Wednesday, October 31

Breakfast Tater Tot Casserole

Happy Halloween! Hope you have a fun and safe day.

I am sharing another one of our breakfast for dinner ideas. Quick and easy for a busy weeknight. Leftovers are just as yummy and you can even make it the night before to save time if you aren't weird like us and actually have breakfast in the morning.

1 lb. cubed ham
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups milk
4 eggs
2 lbs. frozen seasoned tater tots
Lawry's seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the ham evenly on the bottom of a 9 x 13" pan. Top with shredded cheese. 

In a large bowl, beat together the milk and eggs. Pour over the cheese. (If you making this ahead of time, stop here and refrigerate. Continue here in the morning.)

Top with frozen tater tots. Sprinkle top with desired amount of salt, pepper and Lawry's.

Bake for around 45 minutes or until tater tots are browned and cheese is melted. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 30

Scarecrow Treats

recipe from

These Halloween cookie bars, topped with candy corn, are chewy and delicious. Oh, and contain peanut butter! Need I say more?

Ingredients for crust:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (18.25 oz) pudding in the mix yellow cake mix (box will say moist)
1 egg
3 cups miniature marshmallows

Ingredients for topping:
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups crisp rice cereal
2 cups salted peanuts
1 cup candy corn

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter and cake mix in a large bowl. Beat on low speed until well combined. Add egg and mix well.

Press onto bottom of 15x10x1" pan. Bake for about 15 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle marshmallows over hot crust. Return to the oven and bake an additional 1 -2 minutes or until marshmallows puff.

Combine corn syrup, sugar and brown sugar in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until it comes to a boil, about 2 - 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Stir in cereal, peanuts and candy corn. Immediately spoon over marshmallow layer; spread to cover. 

Cool completely and cut into bars.

Monday, October 29

Spooky Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

recipe slightly adapted from

Go ahead and laugh. It's ok. I had a typical "me" moment the other day while making these. Short on time, I went to decorate these before work and realized I had bought regular sized chocolate chips instead of minis. The result is quite silly looking! I am still chuckling now looking at them.

Despite my googly eyed ghosts, these pumpkin cheesecake bars are absolutely amazing. Like lick the fork and maybe even your plate amazing. Creamy pumpkin with an oreo crust and topped with cool whip. Everyone who tried them loved them.

Ingredients for crust:
20 creme filled sandwich cookies
2 1/2 TBLS. unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for filling:
2 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin pie filling
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 TBLS. all purpose flour
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 9 inch square pan with foil so that it overhangs on the sides. Mist with cooking spray.

To make the crust: process the cookies in a food processor until ground. Pulse in butter. Press evenly into the pan. Bake until firm, 10 - 12 minutes. Cool slightly.

To make the filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in   pumpkin.Then eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in vanilla, flour, spice and salt until just combined.

Pour mixture over the slightly cooled crust. Put the pan in a large rimmed baking sheet and put in the oven. Pour hot water into the larger baking sheet until it's nearly filled. (This will prevent your cheesecake from cracking) Bake cheesecake until set around the edges but jiggles slightly in the center, about 40 - 45 minutes. Remove pan from sheet and cool completely on a wire rack. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm. At least 3 hours.

To make ghosts, pipe whipped cream onto bars in a circular motion. Use MINI chocolate chips for eyes.

Thursday, October 25

Chocolate Lovers: Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

I know I should have posted this earlier in the season. If you love chocolate as much as I do, you'll understand. I have made traditional and chocolate zucchini bread before and love them both. But as Emeril says, "Let's kick it up a notch!" Or two or three.

This moist double chocolate, dark chocolate chip bread is a chocolate lover's dream. I added just a few chocolate chips so it wasn't overwhelming. They add a punch of flavor here and there. 

This might not be for everyone. It sure was for me!

2 cups shredded zucchini
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
2\3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To remove the excess moisture from the zucchini, squeeze between two paper towels until most of the liquid is gone. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and butter. Stir in zucchini. Gradually whisk in the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips. The batter will be thick.

Grease or spray a 9 1/2" x 5 1/2" loaf pan. Spoon in the mixture. 

Bake for 55 - 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Remove from oven and cool about 1/2 an hour before removing from pan. Place on rack and cool completely before slicing.

Wednesday, October 24

Fiesta Chicken & Rice

recipe from

Chicken and rice are rarely a miss in this household. I saw this recipe on Pinterest and was taken in first by it's simplicity of using one skillet for the whole meal. I also liked the "fiesta" concept and of course how great it looks when serving!

We really enjoyed the added pop of flavor that the fiesta rice brought along with the moist tender chicken. Creative and delicious!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup long grain rice
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup shredded Mexican style cheese
4 scallions, thinly sliced

Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a 12" skillet on medium - high and add the oil. When it starts to shimmer, add the chicken and cook on one side until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, leaving the fat in the pan.

Add the rice, onion and 1/2 tsp. of salt to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until rice is toasted and the onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, chili powder and cayenne, cooking just until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add in the tomatoes, green pepper and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to bring up any brown bits. Add the chicken back to the pan, browned side up. 

Cover the pan and reduce to low heat. Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes.

Transfer the chicken alone to a cutting board. Give the rice a quick stir and replace cover cooking it until tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile cut the chicken into 1/2 inch slices.

Turn off the heat under the pan and arrange chicken slices on top of the rice. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and scallions. Cover the pan and wait a few minutes for the cheese to melt. 

Serve right from the skillet. YUM!

Tuesday, October 23

Creamy Beef Sandwiches

recipe adapted from taste of home

I couldn't resist adding this no fuss sandwich to my weekly menu. I adapted the amount of beef added after following the original recipe simply because it was much more like a salad between two pieces of bread and I wanted more filler. Of course after bulking it up, it reduced the mayo/ranch flavor, so I adjusted that too. They went fast!

Ideal for lunch on the go!

3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 TBLS ranch dressing
6 oz. thinly sliced deli beef, chopped
1 cup medium cheddar cheese
12 slices bread (I used split top butter)

In a small bowl, combine the mayo and ranch dressing. Stir in the beef and cheese. Spread about 1/3 cup of spread on six sandwich slices and top with remaining bread slices.

You can also top these with lettuce but my picky eater won't touch it, so I opted to leave it out.

Monday, October 22

Photoblog Challenge: Pink Flowers

pink aster

“The earth laughs in flowers.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Good morning friends! Hope your day is a good one.

Wednesday, October 17

Baked Broccoli Chicken Penne

recipe adapted from

I have been trying to incorporate more veggies into our meals lately as it seems to be the one food group we miss the most. I find it easier to add them to our main dish rather than as a side. This way the flavor of the meal blends the distinct taste most vegetables give and somewhat fools my family into healthier eating. We all love broccoli and it's so easy to add to a number of recipes. 

The addition of mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes to this pasta sets it apart from the rest. Delish!

1 bunch broccoli, florets only - cut into 1" pieces
12 oz. penne pasta
2 TBLS. olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
6 medium garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
3 oz. shredded mozzarella
8 oz. jar oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped

3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 TBLS. butter, melted

Make the topping first by combining the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl; set aside. 

Lightly grease a  9 x 13 inch baking dish and also set that aside.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot, bring water to a boil for the penne. Stir in broccoli. Boil for 1 minute, until the broccoli is bright green. Quickly remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and set aside on plate. Return the water to a boil and add penne. Boil penne until al dente (1-2 minutes less than you normally would as the pasta will cook a little more when you bake it). Drain and toss with 1 TBLS. of the olive oil. Set aside.

Wipe the pot dry, add the remaining TBLS. of olive oil and return to medium heat until oil is shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softening and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and dried thyme, cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cook stirring constantly until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the broth and cream, bringing them to a simmer, stirring often. Add the chicken and cook through, about 7 minutes. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes and mozzarella.

Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the sauce, stirring to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the topping you set aside earlier. 

Bake about 15 minutes or until the top is bubbling and crumbs are lightly browned.

Tuesday, October 16

Moist Banana Bread

I know, another banana bread recipe. I couldn't help myself! Nicole, over at Daily Dish Recipes made me do it, I promise. Between her amazing photos and witty commentary, I don't stand a chance. While visiting (like almost daily) her website I stumbled upon her version of banana bread and couldn't resist. 

This bread just may be the perfect banana bread. Super moist and absolutely delicious. 

1 1/4 cups mashed bananas
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup margarine
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch or (2) 7 x 3 inch loaf pans. 

Combine the mashed banana and sour cream. Mix well. 

In a separate bowl, cream the margarine and sugar together until smooth. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Add banana mixture and mix again. 

In a third separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to banana mixture and stir well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s). 

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. 

Monday, October 15

Beef Tips in Mushroom Sauce (crockpot)

How did Monday get here so quickly? It's actually a good thing for me as I work weekends and it's my Friday today. Yay me!

You know how much I love my crockpot. I also love simple and super quick recipes that taste like you spent hours on them. This is one of those recipes. I served these beef tips over mashed potatoes. Your favorite pasta would be great too.

2 lbs. lean chuck (cut into bite size pieces)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1 can 7up

Put cut up chuck into crockpot. Pour can of soup and packet of onion soup mix over the top of the chuck. Pour 7up over the top. Mix gently. 

Cook on low setting for 6 - 8 hours. Turn off your crockpot about 15 minutes before serving and give it a quick stir.

Wednesday, October 10

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Pie

recipe from

While perusing Pinterest and seeing this pie, I just knew it had to be mine. Crunchy pretzels and smooth chocolate custard are an irresistible combo. This decadent pie was everything I hoped it would be. I think the pretzel sticks versus the traditional pretzel shape would be more fitting for the top, appearance wise, but I was out after making this and beggars can't be choosers. You know? 

You really need to make this pie! Did I mention chocolate ganache...

4 oz. (3 cups) broken pretzel sticks
3/4 cup light brown sugar, divided and lightly packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 TBLS unsweetened cocoa
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 oz. semi sweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cups + 2 TBLS heavy whipping cream, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 TBLS confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend pretzels, 1/4 cup brown sugar and butter in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs. Press mixture firmly into bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie pan. Bake 10 - 15 minutes. Cool.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, salt and milk. Put over medium heat and stir just until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Whisk in egg yolks.. Cook, stirring constantly until custard thickens and just boils, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bittersweet chocolate and vanilla. Place pan in a bowl of ice and water and stir occasionally until custards cools.

While custard cools, make the chocolate ganache to cover the crust. Place semi sweet chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat 1/4 cup + 2 TBLS of heavy whipping cream in the microwave about 30 seconds (just until it boils). Pour warm cream over chocolate and stir until melted. Pour over cooled pie crust, using a spatula to spread chocolate up the sides and bottom of crust. Place in refrigerator until set.

Pour custard into cooled crust, over the hardened ganache and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface, making it flat. Chill until firm, at least 4 hours.

Whip the remaining cream and confectioner's sugar sugar until soft peaks form. Spread over the pie and garnish with extra pretzels and chocolate shavings. 

Tuesday, October 9

Steak & Rice Burritos

Flair. I like flair. I even like the way it sounds when you say it. I like to add flair to my clothing, my home and even my meals. Nothing terribly crazy, just interesting. Something fun; fun never hurts.

I think these steak burritos have a little flair. A little healthier but definitely filling. We found them to be delicious!


1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup water
4 TBLS instant brown rice
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
12 oz. strip steak, trimmed and sliced thin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup onion, diced
4 (8 inch) burritos
sour cream, to garnish

Combine salsa and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and simmer 5 minutes.

Remove cover and stir in beans. Leaving the cover off, cook, stirring occasionally until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. About 5 more minutes. 

In the meantime, sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Add steak and onions to a skillet over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until steak is brown and cooked through. 5 - 7 minutes. 

Divide the steak mixture evenly among the tortillas. Top with sour cream or your favorite toppings. Roll and eat!

Monday, October 8

Chicken & Asparagus with Wild Rice

adapted from Taste of  Home

Even if you are not a huge fan of asparagus, you may still like this dish. The blend of flavors and textures are amazing! You will barely remember you are eating asparagus. This meal is hearty, packed full of flavor and quick to get from the stovetop to the table. How can you go wrong?

2 cups water
2 cups cut fresh asparagus (cut into 1 inch diagonal strips)
1 (6 oz) pkg. long grain and wild rice
1/4 cup butter, divided
3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1 inch strips)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 tsp. minced garlic

In a large saucepan, combine the water, asparagus, rice mix with contents of seasoning packet and 2 tablespoons of butter. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute chicken and salt with remaining butter until chicken is no longer pink. Add the carrot and garlic. Cook and stir for 1 - 2 minutes 9 or until carrot is crisp-tender.


Thursday, October 4

Hot Bean Dip

This has fast become one of our favorite dips. Simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand and simple to throw together. Wisconsin nights are becoming quite cold again. My oven is being used more often and comfort foods are making it back into my menu. 

We have this dip often when watching t.v.or for game nights. The smaller portion is perfect for the two of us. If you are looking at serving this to a larger group, double the recipe and use a 9 x 13 inch pan. It won't last long!

1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 can refried beans
1 small jar salsa
1 1/2 cups medium cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Spray 9 inch baking dish. Spread softened cream cheese evenly on bottom of dish. Spread refried beans evenly over the cream cheese. Pour just enough salsa over the beans to lightly cover them. 

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until edges begin to bubble. Remove from oven and spread the cheese over the top evenly. 

Place back in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Wednesday, October 3

French Bread Pizza

Talk about a quick, delicious lunch idea. These totally tasty little pizzas are it. Or again, it's football season. You can make everyone happy with some finger food and not spend all day in the kitchen. 

1 loaf french bread
1 small jar pizza sauce
sliced pepperoni
Colby jack shredded cheese blend

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Slice french bread with 1/2 inch cuts. Lay out on lightly sprayed cookie sheet. Top each bread slice with pizza sauce. Not too much or they will be soggy! Top each slice with desired amount of pepperoni (or none at all if your not a fan of pepperoni). Top each with a layer of Colby jack cheese. Don't be stingy!

Bake for about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. 

Chewy cheesy goodness...mmmmmm.

Tuesday, October 2

French Onion Meatball Sliders

recipe from

Most of the time when something looks/sounds too good to be true, it is. This is not the case with this recipe. I only tried this recipe because John loves meatballs and I wasn't feeling terribly ambitious. I am not normally fond of frozen meatballs but do love french onions. 

These are way easy and beyond delicious. You can put them on small buns or use toothpicks and serve them as appetizers. Or both! Great for get togethers or game day. Everyone will love them and think you spent hours making them!

24 oz. pkg of frozen meatballs
2 (10.5 oz.) cans condensed French Onion Soup

Spray crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. Add meatballs. Pour soup over the top. 

Cook on low for 4 hours, high for 2 hours.

Serve on small rolls or toothpicks as appetizers.

I used non seasoned meatballs so the flavors would not be mixed. I also spooned a little of the gravy over the top of the meatballs when I served them on buns. YUM!

Monday, October 1

Pistachio Pudding Cake

You might remember awhile back when I shared this recipe for Pistachio pudding cake. Well being the pistachio freak fanatic that I am, I had to try another go with a different version. This one is a single layer cake. A little moister and also easier. With pistachio in the cake and the frosting, you get a smooth but not overwhelming pistachio taste in every bite. I would have gladly hidden in the closet and eaten this whole cake myself. 

I did not make the cake from scratch completely. You won't be able to tell the difference though. 

Cake Ingredients:
1 (4 oz.) pkg instant Pistachio pudding
1 yellow cake mix
1 cup canola oil
1 cup club soda
3 eggs

Frosting Ingredients:
2 packets Dream Whip
1 1/2 cups milk
1 pkg instant Pistachio pudding
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large bowl, mix together pudding packet and cake mix. 

Lightly beat the eggs together in a separate bowl and then add them to the dry mixture. Add oil and club soda, mixing well.

Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan and pour mixture into it. Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

Let the cake cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
Mix Dream Whip and milk in a large bowl with a mixer. Beat until thick. Add pudding packet. Frost cooled cake. If desired, sprinkle with chopped nuts.