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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Cheesy Mexican Chicken Taco Soup

Soup warms the soul (at least I think so) and is always a welcomed meal at my house. We eat it whether its hot or cold outside. This soup in a "Julie original" (came from my own little head) and I loved the way it turned out! This Cheesy Mexican Chicken Taco Soup has got just the right amount of kick to it, its a little spicy but not too spicy (you can cut out the 1 can of chilies if you think it might be too hot for your family)...its just FANTABULOUS~ and I have to say "It's one DARN GOOD SOUP!!!!"

Cheesy Mexican Chicken Taco Soup
1 envelope taco seasoning
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into smaller...bite sized chunks
1 t. onion powder
1 t. garlic powder
1/3 c. flour
4 c. HOT water + 4 chicken bullion cubes
2 (10 oz) cans diced tomatoes with chilies
2 small can chilies
1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 c. cubed processed cheese
1 1/2 c. grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1 1/2 c. half-and-half cream
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
Frito corn chips

In a large skillet, brown chicken pieces. DO NOT COOK entirely. Add taco seasoning. Stir so all pieces are coated well. Place chicken into crock pot. In medium saucepan pour in canned tomatoes. Whisk in flour, garlic powder and onion powder. Heat and mix until all flour is incorporated into tomato sauce. Gradually stir in water. Add bullion cubes and stir until they are dissolved. Pour over chicken in crock pot. Add black beans, chilis and corn. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or until chicken is completely done. WHEN chicken is done, add process cheese and Monterrey Jack cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. DO NOT BOIL!!! Stir in half-and-half. Stir while soup thickens slightly. (BE CAREFUL not to boil or your cheese with curdle and soup won't be creamy). Serve HOT, topped with grated cheddar cheese and Frito Corn chips.

*it would also be good topped with sliced olives, avocados, chopped tomatoes AND a dollop of sour cream (I didn't have any or I would have added them to mine)


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Apple Crisp Muffins

My hubby has deemed me "The Muffin Lady" because I'm always making muffins for breakfast! BUT he's always glad when I do...he likes eating them as much as I like making them...so its a "win, win" situation. These Apple Crisp Muffins made my house smell like fresh apple pie and were a great way to start the morning. The cream cheese center makes them moist, yet the topping gives them a yummy little crunch!

Apple Crisp Muffins
2 c. flour
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1 c. milk (not skim or fat free)
1/2 c. oil
2 c. shredded apples

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredient, whisk together and set aside. In another bowl combine egg, milk and oil. Stir until mixed. Combine dry ingredient with wet ingredient stir until moistened. Fold in apples. Scoop batter into well greased or lined muffin cups. Fill 3/4 way full. Set aside.

1 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 T maple syrup
1 1/2 t. cinnamon

Combine all ingredient. Mix until smooth. Drop by spoonful into centers of muffins.

1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. old fashioned oatmeal
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 t. nutmeg
3 T cold butter

Mix all ingredient, cutting in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives. Mixture should be crumbly and coarse. Sprinkle over the filling. BAKE MUFFINS at 400 degrees for 14-18 minutes. Serve warm.

Yield: 1 dozen muffins

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kitchen Tip: Whipping Cream Potatoes

I always seem to have lingering whipping cream in my fridge. I buy a large container and then can never use it all before the date goes bad. If you have leftover cream in your fridge or just want super creamy potatoes-- add aprox 1/4 cup (more or less depending on preference) to your mashed potatoes while you mix them. It makes them super creamy and absolutely delicious. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

I know, I know...your asking yourself, "ANOTHER quick bread recipe? Is she crazy?", Yes (to answer both questions), I'm in love with quick bread of any kind! Its such a fun addition to any breakfast, makes a great snack for the family or I can serve it with ice cream for dessert...AND IT ALWAYS freezes well, so you can make several loaves, throw it in the freezer and eat it another day! WOO HOO, can't beat that for planning ahead!

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

4 eggs
1 c. oil
4 c. sugar
4 1/2 c. flour
2 c. pumpkin
2 T pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. fresh cranberries, chopped (in the food processor)

Combine eggs, pumpkin, and oil. Blend until well mixed. Add dry ingredient and stir well. Add cranberries and vanilla, stir just until mixed. Do not over mix. Divide batter into to large loaf pans or 3 regular sized pans...making sure to spray with pan coating ahead of time. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes (just watch carefully, start checking at 50 minutes).


Friday, March 23, 2012

Hot Artichoke Spinach Dip

It doesn't matter whether you make this tasty dip for a fun party night, a snack for the kids OR just for a quiet dinner at home...its a scrumptious treat to sink your lips into. I served it with corn chips, but it would taste great with crackers too. I'm sure I will make this one time and time again.

Hot Artichoke Spinach Dip

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
1/2 c. frozen spinach, cooked, chopped AND drained well
1/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. dried basil
grated cheddar or Mozzarella cheese

Cream together cream cheese, sour cream Parmesan cheese, garlic and basil. Mix completely. Add the artichoke hearts and spinach and stir until blended. Spray baking dish with pan coating, pour in dip and top with grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve HOT with tortilla chips, crackers or baguettes.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kitchen Tip: Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes

The hubby and I love potatoes. We just disagree on the cooking methods. I like my potatoes baked and loaded with bacon, cheese and sour cream. He is convinced mashed with gravy is the only way to go. More often than not we end up with mashed potatoes. The one thing I absolutely hate about mashing potatoes is they are a food that must be prepared right before eating. If you mash them too early they get cold and it's just not the same. Even reheating them or keeping them in the oven doesn't fix this. It's especially awful when everyone is ready to eat and I am stuck in the corner trying to hurry and mash. Most times we end up with lumpy potatoes just because I need to get them on the table. UNTIL I came across this kitchen tip that will forever change how I look at mashed potatoes. Boil and mash your potatoes as you normally would. Once they are ready transfer them into a crock pot on the LOW setting. Cover with lid and set aside until ready to serve. Potatoes will keep up to 2 hours. Check on them occasionally to make sure your crock pot is not too hot. 

I tried this when we invited friends over for Sunday dinner. It was AMAZING! Completely took the stress away from last minute prep and they were hot and delicious. I will forever use this method! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes

Who doesn't love to find a little surprise inside their cupcake?!! So fun and SO scrumptious. The cream cheese filling just melts right in your mouth. I like using pumpkin year round...its too yummy to save it just for the holidays and fall months...so I make sure it makes its way to my "treat table" all year long! This is one of those recipes that left my mouth watering for more as I saw the plate of cupcakes disappear one by one...sometimes ONE is just enough for me...but there are times when I want to eat the entire plate before anyone else gets to it (just for the record...I DO have more self control than that, but one can dream can't she???). These cupcakes are perfect for breakfast (mmmm yes!), lunch, snack, dinner AND before bed...I don't know what it is, but it makes me think happy thoughts after I've eaten one of them....(that too may just be a dream).

Make them...I know you want to!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes
8 oz softened cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar

Combine together and mix until smooth. Transfer to a piece of saran wrap and shape (the best you can) into a roll or log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Smooth plastic wrap tightly around log, reinforce with a piece of tinfoil. Transfer to freezer and chill for at least 2 hours (I got impatient and waited only 1 hour...worked fine other than I couldn't slice it because it wasn't firm enough...(see below)...I had to just get a spoonful). WHILE THIS IS SETTING UP, MIX UP your cupcakes.

3 c. flour
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. ground cloves
1 T + 1 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 c. sugar
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 1/4 c. oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners. Combine all dry ingredient in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together. In another bowl, combine eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil. Beat on medium speed until blended. Combine the dry ingredients, a little at a time, with the wet ingredients. Mix just until moistened. Fill each cupcake liner with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the cup. Slice off a small amount of the cream cheese filling (should be enough for 24 slices). Place the slice of cream cheese filling into each cupcake. Continue until all the cupcakes have a dab of cream cheese filling in them. Divide remaining batter among the cupcakes, placing it on top of the cream cheese filling and covering it completely. Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until done. Cool completely before frosting.

Cheese Cake Frosting:

1 c. powdered sugar
1 8oz. cool whip
1 8oz. cream cheese, softened

Whip until smooth. Spread or pipe frosting on top of cooled cupcakes.

*Cupcakes MUST be refrigerated if frosted with Cheese Cake Frosting.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kitchen Tip-- How to Frost a Cupcake

Here's another quick video to show you how to frost your cupcakes so you get that cute professional swirl that all the cupcake shops have. We love our cupcakes. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Banana Pudding Bread

You know me and my quick breads...I'm always on the search for another great one to sink my teeth into. The pudding in this particular bread is the secret to it tasting so delicious! Its full of moist yummy goodness that keeps you coming back for more...pretty soon all that's left are the crumbs!

Banana Pudding Bread

2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 (3.4 oz each) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
5 eggs
4-5 smashed ripe banana's (they work best if they are REALLY ripe) equaling 2 cups
1 c. oil
1 t. vanilla
1 c. chopped nuts (nuts are optional)

Combine all dry ingredient. In a large mixing bowl, blend eggs, banana's, oil and vanilla until well combined. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in nuts.

Grease and flour 2 loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes (or until a inserted toothpick comes out clean). Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans.

*this bread, like most quick breads, freezes really well. I doubled the recipe...we ate 2 and I put 2 in the freezer for another day.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Mint Oreo Cupcakes

Green is the theme for the weekend, right!?...Since St. Patrick's day is tomorrow, I thought I would be a little "festive" and throw this YUMMY cupcake recipe out there for you to try. FIRST, I want to say that I KNOW the frosting doesn't LOOK green (at least not the green I was going for)...its a little more the color of something you might see in a cow pasture BUT...I know what I did wrong and NEXT time I make these, the frosting will be a BRIGHT minty shade of GREEN...SO with that being said, I will share with you the WAY I SHOULD HAVE made the frosting so yours will be the right shade of green (recipe bloggers have "mess-ups too)! My "mint cupcakes" got the affectionate nick-name of "Pooh Cakes".....MARK MY WORD THOUGH, they didn't taste like pooh ( just the frosting on top took on a slight "shade" of pooh), they were delicious and melted right in my mouth...as well as in my children's mouths too. THEY were gobbled and eaten QUICKLY (that's a tale tale sign that they were delish)...SO, I guess the moral of my short story is....follow the frosting directions to a T and you won't be left with "pooh cakes"....

Mint Oreo Cupcakes

2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. shortening
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
8 oz sour cream
1 c. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake pans with liners. Spray each liner with pan coating (this helps so that your cupcake doesn't stick to the liner and comes out better when you go to EAT your scrumptious cake). Combine all dry ingredient in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl beat shortening and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in melted chocolate and sour cream. Mix until combined. Add dry ingredient alternately with milk; beat on low after each addition just until combined. Fill each liner 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes in preheated oven. Cool and frost with Mint Oreo Frosting (below).

Mint Oreo Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese
6 T butter
3-4 c. powdered sugar
1 T heavy cream
2-3 t. peppermint extract (according to taste...if you like super minty, add more mint)
green food coloring
1/2 package Oreo cookies, broken into small pieces (I put mine in a zip lock bag and beat them with a rolling pin because I like the chunks..but you could put them in a food processor and crush them completely if you choose)

Mix cream cheese and butter until completely combined. Add cream, powdered sugar, peppermint and food coloring. Beat until frosting is thick and will hold a shape. AFTER you've mixed frosting completely, STIR in crushed Oreo's WITH a SPOON, just until mixed in. DO NOT over stir or you will have "POOH FROSTING", but then again, if that's the look your going for, go for it. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and top with a chocolate chip if desired. THESE CUPCAKES are SO TASTY!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wasa Crackers + Cheese

I am always on the look out for delicious/healthy options for snacks. I feel like I get in such a food rut and I eat the same exact thing every day for a week and then I want to pull my hair out. So I always need new ideas! I figured the rest of you did too! So Snack Idea's will hopefully be making a regular appearance here at Better Than Burgers. 

My latest find is Wasa crackers and Cinnamon Cream Cheese Laughing Cow Spread. Oh. My. Gosh. Granted, this is a "grown up treat"-- your kids will not dig the lightened up crackers or the slightly sweetened cream cheese but for only 105 calories and 2 Point Plus (for 3 crackers and 1 wedge of cheese) this will become your favorite! Wasa crackers are about the size of a Graham Cracker and a mix between a cracker and a bread. It's super light and crunchy and although not super flavorful on their own, add a wedge of the Cinnamon Cream Laughing Cow and you have a quick mid-day pick me up. I am totally in love. 

3 crackers + 1 cheese wedge = 2 points plus 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Breakfast Egg Rolls

This is such a fun way to serve that ever so boring "eggs and sausage" breakfast. Wrap those ingredient up in an egg roll wrap and WALAA...you have and exciting DELICIOUS breakfast! THESE Breakfast Egg Rolls were full of flavor and loved by my entire family!

Breakfast Egg Rolls

1/2 lb ground sausage, cooked and drained
5 eggs, scrambled (cooked)
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 package egg roll wraps
oil for cooking

In an egg roll wrap arrange about 1-2 T sausage, 1 T cheese, 1-2 T scrambled egg. Fold, egg roll style (instructions on package). Repeat until all egg roll wraps are filled. Heat oil. Place several prepared egg rolls into hot oil, cook on each side until golden brown. Be careful as to not OVERCOOK egg rolls or they will be dry.

Enjoy this fun new way to serve breakfast

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

I have found my new frosting recipe. I usually switch between a basic buttercream or a cream cheese frosting for my cupcakes. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found a recipe for Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting. It was PERFECT! It held up amazing and had the slight hint of both a cream cheese frosting and a buttercream. It was absolutely the best of both worlds. 

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup salted butter (softened) 
1/4 cup shortening
8 oz. cream cheese (softened) 
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 pounds powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk (mine was too thick for my liking so I added this) 

Cream butter and shortening until smooth. Cut up cream cheese and add. Let mix until smooth. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Blend until ingredients are smooth. 


Monday, March 12, 2012

Steak Stir Fry

Stir fry is a very versatile dish. You can add pretty much any veggie or meat that you would like and it turns out great. I added steak to this particular recipe and it was devoured rather quickly. Its a great way to trick or kids into eating those veggies that they usually grumble about.

Steak Stir Fry

4 rib eye steaks, cut into thin strips

Cook meat in a wok or frying pan with a small amount of oil...cooking it slowly on a lower heat will help the meat to not be quite so tough. After meat is cooked, remove from pan and set aside.

1 broccoli spear, cut into bite sized pieces
4 carrots, sliced
1/4 c. water
3-4 T soy sauce
1/2 c. Kikkoman stir fry sauce
1-2 packages Chinese stir fry noodles, cook according to package directions (purchase them over by the oriental foods)

Place water in wok (or frying pan) add broccoli and carrots. Cook until ALMOST done, but not quite (we like our veggies still on the crunchy side). Add cooked meat, soy sauce and stir fry sauce. Stir until combined and hot. Serve on top of cooked stir fry noodles for a fun authentic Chinese dish.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Glazed Lemon Muffins

Lemon...mmmmm!!! Who doesn't like lemon?! It reminds me of spring...maybe its the citrus, maybe its that my son's birthday is in the spring and we always have lemon bars...I don't know, but when I start making "lemony" things around here I am thinking of those beautiful spring mornings when the birds are chirping outside my window and the grass is turning green (nope, its not happening at my house...but I like to make lemon flavored anything, anyway)
We loved these Glazed Lemon Muffins. They have just the right tartness to match the delicious sweet flavors. They are moist and good for anytime of day.

Glazed Lemon Muffins

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
4 eggs
1 c. sour cream
2 cubes butter, melted
3 T. lemon peel, freshly grated
1 T lemon juice

3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. cold butter, cubed

1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. lemon juice

Muffins: Combine all dry ingredient, set aside. In a medium bowl combine eggs, sour cream, butter, lemon peel and juice. Mix well. Add dry ingredient and stir, just until combined. Fill greased muffin cups or liners 3/4 full. Set aside.

Topping: Combine flour and sugar; stir. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives. Mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over muffin cups filled with batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (mine actually took about 18 minutes). Cool slightly.

Glaze: Whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Drizzle over the top of cooked muffins. Serve warm.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kitchen Tip-- Cookie Dough

I have no sense of portion control. My favorite cookie recipe makes 6 dozen cookies-- well I suppose I have to eat them all. So granted, I love the idea of making a batch of cookies-- baking up enough to eat and then freezing the rest. On the flip side- I HATE rolling the dough into little balls, arrange them on a cookie sheet so they don't all end up stuck to each other, and then finding room in my freezer to set the cookie sheet while they freeze. It just takes too long. I've portioned the dough into long rolls before but when I want to bake the cookies it takes forever for the log to thaw. 

Fast forward to today's tip. Freeze cookie dough in ice cube trays. It's fast and easy. Just spoon a little dough into each one, let freeze and then simply pop them out and throw them into a freezer bag. This way you can bake a few at a time whenever you want fresh baked cookies. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Muffin Meatloaf

My family enjoys a good meatloaf. BUT I don't make it as often as my family would like. BUT after finding this recipe and cooking it up for dinner, I just might make meatloaf more A LOT more often. The family adored it. It was very tasty and something fun and different to serve for dinner...PLUS it's a great way to use up all the ground beef that I never know what to do with.

Muffin Meatloaf

3 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. ketchup
1 t. prepared mustard
1 1/2 t. garlic powder
1 1/2 t. onion powder
1 1/2 t. season salt
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 c. crushed corn flakes
2 lbs ground beef

In a large bowl combine all ingredient. Mix well (I like to use my hands...clean of course...to mush it up good). Divide ingredient into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve hot with potatoes or rice.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kitchen Tip-- Clothes Pins

I'm thinking this might be a well known quick fix in most kitchens BUT for some reason I really hadn't thought of it till recently. So, if any of you are a little scatter brained like me this tip might help. I always seem to have opened bags in my pantry. I don't have chip clips hanging around and I always forget to put them on my grocery list. So to keep all my chips nice and fresh I simply use a clothes pin to close the bags. I have a handful of clothes pins that sit in my pantry so I never have to worry. 

Super simple and super cheap! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Double Bacon Cheeseburger Dip

Dips and chips are a favorite snack around these parts...kids are always wanting something new and tasty when they get home from school or getting ready for bed (I know...snacking isn't good before bed, but it seems my growing son NEEDS nourishment at 10:30 pm for some reason). I found this recipe HERE, changed it around for my families liking and then whipped it up. The kids feel in love with it. It would be great served at any party or just for snack time for the kiddo's (and the grown ups, too).

Double Bacon Cheeseburger Dip

1/2 lb ground beef, cooked with clove of minced garlic
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 clove garlic, minced (add to ground beef above)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 c. Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 T Worcestershire sauce

Mix the minced garlic with the ground beef while cooking. Drain set aside. Mix meats, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, cheeses and Worcestershire sauce in a medium bowl. Stir until well combined. Pour into a glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve HOT with corn chip or crackers.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Breakfast Dippers

Mmmmm...Breakfast, my favorite meal of the day. These little Breakfast dippers just made looking forward to breakfast even better!! The kids will LOVE them...I LOVED them! I've always loved to dip my food into "sauces" and so this is right up my alley! Don't wait for the weekend to try these babies out, they are easier than they look. Everything is thrown in a blender, then a muffin tin and then cooked...see, its easy! They are not only fun, but they taste scrumptious too!

Breakfast Dippers

3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. milk
2 eggs
1-2 T sugar (if you want "sweeter" add 2)
3 T melted butter
1/2 t. salt

pie filling (your favorite)
whipped topping

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in the microwave for 15-20 sec. Brush (with a pastry brush) each muffin cup with a small amount of butter. Set aside. Place flour, sugar, milk, salt and eggs in a blender. Blend until smooth (no lumps). Place muffin tin in the oven for 5 minutes before pouring prepared butter into muffin cups. Remove pan from oven and fill each muffin cup 3/4 full with batter. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes (might take a bit longer or shorter, depending on your oven). Dippers are done when they are puffed and lightly golden on top. Drizzle with melted butter while hot and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Serve on a plate with pie filling and whipped topping to the side for dipping~ YUM!

HOW easy was that?! Makes breakfast a lot more fun when its QUICK!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kitchen Tip-- How to fill your pastry bag

A few weeks ago I found a tip for filling your frosting pastry bag. It literally changed my cupcake life! It's so easy and makes frosting messes a thing of the past- for real! Here's the link I found on pinterest.  But for your viewing pleasure I have also made my own video for you. Ignore the fact that I say TINFOIL. I really mean Saran Wrap! Oh well, you can't win them all.