Monday, April 30

Crockpot Jambalaya

Many years ago, I had my first mouth watering bite of jambalaya. I have been a huge fan of it ever since. Over the years I have tried and tried and tried again to make my own version. I have gotten close but never really found that one combination that I felt was anything close to authentic or captured the flavor I was hoping for. Until now. A jambalaya that has some kick! 

This version is about medium hot. Just the way I love it. If you like yours a little on the tamer side, half the cayenne pepper, if you like it on the red hot side, double it. Also, use the meats of your choice, after all that is really what jambalaya is. Beef sausage, shrimp, hamburger or any other leftovers you want to add in.

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 lb. smoked turkey sausage, sliced
1, 28 oz, can diced tomatoes with juice
3 tsp. dried minced onion flakes
1 cup chicken broth
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 dried thyme
your choice of rice (I used 1 1/2 cups white rice and 1 pkg. of Ben's instant garlic butter rice)

Mix the chicken, sausage, tomatoes (with juice), onion garlic and broth in a crockpot. Season with oregano, parsley, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper and thyme.

Cover and cook 7 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high. When ready to serve, cook your rice as directed on package and add to crockpot. Taste for hotness and add more cayenne pepper if needed.  Mix in with crockpot ingredients for about 20 minutes to warm through. 

Friday, April 27

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is a variation from a variation from a recipe I saw floating around Pinterest. I had forgotten about a potluck we put together at work. I made this last minute the morning of said potluck having no idea it would turn out to be such a hit. Co-workers asked for the recipe and have mentioned it since (many times) that they were making it...again. 

This goes a long way. You can bring the hot factor up or down depending on your tastes. I used Red Hot sauce and thought it perfect. 

5 oz. hot sauce of your choice (I used Frank's Red Hot sauce)
2 pkg. cream cheese
8 oz. Ranch dressing
2 - 10 oz. cans chicken, drained well
medium cheddar cheese, shredded

Melt hot sauce, cream cheese and ranch dressing either over the stove top or in your microwave, stirring frequently. About half way through, throw in a large handful of shredded cheese.

Stir in chicken, mixing well.

Pour into crockpot. If desired, add some more shredded cheese on top. 

Serve with chips, crackers or veggies. Celery and cauliflower work great!

Can be kept on warm for 4 - 6 hours.

Thursday, April 26

Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken

The other day I asked John what we should do for the night. He answered, "Sit on our butts and relax". Basically do nothing, which is always a good option after long work days. I said I wanted to bake something. To him that means work but to me, that means relaxing. Creating something in the kitchen is fun! I have so many ideas I want to try out, so many creations to be made. 

What do you do to relax? 

While this was a little too spicy for Spencer, John and I liked this glaze. Really gave plain ole chicken some flair.

1 pkg, boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. chili pepper
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup honey
2 TBLS. apple cider vinegar

Mix all dry spices together and set aside.

Mix honey and vinegar together and set aside.

Un-tuck chicken thighs so they are flat. Cover both sides with dry spices and set flat onto a cookie sheet. 

Put thighs under broiler on low. Cook 5 -7 minutes on ones side, then flip and cook for another 5 -7 minutes on second side.

Remove from oven, flip again and baste with honey/vinegar mixture. Be sure to really coat the chicken well all over. Add to oven again and let cook under broiler until honey/vinegar coating starts to thicken and glaze. It may smoke a little but that's normal. 

Remove from oven and let set a few minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 25

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

A single bite of this casserole and it immediately went to my favorites pile. If you like twice baked potatoes, you will love this. Not quite as much fuss as filling single potatoes but with all the flavor and texture. The only sound around the table will be the "mmms" that follow each bite. 

This is definitely the loaded version of the twice baked potato. Feel free to tone yours down a bit by using low fat cream cheese, sour cream and grated cheese. 

5 lbs. russet potatoes
8 - 10 slices bacon
8 oz. cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chives, minced
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I use medium cheddar)
2 TBLS. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut into 1" chunks. Place in a large saucepan and add water to cover by 2". Cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and return to pan. Cover and set aside.

Cook bacon to desired crispiness and drain on paper towels. Let cool slightly and crumble.

Mash potatoes well. Add cream cheese, butter and sour cream. Stir until well mixed and potatoes are fluffy.

Add the chives, 2 cups of the cheddar cheese, half the bacon. Salt and pepper. Stir well.

Butter a baking dish and transfer potatoes. Top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese, or if you are like me, add enough to mostly cover the top. 

Bake about 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted on top. Remove from oven and top with remaining bacon. 

Then prepare yourself for some major goodness!

Tuesday, April 24

Fresh Strawberry Pie ~ Guest Post

Good morning friends! Today I have a guest post from my amazing friend, Pam. There is no other way to say this, I simply adore her. She is one of those friends that once you meet, you wonder how you ever got along without them. Beautiful, talented, spunky and one of the most kind hearted people I have ever met. Plus she loves to bake! 

She posted these pie photos on facebook a while back and I was so excited when she agreed to let me use her recipe on my blog. Don't they look delicious!!!

I need to make these. Better yet, I need to go visit Pam! 

Well, Strawberry time is upon us - so what better way to eat them - than in a Fresh Strawberry Pie?

I live in Washington State - farthest North-West you can get in the Continental United States. Our berries don’t come on until June so when we get berries this early, a lot of the time they are brought in from California are picked too early due to having to ship them and when we get them they are still white in the middle and not sweet… but I was lucky enough to pass a parking lot yesterday where someone was selling strawberries out of their pick-up. I was a little concerned about the quality, but they turned out to be beautiful berries.

I can’t claim that I made this particular pie - I talked my mom into making a couple pies for them and us. I gave her everything she needed from the strawberries right down to the pie crust and cornstarch.  Here’s the recipe (thanks to if you’re interested in trying it:

 It’s called Strawberry Pie V

·        2 1/2 cups water
·        2 cups white sugar
·        6 tablespoons cornstarch
·        1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin mix
·        2 quarts strawberries, hulled
     ·        2 (9 inch) pie shells, baked

In a saucepan, combine water, sugar and cornstarch. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the strawberry gelatin. Allow to cool slightly.  Arrange strawberries in the pie crusts with the tips pointing up. Pour gelatin mixture over, covering the berries.

Notes: I prefer to use a small whisk for the first two steps to I don’t end up with lumps of corn starch.
           I slice my strawberries instead of using them whole… it turns out just a pretty and is easier for your guests to eat.

And in the late summer when the peaches are out, we substitute the strawberry jello for Peach flavor and substitute the strawberries for diced peaches… I think I like the peach one even better than the strawberry one!!

Monday, April 23

Snicker Salad

Snickers. If there are any in the house, I will find them, eat them and leave not one crumb behind. They taunt me, they call my favorite candy bar ever. 

This completely satisfied my sweet tooth without being overwhelming. Something about the combo of the creamy whipping with the crunchy apples and gooey snickers. Go ahead and lick your screen now, no one is looking.

16 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
1 pkg. (small) instant vanilla pudding
1 cup milk
8 - 10 green apples
frozen snickers (2 bags of minis)

Mix package of instant pudding with one cup of milk. Let chill while chopping snickers.

Chop frozen snickers into bite size pieces. I cut the minis into fourths.

Chop green apples into bite size pieces.

Fold 8 oz. of Cool Whip into pudding. Taste and add additional amounts (up to 8 oz. more).

Add apples and snickers into pudding mixture.

Serve cold.

Friday, April 20

Crescent Roll Breakfast Ring

I mentioned that we don't really do breakfast around here. At least in the morning. A couple of times a month, we do have breakfast foods for dinner though. Crescent rolls are a favorite for us and can be used so many different ways. This breakfast ring combination was a huge hit here, even for my picky eater. Full of flavor and not too heavy. 

2 cans original crescent rolls
6 large eggs
2 cups shredded cheese (I used Monterey Jack/Colby)
12 slices bacon, crumbled
onion flakes, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray large cookie sheet (or pizza pan) with non stick cooking spray and set aside.

Scramble your eggs in a skillet like you normally would. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Separate one can of crescent roll triangles and arrange on baking sheet with wide end touching wide end, pointed ends out. Push seams together were they meet. Arrange second can with wide ends touching the wide ends already arrange but this time have the pointed end towards the center of the pan. Again pushing the seams together where they meet. 

Sprinkle each triangle with crumbled bacon. Add 1/2 cup of cheese on top of the bacon. Evenly divide the scrambled eggs on top. Add another 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle with desired amount of spices. Now pull the inner pointed ends of the crescent rolls over the top of the mixture. Then take the outer pointed ends and pull them over the top, enclosing the majority of the mixture and creating a ring. 

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until crescents are a golden brown. About 5 minutes before end of baking time, sprinkle the top with more cheese.

Remove from oven and cool slightly. Cut into triangles to serve.

Thursday, April 19

Creole Burgers with Bayou Mayo

I am slowly knocking down all the recipes I want to try from the amazing Ms. Paula Deen. I have yet to be disappointed and in the process am making my family fans of hers also. 

When I explained what I was making for dinner the night I made these, I got John's normal response to something he is not sure he wants to try...."sounds interesting". He is always interested in my foodie adventures but I can't say he is always a willing participant. I have to give him credit for at least trying everything I put on the table these days. Often times, as is the case with these burgers, he finds himself reaching for seconds and handing out compliments. I have to admit, it's a great feeling cooking for my family and knowing they appreciate it!

The combination burger/mayo is a match made in heaven here. Super delicious!

1 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 lb ground chicken
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Paula Deen Creole Pepper Blend
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 hamburger buns

Bayou Mayo
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Paula Deen Creole Pepper Blend
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped

Lightly spray a saute pan with a non stick cooknig spray. In the prepared pan, saute the onion, garlic and bell pepper until tender. Set aside and allow to cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken and cooled mixture. Add the egg, bread crumbs, and Paula Deen Creole Pepper Blend. Mix all together well, and form into 8 patties. Salt and pepper each patty.

Spray a large skillet with non stick cooking spray and cook burgers until done, about 5 minutes on each side. 

While burgers are cooking, prepare Bayou Mayo.

Bayou Mayo
In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir.
To assemble burgers, place patty on bun half, top with generous dollop of Bayou Mayo. Put top bun over chicken burger and serve! 

Tuesday, April 17

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Muffins ~ Breakfast on the Go

I have to admit that other than Spencer, we rarely do breakfast around here. It's either a late one on the weekends or grabbing something while heading out the door to work. Since breakfast kick starts your metabolism for the day, it should be more important than that. 

I know chocolate chip muffins aren't the most nutritious breakfast items around but it's better than some processed package food or drive through, right? Have to start somewhere and these moist, delicious muffins sure make my mornings brighter!

1 large egg
1 cup sour cream
5 TBLS unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the egg, sour cream, melted butter and vanilla extract. Mix well.

Add flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt to the mixture, stirring until just combined. Gently add the chocolate chips until thoroughly combined.

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pan liners so that they are 3/4 full.

Bake 14 - minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.

Can be stored in or out of the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3 days.

Monday, April 16

Spicy Sausage & Salsa Crockpot Dip

Good morning, friends! Hope everyone's Monday is going well so far.

I can't take any credit for this completely awesome (and easy) dip. A co-worker of John's makes it often and he was kind enough to share the recipe with me. It is so delicious! You can make it as mild or spicy as you like. We like it somewhere in the middle. 

You can make is quite spicy by using hot sausage and cayenne pepper or very mild by using original sausage and no pepper whatsoever. My version is somewhere in between so pick your flavor.

1 lb. pork sausage (I used Jimmy Dean's)
1 package Velveeta cheese
1 jar salsa (I use salsa from the ethnic section in the grocery store)
1 small can of green chiles, drained
cayenne pepper

Brown pork sausage and drain. Add sausage to crockpot. Dice up Velveeta cheese and add to the sausage in the crockpot. Pour entire jar of salsa and drained can of chiles over the top of sausage and cheese. Sprinkle entire top with desired amount of cayenne pepper.  Mix well.

Heat in crockpot on lowest setting, stirring occasionally until Velveeta cheese is completely melted. Serve with your choice of chips. Tortilla or corn chips are really best with this but I like Doritos so I used those.

You can also make this the night before and refrigerate. After following directions above, remove crockpot bowl and allow to cool down before refrigerating.  Remove from refrigerator and allow to warm on the counter a bit before heating on lowest setting of crockpot the next day. 

Friday, April 13

Melt in Your Mouth 7-Up Biscuits

recipe from

I think one of the biggest things that defines a foodie is our ability to look at a recipe or pantry full of cooking supplies and come up with an idea or alteration out of thin air. I don't know who originally decided that 7-Up and some Bisquick would make some of the most amazing biscuits ever, but I am glad they did. 

I made these on a whim. I didn't alter the recipe in any way because amazing is amazing. These were in fact so good, that John asked me to make them twice in one week. They melt in your mouth and only take a few minutes to mix up a batch. Don't take my word for it, go mix up a batch and see for yourself. 

2 cups Bisquick
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup 7-Up
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Cut sour cream into your Bisquick, then add 7-up. It will foam up for just a few seconds, don't worry, that's part of the magic here. Mix to form a soft dough.

Sprinkle your counter with Bisquick, then coat your fingers with some too. Add your dough and pat it out, adding more Bisquick to your fingers as often as you need to (even sprinkling some on top of your dough) to keep them from sticking.

Melt butter and pour it into a 9" square baking dish or in my case a round cake pan. Cut up your biscuits and arrange them on top of the melted butter with them touching each other. If you don't have a round cookie cutter, you can use the top of a plastic cup. Sippy cups work great!

Bake 12-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

Be ready for some soft, buttery melt in your mouth biscuits!

Thursday, April 12

Pug Faces ~ Thursday Photo Challenge

Poor Dexter. No matter what this pug is doing, he always has a "face". He either looks grumpy, sad or just plain goofy. He makes our family laugh on a daily basis. He also snores as loud as a full grown man and would sell his pug soul for a hot dog. I've tried to claim him as my dog but John says I have to share. 

I linked up with Spun with Tears, Thursday Photo Challenge: Silly.

Wednesday, April 11

New Twist on an Old Recipe ~ Chicken & Cheese Lasagna Roll-ups

Lasagna is one of those meals that has many variations and is a staple comfort. You can make it ahead and feed a large group of people easily.

Here is a twist to a recipe I have been using for years. In order to get John and Spencer to eat lasagna, I usually have to add massive amounts of beef and cheese. I wasn't sure how they would accept chicken. I mentioned feta cheese and the look on John's face, well it wasn't pretty. 

Lucky for me, my guys loved this. Seconds were dished up and there were no leftovers. Lighter than your average lasagna, yet so tasty!

3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. white pepper
8 lasagna noodles, cooked
2 cups spaghetti sauce (I used Prego Tomato & Basil)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine chicken, cheeses, milk and pepper.

Spread 1/2 cup of mixture on each lasagna noodle; roll jelly roll fashion.

In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, spread 1 cup of spaghetti sauce evenly across the bottom.

Arrange lasagna rolls seam side down on top of spaghetti sauce in baking dish.

Top with remaining spaghetti sauce. 

Cover and bake for 30 minutes or until heated through. Top with additional Parmesan cheese right out of the oven. 


Tuesday, April 10

Homemade Twix Bars

I don't eat a lot of candy or candy bars. If I do, caramel Twix are at the top of my list. There is just something about the milk chocolate, caramel and cookie combo that makes it quite irresistible. These are really close to the real deal. A little more time consuming and a bit messier but getting a whole pan of them is worth the effort. I used Ghirardelli baking chocolate. I think the quality of chocolate used makes all the difference. Not all chocolate is created equal.

I didn't even bother to smooth out my fingerprints either. Making my claim on them, you see...

Shortbread layer:
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Caramel layer:
2 cups caramel, cut into small chunks
3 TBLS. heavy cream

Chocolate layer:
3 cups chopped milk chocolate, melted
1 TBLS. vegetable shortening

For the shortbread, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Spray a  9 x 13 inch pan lightly with cooking spray and set aside. 

In a medium sized bowl, beat together the confectioner's sugar, butter and vanilla. Add the flour. Beat at medium speed until it's well combined.

Take the dough and spread it evenly in the prepared pan. If it's sticky, lightly flour your fingertips. Prick the crust all over with a fork.

Bake until shortbread is lightly browned on top with the edges a deeper brown. About 40 - 45 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately run a knife around the edges to loosen from the pan. Set aside to cool completely.

For the caramel layer, melt the caramel and cream over low heat in a small saucepan. Pour over the cooled crust and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For the chocolate layer, melt the chocolate over very low heat. Add shortening towards the end to thin.

For bars: pour melted chocolate evenly over the chilled caramel layer. Return to fridge to set chocolate and cut into 2 x 2 inch bars.

To more resemble Twix bars: cut cooled caramel layers down the length of the pan (around the size of Twix bars). Dip the chilled bars into the melted chocolate and place on parchment paper to set. May take a few hours to fully set.

In the meantime though, make sure and taste test some!

Monday, April 9

Copycat Recipe ~ Cracker Barrel Hash Browns

recipe from

Ever since my very first visit to Cracker Barrel, I have loved them. Their fun stores, great service, unique decor and most excellent food. It takes me forever to decide from their menu as I always want one of everything. 

I was excited to try this recipe when I found it on Pinterest. It is definitely a keeper. My family loved it. Even though it makes a big pan, we had very little leftovers. They were great reheated too!

2 lb. package frozen (plain) hash browns
8 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 stick butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cups grated medium cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place hash browns in a 9 x 13 inch greased pan. Season with desired amount of salt and pepper. 

Melt butter in the microwave. Mix melted butter in a large bowl with onions, sour cream and soup.

Pour mixture over hash browns. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until cheese begins to melt. Remove foil about half way through cooking time.

Let set a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Friday, April 6

Mini Egg Nests ~ Kid's Snack

Hello friends! Sorry I haven't blogged in so long. It it Spencer's Spring Break this week and I have been enjoying the extra time we have together. 

I made these for Spencer's class before the break. I am such a sucker for cuteness. Plus these are fun and easy to make. While not the healthiest of snacks, they aren't packed with tons of sugar either. The kids can help too!

1 10 oz. package of marshmallows (I used strawberry flavored)
1/4 cup of butter
8-9 cups of Crispix cereal
1 package of mini eggs (I used Whopper eggs)

Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add marshmallows, stirring as you add them. Stir constantly until marshmallows are melted and creamy. Remove from heat. Add cereal and immediately stir to coat completely.

Line standard size muffin tin with cupcake liners. Scoop marshmallow mixture into each cup and mold cereal to the sides, leaving an indentation in the middle. Place 3 mini eggs in the middle of each cup (while the centers are still warm). As the mixture cools, the eggs will stick to them to stay in place.

Store in tightly sealed container at room temperature.