Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Secret Suprise Chocolate Cookies

I came across this recipe on Mennonite Girls Can Cook and just had to try them out and I am glad I did! These soft, not too sweet, yummy morsels of chocolate are addicting! My family loved them. I didn't have any chocolate chips on hand so I used M&M's which made them more colorful and fun. Go ahead and make these for your family but wait to tell them about the secret ingredient until after they have tasted them!

NOTE: this makes a large batch of cookies so you may want to cut the recipe in half.

Secret Surprise Chocolate Cookies

Cream together.....
2 cups butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar

1 cup cottage cheese
1Tbs. vanilla
2 eggs (1 at a time, beating after each one)
5 cups of sifted flour
½ cup cocoa
1 tsp soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup walnuts (optional)
6 ounces chocolate chips (or to taste)

Roll into one inch balls. (I used a medium cookie scoop t0 make the ball - If the dough is too sticky and soft you can chill it in the fridge to stiffen it up a bit but I didn't have any problems.)

Roll cookie dough ball in powdered sugar.

Place on lightly greased or parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 325 for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack. YUM!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Balsamic Vegetable Salad

This colorful, refreshing vegetable salad has wonderful flavor and crunch! It is so simple and easy to prepare. The original recipe called for tomatoes and cucumbers, but we jazzed it up by adding red onion and summer squash. It was so good! I even enjoyed it the next day after it had "pickled" a bit in the fridge. Feel free to customize it with your favorite vegetables and enjoy!
Balsamic Vegetable Salad
3 large, firm tomatoes, cut into wedges
3 medium cucumbers, halved and sliced (peeling optional)
1 Onion sliced
2 summer or zucchini squash,sliced and halved
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbs. water
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
In a salad bowl, combine cut vegetables. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, water and dressing mix. Pour over vegetables and toss to coat.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam

I have always been a fan of Tastefully Simple's Strawberry Rhubarb jam but my family gobbles it up so fast, that I had to find a way to keep my fridge stocked without breaking the bank! So, I played with a couple of recipes and came up with this one. It is pretty easy to make and so yummy!

Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam

2 1/2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
2 1/2 cups chopped strawberries.
3 cups white sugar
1 3oz package strawberry flavored gelatin

1- In a large saucepan or stockpot, stir together the fresh rhubarb and sugar. Cover and let stand over night.
2- Bring the rhubarb and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Boil, stirring constantly, for 12 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat.
3-Add strawberries and stir in dry gelatin mix. Transfer to steril jars and let cool. Store in refrigerator (or freezer for long term storage)

Scalloped Potatoes with Pork Chops

This yummy dish comes from my Deanna House cookbook. She has great recipes with real home cooking. I have made this with chicken breasts before with great results but I typically make it with pork chops. My family loves it and I hope you do too!

Scalloped Potatoes with Pork Chops adapted from Deanna House
6 pork chops , cut 1/2 - 1 inch thick
2 Tbs vegetable oil
salt & pepper or favorite seasonings

3 Tbs butter or Margarine
1 Tbs flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chicken base or bouillon ( or two cubes chicken bouillon)
2 cups water
6 cups peeled, sliced potatoes
1 medium onion, sliced and separated into rings

Brown pork chops on both sides in hot oil in skilled. Sprinkle with salt and pepper or favorite seasonings.
Meanwhile, melt butter in saucepan, Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and chicken base to form a paste. Slowly add water while stirring with a whisk. Continue to stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. It will be kind of thick like gravy. Set aside.
Put peeled, sliced potatoes in bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Top with onion rings. Pour chicken broth mixture evenly over the top. Place pork chops over broth covered potatoes. Cove with foil.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for on hour. Remove foil and continue baking 20-30 minutes or until meat is tender and potatoes are done.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

These Cookies are soft lemony goodness! My sister shared this recipe with me some time ago and we really enjoyed them. They are soft and moist with a tart lemon glaze. It is hard not to eat just one, that's for sure. I hope you enjoy them too! I also have a lemon drop cookie recipe, my dear friend Karen shared with me, that I will have to share with you too!
Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze adapted from Everyday Italian

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
The Zest of one lemon

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
The zest of one lemon


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Coconut Chicken

I found this recipe a while back on My Kitchen Cafe and have made it a handful of times. It has been popular among the food blogs and is known as Sticky Coconut Chicken. I made it twice as the grilled version and it has great flavor but we wanted more sauce with the rice. So, I now make this in my large family skillet on the stove and cook the chicken in the marinade so that we can enjoy all that yummy sauce. I still make the sticky sauce and pour it over the top when it is time to serve it, which gives it a great flavor.
Last time I made it I forgot to take a picture until it was time to clean up from dinner. So I quick took a picture of the chicken in the pan, since the rice was all gone. I know this picture looks a little weird but trust me, this is delish! And we love the sauce with the rice. It is a new family favorite for us. Whether you choose to make it on the grill as the original recipe directs or cook it in the sauce, I am sure you will enjoy it.
Coconut Chicken - adapted from My Kitchen Cafe
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger (or approx 1/8 tsp dried)
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional- I add maybe 1/2 tsp)

Marinade chicken in coconut milk, ginger, pepper and red pepper flakes at least one hour. Grill on barbecue OR cook with the marinade in a large pan on stove or in baking dish in the oven.
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (according to how spicy you want it)

While the chicken is grilling/baking, bring above ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until mixture is reduced and thickened, about 8-10 minutes.
*Be patient because it takes a little while and the vinegar will smell strong, and the kids may even complain about that vinegar smell, but don't despair, because it's worth it! Once the sauce starts getting thick, immediately take it off the heat!
If you grilled the chicken , glaze both sides of chicken the last few minutes of grilling and save the rest of the sauce for serving at the table. OR if you baked the chicken, pour the glaze over baked chicken with the coconut sauce and serve chicken over rice.

Orange Chicken

I found this recipe on My Kitchen Cafe and made it last night for the family. It received rave reviews! It did take some time to make but it was worth it. I also like that it isn't fried but baked in the oven. The flavor was great and it made plenty for our family of 6. I will be making this again and again!

Orange Chicken from My Kitchen Cafe

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2" cubes
1/2 cup flour1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons oil or butter
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar2
1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely minced ginger ( I used 1/4 tsp powdered ginger)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons green onion
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Heat oven to 350. In a shallow dish combine the flour, garlic powder and pepper. Dip each piece of chicken in flour mixture and coat evenly.Pour oil (or melt butter and pour) in a shallow baking dish, large enough to accommodate chicken in a single layer. Arrange chicken in pan and bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine water, fresh orange juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, orange zest and whisk over medium heat for a few minutes. Then stir in brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and green onion and let it come to a boil. Combine cornstarch with water and let it dissolve and add it to the sauce until thickened. Remove from heat.

After chicken has baked the 30 minutes, turn each piece over and pour 1/2 sauce mixture evenly over chicken. Bake another 30 to 40 minutes basting frequently.Serve chicken over rice with extra sauce on the side.

Monday, September 21, 2009


My sister Janae shared this recipe with me and we are hooked! The flavor is incredible and it is not hard to make. We've made these with steak , chicken and shrimp, all with great results. Enjoy!

Fajitas - adapted from Alton Brown- Food Network

In a blender add;
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup of soy sauce
4 scallions
2 large garlic cloves
juice of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar

Blend above ingredients together until smooth and marinate meat such as thin skirt steak or chicken breast or even shrimp. for 1 hour in the fridge.

Cook on grill and slice meat in thin strips for skirt steak cut against the grain of the meat for tender strips. or in door stove top cast iron grill.

Veggies for fajitas

1 red bell pepper thin sliced in strips
1 green bell pepper thin sliced in strips
1/2 onion thin sliced

drizzled with veggie oil toss in oil cook in skillet or cast iron skillet
on med-high heat until onions are caramelized. on med-high heat

Serve with corn or flour tortillas and your choice of toppings, cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream etc.


3/4 c. light corn syrup
3 tbsp. butter
1 pkg. milk chocolate morsels
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. Golden Graham cereal (9c.)
3 c. miniature marshmallows
Grease 9 x 13 inch pan. Heat syrup, butter and morsels to boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Pour over cereal in bowl, toss until coated. Fold in marshmallows 1 cup at a time. Press into pan with buttered back of spoon. Let stand 1 hour. Cut into 2 inch squares. Store at room temperature.


This is seriously one of the best desserts ever created! It comes from New Zealand (although the Australians like to say it comes from them) but since I lived in New Zealand for 18months I will side with them :) I was served Pavlova many times while living there and have tried a handful of different recipes. I thought I had it all figured out and then a friend who had just returned from New Zealand shared this one with me from The Joy of Baking website. This recipe gave GREAT results! Just remember to follow the directions EXACTLY or there is a good chance it won't turn out.
One big help is to let your eggs sit out at room temp so they aren't so cold. That will give you a fluffier egg white. Also, do not use your every day white sugar, use the Superfine sugar so that it will dissolve easier,. It is very important to have your sugar completely dissolve or your Pavlova will weep. (you don't want that) You can find superfine sugar in the sugar isle. Castor sugar is what the superfine sugar is called in New Zealand.
Also, you can use Cool Whip if you'd like, but to be authentic, you should use real whipping cream. In New Zealand, they never sweetened it like this recipe does. But that was OK because of the sweetness of the pavlova and fruit it tasted great. You can sweeten it if you'd like :)
They always used strawberries and kiwis and sometimes other fruit. I used mango as well this time.
A perfect pavlova will be moist and fluffy inside and have a light crust on the outside as you can see in this picture. there are more tips in the directions of this recipe. I also doubled the recipe so that there would be enough for our family of six. this takes some time and effort but is well worth it! Also, be sure not to have any loud noises or open the oven door while it is baking or it may cause it to fall.

4 large (120 grams) egg whites
1 cup (200 grams) superfine or castor sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (corn flour)
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fresh fruit - kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, passion fruit, peaches, pineapple, or other fruit of your choice

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (130 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the paper.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. (Test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your thumb and index finger. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers). Sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, fold in.
Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges.
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.)
The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days.
Just before serving gently place the meringue onto a serving plate. Whip the cream in your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, until soft peaks form. Sweeten with the sugar and vanilla and then mound the softly whipped cream into the center of the meringue. Arrange the fruit randomly, or in a decorative pattern, on top of the cream. Serve immediately as this dessert does not hold for more than a few hours.
Serves 6 to 8

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sloppy Joe Casserole

This is a simple, yummy, kid pleasing meal. We adults like it too! We had this for dinner last night and it was a hit. I usually make this with pre-made sloppy joe sauce with great results. Last night I made it as the recipe directs with the packet and tomato paste etc. It was still yummy but just a little more mild in flavor. So, depending on how much kick you want to your recipe you can choose which way to go with the sauce.

Also, this recipe says to layer it in a casserole dish and bake it in the oven, which I did this time. (for the sake of the picture) But usually, I just layer the ingredients in a large pot on the stove to heat through and it turns out just as good with less fuss. Besides, the macaroni and meat sauce are already hot so it doesn't take much to heat it through. I am all about quick and easy!

Sloppy Joe Casserole
1 8oz package macaroni
1 pound hamburger

1 envelope sloppy joe seasoning mix
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 1/4 cup water
Or 1 can sloppy joe sauce
1 16 oz carton cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Cook macaroni as package label directs; drain. While macaroni is cooking, brown hamburger, drain and add sloppy joe sauce Or sloppy joe seasoning, tomato paste, tomato sauce & water.
Preheat oven to 350*. In 2 1/2 quart casserole, layer half the macaroni, half the cottage cheese, and half the meat sauce; repeat. Top with grated cheese. Bake un-covered till heated through and cheese is melted. Makes 6-8 servings.

Cornmeal Waffles

If you like cornbread, you'll love these waffles! I came across the recipe some time ago and my family loves them. We hope you will too.

Cornmeal Waffles

2 large eggs
1 3/4 cup milk
1 cup cormeal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar ( optional)
1 Tablespoon baing powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
Beat eggs and milk together. Sift dry ingredients and stir into egg-milk mixture. Gradually add melted butter. *(Batter will be runny.) Bake in a regular waffle iron. Great with regular syrup or your favorite fruit syrup. Also freezes well.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Favorite Fruit Cobbler

This has got to be one of our favorite dessers. I am suprised that I haven't posted it yet. It is so easy and quick to throw together. You can use what ever favorite fruit or pie filling you like. My husband's and I like it with canned peaches but the kids like the cherry pie filling so I made it with cherries this time. What ever fruit you decide to use I am sure you will enjoy this yummy recipe.

Favorite Fruit Cobbler
Melt 1/2 stick butter or margarine and pour into the bottome of a 9x13 or 2qt baking dish
Mix together:
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk ( or milk)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Pour batter in baking dish over melted butter ( do not mix it in with the butter) Pour a can of peaches or favorite fruit ( apricots, or blue berries etc) with juices or favorite fruit pie filling over the top of the batter. Do not stir or mix in. It will be jiucy if you used that canned fruit but that is OK. Bake at 350* for 45-50 minutes. Serve with milk or ice cream.
Note: I like to use the large 29oz can of peaches or pie filling for extra fruit.