Where Cooking is Fun
We want cooking to be as fun for you as it is for us.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sloppy "Dr." Joe

Sloppy Joe's get a bad rap sometimes. I've heard it said that they are the "shortcut" to a "real hamburger"...CALL me weird, but I adore Sloppy Joe's! Everyone seems to have their own favorite stand-by/go to recipe when it comes to making this "quick fix" dinner...and I'm no different...BUT I found this recipe and thought it was worth trying. Its so tasty and it was something different from the one I usually make...that means now I can serve Sloppy Joe's twice in a week and have it taste completely different both times, right?! Its a great crock pot recipe and one I think your family will enjoy!

Sloppy "Dr" Joe's

1 lb ground beef
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
3/4 c. DR. Pepper (if you aren't a Dr. Pepper fan, use another cola or Root Beer)
2 T flour
1 c. ketchup
1 t. prepared mustard
1 T vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/8 t. salt

Hamburger buns

Brown meat (slightly) in a skillet. Add onion powder, garlic powder and flour. Don't overcook, just lightly brown the meat (since you will put it in the crock pot where it will finish cooking). In a bowl, combine remaining ingredient(except buns) and stir until mixed thoroughly. Place meat in a crock pot, pour Dr. Pepper mixture over the top. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. Serve on a bun with cheese, lettuce, pickles and any sauces you desire.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kitchen Tip-- Old Bananas

I am SO picky about bananas. I can't eat them if there is even one spot on the peel. If they feel too mushy I'm done. If the yellow is too "yellowish" I just can't do it. Needless to say, there is about a 30 minute time frame when a banana is edible. haha Which is so sad because they are one of my favorite fruits. They just ripen way too fast for my liking. 

Fast forward to todays Kitchen Tip. If you're like me and simply can't eat all your bananas before they go bad-- simply portion the over ripe bannanas according to your favorite smoothie or banana bread recipe and freeze them in individual baggies. This way you aren't wasting your bananas and when you get the itch for banana bread you already have the bananas on hand. 


Monday, February 27, 2012

Chicken in Orange Sauce

Chicken is so versatile and everyone in my house loves it...so we eat it frequently. I run out of ideas though, so I'm always on the prowl for recipes made with chicken that my family will brag about....found this one and YES, it was one worth bragging about, that's why I'm sharing it! Its got a little "Asian" twist to it and goes perfectly on a bed of rice (white or brown...doesn't matter). You'll the love the ease of this chicken dish and the idea of having something hearty for dinner.

Chicken in Orange Sauce

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 c. orange juice
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 t. ginger
5 T soy sauce

Combine orange juice, brown sugar, ginger and soy sauce. Stir until mixed and sugar is semi-dissolved. Place chicken in a baking dish and cover with sauce. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes (or until done). Serve over steamed rice.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Amish Waffles

This is a breakfast fit for a king...and all his little princes and princesses...OH yes, and EVEN his QUEEN. You will LOVE the smile that comes across the faces of your family as you serve ICE CREAM for breakfast...YES, you heard me, I said ICE CREAM FOR BREAKFAST! (after all, is that any worse than sugar coated cereal?!?) These Amish Waffles are crispy and delicious and you'll feel like royalty when you eat them!

Amish Waffles

1 c. flour
1 c. CAKE flour
1 1/2 c. milk
2 1/2 t. baking powder
2 eggs
5 T butter, melted
2 t. vanilla
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt

Mix ingredient together until smooth. Cook in hot waffle iron, according to instructions. Serve war. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and smothered with berry syrup (recipe below).
1 2/3 c. water
2/3 c. sugar
2 T white corn syrup
2 T cornstarch
1 large package raspberry/strawberry jello
8 oz frozen raspberries or strawberries

Combine water, sugar, cornstarch and corn syrup in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened. Remove from the heat. Add jello, stirring until dissolved. Cool slightly (5 minutes). Add berries. Pour desired amount onto ice cream topped waffle.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kitchen Tip-- Spaghetti Noodle

I love finding new ways to simplify my kitchen experience!

I absolutely love using my bundt pan. I have all sorts of delicious breads and cake recipes-- but I usually have to trust the baking time and just pray everything comes out completely done. There's no "toothpick test" with a pan that deep. UNTIL I came across this tip to use a dry spaghetti noodle to test the center in a deep pan. Stick dry noodle into the center of the cake/bread. If it comes out clean your cake it done. 

Quick, easy and absolutely fool proof!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Heavenly Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Addiction is a BIG word...and even a bit of a HARSH word...but I think it explains my love and feelings for these splendid little cakes. I eat pumpkin everything, year round...so making these weekly, monthly and maybe daily won't be a problem for me...THEY ARE DIVINE! They are so moist (a requirement when I eat cake of any kind) and have the perfect taste of cinnamon and pumpkin all wrapped up in this little cupcake paper. Your mouth will do a little happy dance as you eat this delicate morsel!!! Mmmmmmmmmmm....looking at the pictures just makes me want to eat ANOTHER ONE right now.
Doesn't that look like a bit of heaven?!!........seriously, it IS a piece of heaven. I am
sure that when you are called to go through the big pearly gates, these are the
"manna from heaven" that will be sitting there on the buffet table on the other side!

The frosting on these scrumptious treats is to die for! Don't skip it (unless you are a frosting hater) because the cupcake wouldn't be the same without it!

See all that YUMMY moist cake that awaits your taste buds??

It was so good...I even ate mine with a spoon~
Soooooooo...now your convinced of the PERFECTLY, WONDERFUL, SCRUMPTIOUSNESS of this tiny little cake, let me give you the recipe so you can make
a batch for yourself (yes, I said for yourself, because you really
won't want to share these...you might END UP sharing them
under protest...but you
WILL have a little bit of a selfish bone inside
your body that says to hoard them all for yourself)~

Heavenly Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

1 c. sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. oil
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
2 1/4 c. flour
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. allspice
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t. baking soda

In a bowl, beat sugars and oil until fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and salt, mix well. Add pumpkin and buttermilk just until combined. Stir in dry ingredient and beat until creamy. Line muffin tins (makes 24) with muffin cups. SPRAY each muffin liner with pan coating (once its placed in the muffin tin). This helps you to get the muffin out of the liner easier without leaving so much of your cake stuck to the paper. Fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or the cake bounces back when touched. Let cool then frost with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below).

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter (real), softened
4-5 c. powder sugar (make until frosting is stiff enough to hold a shape)
1/4 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
2 T. cinnamon
3-5 T water

Beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add half the powdered sugar, salt, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat until completely mixed. Add the remaining ingredient and beat until light and fluffy. Pipe on or spread onto cooled cupcakes.
*I used a LARGE ziplock bag with the corner cut off to pipe my frosting on. Just cut off the tip of one corner (not too big) of bag and fill with frosting, then pipe it on and make it look like your a cupcake chef...(It doesn't matter that your not, it makes you feel like one). ENJOY every last bite of EVERY last one that you eat!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kitchen Tip-- Bacon Grease

Here at Better Than Burgers we've decided to add a few Kitchen Tips into the mix of recipes each week. Today I wanted to start off with a super simple idea that literally changed my life. haha. I saw a pin on pinterest and for the life of me I can't find it anymore. So--- I will admit this is not my original idea and I fully give credit to whomever thought of this and posted it on the internet.

Whenever I cook bacon I always cringe when I have to find a bowl to dump the grease into. I don't have a designated "grease bowl" so I end up dirtying one of my good dishes and it makes everything greasy in the process. It's a mess. I found a simple solution and I can't believe I never thought of it before. Line a bowl with tinfoil-- leave an overhang to make clean up quick and simple. Pour the bacon grease into the tinfoil bowl. Let it sit on the counter until the grease sets and then simply pick up the tinfoil and throw it away. Easy as that. No greasy mess left behind in your dishes. No hot grease in your garbage cans and it only takes an extra 20 seconds. Now if that doesn't change your life--- I don't know what will.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Breakfast Cake

Recipes like this are floating around all over the internet. I found this one and decided that it HAD to be tested in my kitchen (only because I adore cinnamon rolls AND breakfast cake, plus, it looked fabulous too). It was a huge hit and completely measured up to everything I was hoping for. Its moist, dense and tastes just like a cinnamon roll....BUT the texture is different, its made from a batter, not a stiff dough. Don't go into it thinking its going to be a replica of a cinnamon roll, its a cake and that's the texture it has. I made a large batch hoping to serve it twice (for breakfast one day and then again for the next day) but I couldn't keep "grabby hands" out of it...it disappeared completely over an 8 hour period! Oh well...guess that just means it was good!

Cinnamon Roll Breakfast Cake

3 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 c. sugar
4 t. baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. butter, melted

1 c. butter, softened and cubed (not melted)
1 c. brown sugar
2 T flour
1 T cinnamon

For Cake: Mix everything together except for butter. Slowly stir in the melted butter and pour into a greased 9x13 pan.

For topping: Cube butter and add brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry blender of 2 knives, until well combined. Topping will resemble a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle evenly over the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 32-35 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with glaze (recipe below)

2 c. powdered sugar
5 T milk
2 t. vanilla

Combine all ingredient and stir until powdered sugar is dissolved. Drizzle over warm Cinnamon Roll Breakfast Cake.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Breakfast Berry Smoothy

Smoothies are great anytime...we like to eat them for breakfast. The family thinks I've really made a treat when I whip up one of these and serve it for breakfast. You just can't go wrong with smoothies.

Breakfast Berry Smoothy

2 c. berry yogurt (I used strawberry)
3-4 banana's
1 c. milk
2-3 c. frozen raspberries

*if you like yours sweeter, add sugar to taste...we like it as is.

Place milk and yogurt in blender (or smoothy maker if your lucky enough to have one). Add banana's and raspberries. Turn blender on "high" and mix until all ingredient is pureed. Serve in a cup, drink it or eat it with a spoon.

*Make sure you put the milk in FIRST. You want your liquid closest to the blade, this aids in the mixing process and makes it so the blade doesn't get jammed with the frozen fruit.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sweet Chicken Panini

We love panini's at our house. They aren't much more than a glorified, fancy, smancy grilled cheese sandwich...BUT the name makes everyone "ohh and ahhh" over them when I tell them what I'm making for dinner. BUT...this particular recipe I went the extra mile and made the chicken "gourmet" so they WERE fancy, smancy! These Sweet Chicken Panini's were extremely tasty and made eating a sandwich feel more like we were eating "out" at a fun little cafe, than eating dinner at the same ol' table, in my same ol' boring kitchen. Enjoy my friends!

Sweet Chicken Panini

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 can COKE
3/4 c. brown sugar

1-2 ripe avocado
sliced Provolone cheese
1 loaf heavy bread (don't use the "light and fluffy" stuff)
* I used homemade, but any thicker, heavier bread will work

Place chicken in a large (dependable) zip-lock bag. Add coke and brown sugar. Zip bag shut and "swish" around a bit. Set bag on a plate in the refrigerator 3-4 hours (longer is fine too). Remove meat from bag and grill outside (if possible...otherwise BROIL in the oven) on barbecue grill 3-4 minutes on each side (time will depend on the thickness of your meat).

Peel and slice the avocado. Preheat panini press (instructions on how to make these withOUT a press will follow these instructions) for 6 minutes or until "ready" light kicks on.
To make sandwiches, butter the back sides of the bread, like you would for a grilled cheese sandwich. On one slice of bread, place in order- 1 slice of cheese, sliced or shredded grilled chicken breast (we ripped ours up a little so that the sandwich wouldn't be so thick), avocado, 1 more slice of cheese, then top with another slice of bread. (MAKE sure that the butter is on the OUTSIDE of each slice of bread).

Place sandwich in panini press and cook until bread is toasted and crisp (mine took approximately 3-4 minutes).

*To make sandwich without a press-assemble sandwich as directed above. Place sandwich in a frying pan, butter side down. Place a smaller sauce pan (the heavier the better) on top of sandwich, pressing sandwich down (I placed a large can of tomato juice (still in the can) in my sauce pan to add more weight...you could use whatever you had) Cook until the one side is browned and then turn sandwich over, repeating if necessary to melt the cheese. I've made panini's like this several times and it works like a charm.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cheesy burger

I realize that we are smack dab in the middle of winter and burgers just aren't the "normal" thing that we think about when we are asking ourselves, "What should I make for dinner"....but you should. Burgers USUALLY please everyone, and are a quick meal to make summer, spring, fall or winter. This burger is easy to whip up, and tastes great too. So pull out the paper plates and enjoy a little bit of "summer" in your house tonight.

Cheesy Burger

1 1/2 lb ground beef
hamburger buns ( I like the sesame seed buns)
1/2 c. swiss cheese, grated
1/2 c. Monterrey jack cheese, grated
14 c. bulls eye barbecue sauce
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. season salt

Combine ground beef, cheese, barbecue sauce and seasonings. Mix with your hands (yes, you have to play in the meat...if this freaks you out, put plastic bags over your hands) until all ingredient is well mixed. Shape into patties. Place patties in a hot skillet, cook on medium for 4-6 minutes on each side or until done. Be careful to watch burgers closely so they don't burn. Place on a bun with all your favorite burger toppings...enjoy!

*NOTE- this is not the ideal burger to cook on your grill...I learned the hard way. Because of the cheese and barbecue sauce, the burger isn't as "solid" as it usually is....placing it on a grill and trying to cook it will only bring you to tears, as your meat cooks and loosens...it falls through the spaces on the grill and your left with "pieces" instead of patties! Make sure to use a skillet.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sinful Butterfinger Cupcakes

These sinful cupcakes will be the most enjoyable thing you ever indulge in...they are rich, moist and extremely tasty!!! I had to give half the batch away, for fear that I wouldn't be able to contain myself with them sitting on the counter.....they REALLY ARE THAT GOOD!

Sinful Butterfinger Cupcakes

1 chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. oil
1 t. vanilla
1 c. sour cream
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk

Caramel Sauce:
6 T. butter
3/4 c brown sugar
1 T water
pinch of salt
1/3 c + 1 T evaporated milk
1 T vanilla

Butterfinger Frosting
4 butterfinger bars
3/4 c butter
4 oz. cream cheese
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 T milk

Caramel Sauce:
Heat butter, brown sugar, water and salt. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, add evaporated milk and vanilla. Stir and set aside.

Place eggs, water, milk, and oil together in a medium bowl. Beat until well mixed. Stir in vanilla, sour cream and cake mix. Place cupcake liners in muffin tin and fill 3/4 full. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until done. Cool before adding caramel sauce to middle.

Mix sweetened condensed milk and caramel sauce together. Stir until completely combined. Pour into a squeeze bottle with a small tip. Insert tip into the top of the cupcake and squeeze a small amount of caramel into the center (kind of like your giving the cupcake a "vaccination"). Repeat until each cupcake has had "its shot". Set aside.

Unwrap butterfingers and place in a large ziplock bag. Slightly crush with a rolling pin. YOU DON'T want powder, just smaller pieces. Set aside. Beat butter and cream cheese for 5 minutes. Add powered sugar a little at a time. When you have met your desired consistency, stir in butterfinger crumbs with a spoon, just until mixed. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes (I use a large ziplock bag with a small piece of the corner snipped off...works like a charm)....AND THEN sit in a chair, with a cupcake in hand, and slowly devour this scrumptious little treat, a treat that will make you feel as though you were in heaven.
Happy Valentines DAY!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mock Ivar's Clam Chowder

My hubby and I went to Seattle a few years back for a little get away. While we were there we took a "few" trips down to the wharf where we fell in love with this little restaurant called "Ivars" (if I remember right). They made the BEST clam chowder I have ever eaten. It was creamy (vs the grainy potato texture that some chowder has) and rich and made me melt right in my seat! I think we returned and ate there ALMOST every day, either for lunch or dinner...I couldn't get enough of it. Imagine my surprise when I fell upon this recipe for "Ivar's Clam Chowder"...I knew it was a "must make" AND YES, it was JUST as good...the only thing that would have made it better would have been to have some FRESH clams to put in it...but my canned ones will have to do. If you are a clam chowder lover, this is a fantastic recipe that won't leave you disappointed!

Mock Ivar's Clam Chowder

3 cans minced clams
1/2 c. chopped onions
1/2 c. diced celery
(I pureed the onions and celery because my family won't eat them...but they are a "must have" in this recipe so I had to disguise them..and it worked)
4-6 c. diced potatoes ( I used 6 because I wanted a LARGE pot)
3/4 c. margarine
3/4 c. flour
4 c. half-and-half
1 t. salt (or more)
1 t. pepper(or more)
1 t. sugar

Drain clams (saving juice) and place in a small, covered dish in the refrigerator. Place diced potatoes, onions and celery in crock pot with clam juice and enough water to cover potatoes, cook on low for 4-6 hours OR until done. In a sauce pan melt butter, stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes (stir so it won't burn). Slowly whisk in half-and-half. Cook and whisk until smooth and thick (approx. 5 minutes). While potatoes are still in the crock pot, gently smash with a potatoe smasher...you don't want them all smashed, just some...so just do it a few times to break up SOME of the potatoes. Add half-and-half mixture along with clams and seasonings to potatoes. Stir frequently and continue to cook for 1-2 hours more (so flavors "marry") (*note I put my crock pot on "warm" for this part...your not really "cooking" but just simmering slightly). Serve hot with melted cheese if desired. MMMmmmm...great for any day, but especially a cold winter day.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Chocolate Chip Banana Waffles

As far as I'm concerned, anything goes for breakfast......if people can eat SUGAR coated cereal for breakfast, I guess chocolate is okay too, right?! This is a fun, yummy new breakfast recipe that will be sure to rot your children's teeth (like the sugar coated cereal doesn't) and bring a HUGE smile to their face (and probably YOURS too)! WE LOVED it!!! I didn't get one complaint when I served these up bright and early one morning......I bet you won't either!

Chocolate Chip Banana Waffles
2 c. boxed pancake mix (your favorite will work)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 egg
2 T oil
1 1/2 c. milk
3 banana's (one smashed, 2 sliced for topping)
1 T vanilla
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat waffle iron. In a bowl, mix together the pancake mix, cinnamon, egg, oil, milk, mashed banana and vanilla. Stir until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spray waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour 1/2 c waffle mix (or whatever your waffle iron holds) into waffle iron. Cook until done. Top with maple syrup and sliced bananas (and even a few more chocolate chips if your a really COOL mom). Makes about 6-8 waffles (depending on the size of your waffle iron)
Enjoy your fun, sugar filled breakfast....WE DID!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Crunchy Cheesecake Pancakes

Pancakes are a favorite at my house, but I get tired of serving them the "same ol' " way...so I try to be creative SO I don't get tired of making them. My kids adored these tasty new Crunchy Cheesecake Pancakes. They almost taste like you're eating dessert for breakfast, but not quite.

Crunchy Cheesecake Pancakes

your favorite pancakes (mix up and cook them)
1 box Danish Dessert (I like raspberry or strawberry flavor...either one is fine)
1 bag frozen raspberries (1-2 c. if you have FRESH ones)
1 c. prepared granola (whatever your favorite is...mine happens to be posted on our blog)
cheese cake filling (recipe below)

Let prepared/cooked pancakes cool slightly. In a small saucepan add danish dessert to 3 c. cold water. Cook on medium heat until thickened, stirring occasionally with a whip to keep sauce from sticking to the pan. Add frozen raspberries to thickened sauce. Cook until raspberries are thawed and warm. Set aside. Prepare Cheesecake filling.

Cheesecake Filling:

1 8oz cream cheese, softened
1 8oz whipped topping
1 c. powdered sugar

Combine all ingredient together and mix with an electric mixer until its completely blended and lump free.

Spread cheesecake filling onto slightly cooled pancakes. Top with danish dessert and a sprinkle of granola...repeat on another pancake to form a "stack". Continue process until every person you are serving has their own personal "stack" of pancakes. Enjoy this fun new way to eat breakfast.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pizza Dip

I found this delicious looking pizza dip on pinterest a few days ago and I knew I would love it. I'm a huge pizza fan but Hubby hates pizza sauce. Whenever we order pizza we have to get 2. One of them sauce-less. (gross). So I whipped this up for a meeting and between all us girls we downed the entire dish. It was delicious! Perfect for a party or for self indulgence. I won't tell. 

Pizza Dip

8 oz cream cheese 
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup pizza sauce

Mix cream cheese, sour cream, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Spread into the bottom of a pie tin. Spread pizza sauce on cheese layer. Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and add pepperoni on top. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until cheese gets bubbly. Serve with corn chips, crackers and sliced baguettes. 


Monday, February 6, 2012

Creamy Bacon Chicken

The crock pot is my "winter friend"...sure I use her in the summer months too, but for some reason the winter months scream "Crock pot" to me. I try to cook at least 1 meal a week in the crock pot, some weeks its more, some are less. This yummy recipe was a family favorite and got a big 5 star rating at my house. Give it a try and see how it scores at yours.

Creamy Bacon Chicken
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 can cream chicken soup
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
2 T. liquid smoke

1 lb. cooked, crumbled bacon
1 lb. saute'd mushrooms
cooked pasta or steamed rice
grated cheese

Place first four ingredient into crock pot. Cook for 4-6 hours on LOW. When meat is done, shred carefully with 2 forks (can be done in the crock pot). Stir so that sauce is combined with meat. Serve on cooked pasta or steamed rice. Top with bacon, mushrooms and grated cheese.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Pasta Bar

I will have to say that the "Pasta Bar" idea is a NEW thing for my family...I realize now that it has been around for a LONG time. I think of all the years we've been missing out on this deliciousness...it made dinner so fun and tasty, we thoroughly enjoyed it. The ideas of things to put on your pasta are endless...the choices are "whatever you want them to be" and your pasta is made just the way you like it! I will MOST definitely be making this at our next BIG family get together (as well as many times before on a smaller scale like we just did)! My family is proof that you can serve this to a VERY large CROWD or a smaller one. YOU can thank me later for bringing this fAnTabULouS recipe/idea to your attention.

Pasta Bar

Pasta topping ideas:

mini pepperoni (on mine)
bacon (on mine)
diced onion
sliced olives
imitation crab, chopped
cubed chicken (on mine)
diced tomatoes
saute'd mushrooms (on mine)
diced red pepper
frozen peas
chopped ham
grated cheese (on mine)
sliced almonds
fresh spinach
Parmesan cheese

cooked pasta (whatever your family likes, any will work, we did "shells" because thats what I had)

SAUCE ideas:

spaghetti sauce (any homemade or bottled sauce will work)
cheese sauce (recipe below)
Alfredo sauce

Place an individual serving amount of cooked pasta in a bowl or on a plate, add your favorite toppings and top with your favorite sauce...ENJOY!

Cheese Sauce:
4 c. heavy cream
1 c. butter
1 c. grated Swiss cheese
1 c. grated Colby jack cheese
1 c. six cheese (Italian, comes in a package already grated)
1 c. grated mozzarella cheese
1 c. grated fresh Parmesan cheese

In a medium sauce pan combine cream and butter. Bring to a slow simmer, stirring constantly until the butter is melted. Gradually stir in cheese (all). Reduce heat to low and stir until all cheeses are melted. Serve immediately. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
*Thickened sauce (any leftovers) can be quickly melted back down to use again by placing it in a glass dish in the microwave for 2-3 minutes or until melted.

Our family absolutely adored this cheese sauce. I will use it again and again for many things. IF your family likes a different kind of cheese, switch them out and use your favorites. Its a very versatile cheese sauce recipe and can be made to fit your families likes! Have fun!!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bread Crumb Topping

My Hubby and I like a lot of the same music. We listen to the same Pandora Stations and we sing along to the same songs. So I have no idea why he subjects me to NPR while we drive in the car. I can handle it for approximately 30 seconds before I go crazy--  It's so boring! So the other day when he came home to tell me he heard about a recipe on NPR that day you can imagine I tuned him out. Turns out there are a few things that are fun on the radio station. This happens to be one of them. A quick and easy bread crumb topping for your favorite Italian dishes. We threw it on top of our pasta tonight and it was delicious. It didn't take away from any of the delicious flavors but it added a subtle crunch that we loved. If you're looking for a quick way to spice up your regular foods. This is it! 

Bread Crumb Topping

1/2 cup bread crumbs (we used panko bread crumbs) 
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
dash of garlic

Put butter in a pan on medium heat. Sprinkle with a dash of garlic. Stir as it melts. When almost completely melted add bread crumbs. Stir to avoid burning. Cook until bread crumbs are a nice golden brown. 


1 Tbsp = 1 points plus 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

FRESH Spinach Dip

Dips are a favorite when it comes to "snacky foods" for me. This one is a hit in my book. I lovethe fresh spinach flavor blended with the onion soup...served on a tortilla chip..Mmmmmm!!! Makes your mouth water doesn't it? I know it does mine!!

Fresh Spinach Dip

1 (16oz) sour cream
1 (8oz) cream cheese, softened
10 oz fresh spinach, chopped (used my food processor!)
1/4-1/3 packet dry onion soup mix
1 6oz container freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 c. grated cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredient, except for spinach. Stir until well combined. Add chopped spinach, gently fold. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with tortilla chip or crackers.