Monday, June 29, 2009

Crockpot Applesauce

I forgot how much I love homemade and warm applesauce until I started making it again this last winter! I was excited to have found apples marked down to 25c/lb for quick I grabbed up all I could and whipped up some of this deliciousness for our freezer...I got 5 pints in all (it could have been 6, but my tummy got in the way!). I can't wait until fall to make more of's so perfect for a cool day!

The Ingredients...

...4 large apples. Peeled, cored and sliced.
...juice from one lemon (if you don't have a lemon on hand, don't go buy one. 2 1/2 T will substitute quite nicely)
...1/2 t. cinnamon
...1 t. vanilla
...1 T. brown sugar
...1/4 c. water


Place apples in crockpot. Add in remaining ingredients and stir to coat all apples. Turn crockpot on low for 6 hours. After four hours, mash apples with potato masher until desired consistency.

My Thoughts...

When I make this, I usually do a double batch. My crockpot can hold a double batch just perfectly...and it will freeze into about 3-4 pints. I don't buy applesauce at the store anymore. Unless it's for baking. This is more of a eating applesauce than it is a baking one. Besides, why would you want to waste this deliciousness in a baked good. It deserves all the attention to itself!

To see other delicious recipes (and some super cute July 4 picnic ideas!) check out Tasty Tuesday over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Homemade Cream Cheese Spread

I love putting a cream cheese spread on my bagels! It adds so much more flavor than butter and is a nice change from peanut butter or jam. So yesterday when I had some strawberries leftover after making some homemade strawberry rhubarb jam, I decided to make an attempt at some homemade cream cheese spread!

The Ingredients...

...5 oz. cream cheese (really. it's however much you want to use. I just used 5 oz. because it's what I had leftover after a frosting recipe I made)
...1 cap full of vanilla extract
...Smashed Strawberries (yet again, how much is up to you. I just kept mashing and adding until I felt it tasted right.)


Soften cream cheese and stir in vanilla. Smash up strawberries and stir in. Store in refrigerator.

My Thoughts...
This was quite comparable to the store boughten cream cheese spread. I'm eager to try this again with different flavors. I haven't done an actual price of this homemade version...but I do know that it most definetely cost me under $1 to make. Which sure beats the pants off of the store bought price any day! Next time I have a craving for cream cheese spread on my bagel, I'll just whip up my own!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bagels from Scratch!

I love bagels. I do not, however, love the pricetag on bagels. The solution? Homemade!

The Ingredients...
...1 c. water
...1 1/2 t. salt
...2 T. white sugar
...3 c. flour
...2 1/4 t. yeast


Place ingredients in bread maker in order listed. Set to dough setting and let run cycle. When cycle is finished, let dough rest 5 min. on lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 9 sections, and roll into balls. Poke hole in middle of each ball and form into bagel shape. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Three at a time, boil the bagels for one minute, turning after 30 seconds. Let drain on clean dish towel. Place onto baking sheet lightly dusted with cornmeal. Bake at 375* for 20 minutes.

My Thoughts...
So good! And the best part? These only cost 32c for the whole batch as opposed to $1.19 and up for a pack of 5 at the grocery store! I will definetely start making these myself, especially since it's a really easy process! Next time I think I will try adding some garlic or onion and make a flavored bagel!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Chocolate Crinkles

I love cookies. I especially love these cookies. I don't know what it is about them that makes them so dang delicious...but they are honestly one of my favorite cookies. And one that could always be found in my grandma's cookie jar. Which is maybe what creates their appeal...

The Ingredients...

...1 c. cocoa powder
...2 c. sugar
...1/2 c. oil
...4 eggs
...2 t. vanilla extract
...2 c. flour
...2 t. baking powder
...1/2 c. powdered sugar


In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar and oil. Beat in eggs one at a time and then stir in vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder and then stir into cocoa mixture. Cover dough and chill for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350* and grease cookie sheet. Roll dough into 1" balls and coat in powdered sugar. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for one minute on cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack.

My Thoughts...

These are good! So good that I can't keep my hands off of them...which is baaad!

To see more great recipes check out the Recipe Swap over at Grocery Cart Challenge!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

O'Henry Bars

You know those recipes that you grew up eating...but once you moved away from home for the first time, moved out on your owned and eventually got married, you kind of forgot about them? Yeah, this is one of those recipes. Both my grandma and my mom used to make these bars all of the time...and after rediscovering the recipe over the weekend in one of my grandma'a cookbooks I decided to make them...

The Ingredients...

...2 c. quick cooking oats
...1/2 c. white corn syrup
...3/4 c. margarine
...1 c. brown sugar
...1 (6 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips
...3/4 c. peanut butter


Mix the first four ingredients and spread into greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350* for 12-15 minutes. Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter, spread over cooled "crust" mixture and cool. Cut into bars and serve!

My Thoughts....
Okay, first off, this isn't my picture. I borrowed it from Three Lab Bakery. But it is my recipe...I just forgot to take a picture of the finished product before they got all gobbled up! This is such a delicious recipe...and childhood memories of eating these at my grandma's house came flooding back with each bite. This is a simple, but delicious bar that you must try. Stat. So get to your kitchen and get mixing!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Macaroni Salad

This is a crowd pleaser. A tried and true crowd pleaser. Where there is summer and picnics, grill outs and barbecues...there must be this salad. It is also a great little side dish to whip up for those hot days when turning on the oven is just not an option.'s simple!

The Ingredients...

...16 oz. shell macaroni
...1 large grated carrot
...2 stalks celery, chopped
...2 c. mayonnaise
...1 can sweetened condensed milk
...1/2 c. sugar
...1/4 c. vinegar


Cook macaroni according to package directions. In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sweetened condensed milk, vinegar and sugar. Add to macaroni and stir in celery and carrot. Let marinate in refrigerator for several hours, or overnight.

My Thoughts...

Just like Grandma used to make. This is so tasty and creamy to boot. It's also a crowd pleaser, because let's face it....what kind of a summer eating event doesn't include a salad similar to this?
For more great crowd pleasing recipes, be sure to check out the Ultimate Recipe Swap over at Life as Mom.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Popcorn Cake

It's hot here. Really, really hot here. And me being the fr
ugal (crazed?) person that I am...we haven't turned on the air conditioning yet. Yep. We're crazy...

I wanted to make a cake. But that requires turning on the oven...which makes our kitchen feel like a bizzilion and one degrees instead of the normal million degrees :) So I found this recipe, which was really good and required no extra heating of the kitchen...

The Ingredients...

...18 cups popped popcorn
...1 bag marshmallows
...1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
...1/2 bag of chocolate chips


Pop popcorn and place in large bowl. Melt butter and marshmallows together and stir into popcorn. Once everything is mixed well, add chocolate chips. Press into greased angel food or bundt cake pan and let cool. Turn onto plate and enjoy!

My Thoughts...
This was a painless, heatless treat...and it was good! It was basically a really giant popcorn ball, but in cake form. I will definetely be making this was delicious!

For more delicious recipes, check out Tasty Tuesday over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fresh Omelets

I have a confession to make. I have never, ever made an omelet in my life! So when hubs requested one for breakfast the other morning, I was a little leery...and positive that I was doing it wrong...but he liked it so maybe I'll just keep making them this way!

...2 eggs
...1/2 ham steak
...1/4 small onion, chopped
...handful of cheese
...several strips of green pepper, chopped


Place cheese, onion, green pepper and ham in small skillet and cook until heated through and cheese is melted. Remove from skillet and place in small bowl for keeping. Place eggs in same skillet and break yolks. Let cook and flip to cook other side. Place toppings on egg and wait until cooked through.

My Thoughts...

So, I had too many ingredients. I couldn't fold it over. But hubs liked it none the less. I served it to him with toast and homemade strawberry rhubarb jam. What a filling and delicious breakfast perfect for the weekend!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thai Peanut Chicken

I love stir fry! It's delicious, it's easy, it's a cheaper alternative to Chinese take out and it's healthy! This is a new one I wanted to try...


...2 c. uncooked rice
...4 c. water
...3 T. soy sauce
...2 T. peanut butter
...2 t. white wine vinegar (I ended up using cider vinegar cause it's all I had and it worked)
...1/4 t. cayenne pepper
...3 T. olive oil
...1 chicken breast, cut into strips
...2 1/2 c. green and red pepper strips
...Sprinkling of garlic powder
...Sprinkling of ginger
...1 small onion
...1/3 c. peanuts


Cook rice until tender. Set aside. In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, garlic powder, ginger, cayenne and peanuts. Set aside. In skillet, brown chicken in olive oil until browned (about 5 minutes). Set heat to low and add remaining ingredients and peanut butter mixture. Cook, stirring frequently until peppers and onions are tender. Serve over rice.

My Thoughts...
I only tasted this from the pan and I thought it was good, but that the spices were way off. If I make this particular stir fry again, I will probably play around with the spices. However, I served this to hubs for supper that night and he thought it was good. So good in fact, that he asked to take the leftovers to work...and he works a weird shift and doesn't usually eat a meal while at work, just before and after.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

French Bread

Remember the ooey gooey french toast I made a few days ago? And the amazing syrup I made to coat them? Well here is the base of the whole meal....french bread!

The ingredients...

...1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
...1 teaspoon salt
...2 teaspoons granulated sugar
...3 cups flour
...2 teaspoons yeast


Place ingredients in bread machine in order listed. Set program to dough. At the end of the dough cycle, and let sit on lightly floured surface for 5 minutes. Cut dough in half and roll into long ropes and place on cookie sheet. Slash each loaf 5 times diagonally let rise 45 to 60 minutes. Bake at 400* for 25 to 30 minutes.

My Thoughts....

This turned out really great! I used it a lot last week, not only in the french toast, but also to dip in the crockpot chili! I plan to make more of this for use in making garlic bread and other such goodies!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings

What a comfort food! I tossed this in the crockpot overnight and added the biscuits in the morning while I got ready for work and it worked perfect. Yummo! By the way, ignore the liquor bottle in the background...I didn't realize it was there until just now. How embarassing....


not all ingredients pictured....

...1 chicken breast, shredded (or cubed, however you want)
...1 can cream of chicken soup
...1 can cream of mushroom soup
...3/4 can water
...1 onion, finely diced
...1 can refrigerated biscuits
...Sprinkling of cumin, poultry seasoning, seasoned salt and pepper
...1 can mixed veggies


Put everything in crockpot except for refrigerated biscuits and mix together. Cook on high for 6.5 hours. Place biscuits on top of mixture at the end of the 6.5 hours and cook on high for another 1 to 1.5 hours. Serve.

My Thoughts...

Yummmmmyyyy! I usually hate chicken and dumplings (and chicken pot pie) but this is positively delicious! It's such a comfort food and very tasty! You must try this!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

French Toast

We love us some breakfast food! Especially when not eaten for breakfast! Here is my favorite french toast recipe, which I made using homemade french bread (watch for recipe coming soon!) and served with homemade syrup!

The Ingredients...

...6 thick slices of bread
...2 eggs
...2/3 c. milk
...1/4 t. ground cinnamon
...1/4 t. ground nutmeg
...1 t. vanilla extract


Beat together egg, milk, spices and vanilla. Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium heat on stovetop. Dunk bread into mixture on both sides. Place in preheated pan and cook on both sides until golden brown.

My Thoughts....
Yum! This is our favorite french toast recipe, it's so delicious and comforting! I can't wait to make this on a chilly fall morning!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chicken Wraps

This recipe caught my attention as my mom always used to make chicken and something ( get the picture) growing up. So I was eager to try and new variation on the chicken and "carbs" casserole....

The Ingredients....

...1 cooked and shredded chicken breast
...1 package refrigerated crescent rolls
...1/2 c. evaporated milk
...1 can cream of chicken soup


Preheat oven to 325* and grease a 9x13 baking dish. Seperate rolls and place some chicken on the widest part of the unrolled biscuit. Roll up and place in pan. Mix soup with milk and pour over rolls. Bake for 45 minutes in preheated oven, or until browned.

My Thoughts....
This was good! It could definetely be a comfort food and a great wintery food as it is a 'heavier' dish. But it was really good!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cooking Beans in Your Crockpot!

I love making my own cooked beans to have on hand for dishes! They're so easy to make, and the crockpot makes it a "fix it and forget it" task! Cooking your own beans is alot cheaper than buying them canned. A can of beans costs upwards of 99c around here, while a single bag of uncooked beans costs 99c, and I can get 3 cans worth out of a bag. So thats only 33c!

Don't be afraid of cooking your own beans, the crockpot makes it a snap!

First, pull out all of the split, wrinkled and misshapen beans....

Then, place in a large bowl and cover with 2-3 inches of water. Cover and let soak overnight. If you live in a warm climate or if your furnace is on, let them sit in the refrigerator overnight while they soak. This will prevent bacteria from forming!

On a side note, I have heard that this step can be omitted, it doesn't do much for the softening of beans, it is just a way to release the gasses that come along with beans. So this step is up to you!

Then, strain and again look through for misshapen, wrinkled and split beans. Place in the crockpot. Cook in the crockpot on low for 8 hours. As with the bowl, fill the crock with enough water so that there is two to three inches covering the beans.

Once done, measure out 1 1/3 cups of the cooked beans (1 1/3 cup cooked = 1 can storebought). Place in a Ziploc bag or plastic container. Freeze until ready for use.

I love cooking beans this way, mostly because using the crockpot only costs pennies per hour to run versus the stove! So not only is it frugal to cook your own beans, but it is also frugal on your energy bill too!
For more great kitchen tips, check out Kitchen Tip Tuesday over at Tammy's Recipes!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

This is a rare treat folks.....meatloaf. I don't usually like to make it because it requires so dang much ground beef...but I decided to make it in celebration of finding ground beef on sale for 99c per pound (and if we're celebrating sales, then we will celebrate with sugar next week, cause HyVee has it on sale for $1.58 right now!!!).


...2 lb. ground beef (eek! I know!)
...1 small onion
...1/2 c. packed brown sugar
...3/4 c. milk
...2 eggs
...1 1/2 t. salt
...1/4 t. ground black pepper
...1/4 t. ground ginger
...3/4 c. bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 350*. Grease bread pan and form brown sugar into the bottom of the pan. Spread desired amount of ketchup over brown sugar. In a mixing bowl combine the remaining ingredients and press into pan on top of ketchup and brown sugar. Cover top of meat mixture with desired amount of ketchup. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until juices run clear.

My Thoughts....

This is so goooooooddd! By far the best meatloaf I have ever had and the only way I ever make it. If you haven't tried meatloaf this way yet, you MUST!

Fore more great recipes, check out the Recipe Swap going on over at The Grocery Cart Challenge!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Syrup....from Scratch!

I have been wanting to make my own syrup for quite some time now and we finally used up the last of our store boughten syrup so that I wouldn't feel guilty about it going to waste while I made a brand new batch. And let me tell you, I will NEVER buy syrup again!

...3/4 c. packed brown sugar
...1/4 c. sugar
...3/4 c. water
...1/2 c. light corn syrup
...1 t. vanilla (or, if you would rather, you can do 1/2 t. vanilla and 1/2 t. maple extract)
In saucepan combine sugars, water and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 7 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla (and maple, if using) flavoring. Let stand 15 minutes to set.

My Thoughts....

This was gooo-oood! Way better than store bought! It was the same consistency and color as store bought, but it just tasted better! I love making my own pantry staples, not only do I know exactly what's in them, but they always taste better, no matter what it is!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sugared Rhubarb Muffins

I made these muffins to have on hand for breakfasts this week, and when hubs got home from work, the following conversation took place...

"mmmm muffins! They're rhubarb aren't they?" **sense a little disappointment on his part here**
" did you guess?"
"because thats ALL you make anymore. rhubarb EVERYTHING!"

oh. uhhhhh....guilty as charged? Oh well...

The ingredients...

...2 c. flour
...1 c. sugar
...2 t. baking powder
...1 egg
...1 c. milk
...1/3 c. oil (I used plain yogurt...which did not work out. So I highly recommend just using the oil. Or perhaps applesauce.)
...1 c. rhubarb
...1/2 t. vanilla
...cinnamon sugar mixture


Preaheat oven to 350*. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder. In another, smaller, bowl, combine egg, vanilla, milk and oil. Stir wet mixture into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in rhubarb. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, and sprinkle tops with cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.

My Thoughts....

These were good. But as mentioned above, I used plain yogurt and it simply did not work out. I'm eager to try this with the oil and see if it turns out right. But seriously, this was a really good muffin and I will definetely make it again with the proper adjustments!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Crockpot Chili

So, I know that summer hasn't even started...we're still in spring, but I want sooooo badly to skip right over summer and go to fall. I think it's because fall is my favorite season, and also usually when we're busy with moving back up to school and so I don't get to enjoy it. So, I think I just want it here so badly so I can actually enjoy it! Well, at any rate, I have to suffer through three months of sweltering heat (hopefully not though. maybe it will just stay unseasonably cool this summer? I would be content with that!) before I can enjoy fall.

Saturday was one of those (very) unseasonably cool days, with dreary skies and lots of rain. I decided to just pretend it was fall, and I made a big pot of slow cooker chili to enjoy. It sufficed me. For now.

The ingredients....
...1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
...1 (large) can tomato juice
...1 onion
...1/2 to 1 lb. ground beef
...Green Pepper (as much or as little as you'd like)
...2 cans worth of beans (I used 1 part navy beans and 1 part black beans)
...1 T. chili powder
...1/4 t. garlic powder (or 2 garlic cloves. whichever you prefer)


Brown ground beef. Put everything in the slow cooker, stir together and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4.

My Thoughts....

Chili is one of my favorite fix it and forget it it just always reminds me of the fall as that's the only time my grandma made it. I could eat chili everyday! This was the first time I tried my chili with green pepper, and it proved to be good! This chili was especially good with a slice of homemade Amish Bread straight from the oven. Talk about warming the heart!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Amish Bread

I got a bread machine last week at a local store, which is similar to Goodwill. It was only $6 and needed a little bit of TLC...there were some stains on the exterior and it was obvious that after baking the last loaf of bread in it, the previous owner just sent it to be donated. At any rate, it cleaned up fabulously and works like new! Yesterday was a pretty dreary day, so I decided that there was no better way to warm up my house than to bake a loaf of bread in my new machine! I decided to make som Amish bread, and it was sooo worth the (very little) effort that it took!


...1 c. warm water (100*-115* F)
...1/3 c. sugar
...3/4 t. salt
...2 T. oil
...3 c. flour
...1 T dry yeast (I measured out my packet and it came in at just a hair under 1 T. so I just settled for that)


Dissolve sugar in warm water and add yeast. Let sit for about 15 minutes, until a foam forms on top. Place in bread machine and add oil. Swish around until oil and water mixed together. Add flour and place salt on top of the flour. Set machine to the dough setting and start. Once the machine has ran through the dough cycle, gently mold dough into bread pan form, making sure to try and get all air bubbles out at the same time. Cover and let dough rise for 30-40 minutes, or until about doubled. Place into preheated oven and let bake for 25-30 minutes.

My Thoughts....

Yuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmm! I forgot how much I love homemade bread until I had a slice of this. Once our freezer stockpile of markdown bread I got runs out, we're surviving solely on homemade bread, no more store bought! There is nothing better than homemade bread....except for maybe the homemade jam I put on it!

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