Thursday, May 31

Paula's Cheese Biscuits

Poor Paula is getting a bad rap these days. Love or hate her, Paula Deen can cook. I have pinned or bookmarked almost her entire site of recipes and continue to adore her. I have yet to find a recipe of hers that wasn't incredible.

Including these biscuits. I am much more of a biscuit girl than a roll kind of girl. I could serve them with every meal and often make a big batch so I can have them for breakfast the next morning. These biscuits are light and fluffy and crumble in your mouth. Mmmm....

1 cup buttermilk
1/4 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar
1/3 cup shortening
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups self rising flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together, using a fork. Cut in shortening until it resembles cornmeal. Add cheese. Stir in buttermilk all at one time, just until blended. Do not over stir! Drop by tablespoons full, or use and ice cream scoop, onto well greased baking sheet. Brush dough with melted butter. 

Bake 12 to 15 minutes. 

Wednesday, May 30

Bacon, Egg & Sausage Breakfast Cups

Tomorrow is Spencer's last day of school. I cannot believe how fast the year went! I am super excited to be able to spend the summer with him as I have been lucky enough to rearrange my work schedule for the next 3 months to be able to stay home with him. No daycare and time with my boy! I plan on sharing lots of fun pictures and recipes as we go along.

Here is another one of those recipes that while meant for breakfast, we had for dinner. Fairly easy, light and the whole family loved them. The single servings made them easy to fix up and serve. Again, you can add your own favorites easily into this to suit your family. 

24 oz. bag of shredded hashbrowns
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 TBLS. olive oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 - 10 pieces of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
12 eggs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix hashbrowns with salt, pepper and 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese.

Equally divide among standard sized (lightly sprayed or greased) muffin pan.

Bake for 15 - 18 minutes.

Remove from oven and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Crack an egg into each of the cups. Top with bacon, sausage and remaining cheese. 

Bake for another 13 - 16 minutes or until the eggs are how you like them. 

Slide a knife along the edges of the muffin cups to remove.

Tuesday, May 29

Photoblog Challenge ~ Orton Effect

One of the reasons I enter Photo Challenges is they can force me out of me norm. I tend to take macro, completely in focus, straight on photos. I have gained so much experience by going out and around the box of this type of photography.

Take the Orton Effect, created by Michael Orton. The original technique involves sandwiching two or three transparencies of the same composition together. One slide contains the detail component, in focus and overexposed, the second and /or the third is the color component, and is out of focus and overexposed. Gives the photo an ethereal quality that I am completely in love with!

There are many tutorials out there for the Orton Effect, using photoshop. If you want to go to that next step with your photography, I recommend at least trying it. It is most often used with landscape and scenery shots and while I have also seen it used on portraits, the scenery shots are by far my favorite.

I linked up with Photoblog Challenges.

Friday, May 25

Brown Rice Taco Bake

My wonderfully talented sister over at has a great variety of healthy recipes. We can always use a little more healthy at our house and I have been trying to add some lower calorie meals and snacks to my weekly menu. 

While I didn't use low fat cheese like Tanya did, I otherwise followed her recipe. I meant to but forgot to add it to my grocery list. Using the low fat cheese will keep this to 287 calories per serving. Great flavor and it fills you right up! 

If you haven't tried brown rice before, you are missing out. We loved the flavor and texture. Thanks, Tanya!

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
2 TBLS. butter, cold
5 TBLS. cold water

1 cup cooked brown rice
1 lb. very lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
3 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 cup water
1 packet taco seasoning
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese, divided into 1/2 cups

Mix together the flour, baking powder and garlic. Cut in the cold butter with a fork, blending until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the water and mix well to form a soft, sticky dough. Roll onto a floured surface and form a rectangle. Lay dough in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan and spread flat with your fingers until the bottom is covered. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.

Brown beef, onion and garlic in a large skillet, seasoning them with salt and pepper. Drain. Mix taco seasoning and water. Add to the browned beef. Add in rice. Bring to a soft boil and continue to cook until it thickens. Remove from heat. Add beaten eggs and 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese. Stir well. Pour over cooked crust. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Cut into squares and top with remaining cheese and any of your favorite toppings. 

Thursday, May 24

White Chocolate Cake Batter Truffles

 recipe from

I get asked a lot how I maintain my weight and make all this delicious food. For one, I have been blessed with good metabolism and even greater willpower when it comes to knowing my limits on my calorie intake. Second, I share! Either myself or John are taking any extras to work with us. 

I was flattered when a co-worker asked if I take requests. I definitely do. He sent me this recipe from Truffles are new to me. This is a recipe I probably would have not made otherwise. I would have really missed out! Everyone loved these, including myself and I am not even a fan of white chocolate. Little mouthfuls of rich cakey goodness. Absolutely divine!

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup yellow cake mix
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
3 - 4 TBLS. milk
2 TBLS. sprinkles

Truffle coating:
16 oz. (8 squares) almond bark (I used vanilla flavored)
4 TBLS. yellow cake mix

Beat together butter and sugar using electric mixer, until well combined. Add cake mix, flour, salt and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Add 3 tablespoons or more of milk to make dough consistency. Mix in sprinkles by hand. Roll dough into 1" balls and place on parchment paper. Chill in the refrigerator 15 or more to firm up.

While dough balls are chilling, melt almond bark in the microwave at 30 second intervals until melted. Stir in between intervals. Once melted, quickly stir in cake mix until completely incorporated. Using a fork, dip truffles into almond bark and shake of excess bark by tapping the bottom of the fork on the side of the bowl. Place truffles back on parchment paper and top with sprinkles. Repeat until all truffles are done.

Chill in refrigerator until serving.

Makes 25 - 30 truffles.

NOTE: I waited until I had dipped all truffles before I added the sprinkles. They didn't stick very well this way. I would recommend immediately adding sprinkles after each dipping if you want them to be more decorative. Also, I used leftover Easter sprinkles but think more color would be great!

Wednesday, May 23

Bacon Parmesan Potato Wedges

It's no secret how much we love our bacon in this household. I always have some on hand and incorporate it into any recipe I can. Bacon often makes a recipe that much better or in this case, makes the whole thing. I paired these wedges with The World's Greatest Sandwich. After trying them, I deemed they might be the world's greatest bacon wedges? I think the key is using fresh potatoes instead of frozen fries and cooking the bacon just until it is crisp, leaving it a little soft but yet able to be crumbled. All I know is after making these, I will forever be biased against all other potato wedges.

1 lb. potatoes
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
3 TBLS. olive oil
6 slices bacon
2 TBLS. cornstarch
2 TBLS. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
cayenne pepper
black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Scrub potatoes and cut into wedges. Place in a large bowl. Chop onion and add to the potatoes.

Mince garlic clove and mix with olive oil. Pour over the wedges, mixing until the oil, garlic and onion are well distributed throughout.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and microwave about 8 minutes. While potatoes are in the microwave, fry up the bacon until just crispy. Drain on paper towel.

Combine cornstarch, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper in a bowl with the thyme and Parmesan.

Crumble the bacon. Mix bacon and cornstarch mixture and toss well to distribute everything as evenly as possible. 

Your wedges should be done by now. Transfer them to a lightly greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle seasoning mixture over the top of them and then use a spatula to flip and mix (gently) the seasoning all over the wedges. You can sprinkle a little extra Parmesan on top after mixing, if you want. 

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until they are lightly browned and the edges are crispy.

To take these a step further (even though the flavor is amazing alone), add your favorite dipping sauce. I am partial to dipping them in ranch dressing. 

Tuesday, May 22

World's Greatest Sandwich

recipe from

The World's Greatest Sandwich or the Spanglish Sandwich. Yep, from the movie Spanglish with Adam Sandler and Tea Leoni. Have you seen it? I have and can't remember being terribly impressed with it (kind of a depressing movie, wasn't it?). However, when someone calls something the greatest, they leave you no choice but to give it a try.

John and I both agree, this really could be the world's greatest sandwich. I'm not even joking one bit. 

If you follow the recipe in the order it should be done, you will see what I mean and you will be glad I am a sucker for catchy titles. The egg yoke dripping down the layers of the sandwich is not only the key but pure genius.

Ingredients: (per sandwich)
3 - 4 slices of bacon
2 slices Monterey Jack cheese
2 slices of your choice of bread - toasted (I used split top butter)
1 TBLS. mayo
4 tomato slices
2 leaves lettuce

Cook the bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels.

Place slices of cheese on one side of toasted bread. Place in toaster oven or broiler until just melted. 

Spread mayo on other side of bread and top with bacon, sliced tomato and lettuce.

Melt butter in non stick skillet over medium heat. Fry egg, turning over briefly when bottom is set, keeping the yolk runny.

Slide finished egg on top of the lettuce. Top with other slice of bread. 

Place sandwich on a plate, slicing it in half and letting the egg yolk run down the sandwich.  

Monday, May 21

BLT Pasta Salad

It's finally that time of year where we spend as much time outdoors as we can. Soaking up the sun, breathing in the fresh air and having cookouts with family and friends. Sometimes it's not all that easy to find a dish to bring to a cookout that can handle being left out in the heat for any period of time. This pasta dish can. In fact, it tastes it's best when served at room temperature. That makes it great for traveling too! 

12 oz. pasta (I used bow-tie)
1/2 cup milk
12 oz. bacon
3 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
4 TBLS. chopped chives
5 cups chopped Romaine hearts

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with milk in a large bowl. Set aside.

Cook the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Discard all dripping from the pan except 3 TBLS. Add chopped tomatoes and garlic to the pan with the bacon drippings and toss until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper. 

Crumble bacon into bite size pieces, setting aside 1/4 cup for garnish. Toss the remaining bacon and the tomato mixture into the pasta. 

Mix mayo, sour cream and 3 TBLS. of the chives with the pasta until well combined. Season again with salt and pepper. Add Romaine hearts and toss again to coat. Garnish with the reserved bacon and chives.

You can serve this right away or refrigerate until meal time. I made this a day ahead of time, refrigerating it and then bringing it to room temperature before serving. It also tastes great cold though. 

Friday, May 18

Cream Cheese Sausage Balls

If you are looking for an appetizer, something fairly quick and easy to put together, and something absolutely delicious, you need not look any further. WOW! Are these good. I mean like really really really good. 

I originally saw this recipe in a Bisquick book, one of those great little books at the checkout in the grocery store. I have seen quite a lot of variations across the internet of it since. did it best and her recipe is the one below. 

I doubled the recipe so John could take it in to work and the only thing I wish I had done differently is to save myself some because the few I snuck before he took them just weren't enough. No sauce or dip required as these babies hold their own. The cream cheese makes them most and the flavor beats all other meatball appetizers I have ever had. 

I made these the night before and threw them in the crockpot on warm the next day. As long as you keep the top of the crockpot on, they won't dry out. 

2 lbs. hot sausage
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 1/8 cups Bisquick
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese (I used medium cheddar)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all ingredients until well combined. Roll into 1" balls. Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until brown. 

Thursday, May 17

Weeknight Easy Taco Wraps

As you can probably tell by the taco based recipes I often post that we really dig Mexican food around here. These are super easy for those busy nights and are kid friendly too. You can spice them up a bit by adding green chiles, some hot sauce and maybe even some guacamole. This is a great basic recipe with ingredients you that you might already have on hand. 

These also taste great as a chicken taco wrap. Just replace the ground beef with cooked, shredded chicken and eliminate the refried beans. 

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
6 (10 inch) tortillas
1/2 cup salsa
3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese

Brown ground beef, making sure it is finely crumbled. Drain. Add taco seasoning and water. Mix well and cook about 3 minutes on low. Remove from heat and add refried beans. Mix well, reducing any large chunks.

Heat tortillas for about 10 seconds in the microwave. Spread 1/2 cup of taco mixture over tortilla. Top with desired amount of salsa and cheese. Roll up, tucking in the ends about 1/2 way up the roll. 

Cut each roll in half and serve with your favorite toppings like sour cream, avocado, guacamole and more salsa.

Wednesday, May 16

Pistachio Pudding Cake

Pistachios. You can never eat just one. At least I can't. With the exception of this recipe, Chocolate Pudding Torte, where my mom often substituted the chocolate with pistachio, I haven't found many recipes for these yummy nuts. While grocery shopping, I grabbed a couple of bags to remind myself I needed to change that. 

I adapted a Pillsbury recipe a bit to come up with this. Pudding cakes are my favorite to bake plus I am really liking the layer cakes these days. While the pistachio flavor is of course dominant here, the flavor is so smooth, the frosting not too thick and the cake moist. So if you like pistachios, you have to try this. You will wonder how you ever lived without it...

3/4 cup Crisco butter shortening
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups water
1 (3 3/4 oz) package pistachio instant pudding
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder

1 (3 3/4 oz.) package pistachio instant pudding
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cups pistachios, shelled and finely chopped
1 (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2, 9" round layer pans with cooking spray.

Combine shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a bowl. Beat with mixer until light and fluffy. Add water, pudding mix, flour and baking powder. Beat at low speed until blended, scraping bowl constantly. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, again scraping sides of bowl constantly. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Remove from pans to cool completely.

Frosting: Combine pudding mix and milk in a medium bowl. Beat at medium speed 1 minute. Fold in whipped topping. Remove one cup of frosting from bowl and combine with chopped pistachios. Spread on top of the bottom layer of cake. Place unfrosted (second) top cake layer. Spread remaining frosting on sides and top of both layers, covering the complete cake.

Chill before serving and keep in airtight container in refrigerator between servings.

Tuesday, May 15

Signs of Spring ~ Dandelions: Photoblog Challenge

Here in Wisconsin, one of the first signs of spring may be your yard filled with Dandelion flowers. Most people find them a nuisance, but I find them kind of pretty. They do muddle up that perfect green lawn and are considered weeds. Hey, if  you can't beat 'em, join 'em. John often calls me a "tree hugger" and as I was snapping off photos of this little beauty, I couldn't help thinking he might be right. Just a little. I will find any excuse to play outside, big people style.

I am excited today to plant some flowers Spencer and John got me for Mother's Day. Hoping to show you some pics as they grow. Also baking my first homemade rhubarb pie later today. Wish me luck!

I linked up with Photoblog Challenges Theme: Spring.

Monday, May 14

Maple & Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin (Crockpot Recipe)

If I am ever at a loss for ideas when planning my weekly menu, I can always add pork tenderloin as a safe bet. My guys and I love it. Even while I am not a fan of gravy, John and Spencer definitely are. Back in my not so great cooking days, I just sprinkled a few spices on the pork, added water and cooked the tenderloin in the crockpot for a few hours. It was always a hit, even then! So now I am always super excited to add a sauce or new flavor as a surprise of sorts, for the guys. Except now I buy two tenderloins instead of one and leftovers rarely happen. 

A great weeknight easy tenderloin recipe. I love putting this in before I leave for work and coming home to a delicious smelling house. The meat is so tender and juicy and the sauce amazing.

2 (1 lb each) plain pork tenderloins
salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
4 TBLS. Dijon mustard (I used Stone Ground)
2 TBLS. honey
2 TBLS. brown sugar
1 TBLS. cider vinegar
1 TBLS. pure Maple syrup
1 TBLS. cornstarch
1 TBLS. cold water

Trim tenderloins and pat dry any moisture from them with paper towel. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Place in your crockpot.

In a small bowl, combine garlic, mustard, honey, brown sugar, vinegar and maple syrup. Pour over the tenderloins. Turn each tenderloin to coat thoroughly. 

Cover crockpot and cook on low for 7 - 8 hours.

Remove tenderloins and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour juices left in the crockpot (discarding any fatty parts) into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer 8 - 10 minutes, stirring often.

Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Whisk into juices and cook 1 - 2 minutes longer, stirring until thickened.

Spoon over tenderloins. Cut and serve. Enjoy!

Friday, May 11

Photo Friday ~ Detailed

As I am sure you have already realized, I am a macro girl at heart. The little details are fascinating to me and while I certainly am willing to photograph anything and everything that catches my eye, I often seek out and enjoy finding those that don't want to be found. Like this dragonfly, just waking up for the day, the dew still damp on it's wings. Look at all the intersections that make up just one wing. Reminds me of stained glass. Just beautiful!

I linked up with Photo Friday and their theme: Detailed.

Have a great Friday friends!

Thursday, May 10

Banana Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting

I simply cannot deny anything banana. It just won't happen. This is a classic banana cake recipe that pairs moist delicious cake with a smooth but flavorful frosting that will melt in your mouth. I took a couple of my favorite recipes, moved a few things around and after my first bite knew this was "the cake". I wouldn't change a thing. 

Don't worry about the frosting. I didn't mix mine quite enough just for effect. Don't you just want to reach through your screen and lick all those drips? Either that or just come over to my house. I do share.

1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
4 TBLS. butter, room temperature
5 very ripe bananas, about 1 cup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

Vanilla Bean Frosting:
4 TBLS. butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To make cake:
Cream together sugar, sour cream, eggs, and butter.  Add mashed bananas and vanilla extract.  Add flour, salt, and baking soda; mix well.  Pour into greased 9"x13" cake pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting:
Cream butter and confectioner's sugar together until smooth.  Slowly add the heavy cream; stir until smooth.  Stir in the vanilla.  Mix very well and until frosting starts to thicken. Spread on cooled cake. 

Tuesday, May 8

Panoramic Crop ~ Photoblog Challenge

It has been a while since I entered a photoblog challenge. I have missed my photography! I couldn't pass up today's challenge though.  Panoramic crop. Cropping in the right/wrong areas can really make or break a shot, don't you think?

Check out the other entries at Photoblog Challenges.

Friday, May 4

Beef Burgers with (not so) Secret Sauce

recipe from

It is important to me that I credit someone when I try out their recipes. I visit many blogs for ideas or even inspiration and if I use someone's creation on here, I always make sure to give them the credit they deserve. I think we all know many recipes out there aren't originals but it seems so many are claiming them as their own. I have no problem admitting I use other people's ideas and am grateful they are willing to share!

Here is one such example. John brought me home a burger press a while ago. Such a simple kitchen gadget that really makes the difference when making a burger. Not only does it help make your burgers equal proportions but it puts a small indent on the top of each burger to ensure even cooking and keeps your patties from rounding out. I wanted to use it immediately but couldn't think of what type of burger I wanted to make. I had this recipe from pinned, so I thought it was a great opportunity to try it.

We loved these burgers! They were tangy and delicious. 

1 lb. ground beef (85/15)
1/2 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
black pepper
onion powder
sesame seed buns

Secret Sauce:
3/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup ketchup
2 TBLS. Worcestershire

Combine ground beef, grated cheese, BBQ sauce, and desired amount of seasonings. Shape into patties that are about 1" thick.

If you don't have a burger press, it is important to push about a 1/2" indent into the center of the patties. These burgers stay extra moist because of the sauce and cheese mixed in and the indent prevents them from becoming a dome.

Wait for your skillet to get really hot, then add a very thin layer of butter to the pan. Place the patties in the pan, indent side up.

Reduce the heat to medium and allow this side of the patty to heat 4 -6 minutes but make sure it doesn't burn. Flip and cook until done.

For the sauce: Combine all ingredients and mix well until combined. Taste and adjust to your liking.

Thursday, May 3

Dill Pickle French Fries

Oh how I love dill pickles. On burgers, with peanut butter or straight out of the jar. I also love french fries, so the pairing of the two only made sense. If they can make dill pickle potato chips, why can't I make french fries? Unlike the over-processed flavor of the chips I have tried, these have only a hint of dill flavoring. Just enough to make them tangy and addictive. I was really happy with how these turned out. Super easy too!

15 oz. package of thin (unseasoned) french fries
1 TBLS. vinegar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dill weed
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, garlic powder, cumin, dill weed and salt.

Add french fries and toss until evenly coated.

Bake on cookie sheet for 20 - 25 minutes, turning once half way through cooking time.