Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cadbury Egg Brownies

I wanted to add a little something different to my brownies to somehow make them even more suitable for an Easter gathering.  I scoured the internet and came upon a simple little trick to add Cadbury egg candies to the brownie batter.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Brownie Mix
  • Bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs
Here's what you do:
  1. Prepare the brownie batter as instructed on the package or box.
  2. Before placing brownies in the oven, sprinkle on the cadbury mini eggs.
  3. Then, bake brownies as instructed on the mix instructions.
  4. Let the brownies cool, and then you can choose to frost them or leave them as they are.
You'll feel like Peter Rabbit came right into your kitchen and whipped you up a batch of his favorite brownies!  These were really delicious, especially if you like double chocolate flavor.  I thought I'd see some color in the brownies, but the baking process melts the candy shell too much to see much of the egg color, but you definitely can taste the cadbury egg, and I guess that's a fair trade!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Weight Watchers Cheesecake Squares (5 points)

Review by Lyndee:

Makes 16 squares

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (I used low fat)
3/4 cup M&M or Smarties candies
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 egg
1/3 cup margarine (I used butter)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar, granulated
1/3 cup sugar, brown packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat the margarine and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the walnuts and flour; mix well.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture; press the remaining crumb mixture into bottom of an 8″ square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Combine the softened cream cheese, granulated sugar and vanilla; using an electric mixer, mix at medium speed until well blended.  Add the egg; mix well.  Layer 1/2 cup of the Smarties or M&M candies over the crust; top with the cream cheese mixture.  Combine the remaining candy and reserved crumb mixture; mix well.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the cream cheese mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Let cool completely before serving.

WW POINTS for one square: 5
Nutritional information for one square: 217 calories, 13.6g fat, 0.7g fiber

These are really delicious! I did not use the walnuts and I opted for butter and low fat cream cheese.  Easy to make and came out tasting great.  You could use any variation of the M&M’s. I think dark chocolate or peanut butter would be amazing! 

Roast in the crockpot

Review by Lyndee:

Pork roast
Worcestershire sauce
Dry rub or montreal steak seasoning

Dice up some onions and put about half of them in the bottom of the crockpot.  Lay roast on top of it.  Pour on 8-10 dashes of Worcestershire sauce.  Then coat with a dry rub and garlic.  Add more onions on top of the roast.  Add ½ cup of water around the edges.  Cook in crockpot on low for 8 hours or until meat reaches 170 degrees.  

Hissy fit dip

Review by Lyndee:

8 oz cream cheese
16 oz. sour cream
8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed in small chunks
1 pound Italian sausage, cooked, rinsed and drained.
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 green onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Dash of garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Once mixed well, transfer to baking dish and bake for 60 minutes.  Best to serve with crackers, chips or veggies too!

I did mine in the crockpot for a family gathering this weekend. It had a little more kick than I expected it to but it was pretty tasty.  Easy to throw together and the crowd seemed to enjoy it.  Not my favorite dip I’ve ever made but it was good.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chess Squares (aka Texas Gold bars)

Review by Lyndee:

1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300 and spray a 9×13 dish with cooking spray. Mix cake mix, melted butter and one egg to a soft dough. Press into the bottom of the pan. 

Mix powdered sugar, softened cream cheese and remaining two eggs until smooth, about 1-2 mins. Pour on top of crust. 

Bake at 300 for 40-50 minutes until top is golden brown.

There are phenomenal bars! So rich and creamy and different than your regular brownie.  They were super easy to make too.  These are definitely going into the dessert rotation.  I can only imagine what they would be like warm out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Holy cow! Delicious. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fettuccini Alfredo with Prosciutto & Peas

Review by Rachael:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

2 tablespoons extra-Virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup heavy cream
Salt & pepper
¼ pound prosciutto, julienned
1 cup frozed peas, thawed
½ cup cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for garnish
1 pound fresh fettuccini

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for a couple minutes or until tender. Add cream and cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add prosciutto and peas and toss gently to combine. Sprinkle cheese over top and stir to melt and combine. Cook until heated through.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, add fettuccini and cook until al dente (just a couple minutes for fresh pasta). Drain, reserving ¼ cup pasta water. Add the reserved pasta water & drained fettuccini to skillet. Toss to combine pasta with sauce and season with salt & pepper, to taste. Serve, garnish with extra cheese.

After watching The Food Network’s Bizarre Foods I wanted to try Prosciutto that was made in Norwalk, Iowa. After searching their site I found out that they don’t sell that brand near me. On a trip to Target one night I picked up another brand and started my search for how to use it while cooking. I found this recipe & gave it a whirl!

I was a little worried about using heavy cream, but couldn’t find any substitute for it at my local grocery store. You can use fat free ½ & ½ in place of the cream. I didn’t have any shallots so I used onions. I opened my prosciutto and it had a very odd smell & taste to it. Therefore I opted to not use it! Instead I used ham. I think you could also substitute bacon.

Since I didn’t have fresh pasta I started that at the same time as I started the sauce.

This recipe is very easy & SO good! The flavors are wonderful!

Next time I think I would add more onion & garlic to the mix. I would also reserve ½ cup of pasta water instead of the ¼ cup to make the sauce go a little further, but you wouldn’t have to. It was so good; we will be making this again!

Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole

ThisReview by Lyndee:

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8-10 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes  (I leave the skin on)
1/3 cup olive oil 
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBS. freshly ground pepper
1 TBS. paprika 
2 TBS. garlic powder 
6 TBS. hot sauce

2 c. Fiesta Blend Cheese or a mix of Cheddar & Monterey Jack
1 c. crumbled bacon 
1 c diced green onion

Preheat oven to 500F (This is NOT a typo, 500F is correct!)  In a large bowl mix together the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder & hot sauce.  Add the cubed potatoes and stir to coat.  Carefully scoop the potatoes into a cooking spray coated 9 x 13 inch baking dish, leaving behind as much of the olive oil/hot sauce mix as possible.  Bake the potatoes for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until cooked through and crispy & browned on the outside.  While the potatoes are cooking, add the cubed chicken to the bowl with the leftover olive oil/hot sauce mix and stir to coat.  Once the potatoes are fully cooked, remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 400F.  

Top the cooked potatoes with the raw marinated chicken.  In a bowl mix together the cheese, bacon & green onion and top the raw chicken with the cheese mix.  Return the casserole to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the topping is bubbly delicious.  Serve with extra hot sauce and/or ranch dressing.

I topped mine with some sour cream and chives party mix.  It was really good.  It takes a while to make this but it’s definitely worth it.  
The original recipe for this was taken from 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Irish Eyes -- They'll Make You Smile!

I am 50% Irish, and I wanted to celebrate by making my co-workers some little treats.  I needed something easy and quick and something that would incorporate the kids helping since they ALWAYS want to "help"!

At first, I thought I would make Clover Coins (yes, I came up with that)...however, my clover was too big for the coin, and my snack turned into Irish Eyes (yes, I came up with that, too!).
Here's what you'll need:
  • Pretzel Rings.  After doing this project, I would suggest using the pretzels with a checkered pattern within the circle.  Some of my Rolos fell through the circle pretzel.  But, I know that you can find buttered pretzels that have the checkered pattern and are circular.  That's what I will use next time. 
  • Rolos (we used two bags) You could also use Hershey Kisses.
  • Plain M&M's (we used two bags and only used the green M&Ms)
  • No twists for needed in my experiment since these snacks changed from coins to eyes (haha).
Here's what you'll do:
1. Lay down wax paper on a pan, and place all your pretzels flat on the pan.  And, place one rolo in the center of each pretzel.

2.  Then place these in the oven at 250 degrees for five minutes.  You will want the chocolate very warm, not melted.

3.  While in the oven start separating out your green M&M's to have them ready to go when the chocolate/pretzel comes out of the oven.
3. Then, once you take them out of the oven quickly press a green M&M onto each chocolate.
4. Then, I placed them in the fridge to help them set/harden.  Yes, you can see one little "Clover Coin" in the bottom left of the above picture.  Three M&M's and a piece of green licorice were just a little too much for a small bite-size treat like this.  "Irish Eyes" were definitely more easy to make and enjoy!

These little Irish Eyes were a hit!  I set them on the counter at work for all to enjoy in the morning, and they were gone by noon!

Custom Crayons -- Learn From My Mistake!

First off, sometimes I need to remind myself that I must always follow the directions.  Sometimes when I think I have my "Mad Scientist" hat on, things can go south really quick!  Like last night...

I've seen pinterest projects about people melting crayons and making pretty pictures, etc.  I have tons of broken crayons in the house, and I thought I'd purchase a candy mold and melt some crayons in the microwave and create new custom-shaped crayons for the kids to use.

We removed the paper from our broken crayons and placed them in our candy molds.
It all looks pretty cool, right?  WRONG!  Do not melt the crayons directly in the candy melt .

FIRST, melt the crayons in a 

microwaveable safe dish, 

THEN pour the melted crayon wax into the molds.

Do not do what I did, and melt the crayons in the mold all together in the microwave, or you will get this result...
I not only melted the crayons, but I also melted the candy mold -- FAIL!!

After the wax dried, here is what I had.  Jackson was like, "what the heck, mom -- this doesn't look like a butterfly, frog or a dang lady bug!!!"  Whatever Jackson, if you look at the "crayon" in the right of the picture, you can TOTALLY make out what looks like the butterfly's wing.  Okay...Okay...never mind...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stuffed chilies & bacon cream cheese burger

Review by Lyndee:

Lean ground beef or turkey
Chilies & bacon cream cheese dip
Bun (I like to spray mine with I can’t believe it’s not butter and sprinkle garlic on it)
Garlic powder

I had some chilies & bacon cream cheese dip leftover from food day at work so I thought to myself, I wonder how that would taste stuffed inside a burger.  

I hollowed out the center of a patty and spooned some dip inside.  I pinched the top onto the burger and put it in the pan.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper & garlic.  

I cooked it for a few minutes each side, same as I would any hamburger.  Apparently I didn’t pinch the top on perfectly because the cheese began to ooze out around the edges.  I threw this on my bun (sprayed with butter and sprinkled with garlic).  This was pretty good but could’ve used just a little more kick.  Of course I have a cold so I can't taste anything real well right now, so keep that in mind.  A slice of pepper jack? Spicy barbeque sauce?  I wanted more of the chilies to come through although the ooey cheese and bacon inside were a fun twist.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chilies and bacon cream cheese dip

Review by Lyndee:

8 oz cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
4 oz can diced green chilies
¼ cup bacon bits/pieces
¼ tsp garlic salt

Blend cheese and sour cream.  Once smooth with no lumps, add remaining ingredients.  Chill for an hour before serving with crackers or veggies. 

If you want to healthify this, use reduced fat cream cheese and sour cream and turkey bacon pieces.  Also, I wanted mine to go a little further and really liked the smoky flavor the bacon added so I used the entire 2.8 oz package instead of just ¼ cup. 

I wasn’t expecting much of this dip but it is really good! The garlic, chilies and bacon are a great blend of flavors.  This was super easy and cheap to make and I will definitely put it on the good dip list.  

Oven fried porkchops

Review by Rachael:

4 pork chops, trimmed
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup herb-seasoned dry bread stuffing mix

Preheat oven to 425, pour butter into a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Stir together egg, milk and pepper. Dip pork chops in egg mixture, coat with stuffing mix and place in pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Turn chops and bake for another 10 minutes, or until no pink remains.

I thought I had everything I needed for this recipe, but turns out I didn’t. So I had to improvise… turns out I did have Italian flavored crotons, so I crushed those and mixed them with some flour. I also mixed in a little Italian seasoning for some more flavor.

My chops were very thick and did not cook in the 20 minutes this recipe called for. I turned them again and put them in another 10. Which ended up being too long. They were now cooked but on the dry side and a little chewy. Next time I would either use smaller chops or only do an extra 5 minutes and check them.

I would recommend making these as they were quick to whip up and the herb-seasoning mix would add some nice flavor. 

Pork tenderloins

Review by Lyndee:
If you’ve ever been to Iowa, particularly a county or the state fair, you know that we love us some hand breaded tenderloins! They are easy, delicious and luckily, my husband makes amazing ones!

Tenderized pork loin
Corn flake breading
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Heat oil in a skillet.  Mix an egg and milk to make an egg wash.  Dip a piece of pork into flour, then egg wash, and then corn flake crumbs.  Fry for a few minutes, each side.  While cooking, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Remove when breading becomes a golden brown and the pork is no longer pink inside.  

Serve on a bun with your condiments of choice.  I’m a dill pickle, mustard and ketchup kind of girl.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cucumber Onion Dip

Review by Rachael:

Prep/Total Time: 15 minutes

1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened (could use reduced or fat free)
½ cup finely chopped seeded, peeled cucumber
¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons Mayonnaise (I used fat free Miracle Whip)
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Rye chips, crackers or baked chips

In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, cucumber onion, mayonnaise, salt & pepper; beat until blended. Refrigerate until serving. Serve with Rye chips, crackers or baked chips. Yield: 1 ½ cups.

I was looking for a new dip to make & share at our crafting at the cabin day. This sounded so light & “summery” to me! Since I am really looking forward to warm weather this sounded like something I had to try. Very easy to make, just mix everything together. At first I didn’t think it had much flavor, but the longer it sat in the fridge the better the flavors got. I really liked this dip & will make it again. Had a great flavor & I love that I can make it ahead of time! I did make a double batch because a single batch just didn’t seem like enough for a crowd. I took both club crackers & Italian Herb Flatbread crackers. I liked the club crackers with it but really loved the Flatbread crackers with this dip. If you are looking for something very easy to take – I recommend this dip!