Thursday, December 29, 2011

Taco Dip

This is the perfect appetizer to take to a party, or better yet, to have at your house when you are hosting.  The recipe makes two pie-sized dips, and they are freezable!  Sometimes, I find that one is enough and freeze the other.  But the last time I made them, the first one was gone in a flash, so I threw the other in the oven...nice back up!  Just remember to have an extra bag of chips on hand, just in case!

  • 1 lb ground meat
  • 1 diced onion (optional - my family actually prefers this recipe without the onion)
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 1 8 oz pkg cheddar cheese (I use sharp)
  • 1 pkg dry taco seasoning mix
  • 1 8 oz jar taco sauce
  1. Brown meat with onion (if using).  Drain.  Add seasoning and sauce.  Simmer. 
  2. Layer refried beans packed into 2 pie pans.  Next layer the meat mixture.  Let cool. 
  3. Spread sour cream over top of meat.  Sprinkle with grated cheese. 
  4. Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 20 minutes or until cheese melts. 
Makes 2 pie pan size dips.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Difficulty:  pretty easy, especially if you decide to not use the onion, because then there is no chopping involved
Time:  From start to finish, maybe just under an hour, but you can make these ahead of time, refrigerate or freeze them, and then pop them in the oven right before you want to serve them.  If you are a multi-tasker, you can be making this while you are making dinner the night before your party - you are going to be in the  kitchen anyway, why not accomplish two things?
Source: A friend of my mom's

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Viva-La Holiday Punch

It's nice to have a hot drink available when you are hosting a holiday party. An added bonus to this drink is the wonderful smell in the need to waste those candles.

  • 1 quart apple cider
  • 1 quart cranberry juice
  • 2 cups Peach Schnapps
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  1. Place all ingredients in slow cooker and heat thoroughly.
  2. Drink warm.
Difficulty: easy
Time: less than 5 minute prep and 1 hour to heat
Source: a co-worker

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cheesy Ham and Potatoes (Slow Cooker)

This recipe is a fantastic use for leftover Christmas or Easter Ham.  To be honest, the first time I made it, I wasn't sure how it was going to all play out.  But I couldn't believe how quickly my notoriously slow eaters gobbled it up.  The quote from my husband the first time I made it: "Wow!! This is really good!!"  With the family's full endorsement, this one made the "will definitely make again" pile.

  • about 1.5 lbs cubed ham (a little more or less would be fine, too)
  • 8-10 red potatoes, peeled and sliced 
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cups grated cheddar
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
Layer the ingredients in the following order in a 4qt crock pot (I have two crock pots and this is the smaller of the two): 1/2 ham, 1/2 potatoes, 1/2 cheese, all of onion, rest of ham, rest of potatoes, rest of cheese, pour soup on top.  Cook for 6-8 hours on low.  (I cook mine for longer because I don't have a timer on my slow cooker and it cooks while I am at work.  It turns out just fine.  Delicious even!)

Difficulty: Medium.  (Only because it one requires a bit of slicing and dicing and peeling the night before it cooks.)
Time: It took me about 25 minutes to prep, but I am pretty slow at slicing, dicing, and peeling.  Then the 6-8 hours of cooking time.
Source: Someone shared this on Facebook a while back...and now I just saw it on The Crockin' Girls website!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Easy Veggie Dip

I hope my neighbor doesn't mind that I am posting this recipe. She has made it many times at neighborhood gatherings and I have never eaten so many peppers in my life as when I have this dip in which to dip them.  I always rave about it and have asked for the recipe a million times. She always laughs at me and tells me how easy it is. I finally got her to write it down for me and I will most definitely be serving it as one of the appetizers at my house on Christmas Eve. 

  • 1 bar cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • Chopped scallions (green part) you judge how much

  1. Boil water with bouillon. Allow bullion to dissolve and water to get warm, not hot.
  2. Beat cream cheese, scallions, and bouillon water until dip is smooth.
  3. Refrigerate to harden up a little.
Serve with several types of veggies. My favorite by far are red peppers, which aren't something I typically eat but that are so delicious with this dip that my mouth is watering just thinking about them.

Difficulty: Super Easy
Time: 5-10 minutes plus time to chill
Source: my unsuspecting neighbor

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Easy White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

One of the cooking shows I enjoy watching when I get the chance is Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee. She makes delicious foods and has a lot of good shortcuts for a busy mom like me. I started looking for Macadamia cookie recipes when my brother requested that I make him some for Christmas...I quickly got over the "I have three kids buy your own cookies!" fit I had when I found this easy recipe.

  • One package sugar cookie mix
  • One egg
  • One stick of butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts (chopped)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (she recommended melting and drizzling, but I am never very good with fine detail work like that, so I threw them in the dough)
  • Yields-3 dozen 2 inch cookies
  1. Combine all ingredients except white chocolate chips in large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir until soft dough forms.
  3. Add chips.
  4. Stir.
  5. Drop by rounded tablespoon on ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 13-15 minutes or until edges are light golden brown
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 15 minutes prep; baking time 15 minutes per cookie sheet
Source: adapted from

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings

My family loved this hearty meal! It was great for a cold, rainy December day.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cans of cream of chicken condensed soup
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom condensed soup (the original recipe I originally found called for cr. of celery but I couldn't find it at Aldi and wasn't hauling the three kids anywhere else; this has worked really well so I'm not messing with it)
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 carrots, chopped (to make it easier, I use 16 prewashed baby carrots and cut in thirds)
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 chicken bullion cube
  • 1 can of refrigerated biscuits
  1. Add chicken to slow cooker; top with vegetables and soups.
  2. Add the chicken broth and bullion cube.
  3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  4. Near the end of cooking time, tear the biscuit dough and drop into slow cooker. They are done when they are not doughy in the middle (I just took some out and tasted it)
Note: I try to spread my meals over two days. This recipe thickens up over time, so I cook 1 pound of rotini which I top with the chicken dish. The next day, the meal is great by itself or can be a real treat in a sour dough bread bowl.

TIME: Prep 20 minutes
SOURCE: Adapted from Crock Pot Girls

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Breakfast Casserole

At work, we have monthly breakfasts; bagels get boring and expensive so I tried this recipe. It was super easy, tasty, and inexpensive. Also, it's a great, easy meal when you have overnight guests; you can prep it the night before and throw it in the oven in the morning. As the holidays approach, it can be hard to entertain in the evening with little children; brunch is a great time for the kids to play while adults talk and enjoy coffee.

  • 1 box of stuffing for chicken
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sausage (I use links that I cook and cut but ground sausage or patties would work too) or cubed ham
  • 6 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 t salt
  • Pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray (or grease) a 9 x 11 casserole dish
  3. Mix all ingredients together.
  4. Pour into dish.
  5. Bake 40 to 45 minutes.

Difficulty: Super easy
Time: 15 minute prep (if you use sausage; less with ham); 45 minutes baking
Source: a friend

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Potato Soup

During the cold winter months, nothing is better than a bowl of steaming soup. My husband and I love this soup recipe. Honestly, I usually make this soup when I have extra potatoes sitting around, sometimes I'd rather save money than time...but if they aren't on hand, I use Southern-style hash browns. You can make this as fancy as you'd like by adding toppings like bacon, chives, and sour cream.

  • 5-6 large red potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 quart of chicken broth (I usually use 2 cans since that is what I buy)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package of turkey gravy mix
  • 1 cup of half-and-half
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Peel and cube potatoes (or open bag of hash browns-saute in skillet with butter for 10 minutes) and place into slow cooker.
  2. Add onions, garlic, butter, and chicken broth.
  3. Cook on high 3 hours (or low for 6); when potatoes are tender, mash them a bit to thicken the soup.
  4. Add gravy mix; stir.
  5. Add half-and-half; stir.
  6. Leave slow cooker on "warm" 20 minutes or so to thicken.
  7. Before serving, add cheddar cheese and allow to melt.

Difficulty: Easy, especially if you use hash browns
Time: 20 minutes prep, 4 hours cook time
Source: Adapted from a few friends' recipes

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Delicious Crock Pot Pork Chops

This recipe really is delicious - my son said, "I wish we could have this again!" the first time I made it.  And with it served over egg noodles with a nice salad on the side, there were enough leftovers to make another meal of it, so he got his wish.  Look at the ingredients...could it get any more simple?

  • 4 whole, thick cut, bone-in pork chops
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • 1-1/2 c of chicken broth
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 envelope dry pork gravy mix


Place chops on bottom of large slow cooker.  Mix all other ingredients in a bowl and then pour on top.  Cook on low 6-8 hours until the meat is practically falling off of the bone.  (I cook mine for 8 and it is awesome.)  Serve on your choice of egg noodles, pasta, rice, mashed potatoes, or whatever you think will be good!

Difficulty: It couldn't get much easier!
Time: it took about 5 minutes to prep, and then 8 hours in the slow cooker
Source: I got this recipe from a discussion thread about crock pot recipes on Facebook

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Snowball Cookies

This is a nice addition to any cookie tray.  It does require a little bit of thinking ahead, but I kind of like making the dough one day and baking the next.  I am actually making these in this year's cookie exchange; I have done so before and found they were a hit.

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
  2. Cream sugar, salt, and butter thoroughly.  Add vanilla.  Stir in flour.  Work nuts into dough.  CHILL WELL.
  3. Form 1 inch balls.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until set but not brown.  Roll immediately in powdered sugar.  Cool.  Roll in sugar again.  Store in an airtight containter.
Difficulty: Not too bad, though the forming into balls takes a little longer than the typical "drop by teaspoonful" type of cookie.
Time: 15 minutes prep.  Chilling time (overnight).  10-12 minute baking time per batch.
Source: my mom

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Creamy Mexican Dip

This dish makes a great appetizer for a tailgate party or informal party. We are big Steeler fans, and this recipe makes an annual arrival during the playoffs! I love that I can quickly throw it together without having to prepare any meat to put in the dip.

  • 8 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 jar of salsa (12 oz)
  • 1 green pepper (chopped)
  • 1 red pepper (chopped)
  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese (16 oz) I do sometime substitute Mexican cheese
  • small can of black olives (drained)
  • tortilla chips
  1. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, and mayo.
  2. Spread in the bottom of a 13x9 glass baking dish.
  3. Layer remaining ingredients-salsa, red pepper, green pepper, cheese, olives
  4. Chill.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips.
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 15 minutes
Source: my aunt

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Funfetti Cookies

These are simply the easiest cookies I have ever made, hands down. And since there are different colored funfetti mixes these days (like the red and green kind for the holidays) and all kinds of sprinkles that can be used to decorate them, these cookies are easy to adapt to whatever occasion. Though, honestly, these are some of the only cookies I make when there is no occasion at all. As far as cookies go, there is very little mess to deal with and they are fun to make with the kids - mine love to give them to their teachers.

  • 1 box of Funfetti Cake Mix
  • 1 container Funfetti icing (or any icing if you want to use your own sprinkles)
  • 1/3 c oil
  • 2 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine cake mix, oil, and eggs. Stir until moistened.
  3. Shape into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten to 1/4 inch thick with the bottom of a floured glass.
  4. Bake 6-8 minutes - just until edges are light golden. Remove from cookie sheet after 1 minute. Ice warm and sprinkle with bits.
Difficulty: The easiest cookies (besides slice and bake) that I have ever made. Seriously.
Time: Estimating 10 minutes of prep, 6-8 minutes baking
Source: my mom