Friday, September 19, 2008

Yummy Carrot Cake

**Growing up, my friend Tracy used to work at a bakery. They were known for their Carrot Cake. Somehow my mom got the recipe, and has been making this ever since. **

This carrot cake was even yummier on day 2.

Carrot Cake
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups oil
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
**Cream these ingredients together

**In seperate bowl combine and stir to mix:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
4 tso cinnamon
1 tsp salt
**When the sugar mixture is creamed, slowly add the flour mixture.

**Then add:
1 cup crushed pineapple
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cups nuts (I used pecans)

When the entire mixture is mixed thoroughly, pour into greased pan and bake 325 degrees for 30-45 minutes. I would assume you could do this in a 9x13 or cake pans.

I made this in my pampered chef bar pan and then cut it in half and made a double layer cake. It seems like my Mom would make this in her 9x13. My new oven is an electric one and seems to bake hotter than my gas oven did, so I baked this at 275 degrees for the same amount of time. It baked perfectly.
Cream Cheese Frosting
*I doubled this recipe for the above cake*
1 stick butter (I use margarine)
1 8oz cream cheese
1 box powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Beat with mixer until fluffy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Freezable Meat Sauce

I have this meat sauce in my freezer all the time. When I make it, I make 1-2 extra batches & freeze them flat in Ziploc bags. Just pull one out of the freezer in the morning & serve that night for dinner. Love the convenience! Love the taste too! :)


1 pound ground turkey (I've never tried ground beef)
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped onion (for a mild onion, use 1/2 cup - for a stronger onion, use 1/4 cup)
1 T fresh minced garlic
salt & pepper to taste
1 can red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained & rinsed
4 cups spaghetti sauce (your favorite)
1/4 cup water

Brown ground turkey in a large skillet. Halfway through browning, add chopped onion. Cook until turkey is thoroughly browned & onion is translucent. Stir in garlic & beans. Add salt & pepper sparingly. (just a few shakes is plenty - or none at all)

Pour in spaghetti sauce & stir to mix well. Only add water if sauce looks too thick - never more than 1/4 cup. Bring to soft boil. Cover & reduce heat.

Simmer for 15 minutes and serve!

We like it over cheese ravioli, fettucine or rigatoni.

We've also served it over french bread with melted mozzarella on top. Just heat sauce, pour over bread, sprinkle on cheese & brown/melt it under the broiler.


Allow to cool to room temperature.

Spoon into gallon-size Ziploc bag. Push out all the air, seal & lay flat in freezer. On a cookie sheet is great, but on top of something flat like a pizza or pie box is good too.

Once frozen, you can stand it upright & it takes up less than an inch of space.

I've used portabella mushrooms, sliced or roughly chopped, instead of the ground turkey. I'm not a mushroom fan, but it was really good!

Linda's Sprinkle Cake

** Recipe from Family Circle Magazine, about 10 years ago **

This cake just says "Autumn" for me! And Autumn's my favorite season, so we get this cake a lot from September thru...well...March. (giggle)

It's not one you'd frost with frosting - it's perfect for chocolate glazes or even Hershey's syrup! It keeps well, freezes well, and is easy to transport. Just take it dry & pour the topping/glaze on just before you serve it.


Linda's Sprinkle Cake

1 box yellow cake mix (regular-size box, 18.25 ozs)

1 box INSTANT vanilla pudding mix (3.4 oz box)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup water

4 eggs

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1 container chocolate sprinkles (2.5 ozs or 1/3 cup)

Heat oven to 350*. Grease & flour 10" tube pan or Bundt pan.

In large bowl, combine cake mix & pudding mix. Add oil, water & eggs.

On low speed, beat 30 seconds until moistened. One medium speed, beat for 2 minutes.

Stir in walnuts & sprinkles.

Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in 350* oven for 50-60 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.

Cool 5-10 minutes, remove from cake pan & cool on rack.

Serve & enjoy!

** This cake can be made with different cake mixes. We've enjoyed vanilla & pumpkin/spice cake mixes. On the pumpkin/spice cake, we've also used a white chocolate glaze & white chocolate chips.

** You can replace the chocolate sprinkles with mini chocolate chips, if you like. We do & like the stronger chocolate flavor much better than the sprinkles. Make sure they're MINI chips though. The regular size chips make the cake mushy & soggy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Healthier Fettucine Bake

**This was a very pleasant surprise and it is very low in fat**
Fettucine Bake
8 oz Wide egg noodles-cooked( I didn't have any, so I used the fettucine noodles I had in the pantry)
2 1/2 cups skim milk
3 Tb flour
1 Tb Chicken flavored bouillon
1 tsp or more of minced garlic (OPTIONAL)
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 cups cooked chicken or turkey-cubed
1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cook noodles as per package directions
3. In medium saucepan, combine milk, flour, minced garlic and bouillon. Stir until flour is dissolved. Place pan over medium heat and cook and stir until the mixture slightly thickens.
4. In large bowl combine the cooked noodles, milk mixture, yogurt and chicken. (I also added 1/4-1/3 cup parmesan cheese) Stir well.
5. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with vegetable spray and pour noodle mixture in pan. Sprinkle cheese over top. Cover
6. Bake for 25 minutes.

I hope you like it!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Baked Italian Turkey Meatballs

This is a recipe my kids make for me now. They LOVE these & I use them in a multitude of dishes like spaghetti & meatballs, ravioli & meatball casserole, and meatball sandwiches.

Obviously, these are unbaked. I totally forgot to get a photo of them after they were done! (duh!) Picture them all browned & yummy. :)

You can bake a double or triple batch and freeze them after they're baked for future dinners.

Baked Italian Turkey Meatballs

1 pound ground meat - I use ground turkey but you can use ground beef, if you prefer
1/3 cup Italian spiced bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 garlic clove minced OR 1 tsp prepared minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400*F. Line cookie sheet(s) or baking pan(s) with foil. Be sure to seal the corners so juices don't flow off onto your oven floor.

Mix all ingredients by hand in a large bowl. (You can mix with a spoon, but the texture is very different - more dense, I guess.)

Shape into 1 1/4" balls (about 33) and evenly space them on the foil-lined cookie sheets/baking pans. (I use a cookie dough-type scooper for this part - much faster!)

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until browned on the outside & cooked through.

Serve immediately over pasta with your favorite spaghetti sauce or in meatball sandwiches topped with grated mozzarella cheese & spaghetti sauce.


TO FREEZE: ** After they're baked **
Freeze extra meatballs (not touching) on a waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Transfer to a Ziploc freezer bag or freezer container & store in freezer for up to 3 months.

Reheat, frozen or thawed, in the sauce with which you plan to serve them.

Mix together gently:
2 9-oz pkgs fresh cheese ravioli (or defrosted from frozen)
1 16-oz jar spaghetti sauce
1/8 cup water (only if sauce is too thick - you can omit this if your sauce is thinner)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Gently pour into a 9x13" baking dish. Place 12 meatballs throughout the ravioli mixture. (press them down into the mixture, not just sitting on top)

Top with more grated mozzarella or Parmesan cheese.

Bake 30-45 minutes at 375*F or until ravioli are tender & cheese is browned.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stove Top Chicken Enchilada Casserole

This is the first time I made this recipe. I would give it 3 out of 5 stars. Everyone enjoyed it, but it is not one of my favorites.

**Here is a picture of the ingredients I used. I run to the Super Wal Mart every couple of months for BIG shopping and this is where they sell this big bag of reduced fat cheese. I love it.**

Original Recipe
Stove-top Chicken Enchilada Casserole
1 TB butter or veg oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
10 0z Enchilada sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 12.5 oz can chunk chicken in water (drained)
4 8" flour tortillas
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream
1- In 2 quart saucepan melt butter and add onion. Cook 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reserve 1/4 cup enchilada sauce, and add remaining sauce to onion. Stir in cumin and chicken. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered 5 minutes.
2- Lightly grease 10" skillet with cooking spray. Heat over low heat. Place 1 tortilla in skillet. Top with the shredded pepper jack cheese. Place 2nd tortilla on top of cheese. Pour enchilada sauce mixture over this tortilla. Place 3rd tortilla over enchilada mixture. Top this tortilla with shredded cheddar cheese. Place 4th tortilla over cheese. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over this tortilla.
3- Cover skillet and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Top each slice with sour cream.
Instead of enchilada sauce, I used 1 can healthy recipe cream of mushroom and 1 cup pace picante medium. ( I reserved about 1/2 cup and poured the rest in with the onion and chicken.)
I did not have pepper jack cheese, so I used my reduced fat cheddar and monterey jack cheese for the cheese layers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Beauty of Bread

Some of you may remember Laura B. I found this on her blog and it looked great. So I'm stealing it from her for my entry.

A year or so ago a friend, who just happens to be a former "National Mother of the Year", taught me how to make a simple bread recipe and shared with me the beauty of bread.

I can see your eyes rolling. A year ago if someone had told me making home made bread was a secret to three simple meals- I would have laughed and scoffed in disbelief. Not to mention it was a next to near impossible task for the novice baker I am. I mean, homemade bread!?! My past attempts to homemade breads and rolls always turned out things that looked more like bricks or hockey pucks than something you could or would eat. It doesn't sound easy OR fun. But it's true- this recipe is so easy! And the beauty about it is with one batch you can make a pan of cinnamon rolls for breakfast, a pan of bread sticks for lunch AND make a braided (use a left-over) dish for dinner! Beauty eh? An hour or so of baking and you're done cooking for the DAY!

So yesterday, my son wanted to make "Cinnamon melts". I thought that would be a great Sunday morning treat so I pulled out the flour and yeast.

Here's the magical recipe-

Mix together
2 cups warm water- just from the tap
2 Tb. Yeast
1/2 cup sugar

Let this sit for a minute and "proof" the yeast. (Make certain the yeast is still good before you go on to the next step. How you can tell- it starts to bubble and get thick. If it doesn't- start over with a new batch of yeast.)

2 1/2 tsp. Salt
3 cups flour
Mix well with a spoon

1 egg
1/4 cup oil

3 more cups of flour- added one at a time.

At this point, I take my ring off, pour some veg. oil on my hands and go at it. After all the flour is mixed in- I put more veg oil on my counter and knead it up. I then scrape my bowl clean spray some Pam in it and place my dough ball back into the bowl to rise for 1/2 hour.

My friend, the former Mother of the Year, who is the real bread expert says "the oil adds flavor, richness and tenderness to the bread and helps the bread stay moist longer"- so don't be shy! (I use to use flour to knead my dough and no wonder my loaves were dry and hard.)

Now if you just wanted to make rolls after the first RISE you would make your rolls and let them rise another 1/2 hour then bake at 375 for 12-20 min.

But we are making the magical trio. So you've got 1/2 hour to wait.

Perfect time to clean up the counter and get ingredients ready for the next step...
I usually have to clear off a counter space to roll out the dough,
scrape up some dried peanut butter
sort the mail and random papers on the counter
do some dishes- or just throw them in sink full of suds
and jump in the shower

Okay- Now my dough has doubled.

Split the dough. Normally- I just make a few cinnamon rolls and more bread sticks. ( I mean, really? How many cinnamon rolls does one family need? We just eat them ALL- even with the best of intentions to give some to neighbors we can't resist. Just one more....)

Yesterday though- I had some leftovers I wanted to use. (Piggy back meals! I love this! I get such a thrill from using up my leftovers!). Two nights ago I made a chicken/cream of chicken soup with frozen vegetables & cheese casserole served with rice. I had maybe three serving left of the chicken casserole. So I divided my dough into THREE portions.

Preheat your oven at 375 degrees

FIRST- pull out the cinnamon roll portion.
Pour oil on your counter and roll out the dough into a rectangle.

So simple - a child can do it!

Spread with soft margarine

It probably won't take you as much concentration as my 5 year old.
He wanted "Cinnamon melts" but you'll notice he's not in any future pictures- his interest was quickly lost in "helping me".
Sprinkle with cinnamon
Sprinkle with brown sugar

roll it up like a jelly-roll

Cut into 1 1/2 inch portions

(Okay- who ever said using floss was the best way to cut cinnamon rolls out? Have you ever heard of that? Don't bother getting the floss. That will cut out a huge headache- just cut them. This is one of my favorite pamper chef tools.)
Place on a baking sheet and let rise until double. (Bake at 375 for 12-20 min.)

While the cinnamon rolls are rising.... Pull your next portion out for your bread sticks.
Roll dough into a rectangle

melt 1/2 stick of butter and pour on a baking sheet.

Sprinkle in McCormicks Salad Supreme seasoning.

Then you cut your dough into 1/2 inch strips. Dip into the butter & seasoning on the cookie sheet. Twist and lay flat on same cookie sheet. Don't let the bread sticks raise a second time. Once the pan is full place in oven and bake for 12-30 minutes. I cut them in half. Then they are cooked and ready to warm up for lunch.

We eat these by dipping into pizza sauce. They make a great snack or as a side with spaghetti or lasagna OR my kids just fill up on them for lunch. (You can use different seasoning- garlic powder, basil, oregano and Parmesan for a more Italian twist.)

This is the best part.

LASTLY- While your bread sticks are baking, cinnamon rolls are rising...pat yourself on the back two down- one to go! Roll out your last rectangle of dough. Cut slits up the sides- but leave a center portion uncut for your filling.

Sorry the picture has my shadow in front of it... ( I really should learn some photography tips.)

Like I said before- I had some leftover chicken casserole. I wanted to spruce it up a bit- so I added some cream cheese.

By this time- your cinnamon rolls and braided bread are ready to bake. Where I live it is HOT HOT HOT- (Hawaii and NO air conditioning). So if I've got the oven on, I'm cooking everything at once, then we'll reheat in the microwave later. (But you could wrap up your braided bread and put it in the refrigerator until your ready to cook dinner.)
Both the cinnamon rolls and braided bread cook at 375. The cinnamon rolls will be done in 12-20 minutes and the braided bread in 20-25 minutes.

I wait to make this trio-combo when I have left-overs that would make tasty fillings. I mean, if I'm doing all the work of making bread... I don't want to have to cook chicken too! But some of you might like cooking more than me... so knock yourself out! You could fill it with cooked taco meat, cheddar cheese and garlic with onion- served with diced tomatoes, sour cream and shredded lettuce. Another filler my friend (former Mother of the Year)recommends is
Chicken a Broccoli:
1 cup chopped broccoli
2 cups cooked and chopped chicken
1 can cream chicken soup
1 cup mayo or sour cream
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 tsp curry powder.
(This makes enough for two loaves.)

And there you go!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pomegranate-Balsamic Marinated Chicken

This one's SUPER easy and SUPER yummy - if you like balsamic vinegar. Our family loves it so it's a great recipe for us.

We've made this marinade before with regular balsamic & liked it, but then I found this Pomegranate infused balsamic vinegar at Albertsons. It added a sweetness that regular balsamic vinegar didn't have. (My family described the marinade with regular balsamic as "more bitter" than this one.)

FYI - There's a recipe on the back of the bottle for a delicious vinagrette salad dressing that's worth making!

We eat this chicken as an entree with sides or sliced up as a topper for salads. It's great cold the next day too.

Pomegranate-Balsamic Marinated Chicken

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 16-oz bottle of Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar (you won't always use all of it)
1 soup-spoonful of minced garlic (probably 5-6 tablespoons)

Place chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag. (Use a strong one so it doesn't leak.)
Pour balsamic vinegar over chicken breasts until it just covers them.
Add garlic.
Zip bag closed & smoosh bag to mix chicken, vinegar & garlic until all chicken breasts are well-covered. Be careful it doesn't leak!
Marinate with Ziploc bag upright in fridge for 15-30 minutes. (No longer than 30 minutes or the flavors are too strong)

Grill over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes per side, until cooked through.


You could cook these in a skillet or under the broiler too, but the flavor is better on the grill.

We serve these with summer favorites like grilled corn on the cob, watermelon & veggies with dip. Also great on salads.


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