"I never did quite fit in the glamour mode. This life with my husband and family, that is my high right now." ~Patty Duke

July 18, 2011

Chocolate Chewies with Peanut Butter Glaze

This is a super easy way to make cookies. Start with a cake mix and save yourself a lot of measuring! These always turn out soft and chewy, and the glaze on top is to die for!!


1 package chocolate cake mix (any variety will work)
1/3 cup water
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg
1 bag chocolate chips (again...any variety)

Combine all ingredients with an electric mixer but the chocolate chips. Once everything is well mixed, fold in the chips. Drop by heaping teaspoons on greased cookies sheets about two inches apart. Bake about 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are set but still a little soft in the center. Once removed from the oven let them rest on the cookie sheets for at least 1 minute. Let them cool completely on wire racks.


1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 - 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 - 2 tablespoons milk

Combine powdered sugar, peanut butter and 1 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl with a whisk until smooth. Add more milk until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle over completely cooled cookies.

Dinner tonight: Peanut Sauced Chicken Pitas

It is officially too hot to cook...has been that way forever here in Oklahoma! But as well as not wanting to cook in the heat, I also don't want to eat anything heavy. So, in light of those two things this is what we are eating for dinner tonight in my house.

Peanut Sauced Chicken Pitas

2 cups shredded skinless, boneless cooked chicken thighs (I put my in the crockpot this morning, you could also buy a rotisserie chicken)
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup peanut satay sauce
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped cashews
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp chile paste with garlic (only if you like it a little spicy)
2 whole wheat pitas cut in half
1/2 cup diagonally cut carrots
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Combine all ingredients and mix well to evenly coat. Fill each pita half with chicken mixture.

I fixed two pita halves for both myself and my husband. Served along with baked chips or the chips made with veggies and you have a complete meal! Enjoy! :)

April 20, 2011

Nothing says spring like COCONUT CAKE!!

Growing up my grandma made a coconut cake at every Easter dinner. It is tradition in my life...like turkey on Thanksgiving. It is just the food I associate with Easter. Hers ways usually covered in green food color dyed coconut and jelly beans. :) I decided to not follow the whole tradition and kept it traditional white with toasted coconut on top. This is her recipe with a few minor tweaks (sorry grandma!). Hopefully it makes its way to your Easter table this year...

Coconut Cake

1 package plain white cake mix
1 cup whole milk
8 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups granulated sugar
1 16oz sour cream
10 ounces coconut

1 1/2 cups of reserved filling
8 oz. cool whip

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare to 9 inch cake pans. Mix all cake ingredients with an electric mixer until well blended. Batter should be thick and smooth. Divide batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake in preheated oven for 28 - 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes on wire wracks. Run a dinner knife around the edges and then invert to remove cakes. Invert again so that the cake cool completely upright.

Once cakes are completely cool, mix together the filling. Stir together all filling ingredients until well combined. Cut the cake layers in half so that you have four layers. (You can do this with a large bread knife, a piece of thread, or even dental floss!) Reserve 1 - 1 1/2 cups of filling. Use the rest to layer between the cake layers. It will go on pretty thick.

To make the icing, fold the reserved filling into the cool whip. Ice over the assembled cake layers. Again, there is a lot of icing, so it goes on pretty thick. You can easily leave the cake like this...it is really pretty and looks really impressive. I toasted coconut and let it cool then topped just the top of the cake with it.

April 19, 2011

One of my favorite recipes...

I cook almost every night at my house. I think it is a much healthier option for my family, not to mention SO much cheaper!! Of course, I love to cook, so that makes it easier I guess. But this recipe is so easy and so delicious that I think everyone will share my opinion. It takes about thirty minutes from start to finish and only uses one pan. Fast, easy clean up, and taste great!

Creamy Shrimp with Corn and Bacon

1 cup long grain white or brown rice
4 slices of bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
10 ounces frozen corn
salt and pepper

Cook rice according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp. Let cool and then break into pieces. (I usually cheat and cook mine in the microwave, but you can use a skillet...just be sure and drain and wipe out the grease before continuing with the recipe.)

Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add wine or stock and cook until reduced by half.

Add the cream and bring to a boil. Stir in the shrimp, corn, and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Simmer until cooked through. Stir in the bacon and serve over rice.

April 07, 2011

Cannoli Cake

This cake is a take on the Italian dessert. It admittedly takes a little more effort than most of the cakes I make, but it is SO worth it.

Cannoli Filling:
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup milk (I have used everything from whole to soy...it all works!)
15 ou ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Oil and flour for prepping pans
1 package white cake mix
1 cup milk (again, I have used whole, skim, and soy, whatever you have!)
8 tablespoons butter, melted
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
3 - 4 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the filling, place the sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan and stir in the milk. Cook over low heat, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens and is bubbly (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and let mixture cool slightly. Put ricotta in a large mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer until creamy. Fold in cooled milk mixture, orange zest, and vanilla. Blend with the electric mixer on low speed until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Cover and put in refrigerator while you bake the cake.

For the cake, prepare two round 9 in cake pans with oil and flour. Preheat oven to 350. Place cake mix, milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with the mixer until well combined. Batter will be thick and well combined. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Bake for about 28 minutes, or until golden. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Run and knife around edge of each cake and invert onto rack. Invert them again so they are right side up and allow them to cool completely.

Meanwhile prepare frosting. Beat butter with electric mixer until fluffy. Add in powdered sugar and milk alternately until a smooth frosting is formed. Beat in vanilla extract. Add more milk if too thick, add more sugar if too thin.

To assemble the cake, slice each cake in half horizontally using a serrated bread knife. Start by putting a little buttercream frosting on the bottom of your serving plate...this will hold your cake in place as you stack. Place one layer on top of the buttercream and top with 1/3 of the ricotta mixture. Top with another cake layer followed by another 1/3 of ricotta mixture. Do this one more time and then top with last cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the buttercream. Place cake in the refrigerator for at least one to two hours before serving to allow it to set. Store any leftovers in the fridge as well.

I love this cake because it is not overly sweet and finishes off any Italian meal perfectly!! :)

How to make sidewalk paint

For the first day in what feels like FOREVER Oklahoma was not windy today. So my boys have spent a lot of time outside. To help fill up some play time I made them sidewalk paint. They loved it! And this is all you need:

1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup cold water
food coloring

Mix the corn starch and cold water in a plastic container (we used plastic cups so they could just be thrown away). Add 6 - 8 drops of food coloring and mix. Repeat as many times as desired to create as many colors as wanted.

I then sent my boys outside with their cups of paint and paint brushes and away they went. When the color first goes on, it looks a little dull, but it dries much darker. And of course, it washes away with water.

April 06, 2011

Foamy Paints

We made these today, and my five year old has seriously been entertained for hours!! Not only have my kids LOVED them, but they were super easy. Here you go:

White shaving cream
Food coloring
Plastic ice cube tray or a muffin tin or small containers

What to do:
1. Place a little shaving cream into muffin tin sections or in each container.
2. Add 1 to 2 drops of food coloring to each section and mix with a small spoon.

This is a great way to help teach kids which colors mix together to create new colors...you can totally let them explore different options. And you do not have to let them limit the paint use to paper. Since it is shaving cream you can use it on arms and legs (I will probably try this once it is warm enough to play in the sprinkler outside!)
We used paintbrushes and paper today for the most part...but of course my three year old had to do it his own way! His hands were soon covered in the paint. For the most part he washed up just fine, but some of the darker colors stained his hands a bit. (Just be forewarned!)

March 28, 2011

Orange Scented Yogurt Cake

I made this cake on Wednesday for my church small group and it got rave reviews. I LOVE how easy it is to impress people! :) As usual, this starts with a cake mix, so it really isn't anything too over the top or hard to pull together. If you don't want the orange flavor you can use water or other liquid in place of the orange juice. But I like the combination of the orange with the strawberries that I served with it...mmmmmmm!

1 package plain white cake mix
1 package vanilla instant pudding
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1/2 cup orange juice
4 large eggs

Prepare a bundt cake pan by oiling and then dusting with flour. Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all ingredients in an electric mixer until smooth and well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cook for 20 minutes on a wire rack. Then run a knife along edge of cake and invert it. Once cake is out of pan, invert it again so that it can cook completely right side up.

1 cup powdered sugar
1 - 2 Tablespoons orange juice (or other liquid)

Mix the two together until pourable glaze comes together. (If too thick add more liquid, if too thin add more sugar.) Pour glaze over completely cooled cake.

2 pints of sliced strawberries
sugar to taste
1/2 cup orange juice

Mix everything together and let sit in the fridge until ready to serve.

March 24, 2011

What we did today...

I saved a few empty egg cartons and we made this craft today. My kids loved it, but then again, they like anything that has to do with bugs! We used the cut up egg carton to show the life cycle of a butterfly...
1. one section is the egg
2. five sections made the caterpillar
3. just drew the cocoon
4. three section made the butterfly
I let them color and decorate each section as they liked. I also attached pipe cleaners for the antennae on the caterpillar and butterfly. The finished product is very cute, and my kids feel very proud of what they created. Here are all the supplies we used:
  • construction paper
  • two empty egg crates
  • washable markers
  • pipe cleaners
  • glue
  • scissors
I am hoping to purchase a butterfly garden for them this weekend and order the caterpillars. Then they will be able to watch the "real thing"! :) So thankful that it is spring!!!

March 15, 2011

Golden Granola

This is another staple recipe in my house. I usually keep some made and sitting on the counter for use as cereal, yogurt topper, and even ice cream topping. It is really good, and by far the best homemade granola recipe I have ever come up with.

4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup flaxseed
1/2 cup sunflower seed
1/2 slivered almonds (or other nut you have on hand, I have used pecans and walnuts as well)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried fruit of your choice (we like cranberries, blueberries, or golden raisins best)

In a saucepan, cook oil, brown sugar, honey, water and vanilla until sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the first eight ingredients, the oats through cinnamon. Pour the oil mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well. Spoon into a greased 9x13 baking pan. Bake at 275 for 1 hour until golden, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely. Stir in dried fruit. Store in an air tight container.

Blueberry Orange Oat Muffins

I made these this morning for my kids, and since then I think I have had six mini muffins. (I am cutting myself off...it is a little ridiculous!) But these are moist and sweet and for some reason are just hitting my spot today. They are really simple to throw together and only made 24 mini muffins or 12 regular sized.

  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400. Prepare muffin pan by either lightly greasing it or using paper liners.

Mix oatmeal and orange juice together and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add the vegetable oil and egg and mix until just moistened. Add the oatmeal and juice mixture and again mix until just moist. Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

March 14, 2011

3/14 - 3/20 Menu

So each week, I decide on our menu and shop accordingly. It just helps me stay organized and prepared for the week. I try to plan between five to six dinners...we usually eat out once and can have leftovers one night as well. So here is what we are eating this week:

1. Marinara Sauce with Turkey Sausage and Ricotta
Steamed Green Beans with Lemon

2. Pan seared Pork Chops
Apple Slaw
Raw Veggies and Dip

3. Homemade Sloppy Joes
Roasted Potatoes
Steamed Broccoli

4. Grilled Chicken California Salad
with Avocado Ranch Dressing

5. Chicken Fried Rice

6. Grilled Turkey Tenderloin
Baked Potatoes
Spinach Salad

7. Seared Venison Tenderloins
Roasted Veggies
Brown Rice

Along with these meals, I am planning on making blueberries muffins, oat and fruit bars, and chocolate chip cookies. This week is also my youngest son's third birthday party so there will be some kind of cake. (He hasn't completely decided what he wants yet, other than it must involve sprinkles!)
I will post recipes for some meals as I cook them. Some of these are new, so I will also let you know what we thought.

March 09, 2011

Lemon Cheese Bars

Don't let the name scare you...these bars are really yummy! The combination of cream cheese and lemon juice makes the filling close to the consistency and flavor of lemon curd. Add more or less juice depending on how lemony you like. Also, for a less intense lemon flavor you can sub a plain yellow cake mix for the lemon one.

1 box lemon flavored cake mix
1/2 cup butter (melted)
2 eggs
8 0u. cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
juice and zest from 2 lemons

Mix cake mix, melted butter, and 1 egg with an electric mixer. Reserve 1 cup of this mixture. Press the rest into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 pan using your fingers. Bake this at 350 for about 15 minutes or until just turning golden brown.
In the same bowl and same beater mix cream cheese, sugar, remaining egg, lemon juice and lemon zest. Spread this mixture over the baked bottom. Crumble reserved cake mix mixture over the top. Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes or until the filling is just starting to set. Cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

March 08, 2011

Bring on Spring

Well, no baking today...unless you count cooking dinner tonight. Today has been dreary and chilly here, but I guess those days are to be expected in March. However, my boys simply can't wait for spring and planting the garden and flowers. So we decided to just make our own flower garden inside this afternoon. I basically came up with this with what I happened to have on hand. All we used was:
  • plain white cupcake cups
  • green pipe cleaners
  • green fun foam (or construction paper)
  • washable markers
  • cup of water
  • paint brush
  • craft glue or hot glue gun
Start by letting the kids scribble color a cupcake holder. Once they are completely done coloring "paint" over the marker to create a tye-dye look using the water and paint brush. Be careful to not use too much water! Cut leaves out of the fun foam or construction paper. My boys added bugs to their leaves...of course!! Once everything is dry, and it doesn't take too long, glue everything together.

Even my boys thought this craft was great. But like I said, they definitely put their own twist on it...my five year old made a venus fly trap complete with bugs on leaves for it to eat! :) I LOVE boys!!! :)

March 07, 2011

Fruit Filled Oatmeal Bars

This recipe is very versatile as you can really make the filling any flavor you would like. They end up tasting a lot like cereal bars you can buy in the store and are great just as they are, but are also quite good warm with a little scoop of ice cream. (Of course, what isn't improved with a little scoop of ice cream!)

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter
1 small jar of jelly or jam of your choice (I used cherry preserves with a little orange marmalade added)

In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, and baking soda. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1/2 cup of the mixture.
With your fingers press remaining crumb mixture in the bottom of an ungreased 9X9 baking pan. (This mixture is very dry!) Spread jelly or jam on top. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 - 35 minutes or until the top is golden.

(Sorry for the picture where they are almost completely gone...these simply don't last long in my house!)

Whole wheat banana muffins

I try to keep these kind of things on hand in the house for snacks for the kids. They love them, and I figure it is way better for them than the prepackaged varieties we can buy in the store. I always make muffins or breads like this in my mini muffin pan just because they eat them better that way. You can always use a larger muffin pan or even a loaf pan though if you like.

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I like the mini chips)
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or can use applesauce)
1/4 cup milk
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 large)
1 - 2 tablespoons wheat germ

Mix dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips) in a large mixing bowl. Combine all wet ingredients (egg, oil, milk, and banana) in a separate bowl. Add wet to dry and mix until just combined. Sprinkle in wheat germ. Add up to an additional 1 - 2 tablespoons of milk if the batter seems too dry. The batter will be lumpy.
Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees until brown and spring back when touched. (For the mini muffins, it takes about 15 minutes.)

Positivity Needed...

Monday mornings...ugh! Weekend is over, back to the real world, blah, blah, blah... On the other hand, it is a new start and a fresh beginning. I guess it is all perspective. I really want to have the latter, but I am just not feeling it. Honestly, I really haven't been "feeling it" for about the last two weeks. Not sure really what is going on, but this is not my normal self. I am finding it hard to put a positive outlook on much of anything. Everything irritates me and gets on my nerves. I am quick to find fault with most everyone around me. Quite frankly, I am getting on my own nerves!! Maybe if I just fill my life with enough positive words and thoughts they will squeeze out any room for all this negativity. So, here I am looking for your help...any positivity to fill my day with?

March 02, 2011

Chocolate Cobbler

I normally make fruit flavored cobblers, but decided this time to try the chocolate variety. It made the house smell SO good while it was baking, and I can't wait to try it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. It looks like a complete disaster when it goes in the oven, but ends up in this beautiful creation of chocolate cake like on top with gooey fudge on the bottom.

6 tablespoons butter
1 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar (additional)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (additional)
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in an 8x8 inch baking dish while the oven preheats.

Stir together the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Stir in milk and vanilla until smooth. (Batter will be thick and sticky). Spoon this batter over the melted butter. DO NOT STIR!!

In another mixing bowl stir together the remaining sugar and cocoa powder. Sprinkle over the batter. DO NOT STIR!!! Slowly pour boiling water over the top. And again, DO NOT STIR!!!

Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Serve slightly warm with ice cream.

***I doubled this recipe and made it in a 9x13 inch cake pan. It did slightly run over while baking in the oven...be warned! :) ***

February 27, 2011

Dinner tonight

Today was nearly like summer! So in honor of that, we hauled out the grill and fired it up. I hadn't really planned on that, but I managed to scrape together the following and it turned out pretty yummy...

Grilled chicken with onions and tomatoes

2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
1 onion sliced
Grape tomatoes
worcestershire sauce
1 lemon
aluminum foil (to make packets)

Lay out enough aluminum foil to create two grill packets. Using about 1 tblsp of olive oil, coat each piece of foil. Then place chicken breast on foil. Salt and pepper, then layer in onion and tomatoes. Add about 1 tblsp of worcestershire sauce and juice from 1/2 lemon in each packet. Close up the packets and place on hot grill for about 30 minutes.

I made baked potatoes on the grill and a baby spinach salad to go along side the chicken.

Happy early summer! :)

February 25, 2011

Recipe for Peaches and Cream Cake

This cake is easy and oh so good! Taste really good this time of year when you want a taste of summer, but it still seems so far away...

Shortening and flour for cake pans
1 can (29 ounces) of peach halves in heavy syrup, drained and syrup reserved
1 package plain yellow cake mix
8 tablespoons butter, melted
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

ICING (sweetened cream):
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9 in round cake pans by generously greasing with shortening and dusting with flour, shaking out excess.
Puree in a blender or food processor about 8 of the peach halves. Should be about 2 cups of puree.
Mix the cake mix, peach puree, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until well blended. Batter should look smooth and light. Divide the batter between prepared plans.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cake is golden and cake is pulling away from the sides of the pan. Allow to cool for ten minutes on a wire rack. Run a knife around the edge and invert onto plate. Turn cake right side up and while still warm poke holes with a toothpick and pour reserved syrup over the top. (Use about 1/4 to 1/2 cup for each cake layer.) Allow the cake to cool completely.
Prepare the sweetened cream by beating cream in an electric mixer until thickened (1 - 2 minutes). Then add powdered sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form (another 1 - 2 minutes). **Cream will come together much easier if you put your mixing bowl in the freezer before starting.**
Ice cake and store in fridge until ready to serve.

Here I am...

I am taking the plunge! My hope is that you will find here recipes and menus I use, the workings of life with my husband, two boys with one more on the way, three dogs, three frogs, and one turtle, and my random thoughts about life. Here's hoping you enjoy, and that I manage to keep it up...