Wednesday, July 31, 2013

black and white brownies


I love brownies.

I love brownies from a box.  I love them more than socks.  (Dr. Suess, anyone?)


Haha, so yes, it's true.  I love boxed brownie mixes.  They are so easy and oh so good.  But what I love even more than boxed brownies are jacked-up boxed brownies.  You know...the kind with all kinds of great stuff mixed in and frosting covering the tops.

Those brownies just make my heart sing.

These brownies are easy and sinfully chocolatey.  You start out with a boxed brownie mix.

Then, you stir in semisweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips before baking.

When you pull them out of the oven, you pour white chocolate chips over the top.  Stick it back in the oven to let them melt for just a minute.

Whip up a rich, chocolatey frosting, and drizzle it over the top.

And, voila!  Jacked-up boxed brownies that no one will ever be able to tell came from a box.  These are awesomeness in a pan.

 P.S. Remember to let brownies cool and cut with a plastic knife to avoid excess crumbs.

Black and White Brownies
1 (19- to 21-oz) pkg fudge brownie mix
10-12 oz. white chocolate chips, divided
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 T. hot water
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.  Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.  Stir in half of the white chocolate chips and all of the semisweet chocolate chips.  Spread the batter into the pan and bake about 30 minutes, or until the center is set.  Sprinkle with the remaining white chocolate chips; bake for 1 more minute.  Cool in pan on wire rack.

For frosting, combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and beat by hand until smooth.  Spoon or pipe over top of brownies.  Cool about 1 1/2 hours or until frosting is set.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

mom's meat loaf


What a crazy few weeks it has been!  Last week, my little Pebbles came down with the wonderful affliction known as hand, foot, and mouth disease.  (In case you couldn't tell, I was using "wonderful" sarcastically.)  Poor kid had a fever followed by a rash followed by blisters that formed on her fingers, toes, and in her throat.  She was pretty uncomfortable, and when baby is uncomfortable, ain't nobody comfortable!

This week my mother-in-law came for two whirlwind days of girl time - shopping, cupcakes, and lots of chit chat.  On Wednesday, I loaded up my baby girl, and she and I drove to Kansas to visit my parents.  We left Cookie Bandit at home...with hand, foot, and mouth disease!  Poor guy!  Fortunately, I seem to have lucked out.  Here's hoping that I continue to stay immune!

I just love going home.  There's something wonderful about visiting your parents - it kind of turns me into a kid all over again.  One of the things that I particularly enjoy is eating my mom's food.  It's not all special, but it's what I grew up with...and that makes it special to me.

This meat loaf is a quick fix - something Mom made on those evenings when she just really didn't have the time or inclination to do much else.  It's never the same because she never measures a thing!  It's not wrapped in's not slathered in any special would never win a cooking contest...but it's my mom's. :)

In a large bowl, combine a pound of hamburger meat, an egg, oats (or crushed saltine crackers), bell pepper, onion, tomato sauce, Worchestershire sauce, and generous shakes of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Using your bare hands, mix until well combined.  Place into a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray and shape into a loaf.

Bake at 375 for about 30-35 minutes, or until cooked through.  Drizzle with ketchup before serving.

Mom's Meat Loaf
1 lb. hamburger meat
3/4 cup oatmeal or crushed crackers
1 egg
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 T. Worchestershire sauce
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Place into a baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Shape into a loaf and bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Drizzle with ketchup before serving. 

Note: All ingredients and measurements are just estimates...Mom throws in whatever sounds good in whatever amount looks good!

Friday, July 12, 2013

partnering with taste of home | favorite things friday

I'm excited to announce that I'm now a Taste of Home Field Editor!  This means that, from time to time, I'll be sharing with you some of my favorite Taste of Home products, recipes, tips, etc.  I'm also continuing my partnership with Gooseberry Patch as an early bird reviewer.  I'm so honored to be working with two such great companies!

 I've loved the Taste of Home magazine for years but never really played around on their website much.  Well, that's all changed now.  Part of being a field editor means that I am asked to rate and review recipes online as well as submit my own recipes for publication.  I got on their website to do some recipe searching, and I was so excited about the features that I just had to share with you. 

Ladies and gents...welcome to Taste of Home online!

Above is the Taste of Home homepage.  You can create an account (which I highly suggest), allowing you to save and store recipes online.  To search for recipes, click "Recipes" on the toolbar (see my badly drawn arrow above).

You'll see a drop-down menu.  You can choose recipes by course (main dish, side dish, etc.), individual ingredients, cooking style, etc.  I chose to search by ingredients.

Brisket was on sale at our local supermarket, so I searched for brisket recipes.  I got a list of 98...98!...brisket recipes.  What I love about their lists is that you see a thumbnail picture, the rating, and the prep and bake times without having to click on each one.  That definitely helped me to narrow down which one I would be making.

When you click on a recipe, you'll see the full ingredient list and instructions.  You'll also see a small toolbar to the right (circled above).  This toolbar has some amazing features.  You can rate and review the recipe, print it, e-mail it, pin it, etc.  But my two favorite features are the grocery list and recipe box.  If you click on grocery list, it will add all of the ingredients to a printable grocery list (see below).

I added a recipe for Baked Fish and Rice to my grocery list, and you can see the full list of ingredients, sorted by grocery department.  How easy is that!

My other favorite feature is Recipe Box.  If you save the recipe to your recipe box, you will be able to find it the next time you log into Taste of Home online.  The feature allows you to save to different folders (see below).  I created a folder for recipes that I wanted to try, for recipes that I had tried and reviewed, and for recipes that I've blogged about.  You could also create different folders based on ingredient, course, etc.  It's easy to move recipes from one folder to another, which I really appreciate.

You might specifically notice in the picture above that one of my recipe folders is called "My Personal Recipes".  That's right - you can add your OWN recipes to your recipe box - what an amazing feature!

There's so much more to explore with this website, but this is as far as I've gotten so far.  I encourage you to log in and see what you can see.  Let me know if you try anything you love!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

pork chops and gravy

I just can't believe it...this is my 350th post!  That's enough recipes to fill an entire cookbook. :)  This has been such a fun hobby, and I just love all of the new friends I've made along the way.  It's been an honor to have you visit my kitchen.

I wanted to share with you a new favorite slow-cooker recipe.  It's so easy, I didn't even take how-to photos...there was no point!  Next time pork chops are on sale, I hope you give it a try.  And, if you have leftover gravy, mix it with some browned hamburger meat for a sort of goulash...delicious!

Pork Chops and Gravy
  • 6-8 boneless pork chops
  • 2 packets (0.87 oz. each) pork gravy mix
  • 1 packet (1 oz) French onion soup mix
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 T. ketchup
  • 1 t. pepper
  • 1 t. soy sauce
  • 1 t. seasoned salt
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 16 oz. frozen mixed vegetables

Place pork chops in a greased 5-quart slow cooker.  In a small saucepan, combine gravy mix, soup mix, and flour.  Stir in water; heat over medium-high heat until mixture boils and thickens.  Add mushroom soup, ketchup, pepper, soy sauce, and seasoned salt.  Pour over pork chops.  Add potatoes; cover and cook on low for 5 hours.  Stir in vegetables and cook an additional hour.  Serves 6-8.

Monday, July 8, 2013

skinny oven-fried chicken

Easy, healthy, oven fried chicken is just two Ziplock bags away...seriously!  I discovered a recipe in the June/July 2013 issue of Taste of Home for oven-fried drumsticks.  I love dark meat, but what I had in my freezer was boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  So...I made my chicken even skinnier than the original.  It turned out beautifully!

First, you marinate your chicken overnight in a mixture of Greek yogurt, mustard, and garlic.  Marinating in yogurt gives the chicken a delicious juiciness - you must try it.

In another bag, I combined whole wheat flour and seasoning.  Shake, shake, shake the chicken until it's well coated.

Place on a lightly greased broiler pan.  For good measure, you can spray the tops with olive oil or cooking spray to lightly moisten them (and aid in the browning process).

Bake for about 45 minutes, and voila!  It's a healthy entree sure to please your entire family.

Skinny Oven-Fried Chicken
adapted from "Taste of Home June/July 2013"
  • 1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flower
  • 2 t. paprika
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. pepper

In a large Ziplock bag, combine yogurt, mustard, and garlic.  Add chicken; seal bag and turn to coat.  Refrigerate overnight.  In another plastic bag, mix remaining ingredients.  Remove chicken from the marinade and shake it in the flour mixture, one piece at a time.  Place on a broiler pan that has been coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until cooked through.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Slow Cooker Braised Chicken

One thing that I love about the 4th of July is that it's full of BBQ beef, hearty potato salad, beans, pies, cookies, brownies, homemade ice cream, and enough cholesterol to last you for the next year. 

One thing that I hate about the 4th of July is that it's full of BBQ beef, hearty potato salad, beans, pies, cookies, brownies, homemade ice cream, and enough cholesterol to last you for the next year.'s a predicament.  I usually opt to go all-out on the 4th, eating to my heart's content.  But the day after, I go into a sort of detox mode.  By that point, my kitchen is a mess, I'm exhausted from staying up late watching fireworks, and all I crave are vegetables.

And that's why I'm sharing this recipe with you today.

This is an extremely healthy slow-cooker recipe that's full of vegetables and not calories.  It's also a snap to put together - I don't even thaw the chicken breasts before I dump them in!

You simply pile veggies (onion and bell pepper and garlic) on top of frozen chicken...

...pour a braising liquid mixture of broth, wine, and seasonings over the top...

...and then pile on some fresh broccoli an hour before serving.

The result is a delicious and beautiful meal that tastes fabulously fresh. 

Serve it over rice for a hearty but light post-4th detox meal. :)

Slow Cooker Braised Chicken
Adapted from Taste of Home Summer Slow Cooker Meals
  • 3 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 red bell pepper, gutted and cored
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. thyme
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 2 cups broccoli florets

Place chicken in a 3 quart slow cooker.  Top with bell pepper, onion, and garlic.  Combine remaining ingredients except broccoli and pour over chicken.  Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.  Add broccoli; replace lid and cook an additional hour on low or until broccoli is tender.  Discard bay leaf.  Serve over rice.

Monday, July 1, 2013

hawaiian sweet bread

I've always wanted to go to Hawaii (doesn't everyone?).  My husband went when he was in high school, and he still talks about it.  The gorgeous beaches, the beautiful sunsets, the chocolate-covered macadamia nuts...sigh.  I'd love to be there right now instead of baking in the hot Texas summer.

Someday I'll go to Hawaii.  Until then, I'll just get a taste of it by baking up fresh loaves of the sweetest bread around.  This Hawaiian sweet bread is deliciously sweet and moist thanks to the secret ingredient - a baked potato!  It's perfect for chicken salad sandwiches, if you can get the loaf to last that long.  Most of the time, we just eat it fresh out of the oven.  SO good.

Begin by boiling a large baking potato until it's tender.  You don't peel it first, which saves a lot of time.  Peel and mash the potato after boiling it, and then measure out 1/2 cup of mashed potato for the bread.  Save the rest of the potato for mashed potatoes or potato pancakes at dinner.  It won't go to waste!

Important - reserve 1/3 cup of the potato water after boiling and cool it to lukewarm.

Dissolve sugar and yeast into the water, and then add your 1/2 cup of potato.  Stir it and let it rise until doubled.

Meanwhile, mix salt and milk in a saucepan and scald it.  I basically just let mine cook until it begins to boil, and then I remove it from the heat.

Add a stick of butter to the hot milk and stir it until it melts.

Add eggs and additional sugar to the milk mixture, mixing well.  Then, add the milk mixture to the potato mixture, stirring to combine.

Gradually add bread flour, stirring until a soft dough forms.  You can use all-purpose flour, but bread flour yields significantly better results in this recipe.  Add a total of 4 cups of flour, kneading with your hands if you need to (I generally don't).  The resulting dough will be very soft and sticky...that's okay.

Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a moistened towel.  Place in a warm place (like under a windowsill) until the dough has doubled.

Form into two loaves and bake until golden!

Hawaiian Sweet Bread
1 large baking potato
3 T. sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup milk
1 t. salt
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
4 cups bread flour

Boil potato until soft.  Save 1/3 cup of boiling water and cool to lukewarm.  Peel and mash potato; measure 1/2 cup.  Add 3 tablespoons sugar and yeast to lukewarm water.  Stir until dissolved.  Stir in potato and set aside to rise until doubled.  Scald milk and salt.  Add butter to milk mixture and stir until melted.  Add eggs and remaining sugar to milk mixture; stir to combine, and then add to potato mixture.  Gradually add flour until mixture is in dough form (dough will be soft and sticky).  Place dough mixture in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray and cover.  When dough has doubled in bulk, divide into two equal parts and place in two greased loaf pans.  Let dough rise again until double in bulk.  Cook in a 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until tops have browned.
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