Sunday, February 28, 2010

Turtle Tart

Posted in , by blkris | Edit
We did a big group date a couple weeks ago and this is what I made for the dessert.  It was very rich, but very good!  Mine didn't look as pretty as the picture on Betty Crocker's site though!  We were feeding a big group, so I made mine in a cake pan to spread it out a little further.  I don't think I needed to though because we had plenty of leftovers.  Enjoy!

Cookie Base
1pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® oatmeal cookie mix (we used Peanut Butter cookie mix!!)
1/2cup butter or margarine, softened
1tablespoon water
1cup chopped pecans

40caramels, unwrapped
1/3cup whipping cream
3/4cup chopped pecans
1bag (11.5 oz) milk chocolate chips (2 cups)
1/3cup whipping cream
1/4cup chopped pecans

1.Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, water and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in 1 cup pecans. Press dough in bottom and up sides of ungreased 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
2.Bake 19 to 21 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 10 minutes.
3.Meanwhile, in medium microwavable bowl, microwave caramels and 1/3 cup cream on High 2 to 4 minutes, stirring twice, until caramels are melted. Stir in 3/4 cup pecans. Spread over cooled crust. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
4.In another medium microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and 1/3 cup cream on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate is smooth. Pour over filling. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup pecans. Refrigerate 2 hours or until set. To serve, let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before cutting. Store covered in refrigerator.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Use 10-inch tart pan. In step 2, bake crust 21 to 23 minutes.
Friday, February 19, 2010

Homemade granola bars

Posted in , by blkris | Edit
Ryan and I try to limit the amount of preservatives we eat as well as give to our kids, try to not buy anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup, and try to limit the amount of sugar we eat (although that is hard when you like to bake like I do!).  So, when it comes to finding snacks for the kids, I was getting frustrated at the junk that is in gummies and granola bars.  That is when I started making homemade fruit leather, dried apples and pears, and homemade granola bars.  This is a great recipe because you can use the oat, seed, and nut (or omit the nuts if you have peanut allergies in your family and maybe try to add something else for more substance)base and add different ingredients to make all varieties of granola bars.  I have adjusted the "glue" every time I make these and have come to the realization that if you want your granola bars to stick together, keep the ingredients the way they are.  I have made the glue with less butter and less sugar(which is what I do most of the time now), and used Agave nectar as a sugar replacement (This way creates crumbly granola instead of granola bars.  Still taste good, but do not stick together.).  So, play with the glue a little and see what works best for your family.
Let me know what combinations you have tried and what is your favorite!  I can always use more ideas!!!  
homemade granola bar recipe

PS This post is really long, but the recipe is actually pretty easy.  Sorry if I stressed you out!

Found on Joyful Abode

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gather your ingredients:
  • 2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup wheat germ ( I don't have this, so I omit this step)
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup peanuts, crushed ( I usually use almonds, but this last time I used chopped cashews.  YUM!)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar ( I make it a little less than this)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 Tbsp butter (I use more like 3 Tbs.)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (or if you have real Mexican vanilla, use around 1 - 1 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • approximately 8 oz. dried fruit ( I have used craisins, coconut and chocolate chips, or dried apples and dried blueberries)
To crush your peanuts, put them in a plastic bag and smash them with a heavy mallet, measuring cup, or sauce pan. (I chop my almonds and cashews in my small food processor.)
Then, mix the peanuts, oats, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds in a baking dish with sides. Toast them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that they don’t get burned (I have burned mine.  So really watch it and keep stirring!)

Meanwhile, prepare a glass baking dish (about 11 x 13 inches) for your granola by lining it with waxed paper lightly sprayed with a nonstick spray.
Put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.  (Make sure you don't overheat or cook too long.  This will make the glue almost crumble and break) (I have wanted to try adding some natural Adams Peanut Butter to this mix so I can make peanut butter chocolate chip bars, but haven't tried this yet.  if you do, let me know how it turns out!!!)
By now, your grains and nuts should be toasted, so mix everything together in a large bowl. The grains, the liquid “glue,” and the dried fruit (This is usually when I add my chocolate chips too.  Then they melt in with the oat mixture and cover everything.  I tried just pressing in my chocolate chips this last batch I made, but it made my granola break apart too much.) Oh, and turn off your oven, because you’re finished with it now.

Mix everything REALLY WELL because you want to make sure the “glue” gets all over everything. Now, dump your granola mixture into your prepared baking dish.

Spread out the mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Now fold over the sides of the waxed paper or add a sheet on top, and PRESS HARD all over the granola. You want to compact it together so that your bars won’t fall apart when you cut them.

Wait 2-3 hours or until the granola has totally cooled.
Then, open the waxed paper … And carefully turn the granola onto a large cutting board, peeling away the rest of the paper.
Now, firmly pressing down with a big knife (not sawing), cut your granola into whatever size bars you’d like.
I wrapped ours individually in plastic wrap, so that we could just throw one into our bag or lunch box in the morning. If you’d like to save on packaging though, you can store yours in an airtight container, between sheets of waxed paper (so they don’t stick together).

Bow Tie Pasta and Chicken

Posted in , , by blkris | Edit
I checked out a couple of cookbooks at the library this week, and found this recipe.  I  made it last night and it was REALLY good.  Not as good the second day for lunch, but still very yummy, so deserves to be on my Yummy Grub site.  I made a few adjustments though, as always (which I will put in parenthesis below).  Hope you like it though!

From Turn up the Heat with G.Garvin

4 Tbs olive oil
1 16 oz. pkg bow tie pasta ( I didn't have this so I used penne noodles.  I also was cooking for 2 adults, and 2 kids, so I cooked a 12 oz. box and probably only used 6 oz.)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked (I chopped mine into bits, cooked them on the stove at Medium heat with olive oil, chopped garlic, and seasoned with season salt, italian seasoning, and onion salt.)
8 asparagus spears, blanched (To blanch, place in boiling water for a minute or so until it turns bright green.  Transfer to ice water.  Drain well.) (I used 8 spears, but next time will definitely use more like 10-12.)
2 Tbs. chopped garlic ( I didn't do quite 2 Tbs.)
2 Tbs. chopped shallot ( I didn't have this so I used a yellow onion)
1 C. chopped tomato
1/2 C. tomato sauce
1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil  (Didn't have fresh, I used about 1 tsp. dried)
2 tsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley ( Ditto to above, but used 1 tsp. dried) )
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
Grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh basil and fresh Italian parsley

1.  In a large pot combine 2 quarts of water with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and a pinch salt; bring to a boil.  Add pasta; cook according to package directions until tender.  Drain pasta; place in a bowl and keep warm.

2.  Break chicken into small pieces and set aside.  Chop asparagus into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

3.  In a medium pot heat the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium- high heat.  Add chicken, asparagus, garlic, and shallot; stir (I also had a lot of mushrooms, thanks to buying bulk at Costco!, so added a couple handfuls of chopped mushrooms).  Add chopped tomato, tomato sauce, the 1/4 C. Parmesan cheese, 2 Tbs basil (adjust if using dried), 2 tsp parsley (adjust if using dried), the pepper, and a pinch of salt; stir.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.

4.  Add pasta to pot and stir to combine.  Add butter (next time I will use less butter) and stir until melted.  Spoon mixture onto serving platter.  Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese, basil, and parsley.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Healthy Fruit Smoothies

Posted in , , by blkris | Edit
My kids have been hooked on smoothies since they were babies.  It is a great way to get a boost of fiber and Vitamin C into yourself and your kids.  And it is even healthier (and an easy way to get picky eaters to eat veggies, as long as they don't see you making it!) if you add a handful of spinach and a couple carrots!  Sounds gross, I know.  I thought so too.  But if you add enough other fruits (especially ones with a lot of color like bluberries) you can't even taste or see the icky green color.  Add variety by trying different flavors of 100% juice, or flavored yogurts.

Blend together:
-Enough 100% fruit juice to liquify fruit and veggies (my favorite is orange juice)
-handful of spinach
-2 medium sized carrots

After fully chopped and blended, add:
frozen or fresh fruit in example:
      -We use Costco's frozen fruit blends with peaches, pineapples, strawberries, and also their mix of marionberries, blueberries, and blackberries.  Or try:

You get the picture.... try different variations of fruit with different juices.  Or to make a more smoothe smoothie, add a little yogurt (Our favorite is Mountain High brand).  For a little kick, add some lemon or lime zest.  If your fruit is very tart (and of course if you don't add yogurt), you can add a few squirts of Agave nectar (sugar replacement, similar to honey, but less viscous).   This is a great, cool summer treat, and a great way to get your vitamins and help get your kids, or yourself over colds!

Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches (Or homemade Philly Cheese Steak)

Posted in by blkris | Edit
Need another quick idea for dinner?  Do your kids love lunch meat as much as mine do?  Here is a nice twist for that boring lunch meat and a quick dinner.  Serve with a fruit smoothie, broccoli slices and ranch, and some chips.

To Serve 3-4:

1 pound deli roast beef, (we like Boars Head - higher price, but no preservatives!) sliced
1 green bell pepper sliced
1 red bell pepper sliced
half of a yellow/white onion, sliced
handful of mushrooms, sliced
Italian Dressing (we prefer Newman's Own - no icky high fructose corn syrup)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Hoagie rolls

-In a saucepan, on medium heat, add sliced roast beef and enough Italian Dressing to lightly cover meat.
-Let simmer until warm.
-While meat is simmering, in another saucepan, add a little olive oil or about 1 Tbs butter and saute onions, and bell peppers until tender.  Then add mushrooms until starting to turn brown.
-Butter or put mayo on your hoagie roll, place meat, veggies, and top with mozzarella cheese!
Voila! Another quick and easy dinner!

Shrimp Paulista

Posted in by blkris | Edit
This is a great recipe I found a long time ago on AOL Food.
I love it because it is quick, easy, and FULL OF FLAVOR.  I serve it on top of brown rice and with a green salad.  Enjoy!

Serves 6; ready in 35 min.


  • 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Place shrimp in a medium nonreactive bowl and toss with lime juice, 1/4 cup cilantro, half the garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, marinade and remaining garlic; cook until the shrimp are just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add the remaining 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper. Toss to combine.

Stir Fry Sausage

Posted in by blkris | Edit
This is another favorite recipe of mine that my Mom used to make when I was home.  It is quick, full of flavor, and you can add in as many veggies as you want, making it so much more nutritious!  There really aren't measurements, but I just kind of eyeball it depending on how much of one thing or another I want.  Good luck!

Feeds (in my house) 2 adults and 2 kids
About a head and a half of broccoli
Half of a white/yellow onion
2 carrots
1 small pkg of white mushrooms
half of a package of sausage (Not the small sausage links, or the breakfast patty sausage, but the pinkish sausage that is kind of in a smooshed "C" shape.  What do you call that?!)

-In a large saucepan, add enough olive oil or coconut oil to create a thin layer over bottom of pan. 
-Add about 1 tsp minced garlic. 
-Add onions, carrots, broccoli, and a little water and put a lid on this for a couple minutes until veggies are getting tender (NOT MUSHY).
-Then add the mushrooms (and if you decide, snow peas are good too) and sausage.
-Cook until mushrooms are browning and sausage is warm. 
-Sprinkle a little salt over veggies.

-While all this is cooking, boil about a half of a package of wheat egg noodles.

-When all is finished cooking, place egg noodles on plate with veggie mix on top.  Add shredded parmesean cheese.

Great served with a roll and salad.
Monday, February 15, 2010

Chocolate Bowls

Posted in , by blkris | Edit

My cousin posted a link to this site for the chocolate bowl recipe. What a great idea! I thought they looked delicious and such a fun party treat. Thought I would pass it along. Let me know how they turn out!

Tortilla Troubles

Posted in by blkris | Edit
I didn't have any tortillas last night to go with my Bajio Chicken salad (we wanted to make it more like burritos than an actual salad), so I used this recipe my sister in law sent me. It worked in a pinch (and my daughter had fun rolling them!), but it was really not my favorite recipe. It says it makes 15-20, but when I first started rolling them out, they were really thin. They almost turned out crunchy because they were too thin. I started adding two together to make them thicker and they turned out a little better. Still not my favorite though. Any ideas, or thoughts? Any great tortilla recipes?

Home Made Tortillas

2 cups – All Purpose Flour
½ tsp. salt
2/3 cup warm water
¼ cup oil
Additional Flour

Rub flour, salt, & oil together with your fingers until completely
incorporated and fine crumbs form.  Pour water into dry ingredients and
immediately work it in with a fork.  Dough will be in large clumps.
Sprinkle flour and knead until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Divide dough into
12 – 15 portions and shape into balls about 2 inches in diameter.  Set
dough balls on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and let dough rest for at
least 30 minutes before baking.  Roll out until thin, rolling from the
center to the outside. It may be helpful to roll the dough between 2 sheets
of plastic wrap.  Bake on very hot, ungreased griddle until freckled, about
20 seconds on each side.  Serve warm.

Gary's Cinnamon Rolls

Posted in , , by blkris | Edit

This is a really easy cinnamon roll recipe. It, like any other bread recipe, just takes a while to do. So if you are planning on enjoying some of these scrumptious cinnamon rolls, block out a good 4 hours to make sure you have enough time. My sister got this recipe from someone at church and I am hooked! I made them for church yesterday for a lesson I was teaching on Women and their Divine ROLLS. So, hence the Cinnamon ROLLS. Anywho... I figured it 12-13 year old girls didn't remember anything about my lesson, they would atleast remember that I made good cinnamon rolls, right?! :)
The only thing I have noticed and done wrong with this recipe is that I made the milk, water and butter mixture too hot and it killed my yeast. If your mixture gets too hot, just make sure you let it cool before adding it into the dry mixture. Good luck!

This makes about 25 cinnamon rolls.

2 C. flour (I do half white, half wheat flour)
1 1/2 C. sugar ( For most of my recipes, I cut down on the sugar. But not for cinnamon rolls! I go all out!)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. (or 2 packs) yeast

In saucepan, heat (to approx. 140 degrees):
1 C. milk
1 C. water
1/2 C. butter

Liquid to flour mixture. Mix for 3 min. on medium speed. Add 3-4 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time to form a firm dough. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic and allow to rise until doubled (about 45 min.).

3/4 C. sugar
1/8 C. cinnamon

Divide dough in 1/2. Punch down, then form a square and roll out into a rectangle. Spread 1/4 C. softened butter over surface. Sprinkle 1/2 of sugar mixture on dough. Roll dough into a log (roll from stomach, up). Slice dough about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. Place slices on a greased jelly roll pan (I used a big cookie sheet). Cover with plastic or a towel. Allow to rise until doubled (about 30 min). Repeat with other half of dough.

365 for 16-20 min.

Mix until smooth:
About 1 1/2 C. powdered sugar
1/4 C. butter (melted)
1/4 C. milk

Frost cinnamon rolls while warm. Pair these with a glass of cold milk and you have a great treat!!
Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quick treats - Peanut Butter and chocolate covered bananas, chocolate covered pretzels

Posted in by blkris | Edit

If you are like me and are a "chocoholic", you will like this. I hope I meet in heaven, the person that first thought of putting chocolate and peanut butter together. YUM! And to add to it, put banana and you have an even better treat!!
My husband was searching for something sweet one night and came up with this. Melted chocolate meltys, covering a banana that had peanut butter smothered in the middle. The picture doesn't do it justice. Really, this is fabulous! I made this for a treat for the kids this afternoon (okay, and for me too!) and we had leftover chocolate. I am not going to waste it of course, so I decided to use it and cover pretzels with it. I don't know about you and your kids, but if your kids like pretzels and chocolate as much as mine do, they will think this combo is great. Have fun!

Oriental Chicken Salad

Posted in , by blkris | Edit

I have been on a salad craze this week. Taco salad, now Oriental Chicken Salad, and later this week, Bajio/Cafe Rio Salad. Guess that is what happens when you buy lettuce/spinach in bulk at Costco! Gotta use it up! This is a recipe that I wasn't so sure I would like the dressing. I am kind of the boring, plain jane, stick to the usual type of person. I like my ranch dressing best. This actually is a Green onion dressing. And it is GREEN! Looks kind of gross, but tastes good on salad. Bad part about this salad, it really doesn't have many veggies in it, so I add mushrooms. The other bad thing, the rice noodles and wontons are fried. That is never good. But the good thing about this is that it is different than your everyday salad, and it has that oriental flavor.

-4 Chicken Breast halves (seasoned, cooked, and chopped or shredded; I cook mine in italian dressing in the oven or on the stove)
-1 head romaine lettuce (chopped)
-1 head red leaf lettuce (I don't usually have this so I substitute spinach) (chopped)
4 green onions finely sliced
6 oz. toasted slivered almonds

4 oz. Rice sticks (basically a big handfull)
(You can find these in almost any store in the Asian section. They are kind of hard to break apart so use scissors.)
Heat oil and throw in rice sticks. Turn over once to lightly brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. (If oil is hot enough, they will "poof" up. If the oil is not hot enough, they will be hard and inedible.)

12-16 oz. egg roll wrappers or wonton skins - Cut into 1-1/2 inch squares. Lightly brown in medium hot oil, drain on paper towels.

Mix all above ingredients in LARGE salad bowl. Serve tossed with dressing, or dressing on the side.

Mix well in blender:
8 green onions (entire onion)
1/2 C. sugar
1 C. oil
3/4 C. Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Salt

You can make half the dressing. It will feed about 3-4 people. You only need a little bit because it is strong (as you can imagine with 8 green onions!). Don't think about kissing anyone after you eat this :)

Taco Salad

Posted in , by blkris | Edit
Need to add variety to your salads? Something new to do with ground beef? Why not make a taco salad?? I like this because it is a good salad to take places because people can load up on the sides to create more filler. Try different sides to create variety. Or try different meats or dressings....

For a salad to feed 2 adults and 2 kids, I do a big handful of spinach, and about 5 big leaves of romaine lettuce (chopped).

I use about a pound of ground beef or elk meat. Brown and add a pkg. of taco seasoning ( I think you have to add water to this too. Look on back of pkg. for directions). Or if you don't have taco seasoning, we have made our own variety with using garlic powder, onion salt, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and season salt. Pour and keep trying until you get the right flavor for you.

chopped tomatoes
avocado slices
sliced olives
black beans
shredded cheese


To create, place tortilla chips (crunched up a bit so it makes it easier to eat) on bottom of plate. Add lettuce/spinach. Then add your meat and sides. Or try it the other way around. Doesn't really matter because it all gets mixed up anyway. Have fun with it!

Better than Anything Cake

Posted in , by blkris | Edit
This cake has a lot of different varieties of names and how to make it. I will post, what I think to be the BEST way. It is the chocolate version, so what can be better?! It is a great cake to use for parties or get togethers because it is always such a hit! You can cook it in a cake pan like a regular cake, or for the last event I made it for, we were trying to feed a lot of people so we cooked it in a large cookie sheet (or jelly roll pan) to spread it out a bit. Turned out great. Hope yours does too!

1 devils food cake mix (or any kind of chocolate cake mix) according to package directions

After cooked, poke holes all over the cake with the opposite end of a spatula, end of a bbq skewer, or using a fork. (Or be creative. As long as there are holes in it, it doesn't matter what you use!)

Then pour sweetened condensed milk and caramel ice cream topping all over the cake, letting it seep into the holes. The more you pour, the better the cake. But don't overdo it or you will have a mushy cake.

Put cake in the fridge for a couple hours.

Then cover top with a container of cool whip, sprinkled with toffee chips.