Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tex-Mex Frito Salad

This particular recipe caught my eye a while ago on Pinterest. I sort of kept coming back to it, waiting for the right time to make it and not sure if everyone would enjoy it or not. Well, Memorial Day was the right time and boy did we ever like this!

It's such a unique salad and something different to bring to your barbecues. I love all of the flavors and they marinade so well together, the beans, all of the different veggies, the dressing and probably the best part of all.....the Fritos! I'm telling you, you have to put this on your list of recipes to try this summer.

Tex-Mex Frito Salad


1-14.5 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1-14.5 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 red pepper, diced ( I had red on hand but you can use yellow or orange for more color)
2 green onions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
8 oz. (1/2 bottle) Catalina dressing
1 1/2-2 cups finely shredded Mexican blend cheese
Chili Cheese Fritos, I didn't really measure this part, you can add as many or as little as you'd like


In a large bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, pepper, onions and celery. Add in dressing and cheese and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Right before serving add in the fritos, it's important to wait otherwise you'll end up with soggy Fritos.

Slightly adapted from: Real Mom Kitchen

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ice Cream Cone Rice Krispie Treats

Friday was the girls' last day of school, I can't believe how fast this year has gone! Our 4-year-old daughter had her preschool graduation the week before and I made these adorable treats for her to share with her classmates.

I stumbled upon some really fun cookie cutters at a local craft store and a ice cream cone shape was one. I knew they would be perfect for making my cut-out sugar cookies but also wanted to do something a little more unique with them. That's where these rice krispie treats come in. What kid (or adult) doesn't love a good ol' rice krispie treat?

I'm confident that anyone can pull these off, even if you're not much of a cake decorator. They're that easy and the kids love them. Wouldn't these be a perfect summertime treat? You must give these a try, get the kids involved, use any shape you'd like.....get those creative juices flowing!

Ice cream cone Rice Krispie treats

1 pan of Rice Krispie treats ( I just used the standard recipe on the box)
Buttercream frosting or store bought canned frosting
Icing coloring/gel paste ( I like to use the AmeriColor brand but standard food coloring will work as well)
Fun sprinkles
Ice cream cone shaped cookie cutter, or use any shape you'd like

Using your cookie cutter, cut out rice krispie treats and place on parchment paper. Tint frosting desired colors using either gel paste or food coloring. Spread your frosting over top of treat to look like ice cream. Don't worry about it being perfect. I only spread frosting on the front and top of the treats, leaving the back uncovered. Finish off with some fun sprinkles. Let dry a little bit before storing in an airtight container, if they make it that long! I got about 14 treats from one pan, plus I had plenty of scraps for us to munch on!

Since it was the end of the school year we also wanted to thank our daughter's preschool teacher for all of her hard work and for being a special influence in her life. I came across some really fun gift ideas on Pinterest. One in particular stood out and it was a perfect gift for her teacher.

Isn't this a fun last day of school gift?! We included a beach towel, small bottle of sunscreen, a magazine and a treat. I tied that all up with a bow and of course I had to include some of my Peanut Butter Cup cupcakes! She absolutely loved it. I found the idea on this blog.

Well now that summer's officially started, I can't wait to spend some extra time with my girls and do some fun activities. I've been creating a list of things we want to do throughout the next few months and can't wait to get started!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chicken Enchilada Roll-ups

I've made these appetizers a few times now and they really are one of my favorites. They're the perfect snack to grab and munch on for parties and potlucks. Even my kids enjoyed them.

The spices offer a nice little kick that adults enjoy but yet not too hot for kids; at least mine we okay with them. The filling really does taste just like chicken enchiladas, you can't go wrong with that! I love appetizers like these that are quick and easy to make and it's always nice to have some dishes that you don't have to worry about being served warm and made at the very last minute. These are served cold or at room temp which is perfect for summer time gatherings.

Chicken Enchilada Roll-ups

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2/3 c shredded cheese ( I used monterey cheddar)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Handful of cilantro, chopped
10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained well
Tortilla shells (I used 10-inch ones)


Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, cook in a skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned and cooked through or bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 mins. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

In the meantime, combine cream cheese, shredded cheese, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, cilantro and diced tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Mix until well blended. Once chicken is cool, shred into small pieces. Add chicken to filling mixture and stir well to incorporate. Spread a thin layer of filling over tortilla shell, make sure to leave a small border clear around the edge. Roll tortilla up tightly into a spiral. Using a sharp knife, cut tortilla into 1-inch segments. Transfer to a serving platter and serve chilled or at room temp.

*Makes close to 4 dozen roll-ups

Slightly adapted from: Annie's Eats

Monday, May 21, 2012

Group Freezer Cooking Session

Chicken enchiladas - I froze the sauce separately to prevent
them from getting soggy.

I had every intention to write about my latest freezer cooking session last Wednesday but of course we had issues with our Internet almost the entire day so that didn't go as planned. As to be expected, they had it up and running right after nap time, when I no longer had a quiet moment to sit down.

So a couple weekends ago I got together with my cousin and a gal my husband works with to do some batch cooking and stock our freezers with some meals. We had planned for a group of 6-7 of us but it's just hard to work with everyone's schedules. We were able to rent out my cousin's church kitchen for a small fee, it was great, they had 2 stoves/ovens and plenty of counter space for us to work. Since there were only 3 of us we decided to each prepare 2 recipes to make it worth our time. That way we each ended up with 6 meals to put in our freezer.

Stuffed burger patties

It was a lot of fun throughout the whole process. We brought along a few snacks to munch on while we cooked. We listened to music and talked, it was just a relaxing afternoon. We spent about 4 hours from start to finish(including clean-up) so that's not bad at all, it wouldn't have taken us as long but my recipes were probably a little more time time consuming than the others. We've already decided we need to make this a regular thing and are trying to plan another session within a couple months. I've had some other friends that are interested in joining which will make it even more fun!

Chicken penne casserole

Chicken enchilada roll-ups I brought for a snack
(I'll post recipe this week!)
My cousin made these little pigs in a blanket sort of
snack. I'll have to ask her what they're called and for
the recipe because they were sooo good! They had
some sort of brown sugar and pecan glaze that gave
them that sweet and salty combination.

Here's a list of what we were able to accomplish that afternoon:
BBQ Pulled Pork
Tator Tot Casserole
Stuffed Burgers

I'm really enjoying experimenting with freezer cooking. It's making my life so much easier on nights when we have softball or I'm just plain busy with cake orders. I don't want to resort to feeding my family take-out so this is a great alternative!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Strawberry Banana Split Dessert

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day! We sure had a pretty nice relaxing weekend for the most part, it was wonderful. Saturday I spent most of my afternoon doing some freezer cooking with a couple of friends (more about that on Wed) and then we went out for dinner with the in-law's. Sunday, we got some yard work done and then grilled out with my family in the evening.

I brought this dessert along with last night. I've said before I don't prepare the same dessert more than once very often, it really has to be that good. This is an exception, I make a point to prepare this at least once or twice every summer, especially during strawberry season.

It's a great no-bake dessert for the warm months. It's filled with fresh fruit and I have to admit, the graham cracker crust and frosting on the bottom are probably my favorite part! You'll need to plan ahead just a little because the layers need time to refrigerate a bit, but overall this is a really easy dish to make. I never bring home much for leftovers if any!

Strawberry Banana Split Dessert

2 c. crushed graham crackers
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 c. sugar

1 stick butter, softened
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. milk
3 bananas, sliced
2- 8 oz. cans crushed pineapple, drained well
1-16 oz. container fresh strawberries, sliced

1 tub of Cool Whip or you can certainly make your own whipped cream
1/3 c chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar in a bowl. Press into a 9x13 dish and chill for about 1 hour.
Mix softened butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk together.. Spread frosting over chilled crust and chill for another 30 minutes. Layer bananas, crushed pineapple and strawberries over crust. Top with whipped cream and chopped pecans or walnuts if desired. Chill until serving. Serves 15

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Overnight French Toast

If given the choice, my husband will always choose french toast for breakfast. Me not so much, I don't care for the soggy texture. However, I do love this casserole version.

I loved the crispy outer pieces and let my hubby devour the middle. With lots of pecans and brown sugar-butter goodness, you certainly don't need much syrup. Even a small dusting of confectioners' sugar would be just enough sweetness for this dish.

Did I mention how easy this was? I spent about 10 minutes of prep work the night before and then took it out of the fridge the next morning while I preheated the oven. Pretty darn easy huh? This will be great for mornings when we're short on time or have overnight guests.

Overnight French Toast

3 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 c brown sugar
6 slices Texas toast, cut in half
4 eggs
1/2 c milk
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ginger
1/3 c chopped pecans
pinch of salt


Combine melted butter and brown sugar in a small bowl and pour into bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Arrange slices of bread in dish, you'll have to overlap a bit. Combine eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a bowl; pour evenly over bread slices. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top. Wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight.  Before baking, pull french toast out while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 20 mins. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve with your favorite maple syrup or lightly dust confectioners' sugar on top. Serves 4-5

Monday, May 7, 2012

Homemade Pop-Tarts

I'm so behind on my DIY/food projects for the year! I don't think I realized how busy life in general has gotten lately especially with my cake/cupcake business. I'm hoping to get caught back up and on track again, these were a good one to start with. I had every intention of making these in March for my monthly food project and just finally got around to trying them last night.

Up until the last year I don't think my youngest two girls even knew what a Pop-Tart was. I simply don't buy things like this at the store. I've said before, packaged items like these are generally more expensive and I'd rather use our grocery money towards wholesome food that will fill them up. Plus I love to bake so I make them plenty of yummy treats to enjoy and I feel better about knowing what's going into their bodies.

I've seen tons of recipes for homemade pop-tarts all over the Internet and Pinterest. Most of them seemed to use a basic pie dough as the crust and then filled with their choice of jam. I used my favorite pie crust recipe and a good homemade strawberry rhubarb jam for the filling. They were really quite easy to make, I apologize for not taking any pictures of the process; but I have faith in you, you can really make these with no troubles! We liked them just as much without the glaze, but the girls all thought they looked pretty with a little glaze and some fun sprinkles.

They are definitely more of a treat or dessert I think. I won't be serving these for breakfast, they need something more filling and with more nutrition. I made the mistake of buying some store bought crust because I only had enough pie dough for 1 small batch and didn't know how many it would make. Big Mistake! I can't tell you how much I don't like store bought pie crust. I was just being plain lazy. It really only takes a few minutes to whip up a batch, especially when you use a food processor to help do the work for you. If you must buy store bought pie crust, I won't judge.....but seriously, they taste so much better when you make your own.

After I made the first batch, we determined they were a lot bigger than we needed them to be. So I made the next batch more of a kid friendly size. Aren't they cute? And no, mine are not all perfect, I even had some jam oozing out.

Final product! Both big and small sizes, I sure hope you give these a try! They really are a fun treat for the kiddos and the filling options are pretty much endless. The girls are already wanting me to make some with a chocolate and marshmallow filling....yum!

Homemade Pop-Tarts


Pie crust recipe, your own favorite pie crust recipe or store bought
good quality jam, I used a homemade strawberry rhubarb
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
fun sprinkles, if desired


On a lightly floured surface roll dough out pretty thin but still manageable. With a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut off edges to make an even square. Then cut the dough into smaller squares, you'll have to judge on how big you want them. Don't worry if they're not exactly even, you can fix them once you put the pop-tarts together.

To assemble, place one piece of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. Top with about 1 tbsp. of jam filling, spread the jam a little but not getting too close to the edges. Cover the dough with another piece of pie crust and make sure to seal the edges using your fingertips. Then take a fork dipped in flour and make impressions all the way around the tarts.

Bake at 350 for 23-25 minutes for larger tarts, 15 minutes for smaller. You'll want them to be a little golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Then mix the powdered sugar and milk to make a glaze, add more milk if needed to get your desired consistency. Drizzle glaze over cooled tarts and decorate with sprinkles.

One whole batch of pie dough (2 crusts) should make around 10+ large pop-tarts.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chicken Manicotti

I've been making this dish for several years now and it's one of our family's favorites. I don't care for many of the manicotti fillings such as ricotta cheese so this is a nice spin on the traditional dish.

I don't make it as often I'd probably like because it is a more time consuming meal but if you plan ahead a little bit you can cut down on some of the prep work. Brown the sausage and cook up the chicken tenders the night before. Then all you have to do is assemble the pasta and heat through. Pair this meal with a nice salad and some garlic bread and you have yourself a wonderful meal that everyone will enjoy!

Chicken Manicotti

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken tenders (or cut chicken breasts into strips)
1 garlic clove
8-10 manicotti shells
1 jar spaghetti sauce or your favorite homemade recipe
1/2 lb. mild pork sausage
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

In a large stockpot, bring water to a boil. Add in manicotti shells and cook for 5 minutes, until somewhat tender but not cooked through.
In a large skillet heat 2 teaspoons olive oil, add in garlic clove. Let saute for 30 seconds and then add in chicken tender strips. Cook chicken for 5-7 minutes until cooked through and remove from stove. Meanwhile brown up the pork sausage in another small pan. Remove from stove when done.

Spread 1 cup of spaghetti sauce in bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Stuff manicotti shells with cooked chicken tenders and place in dish. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce and sprinkle cooked sausage on top. Top shells with grated mozzarella cheese. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.

* If this seems like too many steps to you, you can always stuff uncooked shells with chicken that is uncooked as well. Top with the spaghetti sauce, cooked sausage and cheese and then bake for 60 minutes. Sprinkle in a little bit of water around the edges of pan before baking. Eliminates some of your time in the kitchen but will just take longer to bake. Either way, it's a delicious meal!


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