepper

1. Peel the potatoes and cut into small pieces.
2. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 10-15 minutes or until done.
3. In a sauce pot, warm butter and milk.
4. Drain potatoes and return to the same pot you cooked them in.
5. Add butter/milk mixture to potatoes and mash.
6. Once potatoes are mashed, add buttermilk, salt and pepper.


Country Rice & Sausage

Well, it's the night before Thanksgiving, so I wanted to cook something "light" for dinner. Ha! I found this recipe the other day in a cookbook at the library. One great thing about working in the library is that we have hundreds of cookbooks. If I ever get a free moment, I'll grab a cookbook off the shelf and just thumb through until something interesting pops out at me. Well this one jumped off the page. Jason loved this dish. He said it reminded him of "dirty rice" but since I used sausage, it would be more like a "poor, white trash, dirty rice." Thanks Jason.

White trash or not, this was really good. Be careful with the red pepper flakes if you don't like things spicy!!

Country Rice & Sausage:
2 cups cooked rice
1 (16 oz) package of pork sausage (I used Bob Evans)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 large carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4-5 fresh sage leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon of dried sage)
Salt & Pepper

1. Cook rice according to package directions.
2. Cook sausage until brown and crumbled.
3. Remove sausage from pan and drain on paper towels.
4. Add celery, onion, carrots, red pepper and salt & pepper to pan and brown.
5. Add water to veggie mixture.
6. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 4 minutes.
7. Return cooked sausage to pan and stir in cooked rice.
8. Check seasoning and add more salt & pepper if needed.


Stuff It!

Tonight, I made a chicken recipe that Jason actually gave me. He used to make this chicken all the time once he graduated from college. I'll give it to him....it's really good and pretty easy. It's too cold outside to grill, so I cooked this chicken in my iron skillet. It turned out great, but it's still a little better on the grill.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts -- flattened out
4 slices bacon
4 slices white cheddar or any white cheese that you enjoy
12 jalapeno pepper rings, chopped
Salt & Pepper

1. Place chicken breasts in a large ziploc bag and beat with a rolling pin until flattened.
2. Place chopped peppers and cheese inside each chicken breast.
3. Roll each chicken breast up and surround with a piece of bacon.
4. Secure each chicken breast with one or two toothpicks.
5. Season with salt & pepper.
6. Grill or cook in an iron skillet for about 20-25 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear.


Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese.....we all love it. There is a restaurant here in Nashville called "Park Cafe," which makes some of the best Mac & Cheese in the world. It's full of green chile peppers, which adds just enough heat to make it interesting. A friend of mine snagged the recipe so here it is. I will warn you that there are quite a few steps involved here, but any homemade Mac & Cheese will be this involved, so just do it. I'm sure this won't shock anyone, but Jason loves this.....cheese, pasta, bread crumbs, no veggies, it's his kind of dish.

Be warned that you will gain at least 3 pounds by eating this.....and it's so good that you'll probably have seconds, so make that 6 pounds.

Park Cafe Green Chile Mac & Cheese:
2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
2 cups macaroni
1 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 Anaheim Green Chiles, seeds removed, chopped, and roasted in the oven
2 cups parmesean cheese
2 Tablespoon bread crumbs
1 cup melted butter

1. Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain.
2. In a pan, melt butter and slowly add flour, whisking constantly.
3. Cook for 5 minutes over low heat.
4. Add milk, cream, and green chiles to flour mixture.
5. Turn up to medium heat and bring to a boil.
6. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheeses and cooked macaroni.
7. Pour into a greased baking dish or into individual ramekins.
8. Combine bread crumbs and melted butter and pour over mixture.
9. Bake at 400 degrees until cheese is bubbling and top is golden brown -- for ramekins this will take 10-15 minutes, for a large baking dish, try 25-30 minutes.


Meemaw E's Ham

The holidays are here!! Jason decided to decorate the house (and himself) today. I decided to really get festive and bake a ham. Every year since I can remember my Meemaw E would bake a ham for Christmas. Her recipe is really easy and I swear this is the best ham you will ever put in your mouth.

I always buy a bone-in ham, because it has more flavor. I try to find a smoked ham. These hams are technically already "cooked," but we're heating it up and adding great flavor.

Meemaw E's Ham:
1 bone-in smoked ham
1 cup of brown sugar (maybe a little depending on how big the ham is)
1 can or bottle of Coca-Cola (not diet, not pepsi, not some off brand, get the real thing)
Black pepper to taste

1. I cook this in the crockpot, but you can also cook this ham in a 300 degree oven.
2. Score the ham with a sharp knife.
3. Rub entire ham with brown sugar.
4. Pour coke over entire ham and sprinkle with black pepper.
5. Cook the ham for about 4 hours, basting every 30 minutes.


Game Night

Tonight, we had some friends over and we just wanted to have appetizers. You know, easy finger foods that weren't too messy. Most of the food we had just came from the supermarket, but I did make some spiced pecans. They didn't turn out so great at first, but after baking them for a few minutes, they were perfect!

Spiced Pecans:
4 cups pecan halves
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Combine sugar, water, and spices in a saucepan.
2. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
3. Add pecans and vanilla extract.
4. Cook until syrup is absorbed and pecans are cooked, stirring constantly. (this takes a while)
5. Spread pecans on a greased baking sheet.
6. Add baking sheet into the oven at 350 degrees until the syrup has cooked away (20-30 min)


Oven Fries

It's been a long week for the both of us. So tonight was a "sandwich" night, but I wanted to try to do at least one thing special. I had two baking potatoes in the pantry, so I decided to make some easy oven fries.

These fries are quick and easy and you can flavor them 10,000 different ways. I like them a little spicy.

Oven Fries:
2 large baking potatoes, cut into wedges
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Fennel seeds
Red pepper flakes

1. Cut each potato in half, so that you have two humps.
2. Cut each hump into quarters, so that you have 8 wedges.
3. Coat all of the wedges with olive oil and then add spices.
4. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees.
5. These takes about 30 minutes, just keep checking on them and flip them at least once.



A few years ago, we found a recipe for tostadas. I'm not sure how traditional this recipe is, but we love it regardless. It's very simple. The hardest part is frying the tortillas. I usually leave this job for Jason. We've tried toasting the tortillas in the oven, but they just aren't nearly as good as they are when you fry them until golden brown, which only takes about 30 seconds.

When the tortillas are fried, they puff up and become crispy and golden brown. Fry up about two tortillas per person. We use the small size. Let them dry on a paper towl and cool for a minute before you start adding your toppings.

We make a simple bean dip and use as the base of our tostadas. The bean dip is really good on it's own, all you need is salsa, refried beans, and a little shredded cheddar cheese. The recipe is down below. Once you've added your toppings, throw the tostadas under the broiler just long enough for the cheese to melt. This dinner is really quick and easy and you'll love how good these are!!!

1 package small tortillas
1 package shredded cheddar cheese
1 can refried beans
1 jar salsa
The other toppings are up to you......we used the following:
1 tomato, diced
Shredded lettuce
Sour Cream

1. Heat about 2 cups of oil in a frying pan.
2. Add tortillas one at a time and fry until golden brown then flip and fry the other side.
3. Place tortillas on paper towels to drain.
4. For the bean dip, mix salsa, refried beans, and a handful of shredded cheddar cheese.
5. Place bean dip in the microwave for 1 minute and stir, continue process until hot.
6. Spread bean dip on each tostada.
7. Build other toppings and place under broiler for 2-3 minutes until cheese has melted.


What's that brown stuff on your plate?

Is that some sort of chutney? No. Did you burn something? No. Is that even food? Yes.
Well, it's not the prettiest dish I've ever made, but it tasted great. Yesterday, I decided that I wanted to make a German potato salad, or something like that. I didn't want anything cold with mayonnaise, I wanted something warm with that vinegar taste all through it.

I was fumbling through recipes until I realized that the only vinegar I had in the house was balsamic vinegar. I just happened to find a warm potato salad recipe using balsamic, so that's what I made. If you've never used balsamic vinegar, it's very dark, almost black, and the color takes over just about everything in the dish. It was good though. The recipe has sauteed shallots, celery and lots of bacon crumbles. I would totally make this again, but I might think about using a different type of vinegar next time (maybe apple cider vinegar). If you feel like you can take the looks of this dish, then you should try it. It really did taste great!!

Balsamic Potato Salad:
8 slices bacon
3 tablespoons flour
1 shallot, chopped
1/3 cup vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon powdered dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon crumbled whole rosemary leaves
2 quarts cooked diced potatoes (I used 8 small yukon gold potatoes)

1. Dice potatoes and boil in salted water until done.
2. Fry bacon until crisp.
3. Remove from pan, drain and crumble.
4. Add flour and onion to the bacon fat left in the pan.
5. Stir in vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices.
6. Cook only until mixture is of medium thickness (only about 5 minutes or so).
7. Add to potatoes and crumbled bacon.
8. Mix carefully to prevent mashing the potatoes.


Cookie Drama

Tonight, I wanted something chocolatey. I found this recipe for espresso chocolate cookies a few weeks back. I get out all the ingredients, start putting everything together and then I realize that the recipe says to chill the dough for at least 2 hours (or overnight). So, I got up this morning and baked these cookies while I was making my morning coffee.

So, before you get started with this, realize that some "chill time" has to happen before you can bake these cookies. If you like coffee and chocolate, then these cookies are for you. Jason ate two right off the cooling rack on his way to work and he said they were awesome. He's a sucker for anything coated in powdered sugar!

Espresso Crinkles:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened chocolate - (I just semi-sweet chocolate chips that I had...worked out fine)
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg whites

1. Place flour, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix.
2. In a saucepan, combine chocolate and canola oil over low heat until melted.
3. Add espresso granules to the pan and mix.
4. Let chocolate completely cool (5 minutes)
5. In another bowl, mix together egg whites, brown sugar, vanilla and corn syrup.
6. Add melted chocolate to the egg mixture and mix well.
7. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time and mix until well incorporated.
9. When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
10. Roll dough into small, 1-inch balls and roll around in powdered sugar
11. Bake for 10 minutes.

The recipe says that it can yield 2 dozen, but somehow I only got 18 cookies out of this. Maybe my balls were too big? :)

Here is the finished product, and I must say that they look exactly like they did in the magazine. I was very impressed. I like the way these cookies crack and all that powdered sugar just makes them look homemade, don't you think?


My First Encounter with Red Currant Jelly

Today was a good day. Jason was finally feeling better and I felt like cooking something new and exciting for dinner. I had a pork tenderloin that I wanted to cook but I didn't know what to do. I found this recipe for a marinade....actually, it's a reduction sauce, but I used it as a marinade. It was so good and pretty easy. It made the entire house smell good and I think I'll try it again on beef or maybe even chicken.

The recipe called for red currant jelly. I've seen this in the grocery store before, but it was always one of those jellies that had dust on the top of it, so you knew it wasn't something popular. The jelly by itself is tart and not very sweet at all. I wouldn't want any on toast, but in a marinade it was perfect!!

Red Currant Marinade:
1 shallot, finely diced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 red currant jelly
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Add butter to a saucepan and cook shallots until tender.
2. Stir in chicken broth, jelly, vinegar, thyme, and rosemary then bring to a boil.
3. Cook mixture until it has reduced to 1 1/2 cups (cook about 17 minutes).
4. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt.

I cut holes in the pork tenderloin and poured the marinade all over it. Because I had time, I let this marinate for about 5 hours. I poured the meat and all the marinade into a baking dish and cooked at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. It was pretty awesome!


A Manly Cheeseball

Is there such a thing as a manly cheeseball? If so, this might be it. You use dried beef and green onions, and the taste is amazing. Normally, we use Ritz or some type of club cracker. Today, we happened to have Rosemary & Olive Oil Triscuits. They are really good with this cheeseball, so I would recommend these. Because of the colors (green onions and the dried beef is red), this ball would be perfect for holiday parties!

Dried Beef, Green Onion Cheeseball:
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
4 green onions, chopped
1 jar dried beef

1. Chop up onions and dried beef into tiny pieces
2. Use your hand and mix all ingredients together until well incorporated
3. Roll into a ball and enjoy


Chai Spice Mulled Wine

Jason is still recovering from his virus, so I decided to make mulled wine. Now don't get me wrong, there's nothing medicinal about mulled wine...this is for me (Jason isn't the best patient). Plus, it's a cold, wet, crappy day today and I wanted a warm beverage but I had already had two cups of coffee earlier in the morning. I decided that this easy recipe was the best way to spend the afternoon!

Chai Spice Mulled Wine:
2 lemons, sliced and seeds removed
2 oranges, sliced and seeds removed (I used tangerines)
1 bottle of Merlot
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 chai tea bags

1. Place sliced fruit, sugar, wine, and water in a large saucepan.
2. Place on medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot. Do not bring to a boil or you will cook out all of the alcohol.
3. Remove from heat and add tea bags.
4. Let steep 10 minutes.
5. Remove teabags and discard.
6. Ladle hot punch into mugs to serve.


Chicken & Dressing Casserole

Tonight, I felt like making comfort food (I know, I know, most of our meals are comfort food). Jason is sick, so I wanted to make something special....not just chicken noodle soup, yuck! I found this recipe a few years back and decided it was time to break it out again. This chicken and dressing casserole has a few steps to it, but if you stay organized, it really isn't so bad. Once you taste it, I think you'll realize that it's worth the trouble.

Chicken & Dressing Casserole:
2 lbs of chicken -- I used boneless, skinless, chicken breasts that I cut into chunks
1/2 cup mayo
1 small onion, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
4 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 package Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix (I used the herb flavor)
1 cup milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 mixing bowls (trust me)

1. Boil chicken in salted water until fully cooked
2. Combine cooled chicken, mayo, chopped onion and set aside
3. Combine 2 eggs, melted butter, chicken broth and stuffing and set aside
4. In a small bowl, beat 2 eggs and add milk
5. Spray large casserole dish with cooking spray
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
7. In bottom of dish, spread half of the stuffing mixture
8. Add all of the chicken mixture
9. Add remaining stuffing over the top of the chicken
10. Pour the egg and milk mixture over the top of the stuffing
11. Pour one can of cream of chicken soup over the whole thing (this will look gross)
12. Bake for 45 minutes

Here is a picture of your mixing bowls. You'll have one for the stuffing mixture (your biggest one), one for the chicken mixture, and one bowl for the egg and milk mixture.

Here what the dish looks like before you stick it in the oven. Not to pretty, huh? It actually looks gross with all of that cream of chicken soup on top, but the finished product is wonderful!

Here the finished product.....ok, maybe it doesn't look that much better. The soup on top sort of forms a gravy. That plus the eggs and milk that you poured over this help keep this from drying out. Every bite is moist and delicious.

I served this with green beans and the leftover pretzel salad from the night before (see yesterday's post). This really made me ready for Thanksgiving!!


Kyle + Jason = Two Old Ladies

Let me start off by saying that I hate Jell-O. I hate it with a passion. However, I do like a good gelatin salad every now and then. I decided to make "Pretzel Salad" tonight, although I wish this had a different name, I hate calling this a salad....it just doesn't seem right.

If you didn't grow up in the south or if you're under 80, then you might not have ever eaten this dish....let me tell you about it. Pretzel salad includes pretzels, strawberries, cream cheese, lots of sugar and butter. It all just comes together in a perfect way. Each bite is delicious!! I love the combination of salty and sweet. So does Jason, he had three helpings of this after dinner tonight.

Pretzel Salad:
2 cups coarsely crushed pretzels
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 small container whipped topping
1 cup sugar
2 cups boiling water
1 (6 oz) box strawberry flavored gelatin -- the big box
1 (10 oz) box frozen strawberries -- if you buy frozen whole strawberries, then slice them

1st Layer
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Mix the pretzels, melted butter, and 3 Tablespoons sugar in a bowl
3. Place mixture into a 9x13 pan and bake for 8 minutes
4. Let cool

2nd Layer
1. Mix 1 cup sugar, whipped topping, and cream cheese
2. Spread over cooled pretzel mixture

3rd Layer
1. Mix gelatin, strawberries and boiling water in a bowl
2. Let sit for 10 minutes
3. Pour over cream cheese mixture
4. Chill thoroughly before serving


Curry Rice Salad

Tonight, I made a delicious dish that my Aunt Bettie makes. It's a cold curry rice salad and it's wonderful. I served it with baked barbecue chicken. There's something about warm chicken and a cold rice dish that just works. I love this recipe and I love my Aunt Bettie. When reading the ingredients, you'll note a few that I left out, for various reasons. I will say that green olives would be good in this dish, if you like them. I think I'll chop them up and add them to this the next time I make it and just see if Jason even notices.....probably not.

Curry Rice Salad:
1 box Chicken Rice-A-Roni
4 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 cup mayo
1 jar artichokes, chopped (keep some of the liquid from the jar)

***Now, the recipe actually calls for the following, which I didn't add:
1/2 green pepper, chopped (I thought I had one in the fridge, but I didn't....oh well)
12 stuffed green olives, chopped (Jason doesn't like green olives)
1 can water chestnuts, sliced (Kyle doesn't like water chestnuts)

1. Make Rice-A-Roni according to package directions and let cool completely (I used the microwave)
2. Add remaining ingredients (including just a little of the juice from the artichoke jar)
3. Let sit in the fridge for a while before serving, the flavors are much better when they've had time to get acquainted


Oh Snap!

Tonight we ate pizza.....boring. So, I wanted to share our current obsession. Nyakers Pepparkakor -- they are Swedish ginger snaps and they are awesome. We found them at World Market, but you might be able to find them at other places. It's $9 for a tin of these cookies, but you get like 1000 cookies. Ok, not 1000, but you get a lot. Plus, you get a lovely tin as a keepsake....who doesn't need more tins?

They're thin and crispy and a little peppery. They are great with coffee or tea or the perfect snack to eat in bed while watching the Golden Girls reruns. Seriously though, these would make a wonderful gift for someone with a sweet tooth. Here is the link to World Market where you can order these awesome cookies. Enjoy!


Taco Salad

Tonight was the end of a long weekend and we were both pooped. Taco salad was the only answer. There are a million different ways to do this and the toppings are endless. Here's our version, which is very little salad and lots of meat and cheese.

Taco Salad:
16 oz Velveeta
1 - 4 oz can of diced green chiles
1 can of Rotel
1 package of sausage (we used Jimmy Dean Mild)
1 lb ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
Tortilla Chips

Chopped green onions
Sour cream
Chopped tomatoes
Taco Sauce

1. Brown sausage in a pot and crumble
2. Drain grease
3. Chop Velveeta and add to sausage
4. Add Rotel and stir over low heat until all melted
5. In a skillet, brown ground beef
6. Add taco seasoning
7. Assemble salad by layering chips, lettuce, meat, cheese dip, and then toppings.


Happy Birthday Kyle

Well, today is my birthday and I'm STILL feeding Jason.....what's wrong with this picture, shouldn't he be cooking for me today? Just kidding, we're going out to dinner tonight, so all is well. I found this recipe the other day and couldn't wait to try it, so this is sort of like my birthday cake.

This recipe is for Oatmeal Cake....something I've never heard of. It's really good. You can justify all the sugar in this cake by thinking about all the oats...it totally balances out.

Oatmeal Cake:
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 stick butter
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

*** The recipe doesn't call for this, but I added the following:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips

For the Icing:
1/2 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup evaporate milk
Powdered sugar

1. Mix boiling water, oats, and butter & let stand for 15 minutes.
2. Add remaining ingredients together in a bowl.
3. Add oatmeal mixture to the bowl and mix well.
4. Bake in an 8 x 11 casserole dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
5. For icing, melt ingredients (except powdered sugar) together in saucepan and cool.
6. Add powered sugar until thick enough to pour over cake. (just eyeball it -- about 1/2 cup).
7. Poke holes in the hot cake with a toothpick and pour icing over cake while still hot!

Here's what it looks like before you stick in the oven.

Here's what we've got when it comes out of the oven.

Then you pour your icing on top and it looks like this....


Give Brussel Sprouts a Chance......Please?

My mom never made brussel sprouts, but for some reason I thought I hated them like every other kid I knew. It wasn't until a few years ago that I even tasted a brussel sprout. We were in Ashveille, NC for Thanksgiving and I ordered a duck breast that was served with roasted brussel sprouts. I was super-excited to try them, but I'm so glad that I did. Brussel sprouts really get a bad reputation.....when cooked properly, they are tender, sweet, and delicious.

I make my brussel sprouts like Barefoot Contessa, which is roasted in the oven with very simple seasonsings. I made Jason try one tonight and it was just like having a toddler in the house. He actually made a "yuck face" before he tried them. I did admit later that they weren't as bad as he thought they would be (thanks Jason).

Roasted Brussel Sprouts:
1 package of fresh brussel sprouts -- chop off the very end (it's tough) and take off any bruised or discolored leaves
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

1. Once you have washed and trimmed the brussel sprouts, place them in a bowl
2. Drizzle with olive oil, just enough to coat the sprouts
3. Sprinkle with salt & pepper
4. Roast at 400 degrees in the oven for 20 minutes (or you could use the broiler)


Creme Brulee for Change

To celebrate the election, Jason made Creme Brulee. He used a mix which called for 1 cup of cream, 1 cup of milk, and sugar. He added vanilla and it was awesome. You can make the real thing with egg yolks and lots of time/patience, but these mixes are just as good.

Creme Brulee is Jason's all-time favorite dessert. A few years ago, I bought him a kitchen torch to burn the sugar topping on creme brulee. We had just moved to Nashville and were living in an apartment. I came in from work one day to find Jason sitting on the couch in just his underwear roasting giant marshmallows (that were on the ends of chopsticks) with the kitchen torch. It was at that moment that I realized he might never ever make creme brulee, but this gift was money well spent!



Tonight, I made a hearty corn chowder. Jason loved it, but did worry about the next day (you know what happens after you eat too much corn). The only thing I did different from the recipe was shred up a roasted chicken from the grocery store and add to the chowder. It was really great!!!

Corn Chowder:
8 strips bacon, cooked & chopped
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 chopped yellow onions
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock
6 medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled
2 pounds frozen corn kernels
2 cups half-and-half
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

1. In a large soup pot, cook bacon.
2. Leave some of the fat in the pot.
3. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
4. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and cook for 3 minutes.
5. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
6. Add corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar.
7. At this point, I shredded up my roasted chicken and added it to the chowder.
8. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted.
9. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
10. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.


Bacon Cheddar Muffins

Good morning everyone!! Since I had some extra time this morning, I thought I would get up and make some of my mom's favorite muffins. I'm not a big muffin fan. I only eat the tops, they are usually too sweet, and they're pretty boring. These muffins are the exception. They are full of cheese and bacon and you will want to eat every single bite.

Bacon Cheddar Muffins:
2 cups Bisquick
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
10 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled (I use microwave bacon)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Mix all ingredients except for cheese & bacon
3. Batter will be lumpy, so don't worry about getting it completely smooth
4. Fold in cheese & bacon
5. Pour batter into 12 muffin cups
6. Bake for 20 minutes


It's Cocktail Time!

Tonight, we ate at Chili's, but when we came home, I made one of my favorite drinks....a Pimm's Cup. Pimm's is an interesting liquor. Read more about it here. It's very refreshing and tastes unlike any other drink I've ever had. I drank all my Pimm's before I remembered to take a picture, so I'm just going to show you the bottle this time. You should try it sometime.

Pimm's Cup:
Ginger Ale (you could also use lemonade)

The English will chop up cucumber and strawberries in the Spring time and really make this drink special. Cheers!!