Monday, September 30, 2013

Almond Joy Cake Bars!

This is an absolutely heavenly treat! And it's made so simply by using an un-prepared box of chocolate cake mix! Easier is always better, right?

If you're a regular reader of my blog you know that I'm an Almond Joy candy bar freak! I've made so many recipes that are a copy of the candy bar! I've made Almond Joy Cookies and Almond Joy Ice Cream and Almond Joy Shot Glass Desserts!  So now I bring you these Almond Joy Cake Bars!  I ate 3 pieces before I finished this blog post!

Almond Joy Cake Bars

1 package chocolate cake mix - unprepared
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
8 oz. cream cheese - I used fat free
1/3 cup white sugar
2 Tbls. half & half cream - I used fat free
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
1/2 tsp. coconut extract
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup crushed dry roasted almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 13" x 9" baking pan.
In a large bowl mix together unprepared cake mix, softened butter and 1 large egg.
Mix until crumbly. Crumbs should be pea sized.
Set aside 1 1/2 cups of this crumb mixture.
Press remaining crumb mixture evenly into the buttered baking pan. This should be a very thin layer that covers just the bottom, not the sides.
Bake on middle rack for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl mix together the cream cheese, 1 egg, sugar, half & half. almond and coconut extracts and shredded coconut.
Mix thoroughly until semi smooth.
Evenly pour the cream cheese mixture over the baked bottom crust.
Then sprinkle with the crushed almonds. Now add the reserved crumb mixture evenly over the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 30 minutes.
Then let cool and chill in fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mexican Pork Chops

Just when I think I've seen every possible way of cooking pork chops, another unique recipe catches my eye! I loved how simple this recipe was, not only in ingredients, but also in the preparation! This is my favorite kind of recipe...minimal ingredients with big flavors! My family loved these pork chops. And my hubby loved the leftovers! He put them between sliced bread and ate them, cold, as a sandwich! I found this recipe on a food blog called Michele's Woman Cave. Check out her site for more unique and delicious recipes!

Mexican Pork Chops

4 boneless center cut pork chops
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to season the pork chops
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Lightly season both sides of the pork chops with salt and pepper.
On a flat plate mix together the brown sugar, chili powder and cumin.
Dip both sides of pork chops in this mixture.
Heat olive oil in a large oven safe skillet on medium heat.
 Thoroughly brown the pork chops on both sides.
Then finish cooking in the oven at 350 degrees F until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Serve warm.
This recipe can easily be doubled.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

G.H. Cretors Popped Corn

The first commercial popcorn machine invented by Cretors in 1885
Photo from G.H. Cretors website

The interesting fact about this popcorn is not only that it's all natural and completely free of GMO's, artificial coloring, flavoring and preservatives, but also that it's made by the ancestor of the inventor of the first commercial popcorn machine! Great Grandpa Cretors of Chicago invented the popcorn machine in 1885 and now his great granddaughter Claire is starting her own legacy by making high quality popping corn.

I've eaten lots of average popcorn in my time. You know the kind that is small and dense and not fully popped, with lots of hard kernels and no real corn flavor. That's why I really appreciate this popcorn from G.H. Cretors! I love great popcorn and that's exactly what this is! The cheese popcorn is not too salty, like most cheese popcorn, because it's made with real cheddar cheese melted onto popped corn! It's not a powdered imitation cheese mixture! And you won't find any unpopped kernels! G.H. Cretors popcorn is so addictively delicious because their popcorn tastes like is was popped just before you opened the bag!

My favorite G.H. Cretors variety is the 'Chicago Mix' because it's a blend of their caramel corn and cheese corn in the same bag! It is pure sweet & savory perfection in every handful! Check out their website for more interesting facts and find where G.H. Cretors popped corn is sold near you, by using their store locator. You can also order their popcorn online.

 In This Photo  Chicago Mix
And take a look at their Facebook page...they have a fun photo contest going on! Join and you could win some G.H. Cretors popcorn for yourself! G.H. Cretors can also be found on Twitter and Pinterest They even have an Instagram page with lots of photos from other happy customers just like me!

I'm thinking about making Popcorn Cookies using their caramel popcorn! I think that would be a very cool cookie! Or maybe I can create a savory/sweet cookie using their cheese popcorn...yum! Stay tuned for those results!

So next time you're in the grocery store look for G.H. Cretors Popped Corn. Or maybe order some for yourself online! You won't be disappointed!

Disclosure: I was not paid for this blog post about G.H. Cretors  popped corn. I was given samples of their product and after tasting their product I wanted to share those results with my readers.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vampire Cookies!

A very cool Halloween cookie that will get the kids attention! This is a butter cookie filled with your choice of any red jam. My kids loved these!

I found this recipe on a few years ago and made them a few times since then. The only change I made was to use less butter and increase the amount of jam because 1/2 cup isn't enough to fill 24 cookies and create the drips.

Vampire Cookies

1/2 cup of butter, softened
1/2 cup of sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of any red jam...raspberry, strawberry, cherry, etc. 

 In a large bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients thoroughly.
 Then add in the flour and salt. Mix until well combined. Shape dough into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill dough for about an hour.
 Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
 Roll dough out to 1/8" thickness on a lightly floured surface. Use a cookie cutter to cut out 2-inch circles. You should be able to make 48 circles.
 Place 24 rounds on a cookie sheet, and put a teaspoon of jam on each of them. Then cover with the remaining rounds of dough. Press edges down lightly, pinching the edges onto the cookie sheet. Use a toothpick and poke two small holes (like a vampire bite) in the top of each cookie.
 Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned on the bottom. Remove from oven.
 Dip a toothpick in some jam and re-insert in the bite holes you made before baking to emphasize them. Draw a blood trickle down from the bites with the jam. Makes 24 cookies.

And just for laughs...


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Inside-Out Omelets

If you're a regular reader of my blog you know that I love to try unique and interesting recipes that I find on the Internet! Well, this next recipe is just my speed!
The title got my attention and the photo held me there!
What a smart idea to make an egg omelet inside of a green pepper!
The genius behind this recipe is a food blogger named Patty from Cooking on a Budget
My family loved this recipe idea and I loved that I could make omelets for everyone all at one time. These all bake in one tray. Perfect when trying to feed a large group.  We have breakfast for dinner (brinner) once a week, so this was perfect for that! And you can customize each one to suit your families taste. I made mine with bacon bits and lots of cheddar cheese. For my hubby I added chopped green onions. The possibilities are endless!
Serve these with toast or hashbrowns and you have a very hearty meal!
Thank you Patty for a meal I'll make over and over!
I'm posting the recipe as I made it, but also check out the original recipe here.
Inside-Out Omelets

4 small bell peppers - any color, but make sure they're small
8 large eggs
8 tsp. milk
4 Tbls. bacon bits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wash the bell peppers and cut off just the tops.
Carefully remove the seeds and membrane without puncturing the peppers.
Sprinkle the inside of each pepper lightly with salt and pepper.
Place all the peppers, cut side up, on a baking dish and bake on middle rack
uncovered for about 10-15 minutes or until they have softened slightly.
Then remove from oven.
In a measuring cup beat 2 eggs with 2 tsp. milk(do not use more than this or eggs will not set up properly), and a pinch each of salt & pepper.
Pour into one pepper and top with 1 Tbls of bacon bits and some cheddar cheese.
Repeat for the remaining peppers.
When all peppers are filled, bake on middle rack uncovered for about 30-35 minutes.
Serve warm.
Try different add-ins like green onions, ham or cooked sausage.


Monday, September 16, 2013

BBQ Bison Phyllo Bites you know that you can purchase bison in so many different forms such as hot dogs, bacon, pepperoni, short ribs and ground meat, along with the other usual cuts such as steaks and roasts? And did you know that bison has half the calories of beef? Bison is also lower in fat and cholesterol than beef! Bison also beats chicken in those areas! I didn't know all of that until this month when and their brand ambassadors teamed up with The Bison Council to bring awareness of the benefits of eating bison.  Go to their website and read all about bison. And while you're there check out all the delicious recipes for bison such as, bison goulash, bison meatballs, bison ribs, bison Asian noodle bowl and so much more! You can also find where to purchase bison, near you, by entering your zip code on their website.

This was my first time cooking with bison. I truly loved the strong meat flavor!
I think bison should be called 'The Super Meat' because it has so much flavor but is much healthier for us than beef!

I chose to make these tasty little appetizers using a bison brisket. It was very easy to make and my family loved it! I was worried that bison might taste gamy but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was not gamy at all! Both of my daughters ate these appetizers and didn't even realize that is wasn't beef! You see, I didn't tell them it was bison or they wouldn't have touched it all! They aren't very adventurous eaters. Someday I'll let them know that they ate bison and loved!

The recipe below makes 24 phyllo bites with about 5-6 more cups of cooked meat leftover. I used the leftover meat to make tacos and a pot pie. Both were equally as delicious as this recipe! You can freeze the leftover cooked meat to use for other meals. It can last up to 3 months in the freezer.

If you're interested in trying this healthier and tastier meat product for yourself but don't know where to find bison in stores, just go to this link for more info. And if there aren't any stores in your area that carry bison you can easily order the meat online here.

BBQ Bison Phyllo Bites

4-5 lbs. bison brisket
1 & 1/2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbls. cider vinegar
4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup bottled barbecue sauce
2 (1.9 oz.) pkgs. baked mini phyllo shells
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream - garnish
fresh cilantro, chopped - garnish

Cut bison brisket into chunks and place in the bottom of a large slow cooker.
In a medium bowl mix together the broth, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, chili powder, cayenne, salt and garlic. Pour this mixture over the bison chunks. Cover and cook on low for at least 9 hours. Then remove the cooked bison from the slow cooker, discarding any large pieces of fat that are visible along with the cooking juices. Place the cooked bison into a large bowl and shred the meat using two forks. Reserve 2 cups of the shredded meat and freeze the remaining meat for future use. Can last up to 3 months in the freezer.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place all the frozen mini phyllo shells on a baking pan.
Add the barbecue sauce to the 2 cups of reserved shredded meat.
Place about 1 tbls. of shredded meat into each phyllo cup.
Top with shredded cheddar cheese and bake on middle rack, uncovered for about 10 minutes. Top with sour cream and cilantro before serving.

Recipe from & The Bison Council


Friday, September 13, 2013

4 Ingredient Snickers Cookies

One of my favorite candy bars is Snickers! I just can't resist chocolate covered peanuts with caramel! I also love to make easy candy recipes at home! Sometimes I get a craving for a candy bar but I don't feel like going to the store to buy one. And why buy candy bars when I have all the ingredients to make a copycat version?

My food blog friend, Judith from The Midnight Bakerwas my inspiration for this Snickers Cookie recipe! She recently posted this candy recipe that almost made me lick my computer screen! I decided to tweak her recipe so that I could make a Snickers candy bar version. It worked perfectly! This cookie tastes exactly like a Snickers bar! I ate way too many of these cookies after I shot the photos below! I just couldn't help myself! These cookies were just too yummy to eat just one!

Cut graham cracker into squares by breaking at perforated lines. Lay out half of the graham cracker squares on a foil lined sheet pan and top each square with 2 caramel candies. Two squares are missing because I ate some caramels and didn't have enough to make the recipe...Ooooopsie! This gets baked at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to soften the caramels.

Then butter the back of a spoon and use it to spread the softened caramel. Quickly sprinkle with crushed roasted/salted peanuts and top with remaining graham cracker squares.

Then sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and bake for another 3 minutes to melt the chocolate.

Spread the melted chocolate and serve warm or room temp.
I love them warm because the caramel is softer!

Snickers Cookies


2 sleeves of graham crackers
32 caramel candies, unwrapped
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, crushed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a sheet pan with foil for easy clean up.
Have all your ingredients ready
because you'll need to work quickly while the caramel is warm.
Divide the graham crackers into squares at the perforated lines.
Lay out half the graham cracker squares on the foil lined sheet pan.
Place 2 unwrapped caramels onto each graham cracker square as shown in above photo.
Bake on center rack for about 10 minutes to soften the caramels so that they're spreadable.
Lightly butter the back of a spoon and use the
buttered side to lightly spread the caramels as shown in the photo above.
Then quickly sprinkle each caramel topped graham cracker with the crushed peanuts
and quickly top each with another graham cracker square, slightly pressing down to adhere the graham cracker to the melted caramel.
Now sprinkle the tops of each graham cracker square with 1 tablespoon of mini chocolate chips, keeping the chips in the center of the square, as shown in the photo.
Return to oven and bake for about 3-5 more minutes or until chips are spreadable.
Remove from oven and quickly spread the chocolate
to almost cover the entire top of each cookie.
I love these served warm!
Store leftover Snickers Cookies in an air tight container.

Makes 16 cookies.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pretzel Ghosts!

I just love creative Halloween treats! These are white chocolate coated mini pretzels with mini chocolate chips for the eyes! I saw a similar idea as this one but it was for pretzel pumpkins! Just use orange colored melting chocolate and use a green M & M candy, at the top, for a stem. See that recipe here. My hubby saw the pumpkin version and told me to make ghosts instead! So that's how this idea came about!

My kids are 22 and 19 years old but they still loved this creation! And these tastes so good...salty/sweet and crunchy!

Pretzel Ghosts

 10 oz.white chocolate chips
 a palm full of mini dark chocolate chips, for the eyes
 1 bag mini salted pretzels
1 Tbls. vegetable shortening - a must, to thin out the chocolate. Butter or oil do not work!

Melt white chocolate in the microwave according to package directions, but add the shortening to the chips, before melting, to thin out the chocolate. This is a must!
Stir often.
Dip pretzels into the melted chocolate making sure the eye holes stay full of chocolate, but you can tap near the mouth to let the chocolate fall through to make the opening.
Place on a wax paper lined serving platter.
Add the mini chocolate chips for the eyes while the white chocolate is still soft.
Place in fridge to let the chocolate harden.
When chocolate has set, serve and enjoy!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Portobello Stuffed with Creamy Scrambled Eggs

I love it when I can make breakfast that feeds 6 people, all at the same time! Then everyone gets to eat a hot breakfast all together, including me! This is also a 'make ahead' meal that comes together quickly once the mushrooms are cooked! I think portobello mushrooms taste similar to steak when prepared this way. So I guess you can say this is 'faux steak and eggs'! And it goes perfectly with my recipe for 'Fried Green Potatoes...Not Tomatoes'

Portobello Stuffed with Creamy Scrambled Eggs

6 five inch diameter Portobello mushrooms
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 large eggs
4 Tbls. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley or rosemary
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
6 Tbls. butter

Preheat broiler to 500 degrees F.
Place oven rack about 5 inches from heating element.
 Line a baking sheet with foil.
Clean mushrooms and remove stems.
Brush both sides of mushrooms with olive oil.
Place mushrooms, gill side up, on baking sheet.
Sprinkle mushrooms with salt, pepper and garlic.
Bake mushrooms for about 5 minutes or until they start to soften.
Then turn mushrooms over and bake for another 5-7 minutes.
The mushrooms can be made a few hours ahead and re-warmed when ready to fill.
If serving immediately, keep warm until eggs are cooked.

Make the Scrambled Eggs
Whisk eggs with Parmesan cheese, parsley, 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper in a large bowl. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add egg mixture and stir gently with a rubber spatula until eggs start to cook. Keep doing this until all of the egg mixture is cooked but still soft. Do not let the eggs brown.
Serve the warm mushrooms, gill side up, with equal amounts of scrambled eggs in each.

Recipe from