Monday, January 30, 2012

Healthier Sloppy Joes

We don't eat sloppy joes a whole lot in our house but every so often they sound good, the kids enjoy them and they're quick and easy to make. This past month I've been on a quest to make some of our favorites a little bit healthier. Some haven't been quite as successful as others, but this one seemed to please even the most difficult family member.

I did make a few changes to the original recipe like omitting the beans, I personally would have loved that addition but not sure how the kids would have felt about it. Overall we thought they had good flavor and it's something we would definitely make again.

Healthier Sloppy Joes

1 lb. lean ground beef
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 red pepper, diced
1-15 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon mustard
Black pepper to taste
Hamburger buns, whole wheat for added nutrition

Brown meat in a large skillet over med-high heat for 5-6 minutes, breaking into crumbles as it cooks.  Pour drippings out of pan and discard.  Add garlic, jalapeno and red pepper and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining ingredients, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes longer. Scoop onto buns and serve.

Adapted from: Food Network

* Plan this meal with my chicken cacciatore so you won't have leftover tomato paste to use up.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January DIY Project: Homemade Cheese Crackers

I don't buy many processed/boxed snack items for my family. For one, they usually are expensive and have you ever really looked at what the ingredients are? Do you even know what half of those are?

I've had these crackers bookmarked for a few months now. I'm so glad I put them on my list of projects to complete this year. I have to admit I was a little intimidated by the sound of making my own crackers but really, these were such a cinch to pull off! I started them before dinner last night and we had some awesome homemade cheese crackers in no time.

They have a nice crunch to them, probably not quite as crispy as the boxed crackers, but still good. The fact that this recipe only calls for 6 ingredients says a lot, simple is good and I like to know what's all in my food. The only thing I would change, is reducing the amount of red pepper flakes just a tad. Some crackers had more of a bite than others, but overall I think they might have been just a little too spicy for the kids. I've noted my change below in the recipe.  I encourage you to give these a try, with the help of a food processor they are so easy to make!

Homemade Cheese Crackers

1 1/2 cups (6 oz) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
3/4 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (original recipe calls for 1/2 tsp, you make the call)
1 tablespoon milk


Preheat oven to 350. Put everything except milk in a food processor. Pulse the processor, 5 seconds at a time for 6 times, until the dough becomes coarse crumbs.

                            Add the milk and process until dough forms a ball.

              Roll the dough out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin until 1/8 inch thick.

Cut dough into 1-inch squares with sharp knife or pizza cutter. Use the flat end of a wooden skewer to poke a hole in the center of each cracker. Place crackers at least 1/4 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges just start to turn brown. Put baking sheet on a rack and let crackers cool completely.
Store in a covered container to eat within a couple days. Makes 70 one-inch crackers.

Slightly adapted from: In the Kitchen with Kath

Monday, January 23, 2012

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

I think everyone has their own version of chicken cacciatore and here's one that we tried out last week. I got the idea from a healthy cooking magazine and made a few changes to suit our tastes. I'm happy to say it went over pretty well with our family!

It was nice to literally throw everything in the slow cooker and let it simmer all day. My house smelt amazing by dinner time!

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 medium yellow, red or green peppers chopped (I used a mixture of all 3)
1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1-6 oz. can tomato paste
3/4 c. chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning (or just use dried basil and oregano)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. water


Place chicken in slow cooker. Cover with chopped peppers. (Feel free to use onion as well for extra flavor, unfortunately some in our family don't like onions so I always leave them out)

In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, garlic, seasoning, salt and pepper. Pour over chicken and peppers. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until chicken is tender.

Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; gradually stir into slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes longer or until sauce is thickened. Serve with pasta and salad if desired.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Rice Krispie Treats

The kids and I are enjoying a snow day, it's been coming down like crazy since early this morning. Like the good wife I am, I've been out trying to shovel in effort to help my hubby out for when he gets home from work. No such luck, we might as well wait until the storm's over. So instead I think the kids and I will enjoy one of these with a warm glass of hot chocolate when they wake from naps.

I whipped up these little gems last night and oh my are they ever good! They seriously taste just like a cinnamon roll and who doesn't adore one of those? They're quick to mix up, just like any other rice krispie treat and I promise you they will not last long! You can make them into cute little cinnamon roll shapes like I did or simply leave them in a bar form and just spread the frosting right on top. Whatever makes your heart content! If you're snowed in like we are today, give these a try, I'm sure you have the ingredients on hand. You can thank me later!

Cinnamon Roll Rice Krispie Treats

1/2 stick butter
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp molasses
2 tsp cinnamon
1 bag large marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla
6 cups Rice Krispie cereal

1/2 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsp milk to thin icing if needed

Grease a 9x13 dish with cooking spray, set aside. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium low heat. Stir in salt, molasses and cinnamon. Add marshmallows and stir constantly until marshmallows have completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Fold in cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour cereal mixture into pan. Spread evenly into pan. Allow to cool several minutes, then cut while slightly warm. Using your hands, round edges of cut squares by cupping your hands around the edges and gently pressing. Allow to cool completely.

In the meantime cream butter and vanilla in a medium bowl. Gradually add in powdered sugar. Add more or less according to your liking. Mix in 1-2 tsp of milk if needed to thin icing.

Pipe frosting onto rice krispie treats once completely cooled. Use a pastry bag with a small round tip or simply put frosting in a baggie and snip the corner, use that as your decorating bag. Dust tops lightly with cinnamon if desired. Makes 15-17 treats.

Slightly adapted from: Cooking Classy

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Slow Cooker Orange Barbecue Ribs

I've said it before, I love meals that I can dump in the slow cooker and go about my day while it cooks. This is certainly another one of those dishes. Barbecue ribs are one of those comfort foods everyone loves and to be able to make them with such little effort is even better!

I discovered this meal in an old church cookbook. I love those things, you can always find good tried and true recipes from others in your community. I really liked the addition of frozen orange juice to the sauce. It was just enough to taste but not overpowering. After a few changes, I got the sauce just perfect! If you don't care for orange juice you can simply omit it or just reduce to amount you put in.  Give these a try and be sure to let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Orange Barbecue Ribs

3 lbs. boneless pork ribs

Barbecue sauce:
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
6 oz. frozen orange juice, thawed

Combine all sauce ingredients and set aside. Place ribs in slow cooker and pour sauce over the meat. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Overnight Coffee Cake

I love lazy Sundays especially when they involve a yummy breakfast like this! No, I didn't get up extra early to prepare this for my family. I actually mixed it up the night before, stuck it in the fridge and baked it in the morning. Simple as that!

This would be great for when you have guests staying at your home and since you probably have most if not all the ingredients on hand, it will be something quick and easy to serve. The cake itself is very moist and fluffy, and who doesn't love the brown sugar cinnamon crumbs on top?

Overnight Coffee Cake

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 tablespoons milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream.  Pour into greased 9x13 inch baking dish.

In small bowl combine brown sugar, pecans or walnuts and cinnamon. Sprinkle over cake. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from fridge 30 mins. before baking.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes. Combine powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Drizzle over coffee cake and serve.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Honey-Glazed Carrots with Cilantro

January tends to be a month where everyone is focusing on eating more healthy and exercising. It's important for me to feed my family good nutritious food but we definitely indulge from time to time. I have some family members and friends that I know are working extra hard right now to lose some weight so I've made it a goal to help provide them with some good and healthy recipes as much as I can.

This is a really simple and quite healthy side dish. Yes it has honey, but just enough to add a little sweetness to the carrots. It certainly jazzes them up! I love the cilantro garnished on top, it adds a nice, fresh taste to the dish. If you're looking to add more veggies to your diet, give this one a try!

Before I forget, I have a winner to announce from my giveaway earlier in the week.

Jessica B. answered " I make jello cake cause it's easiest!!" Congrats! I know you will love this pan!

Honey-Glazed Carrots with Cilantro

15 baby carrots, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2-2 cups water
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons dry white wine or low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

In a large skillet, combine carrots and olive oil; add just enough water to cover carrots. Cook over medium-high heat until water is evaporated and carrots are tender, about 15 mins. Cook, tossing often until carrots are light golden, about 2 minutes. Add honey and white wine or chicken broth; cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, until carrots are glazed, about 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cowgirl Cookies

During Christmas time I made up a few gifts in a jar to hand out, these cookies were one of them. I hadn't ever tried out the recipe, just came across them on Pinterest. They turned out really cute and I substituted red and green M&Ms to make them more festive. Anyways, we got a thank you note last week from my daughter's preschool teacher stating that her family loved the cookies and she was inspired to bake more often now! Of course I had to try them out for myself and I just happened to have a few helpers ready to help me!

My 3 little helpers, being silly of course!

These turned out to be really good cookies and so easy to mix up. I love that you can change the color of the M&Ms to go along with whatever holiday happens to be current. We used red and pink for Valentine's Day coming up. I mixed up my dough like I would normally for any cookie recipe but here is the original recipe so you know how to put these jars together, I wish I would have taken a picture of mine now!

She sure loves to lick the spoons!

I love that you're not left with a bunch of cookies after baking these, I got about 2 dozen. If that's still more than you want laying around the kitchen, package some up and take to work or give to neighbors. Otherwise stick them in a container and pop them in the freezer, cookies freeze so well! You can then just pull out a few at a time for a treat and not feel like you're going to overindulge.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway! You have until tomorrow. Good Luck!

Cowgirl Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup M&Ms
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter and both sugars in a large mixing bowl. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt and oats, mix well. Slowly add to butter mixture, mix well to combine. Stir in M&Ms, chocolate chips and pecans. Using a medium sized cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop balls of dough onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until slightly browned. Makes 2 dozen cookies

Adapted from: Bakerella 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Easy Pecan Rolls and My 1st Giveaway!

One of my main goals this past weekend was to get in the kitchen and bake something. I haven't done a lot of baking lately and was starting to miss it; it's sort of my own therapy, I instantly feel better once I get started. Now this hardly classifies as baking but I decided to treat my family to these delicious pull apart rolls yesterday for breakfast.

They are so easy, it simply requires you dumping the ingredients in the pan before you go to bed at night and the next morning you have these wonderful rolls ready to bake in the oven!  I'm sure everyone has their own version of this recipe, mine comes from my parents. These are a favorite when I host Easter brunch at my house. I like to use butterscotch pudding mix to add that extra caramel flavor but you certainly can omit it and use more brown sugar instead.

Easy Pecan Rolls

20 frozen Rhodes dinner rolls
1 (3.4 oz) box butterscotch cook & serve pudding mix
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4-1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 stick melted butter


Lightly grease a bundt pan with cooking spray. Layer frozen rolls in pan. Sprinkle dry pudding mix over rolls. In small bowl combine brown sugar and cinnamon and pour evenly over rolls, next add the chopped pecans. Drizzle melted butter evenly over the rolls. Cover and let rise overnight. In the morning, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately turn over onto a plate or serving platter.

Now for the good stuff!

I'm so happy and thrilled with my blog's new look (thanks again Pam!) that I wanted to host my first giveaway! I picked up this adorable heart shaped cookie pan and just in time for Valentine's Day. So now I'm excited to give this to one lucky winner! Here's how you can win:

I will choose 1 random winner on Thursday, January 12th.  I'm giving you 3 different ways to enter.

1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite dessert to make on Valentine's Day
2. Follow Been There Baked That on your Google Reader (on the right side of this page) and leave a comment saying so.
3. Become a fan of Been There Baked That on Facebook and leave a comment saying so.

Good Luck!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Potato Casserole

If you are a lover of hot wings or anything buffalo flavored.....then this dish is for you! Let me tell you, this is some serious comfort food. I came across this recipe on Pinterest , emailed it to the hubby asking what he thought, his response " ? I don't know". He loves hot wings so I figured why not, we'll give it a try.

I decided to cut the recipe in half since it makes a huge 9x13 pan and that way if we didn't like it we wouldn't be throwing out a whole pan of food. Our family seriously devoured the pan, even the kids! It was a little on the spicy side for them but everyone loved it. I'm thinking this would make a good side dish for a potluck, while it's definitely filling, it's certainly not healthy by any means....but it's okay to indulge every once in a while right?

I did make a few changes to the original recipe. Like I said, I did cut everything in half. I also had a couple of bone-in chicken breasts to use up, I cooked them in the crockpot during the day and used already cooked chicken. The original states to put your uncooked meat in the pan and let it bake altogether. We also decided next time we would add more cheese and more of the cracker crumb topping. You can follow my recipe below or make your own changes, whichever you decide I'm sure you'll love this dish just as much as we did! Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Potato Casserole

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
1/2 cup buffalo/hot wing sauce ( I use Cookie's brand)
3 cups frozen southern-style hash brown potatoes
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 of 10 oz. can cream of chicken soup
6-8 Ritz crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. In medium bowl stir together cooked chicken and sauce. In a large bowl stir together potatoes, cheese, ranch dressing and cream of chicken soup, spoon into baking dish. Place chicken over potato mixture. In small bowl stir together cracker crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle on top of chicken. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Adapted from: Let's Dish

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Homemade Pizza Dough

After trying many recipes for homemade pizza dough, I've found my keeper! Friday nights tend to be pizza night in our house, I usually have cake orders to be working on and the last thing I want to worry about is cooking. We get our fair share of take-out pizza but after discovering this recipe in my Baking Illustrated cookbook, I don't think we'll be doing so much of that anymore. I surely did not receive any complaints as it was gobbled up by everyone including the hubby!

This is also the recipe I used for my Pizza Bites. Make sure to put those on your list for easy Super Bowl snacks!

Homemade Pizza Dough

1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temp
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling bowl

Measure warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes, until yeast dissolves and swells. Add the room-temp water and oil and stir to combine.

Process the flour and salt in a stand mixer with paddle attachment, just briefly to combine. Slowly add the liquid ingredients, continue to mix at low speed until dough forms a cohesive mass. Stop mixer and replace paddle with a dough hook. Knead for about 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Form dough into a ball, put into a deep oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled, about 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

To bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Work with one piece of dough at a time and keep the other covered. Shape dough onto pizza stone/pan, spread with desired toppings. Bake until crust edges and cheese start to turn golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Source: Baking Illustrated

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Goals

I'm definitely a list maker, something about crossing off each item makes me feel good and motivates me to do even more. So that's what I've done this year, no resolutions to lose 30 lbs. but just a list of goals I hope to accomplish throughout the year. I'm hoping to cross each one off but I'm not going to stress about it if I don't.

Not all of these are exactly food related but I thought maybe it would inspire you to make some goals of your own if you haven't already done so. I also like the idea of sharing these openly so that I can be held accountable to actually finish what I've started! So here it is, my goals for 2012:

Goals for 2012

1) Rid our home of clutter- 500 items to be exact, whether we donate, sell, give away or simply toss
2) Plan out a weekly menu- I've gotten bad about not making a plan and I feel so much better when I do. *To hold myself to this, I just might start posting our weekly menu here each week.
3) Continue to do more Freezer Cooking
4) Continue to grow my blog as well as my cake/dessert business

1) Add 1-2 months of income to our savings/emergency fund
2) Start a savings fund for our Disney World trip in 2013
3) Continue building a stockpile for grocery and toiletry items using coupons when possible - No I'm not looking to be one of those "Extreme Couponers" but I do like having my cupboards well stocked.

1) Have a date night at least once every other month

1) Focus on spending more one-on-one time with each child, have more individual outings together

On top of my goals I've also compiled a list of 12 DIY/Food projects I hope to complete, one for each month of the year. Most of them are food items that I've never attempted to make before so I'll definitely be posting my results! A lot of these I haven't found the exact recipe/method I want to use yet, so if you have one please feel free to share the link.

12 DIY/Food projects for the year:

January-  Homemade Cheese Crackers
February- Homemade Dishwasher Soap
March-    Homemade Pop Tarts
April-    Homemade Laundry detergent
May-      Homemade Ice Cream
June-     Homemade Fruit Roll-ups
July-     Homemade Hamburger Buns
August-   Canning fruits/veggies from garden, etc
September- Learn to knit, start with something simple like dish cloths
October-  Artisan Bread in 5 mins. a day
November- Make Pumpkin Butter
December- Homemade Marshmallows

My last list for you is my reading list for the year. I absolutely love to read, but with 3 kids and all that I have going on each day I don't always get to read as much as I would like. So I've made a goal to finish at least 1 book each month and if I get to another that's great, but I'm not going to beat myself up over it.

12 Books I plan to read:

January- The Cupcake Diaries
February- The Money Saving Mom's Budget
March- Raising a Soul Surfer
April- The Joy of Less
May- Love & Respect
June- Kisses from Katie
July- Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy
August- Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches
September- Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
October- America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money
November- 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way
December- The Dirty Life: A Memoir on Farming, Food and Love

Well there it is folks, sorry if I bored you....we'll be back to food tomorrow I promise! What goals have you made for yourself this year? I'd love to hear your responses!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...