Caramel Apple Trifle

For about 10 years I was a Taste of Home subscriber. I'm not now that they've been bought out by another company and filled their magazines with ads, more ads, and uh, more ads... (where are the recipes!?) LOL... but I was for about a decade - I got three of their magazines actually!

This is from TOH and I think would make a great summer dessert for the family. I'd tweak it a bit - adding and deleting as your family likes, but the general idea, flavor and presentation is fabulous. I use a glass trifle bowl for my desserts but you can use a punch bowl or similar... whatever you have!

Caramel Apple Trifle

1 pkg. (18 1/4 oz) yellow cake mix
6 cups cold milk
3 pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix(3.4 oz)
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 jar(12 1/4 oz.) caramel ice cream topping
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
2 cans(21 oz each) apple pie filling
2 cartons (16 oz. each) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Prepare and bake cake according to package directions, using two greased 9 inch round pans. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely.
In a large bowl, whisk milk, pudding mixes and apple pie spice for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.
Cut one cake layer if necessary to fit evenly into an 8 quart punch bowl. Poke holes in the cake with a long wooden skewer; gradually pour a third of the caramel topping over cake. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup pecans and spread with half the pudding mixture. Spoon one can of apple pie filling over pudding; spread with one carton of whipped topping.
Top with remaining cake and repeat layers. Drizzle with remaining caramel topping and sprinkle with remaining pecans. Refrigerate until serving. Yield: 42 servings. (3/4 cup each)Print Friendly and PDF


Another Version of a Stuffed Bread Bowl Sandwich

I have posted about my love of 'deli bread bowls' more than a few times on my blog and even showed photos of how I like to cut them. While surfing online I came across another version and well, anything that has olives and ham and roasted bell peppers and well.... everything you see here has got to be good!

I added it to my collection and hope you will too. I have intentions of making this one this week. I'll let you know what I think!

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup olive oil
10 large pitted green olives, chopped
1/3 cup pitted, chopped black olives
1/4 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (1-pound) round bread loaf (about 7 inches in diameter and 3 inches high)
4 ounces thinly sliced ham
4 ounces thinly sliced Italian bologna
4 ounces thinly sliced salami
4 ounces sliced provolone
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 ounces arugula leaves

Whisk the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Gradually blend in the oil. Stir in the olives and roasted peppers. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Cut the top 1-inch off the bread loaf. Set the top aside. Hollow out the bottom and top halves of the bread. Spread some of the olive and roasted pepper mix over the bread bottom and cut side of the bread top. Layer the meats and cheeses in the bread bottom. Top with the onions, then the arugula. Spread the remaining olive and roasted pepper mix on top of the sandwich and carefully cover with the bread top. Cut the sandwich into wedges to serve.

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Blueberry, Raspberry and Marionberry Pie

I'm currently sitting here this morning munching on pie and coffee for 'breakfast'. Not that I'm a breakfast eater (I'm not) but it's 7:00 am and I've been up since 3:00 am so officially it would almost be brunch time for me.

I made the pie yesterday and don't shoot me... but no, I didn't use a 'recipe' - but that's ok! You can still make it. Remember, I always tell my readers that recipes are only for ideas and general directions. I want you to feel comfortable around food to take liberties and have fun. And this might be a good way to do it.

This particular pie is a blueberry, raspberry and marionberry, only because that is the mixture of berries that I bought at Costco last month. They sell a large bag in the frozen food section and although I planned to make jelly or jam out of it, it came in handy yesterday for an impromptu pie. If you want to make this one with just blueberries, or just some other kind of fruit, you can do that.

Fruit Pie

1 unbaked pie crust with another crust for topping it
4-5 c berries, fresh or frozen
3/4 c sugar
1/3 - 1/2 c flour (depending on the kind of fruit you use and whether it's frozen)*or about 3T corn starch
spices - cinnamon, sugar, ginger, lemon juice, etc.

Because I don't really measure I'm going to show you the photo of the ingredients and give you an estimation. Put about 4 - 5 cups of fruit into a bowl. Top with the thickener which can be either corn starch or flour. I used flour here. Because I had raspberries and marionberries and they were frozen, I knew there would be plenty of liquid so I used a heaping 1/3 c of flour - almost 1/2 cup. Add about 3/4 c sugar for most pies although with blueberry and raspberries they have a bit of a bit to them so I would use 1 cup. Add about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix.

Now, at this point you can add other spices although you don't have to. For my blueberry pies I like to add a 1/2 t of cinnamon (about - add more if you love it), a slight sprinkle of ground ginger and just a touch of vanilla exact. See the photo (click on it to make it bigger if you'd like) to see amounts.

Mix well.

Pour into a prepared crust. You want it to be tall and heaping - try to fit all the fruit in it! The fruit will cook down and the pie will be almost flat by the time it is baked and cooled. (See finished photo up top.) Heap it up and top with the second crust. Pinch the edges to seal.

I top mine with additional sugar and cinnamon. If you don't want to, you don't have to - but you can add more cinnamon and/or sugar inside the pie instead if you would like.

Place on a cookie sheet (to catch fruit drips or run overs) and bake in a preheated oven - which is also forgiving - I had mine preheated to 425 and then when I place the pie into it I immediately turn it down to about 375. Bake for 1 hour. Cool completely to allow the juices to completely thicken up.

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Tuna Penne Salad

When warm summer weather hits I get a craving for tuna salads. It only happens about once or twice a year though as a general rule. But it's all I have been thinking about this week! LOL. So I looked through some of my files and found a version that called for lemon juice, tomatoes and penne. While I kept looking for these particular ingredients mixed I found this same version many times over, sometimes served hot and sometimes cold. My version is cold... because well, it's hot outside and I'm craving a cold tuna pasta salad of course!

Tuna Penne Salad

8 ounces penne pasta - cooked al dente and drained
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 cans (6 oz. each) Albacore tuna, packed in water
Basil leaves, snipped
1/2 cup kalamata olives
2 T minced Italian parsley
2 T fresh snipped chives
4 ounces Feta cheese

Toss pasta with the 1/4 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, lemon and orange juices to the pasta and toss to combine. Mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the chicken stock. Toss all to combine. Drain the tuna and separate into small chunks. Add olives, herbs, cheese and tuna to the pasta and toss to mix. Taste and adjust seasonings. Chill.Print Friendly and PDF


My Grandmothers cake with Handmade Tootsie Roll Roses

I had forgotten about this cake until I was going through some old photographs this week and saw a picture of a double birthday party we had at our home a few years ago.

It was 1996 and we had just moved into a home in the upper Midwest from Tennessee. For the first time in 8 years we lived close enough to family (about 3 1/2 hours drive) that we could hold a family birthday party where Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles could come. We had a 5 year old, our 3 year old (almost 4) and a 9 month old baby. I got my sons Spiderman themed party planned and then found out my parents were going to be able to bring my Grandmother as well! I was so excited, not only to get to see her, but it was extra special because she shared a birthday with my son! It was his 4th and her 82nd.

I wanted her birthday to be just as special as my sons so I whipped a cake at the last minute for her as well. Now, I didn't have much money and I couldn't buy anything at the store so I had to use what I had on hand. When it came to the frosting and decorations I only had a little bit of powdered (confectioners) sugar, but I had heavy cream I could whip to make a delicious frosting to do a 'basket weave' on the cake. When it came to the top decorations though I was stumped. With no money I turned to something we did have on hand... a lot of little tiny midget Tootsie Rolls as we had just attended some parades and local fairs and the kids had a lot of candy leftover.

I didn't really know what I was doing, but I decided to use them to make 'roses' by hand. I started out by working with the candy in my fingers until it was pliable and then broke off bits and pieces, smashing them into flat quarter and nickel sized bits. I would roll each one up like the bud of a rose and then use another piece to careful wrap around the bud and continue with about 5 or 6 pieces until I had a finished rose I liked.

I had previously used royal icing (a couple months before) to make a lot of green leaves and let them dry hard before packing them away in a baggy, so I got out the Ziploc bag, and embellished my Tootsie Roll roses with little green leaves.

In the end, this was her last minute birthday cake. It turned out pretty good (although I realized as we were cutting it that we didn't have any pictures of it - so I quickly snapped two pictures even though it already had a couple slices cut! LOL).

The reason it holds a special place in my heart today is that my Grandmother that I made this for, passed away in November. I dearly love her to this day and I'm blessed that I got to make a special cake just for her.

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Iced Coffee - Vanilla

Iced Vanilla Coffee

About 6-8 cups fresh brewed strong coffee (10 cup serving size in the carafe)
1-(14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 T vanilla extract
ice cubes

Combine brewed coffee and sweetened condensed milk into a large pitcher; stir thoroughly until coffee and condensed milk is blended together. Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour flavored coffee into glass that is filled with ice cubes, or refrigerate until coffee is chilled, then serve.

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Triple Layer Chocolate Mousse Pie

The Simplest and Easiest Chocolate Mousse Pie

1 package milk chocolate European mousse mix
1 package dark chocolate truffle European mousse mix
2 cups cold milk
1 - 1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1/2 t vanilla extract
1-2 T sugar
1 pre-baked pie crust - pastry, graham or chocolate

Mix the milk chocolate mousse mix with 1 cup of the milk according to directions, about 3-5 minutes. It will be incredibly fluffy and will almost quadruple in size. (This is why you should not use a pudding mix for this dessert. For a silky, sky high mousse you must use the correct mix.) Spread in the bottom of the pie shell. Repeat with the Dark Truffle mousse mix. Spread this over the milk chocolate layer. 

Rinse out the beaters and bowl and whip the heavy cream with the vanilla and sugar (1 tablespoon to start and 2 tablespoons to taste if you like it more sweet) just until they form a stiff peak. Do not over beat or you will get butter. With my KitchenAid mixer it reaches stiff peaks in about 1 - 2 minutes. Spread over the chocolate layer. 

Refrigerate until serving time. I garnished mine with chocolate curls made by grabbing a mini Hershey Bar from the "S'mores" campfire bag and running a potato peeler down the side to form a curl and then simply placing them on the whipped cream.


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Cheese and Onion Pie

I have a pie crust sitting on my counter at this very second that I was trying (in vain) to make myself make into a three berry pie. Instead, while looking over my files I found this one - and mmmm cheese and onion! My favorite! I would choose onions and cheese over something 'sweet' any day. Looks like this one is now on the menu for today!

1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
8 cups torn fresh spinach
1 cup shredded Gouda cheese
6 bacon strips, cooked and
4 eggs
2 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 9 inch pie shell, baked

Saute the onion in butter until tender. Stir in spinach. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle cheese and bacon into crust; top with spinach mixture. In a bowl, beat eggs. Add the cream, salt and pepper; mix well. Carefully pour into crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.Print Friendly and PDF


Cheesy Potatoes - Again!

Whether you call them Cheesy Potatoes, Cowboy Potatoes, Hash Brown Casserole or any other name... we all know what we're talking about and I swear I never make these things the same way twice, yet they are always made basically the same way! I just threw some together for dinner this week as we had BBQ Pork Chops and they go so well together!

Cheesy Potatoes

32 oz. frozen hash brown potatoes- diced style
16 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use the 98% fat free version, I think it tastes better)
1 can cream of chicken soup (same, 98% ff)
1 - 2 c shredded cheddar
1 onion, diced
salt and pepper

Butter one casserole pan or baking dish, about 9X13 size. Pour in the potatoes. Top with onion. Mix together the soups, sour cream and cheese. Pour this on top of the onion/potato mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes, remove foil and continue baking 15-20 minutes until done, tender and golden brown.Print Friendly and PDF


Garlic Bubble Bread

This is a fun recipe to have the kids help you with. It's so EASY but tastes so good. I make a 2 pound loaf of homemade bread when I make this so I double the ingredients but I realize a lot of people will use a loaf of store bought bread dough so I'm leaving the recipe for a single loaf. The pan you use to bake it in doesn't matter but when I use 2 lb. of dough I like the angel food pan best. For a single loaf a bread loaf pan works perfect.

Garlic Bubble Bread (Pull Apart Bread)

1 pound bread dough, thawed if you are using store bought frozen
1 stick butter, melted
1 t minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9 inch Bundt, Loaf or angel food cake pan. Combine butter, garlic(s) and parsley. Pull off one inch pieces of bread dough and dip dough balls into mixture and layer in the prepared pan. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Ready for the oven!

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BBQ Sauce - Sweet and Sassy (starting with store bought and improving it!)

(Improved) BBQ Sauce

1 1/2 cups bbq sauce
1/4-1/3 c ketchup
1 t mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t onion powder
1/4 - 1/2 c brown sugar (depending on taste)
10 drops tabasco sauce
1/4 t hickory smoke flavoring

Blend and brush or spoon over precooked or partially cooked beef, pork or chicken and then finish baking, grilling or roasting until done and the sauce is nice and thick. Don't put it on at the beginning of cooking or the sugars in the sauce will burn.

I used Brown Sugar Twin (sugar substitute) here.
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Beer Butt Chicken (Beer Can Chicken)

Yesterday we talked about that awfully named recipe; Beer Butt Chicken and today I'm bringing you photos of it. I admit, they're ugly! Nothing like a naked chicken with a can of beer up its backside to scream out "Yum! Dinner!" but believe me, it looked 100% better once it was lifted off the can and out of the roasting pan and laid down on a platter to serve. And it tasted 200% better.

The naked chicken in all its glory
with onion and lime stuffed inside
and lime juice, lemon juice and minced garlic
inside and outside
with just a sprinkle of lemon pepper outside

After a little too much time in the sun... err, the oven (!)
here we are. Roasted and delicious.


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Beer Can Chicken... or more notably; Beer Butt Chicken

Beer Can Chicken

1 whole chicken, cleaned and patted dry
1 can beer (fruit juice or soda like 7-up, Sprite, etc.)

Season the chicken inside and out with desired seasonings. Drink or pour out 1/3 of the beer and insert the chicken over the can in an upright position. Place on a roasting pan in 350 degree oven and roast 1 1/2 hours or grill over medium heat until done. The alcohol cooks off but leaves the meat moist and delicious!

*seasoning ideas are purely up to you. Some of my favorites;

  • 1 whole lemon halved, and 1 onion inside the bird with lemon juice, garlic and lemon pepper outside
  • 1 whole lime halved with lime and garlic spread outside - can add cumin for a little Mexican flavor
  • A dry rub mixture of; salt, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, a touch of thyme and oregano with a dash of cumin
  • Salt, with a touch of thyme, marjoram, garlic salt, paprika, curry, onion powder, dill and celery salt
  • Onion powder with about half as much garlic powder, paprika, mustard powder, thyme, white pepper and celery seed
  • Dried Sage, thyme, marjoram and pepper
  • 1 quartered orange, lemon and onion inside with garlic, salt and pepper rubbed on the outside

Basically, with chicken you can't go wrong! Any spices seem to work well and don't worry about using 'too much' as with chicken, the spices tend to dissipate and won't be strong tasting. Even if you forgo spices and just use salt and pepper it's still going to be perfect and delicious.

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Potato Salad Update!

As you know I wanted to make a delicious potato salad - not just a regular old 'uh huh, it's good' potato salad, but a 'yum, this is really good' potato salad. I've just never really given it thought over the past 20 years that I've been cooking. I just make it like my Mom or my Grandmother and throw things together, or make it from the back of the Hellman's Mayonnaise jar and call it 'good enough'.

Yesterday I took the two contender recipes I posted here, printed off another that a reader sent me by email and studied them. I decided to blend them together and see what I got.

In the end, I got one I liked! Incredibly smooth and creamy the dressing was delicious. I only used 5 medium sized potatoes and 1 smaller, and in the end I should have used all 6 of the larger but I needed to save the potatoes I had for another meal without another trip to the store so my potato salad had a bit too much dressing in it but if you use all 6 good sized potatoes it will be perfect. If you like pickles or pickle relish - add some. But I didn't because in the end, I wanted a pure, traditional potato salad with a creamy smooth taste and texture.

Here is what I ended up doing;

Potato Salad

6 medium potatoes
1/4 of a large, sweet onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1-2 teaspoon salt (start with 1 teaspoon and after it's done, taste and add more if you need to)
6 hard-cooked eggs, diced

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
salt to taste
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 c milk
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1 cup mayonnaise

Place the potatoes into a large pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain. Cool, peel and dice. Transfer to a large bowl, and toss with the onion, celery, 1 teaspoon of salt, and hard-cooked eggs.

Whisk together 2 eggs, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan. Stir in the vinegar, milk, and mustard. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature and then add mayonnaise. Stir the dressing into the bowl of potato salad gently until evenly coated. Chill several hours or overnight before serving for best flavor.Print Friendly and PDF


Another Potato Salad to Run the Test On...

I mentioned in a post below my quest for the perfect Potato Salad. I've never been a huge fan of the stuff because it all tasted similar... yet different... but not spectacular. Oh, I even make it myself, and eat it and like it, but last weekend I had a delicious version made by my SIL and when asked about it she told me it was her Grandmothers recipe and the 'secret' was lots of sugar.

Ok... well, that started my summer quest to find the perfect potato salad and my only hint is that it is going to use a lot of sugar. Most salads only use a teaspoon or two of sugar so anything in the 1/4 - 1/2 cup range will be 'a lot' and here is the first recipe I tracked down that *might* be similar. I'll let you know.

6 to 8 medium potatoes, peeled, cooked, drained and diced (5 cups diced potatoes)
1 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
3 tablespoons pickle relish, drained
3 tablespoons finely minced onion
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper (optional)

Mix flour, sugar, dry mustard and salt together in a saucepan. Then gradually add water, vinegar and egg, stirring with a wire whisk. Heat on medium heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise. Refrigerate until needed.

After draining diced potatoes, mash some of them with a fork or potato masher. Add parsley, relish and onion to potatoes. Pour half of the dressing over potato mixture and stir until well mixed. Add more dressing if needed and refrigerate any remaining dressing. If desired, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve potato salad cold or at room temperature. Store in refrigerator.Print Friendly and PDF


In Search Of: The Best Potato Salad

Up until the last few years I can't say I've been a big fan of potato salad. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it or crave it either. As a kid I'd have it once in a great while at my grandmothers or if my Mom made it (once a year?) but never gave thought to it.

As an adult I've made it a few times and although the typical traditional American potato salad made with mustard and potatoes and hard boiled eggs is good, it's interesting that the exact same ingredients in different ratio's can produce such a different taste. They are all similar yet different, and none ever stood out (to me) except when I made a delicious "white" potato salad about 12 years ago and I've made off and on ever since.

This past weekend we attended a birthday celebration for my Grandmother and FIL at my SIL's house. I had some of her potato salad and it was... awesome! It was so very good and cold and well, perfect. I complimented her on the potato salad and she said it was her 'grandmothers' recipe and the secret is that it uses 'a lot of sugar'. So the quest was started. Find a potato salad recipe online that uses what might be deemed "a lot" of sugar.

This is the 2nd one I've copied down that I hope to make in the next week or two. I'll let you know the outcome.

6 medium potatoes
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
6 hard-cooked eggs, diced

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
salt to taste
1/2 cup vinegar
1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup butter
1 cup mayonnaise

Place the potatoes into a large pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain. Cool, peel and dice. Transfer to a large bowl, and toss with the onion, celery, 1 teaspoon of salt, and hard-cooked eggs.

While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together 2 eggs, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan. Stir in the vinegar, milk, and mustard. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the butter. Refrigerate until cool, then stir in the mayonnaise.

Stir the dressing into the bowl of potato salad gently until evenly coated. Chill several hours or overnight before serving for best flavor.Print Friendly and PDF


A Good Example of How "Do Ahead" or "Make Ahead" or "Double" Cooking Works!

Tonights dinner was marinated grilled chicken, steamed broccoli and homemade spinach pasta. If you think I slaved over it, making the pasta by hand early today, marinating the chicken all afternoon and standing over a hot grill this evening you would be... mistaken.

With all my hints and helps you might be interested in seeing a time line for tonights meal;

5:00 pm - I'm laying on the couch - exhausted. Oh shoot, it's almost dinner time, I don't feel like making anything!

5:12 pm - started making dinner.

5:26 pm - dinner was on the table and we were sitting down eating.

5:49 pm - the kids were already out the door to play with friends, stomachs filled, hands washed, plates cleared.

The chicken; Last week when I was grilling burgers for dinner I didn't waste 'time' on the grill so I opened a bag of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts and partially grilled them about 1/2 - 3/4 done while were eating dinner. After they briefly cooled I put them back in the freezer bag, poured a marinade (leftover from tofu a couple weeks before and frozen until I needed some!) over them and put them in the freezer. Tonight I took them out and microwaved them until they were done (about 15 minutes).

Spinach Pasta: I took just a couple hours one afternoon to make pasta. I made spinach pasta, squash pasta and original plain pasta. I bagged them separately in gallon sized baggies and have kept them in the freezer. Tonight I grabbed a bag, boiled water and dumped them in. There is no pasta in the world as good as homemade pasta!

The broccoli - organic broccoli I bought frozen in bulk from Costco that comes in 4 individual bags. I opened a bag and steamed it while I microwaved the chicken breasts and boiled the pasta.Print Friendly and PDF


Product Review and Free Coupons! Kashi Vive Cereal

I am part of a group that gives feedback on products and one of the most recent products I learned about is called Vive by Kashi. You know... the cereal maker? I made cookies from one of their cereals and posted the recipe here.

Vive is their 'new' cereal and it's aimed at womens health; to help balance your digestive system with active probiotic cultures and ginger, to purify with 46% of your daily value for fiber and natural broccoli extract and strengthening properties with Vitamin D and calcium.

I also learned this about womens health verses men's;

Women's saliva and digestive enzymes vary throughout their menstrual cycle

Hormones can make a woman more vulnerable to a distinct set of digestive disorders like gastric reflux

Women are more likely to have digestive responses to stress and other strong emotions

Men's bodies automatically produce substances that start breaking down tough-to-digest high-fat foods before they hit the stomach. Women have little, if any, chemical response to ease digestion of these foods

I'm excited about their yummy new toasted graham and vanilla cereal and have $2 off coupons to the first couple people who email me with their address where they would like them sent.

*Edited to add as of 6/12 I only have (2) $2 coupons left!

*I don't use the address for anything else and I delete it immediately after copying it down to an envelope and popping your coupon into it. Print Friendly and PDF

3 Ingredient Spaghetti Sauce

Eeek! I'm having fun cooking a few things from my current favorite little Amish cookbook that I've been posting about and I'm both laughing at and scolding myself this afternoon as I follow a too-simple recipe for spaghetti for tonights dinner. The recipe is;

Put crumbled up hamburger, onions and tomatoes in frying pan and cook.

Cook spaghetti till tender in another pan and mix all together. Add salt and pepper to suit taste.

That's it. The whole recipe. No amounts, no other seasonings. I'm having such a difficult time not adding any Italian seasonings, basil or anything! I'm determined though. :) I'll let you know how it works out!Print Friendly and PDF

Egg Yolk Pie Crust

Here is another Amish recipe from my little cookbook that I currently adore. I haven't made this one yet and it's not at all like the current pie crust recipe I use, but I'm willing to give it a try as I think Amish cooks are some of the best there are.

Egg Yolk Pie Crust

5 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
4 t sugar

Sift. Add 1 1/2 c shortening. Break 2 egg yolks into a dish and stir well. Fill the cup scant full of water. Mix with the flour to blend.Print Friendly and PDF

Graham Cracker Jello Bars

I am having the best time reading the Amish Cook Book that I borrowed from my 80 year old FIL. It's an old book, published by a small church in a tiny town in Iowa and the recipes are wonderful because they 'forget' ingredients, they tell you to use a 'lump' of something or just tell you to add the cream, flour, etc. but never tell you an amount.

Clearly these women expect everyone to know 'about how much' flour is needed or milk is needed for their recipes. I just smile and laugh as I read them and yes... I do intend on making about 80% of the recipes in this book. It's my current 'favorite' cookbook of all!

This is one of those recipes that sounds interesting but leaves out an 'amount' and 'ingredient' until you get to the instruction portion. You'll see what I mean.

Graham Cracker Jello Bars

1 pkg. strawberry jello - make to directions

Add: 1 cup fine diced apples

Pour in oblong pan. Sprinkle with nutmeats.


1 cup fine graham crumbs
2 T sugar
2 T butter

Spread over jello.

Scald milk. Add 1 1/2 dozen marshmallows, stir to dissolve. Cool and spread over grahams. Chill. Cut to serve.

*note she doesn't say how much milk! I love it. LOL.Print Friendly and PDF


Creamed Chicken and Biscuits

My oldest daughter and I must have some of our Nashville blood in us even though we moved away from Tennessee over 10 years ago. We adore our biscuits and love them topped with bacon gravy, sausage gravy or creamed chicken. This recipe is from a magazine I subscribed to for years... Quick Cooking. So easy and quick you'll be glad to add it to your collection of comfort foods too!

Creamed Chicken & Biscuits


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Creamed Chicken

1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk or chicken broth
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
Minced fresh parsley

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add milk and oil. Stir until the dough forms a ball. On a lightly floured surface, knead 8-10 times or until smooth. Roll or pat dough into a 6-in. square about 1 in. thick. Use a biscuit cutter or cut into six rectangles. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

While the biscuits are baking, in a large skillet, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until blended. Gradually add milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in chicken and parsley; cook until heated through. Split biscuits - top with the creamed chicken.Print Friendly and PDF

Brownie Trifle with Peanut Butter Cups

This dessert is perfect for summer and perfect for the families that love peanut butter and chocolate!

Brownie Trifle with Peanut Butter Cups

1 box brownie mix
1 (10 oz.) pkg. peanut butter chips
1 (5 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding
3 c. milk
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 (16 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed
1 package mini peanut butter cups

Line a 13 x 9 pan with aluminum foil; extend foil by 2" over side. Prepare brownie mix according to directions. Add peanut butter chips.

Bake in foil lined pan for length of time per directions. Cool completely. Lift foil out of pan. Invert on cutting board. Remove foil. Cut into small pieces. Coarsely chop the peanut butter cups but save about 8 for a garnish.

Combine pudding mix and milk in large bowl. Beat at low speed for 2 minutes or until thick. Add peanut butter and vanilla; beat until smooth. Gently fold in half of whipped topping.

Place half of the brownies in bottom of trifle bowl; top with 1/2 of chopped candybars and half of pudding. Repeat layers.

Top with remaining Cool Whip spooned or piped into decorative stars. Place a mini peanut butter cup on each star.Print Friendly and PDF

Dill Pickles

There is something I've not mastered yet that I'm jealous of those that have; pickles. Nice crisp, wonderful dill pickles. My parents managed to somehow make the most perfect, delicious dill pickles last year that have all but ruined me on eating any other kind, brand or style but theirs. I asked them how they made such wonderful pickles and all my Dad will share is; "I make them in a 5 gallon bucket. That's the secret!"

I don't know if it is... but I found this one in my files and although I have no idea where it came from, I do have a name to attribute it to! It's from Mrs. Lloyd Schaffner, Ladora, Iowa.

Foolproof Dill Pickles

Scrub pickles, soak in cold water over-night.

Next morning dry pickles with a cloth and slice ¼ inch thick.

Place dill in bottom of fruit jar, then pickles half-way up. Then more dill and then fill jar with the pickle slices.

Use dill according to your family's taste.

Bring to a boil 3 cups water, 1 cup vinegar, ¼ cup salt.

Let cool but not cold. Pour over pickles and seal.Print Friendly and PDF

Easy Amish Candy

In a previous post I mentioned a wonderful tiny little Amish Cookbook my FIL let me borrow during my last visit to his home. It is a tiny little book and falling apart, and sadly (to me) it's not dated but I suspect it's circa 1960's based on when my MIL and FIL were married, when the rest of her cookbooks were received and the date she died of breast cancer. The book is typed on an old typewriter and pages copied with a very simple plastic binder. I can't wait to try these!

This is a quick recipe that was marked simply "CANDY". To give it distinction in my own collection I've called Amish Candy since it came from this little Amish cookbook.

Amish Candy

2 lbs. milk chocolate
1 stick butter
2 c chopped nuts (any kind)
1 - 10 oz. package mini marshmallows

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat, add nuts and marshmallows. Spread in buttered pan. Cool and cut.Print Friendly and PDF

Cookbooks Everywhere!

This weekend while I was visiting my FIL for his 80th birthday I brought along a stack of my Moms recipe magazines to go through and get some cooking ideas. I was copying them down on index cards when my FIL noticed and told me there was a whole box of my MIL's recipe books in the closet that I was welcome to look through and copy down recipes from.

I found a wonderful little Amish Cook Book that is falling apart and isn't dated but looks to be from the 1960's. There were so many wonderful recipes I asked if I could borrow it to take home to copy some down from. What I'd like to do is try to find a copy of it online so I have my own! When it comes to cookbooks I start my search online. has everything from Amazon books to other household items and electronics but I admit... recipe books are my downfall.Print Friendly and PDF

Greek Chicken Pita Wrap

Our family loves wraps any time of the year but when the warm weather months hit it's even more of a favorite. A nice cold sandwich wrap hits the spot without being too heavy. My oldest daughter could eat a wrap every day!

We tend to have cooked chicken on hand at almost any given time. Sometimes it's boneless breasts that I've marinated and grilled 'extra' just for future use, other times I pick up a package of grilled chicken strips at Costco when the price is right. If you don't have cooked chicken on hand, no problem. Grab a frozen or thawed boneless, skinless chicken breast and microwave it! In a couple minutes you'll be ready to throw this wrap together.

Greek Chicken Pita Wrap

4 pita pockets
1 cup cooked chicken diced or sliced or picked
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 medium tomato
1/4 c crumbled feta cheese
1/4 c cucumber ranch dressing

Fill the pita and enjoy or chill and wrap to take for tomorrows lunch!Print Friendly and PDF

Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Edible Glitter Stars

This weekend we traveled 3 hours away to attend a double birthday party. My FIL turned 80 and although I thought my Grandma was 80 as well it ends up she is 81. We had a wonderful get together for them and I made them each a birthday cake. My Grandmothers is posted below (white with gold trim) and my FIL received a Ho Ho cake with edible gold and silver glitter stars forming a staircase of stars (of sorts) falling down the side of the cake.

I don't make many cakes so my decorating skills aren't very sharpened, but I have fun and I love to be creative! I hope you do too! Give it a try.

Chocolate cake layers; I chose 3 and left them whole although you could split each and have a 6 layer cake if you prefer.

Freeze your cakes for easier handling.

Fill the layers with your favorite filling. The recipe I used is in the Ho Ho link above.

I covered it all in a milk chocolate buttercreme icing with a dark chocolate fudge frosting layer drizzled down the sides and then used chocolate jimmies on the top of the cake with edible gold dusting power on the sprinkles.

I rolled out fondant and cut star shapes for the trim. Some of the stars I painted silver, some gold and left some white.

I used a kitchen 'paint' brush that I use only for food products to paint the edible glitter on the fondant. I used vodka with edible food dust as my 'paint'. The alcohol evaporates and you are left with beautiful gold and silver stars.

I didn't have a plan in place when I started this cake. I actually just baked 3 layer cakes and took it from there! I love how it turned out though and so did my FIL.

Get creative! Give it a try.

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One Cake Done and One to Go

This weekend we are going to be celebrating two very important birthdays... both my FIL and my Grandmother are turning the big 8-0. Yep - 80 years old! And I volunteered to bring dessert. I decided to do a white cake for one and a chocolate cake for the other thereby giving them each their own cakes but also satisfying the crowd pleasing "both" options of chocolate and vanilla cakes.

I used the same white cake recipe that I used for both my girls birthday cakes as I love the flavor, the texture, and how it holds up to decorating.

After a thin layer of buttercream icing I put the cake in the freezer while I prepared the fondant.

I flavored the fondant with a bit of almond extract and got busy rolling, rolling, rolling....

Once the cake was covered I used the buttercream icing to decorate it.

I had NO IDEA what I was doing or how to do it... but I had a 'general' idea in my head of what I wanted to accomplish so I just went with the flow and this is what I ended up with.

I used more fondant to make 'bows' and left them to dry and harden.

This morning I had to be up at 5:30 am to wake the kids for weight lifting class so I made some icing cement (thick royal icing) and attached the bows to the top of the cake.

Now let's see how it travels! We have three hours to the first house, overnight, 1 hour to the next house in the morning before finally traveling 1 more hour that evening to the place where the double birthday parties are being held.

If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon - An American Housewife at Amazon

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Two Crêpe Cakes - or 20 Layer Cakes!

This weekend I volunteered to make two (2) birthday cakes. Both are for extended family members turning 80 years old. My Grandmother and my father-in-law. Earlier this week I went online to get ideas for what I wanted to make. You know how one link leads to another to another to another and soon I was drooling at the 'Crepe Cakes' I found.

Although I'm not making one for either of my relatives (I'm making more traditional for them) I saved 3 or 4 crepe recipes and I can't WAIT to make them! I'm so excited. Here is one of them that I found called a Grand Marnier Cake from Gourmet's March issue and the second is one that I found literally on almost every site I went to as it seems to be quite popular! It's from the New York Times and it seems everybody uses this one.

Grand Marnier Crepe Cake

6 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3 cups chilled heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup confectioners sugar, divided
2 teaspoons grated orange zest, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or Cointreau

Blend eggs, milk, 1/2 cup cream, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla with flour, salt, 1/4 cup confectioners sugar, and 1 teaspoon zest in a blender until just smooth.

Brush a 10-inch nonstick skillet lightly with some of melted butter, then heat over medium-high heat until hot. Pour in a scant 1/4 cup batter, immediately tilting and rotating skillet to coat bottom. (If batter sets before skillet is coated, reduce heat slightly for next crêpe.) Cook until underside is golden and top is just set, 15 to 45 seconds. Loosen edge of crêpe with a heatproof rubber spatula, then flip crêpe over with your fingertips and cook 15 seconds more. Transfer to a plate. Continue making crêpes, brushing skillet with butter each time and stacking on plate.

Beat remaining 2 1/2 cups cream, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 3/4 cup confectioners sugar, 1 teaspoon zest, and Grand Marnier in a large deep bowl with an electric mixer until cream holds stiff peaks.

Center a crêpe on a serving plate and spread with 1/4 cup cream. Continue stacking crêpes and spreading with cream, ending with a crêpe. Chill, covered, at least 4 hours and up to 24.

Mille Crêpe Cake with Vanilla Custard
Adapted from New York Times

3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs
3/4 cups flour
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch salt

For the Filling
1 pack of vanilla custard mix (like Weikfield's)
1 cup roasted nuts
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 tsp powdered sugar

In a heated pan, cook the butter until its a hazelnut brown and set aside to cool. In another pan, heat the milk until it starts steaming. Cool for 10 minutes.

In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter. Remove in a container and let cool. Heat a 9 inch non stick pan, and brush with oil. Pour a few tablespoons of batter onto the pan with a deep ladle and make sure its spread thinly across the pan. Cook the crêpe until the bottom begins to brown. Then flip the crêpe and cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds. Remove the crepe and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until you have 20-30 crêpes. Stack the best 20 crêpes with the filling between them, and then chill the entire dessert until serving.Print Friendly and PDF


Cake Balls

Cake Balls

1 boxed cake mix - make cake as directed
1 container frosting
1- 24 oz package of almond bark or confectioner's coating
wax paper

Bake cake according to package directions in any size cake pan. Remove cake from oven and immediately dump into a large bowl. Use a fork to break up the cake into crumbs.

Add the entire container of frosting to the bowl and combine it with the cake. Stir until completely combined.

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Roll cake mixture into balls and place on cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet into refrigerator for 2 hours to allow balls to chill. After balls have chilled, remove cookie sheet from the refrigerator and place on counter.

In a medium bowl melt half of the package of almond bark. Follow melting directions on the back of the package. Stir the almond bark until smooth. Using a spoon add a cake ball to the melted almond bark and turn to coat. Remove with spoon and replace on chilled wax paper on cookie sheet.

Repeat for all cake balls, adding and melting more chocolate when level gets low.

As an option you can drizzle melted chocolate chips or candy melts across the tops.

This works with various cake mixes and frosting combinations - mix and match and have fun!Print Friendly and PDF


Lemon Crumb Bars

How can a girl who grew up in household that not once had anything baked or cooked that was remotely 'lemon' love lemon so much!? It's true... as a child I don't remember my mother ever once making or buying anything lemon. I guess she must not have liked lemon and therefore didn't bother with it.

Ironically (?) I found out as an adult that my Dad loved lemon meringue pie and I know that my mother tasted a lemon tea bread recipe I made and then demanded the recipe. Maybe she found her 'lemon love' only after I introduced her to it? Either way when I see a lemony dessert it catches my eye and this one from Simple & Delicious caught it and kept it. I wanted to make these yesterday but we don't have a lemon cake mix on hand. I *almost* made it with a yellow cake mix and was going to add lemon extract, lemon juice and lemon rind but I bought the mix to make cheesecake bars (recipes are on this site) and just couldn't get myself to use it on anything but the cheesecake bars. We love them too much!

Lemon Crumb Bars

1 package (18-1/4 ounces) lemon cake mix
1/2 cup cold butter
1 egg
2 cups crushed saltines (about 60 crackers)
3 egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cake mix, butter and egg until crumbly. Stir in cracker crumbs; set aside 2 cups for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture into a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks, milk and lemon juice. Pour over crust; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 2 dozen.Print Friendly and PDF

Make your cupcakes extraordinary with cupcake wrappers!

This morning I was looking at summer cookie ideas when a link led to a link to a link and I found myself immersed in beautiful cupcake liners. Sold mostly in packages of 12 they also come in larger quantities of 50 per package for graduations, weddings and parties.

The prices ran about $12.95 for a 12 pack which isn't exactly budget friendly, but they are so beautiful that for a bridal shower, baby shower, graduation party or Baptism it's a special celebration where you might want to splurge.

Without any creative talent even the most novice baker can pull off a beautiful and eye catching dessert!

Bake your cupcake, slip it into a wrapper and top with icing and sprinkles and you have a cupcake fit for a king... or a princess... or a prince! LOL.

Heart Paper Cupcake Wrappers, 12/pkg.

Princess Crown Cupcake Wrappers, 12/pkg.

Choo-Choo Train Cupcake Wrapper, 12/pkg.

Cross Cupcake Wrappers, 12/pkg.

Seashells Cupcake Wrappers, 50/pkg.

Ivy Vine Cupcake Wrappers, 12/pkg.

Filigree Cupcake Wrappers, 12/pkg.Print Friendly and PDF


Coffee Mousse

Today I got a crazy craving for Coffee Mousse! I had made coffee earlier in the day and got busy and didn't drink much of it. The automatic timer turned it off after a couple hours but I switched it back on, thinking I would find time to sit and drink some. Wrong! About 3 hours later I felt guilty for making a pot of coffee I didn't drink so I poured a cup and sat down to enjoy it only to realize it was far too bitter and old for my taste. But what it did do, for some strange reason, was make me crave a thick, cold delicious coffee flavored mousse. It's all I can think about now! Ha ha. So here is one of my recipes; this was from Gourmet Magazine.

Coffee Mousse

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup water
1 cup sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
3 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup well-chilled heavy cream

In a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it soften for 2 minutes.

Add the milk and the espresso powder to the gelatin, and heat the mixture over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the powder is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and set the pan in a bowl of ice and cold water, stirring the mixture every few minutes until it is thick and cold.

In a small bowl, beat the cream until it just holds stiff peaks and fold the coffee mixture into it gently but thoroughly. Spoon the mousse into 4 chilled long-stemmed glasses and chill it until ready to serve.Print Friendly and PDF


Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

When it comes to ingredients, I think using broccoli paired with cheese and diced chicken in almost any way, shape or form is going to taste good. You can't go wrong! So whenever I see a dish that has these ingredients it catches my eye. This one is basically just like a million others 'out there' and versions of it are in almost every cookbook that features regular, every day foods, especially if it's one published as a fund raiser by a school or church group. A million people can't be wrong!

Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

6 chicken breasts, cooked and diced

1 bunch fresh broccoli (or 2- 10 oz. pkg. frozen)

2 cups milk

2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

3/4 cup parmesan cheese

Cook broccoli and place in the bottom of a 9x13 prepared casserole dish. Heat the milk, cream cheese, salt, garlic powder and 1/2 c Parmesan cheese over low heat, stirring till the mixture is smooth. Pour 1 cup of sauce over the broccoli. Top with chicken and pour rest of sauce over it. Sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes.Print Friendly and PDF