Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Smothered Burritos

We do a lot of "scratch" cooking, but we also have some recipes that are what I call "throw togethers" made up of things that we usually have on hand in the house.

This recipe is based on one that my mother would make -- I've added some fiber and cut the fat.


10 to 12 flour tortillas, white or whole wheat
1 can black beans
2 cans green chili with pork
1 pound hamburger
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

How to:

Scramble fry the hamburger and drain, return to the pan

Add beans and chili and heat well

Using a slotted spoon, fill the tortillas (use an envelope fold to prevent leaking) and place in a 9 x 12 inch pan

After filling all of the tortillas, pour the remaining liquid over the top of the burritos

Spread grated cheese over the top

Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes

Serve with shredded lettuce, chopped fresh tomatoes, sliced avocado and sour cream garnishes.

NOTES: I use Stokes brand green chili to make these, but any brand will work

Be sure to spray the baking pan well with cooking spray before filling for easier clean up, and I recommend using a pyrex pan for this.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Amma's Persimmon Bars

This recipe came from my friend in California, and since we moved back to the Rocky Mountains, I have not been able to make it because I could not get the right kind of persimmons.

The only thing I could find were the flat variety, which never get soft enough to make this recipe from.

These are the RIGHT kind of persimmons.

When you get them, try to get four that are all at the same stage of ripeness so they all reach the perfect ready stage at the same time.

When you bring them home, set them out on the counter and let them get really soft -- like an over ripe tomato -- then they are ready.

To get the "pulp", use a very sharp knife to cut an "X" at the top of each persimmon and squeeze the pulp out into a bowl (sort of like squeezing the last of the toothpaste out of the tube). For every cup of pulp, mix in 1 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice to keep it from getting dark. It takes about 4 large ones to get the required 1 cup of pulp for this recipe.

Once you have that, you're ready to begin:

Ingredients for Bars:
1 cup fresh pulp (with lemon juice added)
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
8 ounces dates, chopped fine
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup chopped nuts

Ingredients for Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbls lemon juice

How To:

Mix persimmon pulp/lemon mixture with the baking soda and set aside.

Lightly beat egg. Add sugar, oil and dates and mix.

Combine dry ingredients and add to eggs in small amounts, alternating with persimmon mixture.

Continue to combine until well blended, then stir in the nuts.

Spread into greased, floured jelly roll pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Cool for 5 minutes

Mix glaze and spread over warm bars.

Cool completely then cut into squares.


1. The finished bars will freeze well, just be sure to seperate with parchment or wax paper to keep the glaze from sticking them all together.

2. Fresh persimmons can be frozen whole -- just stick them in the freezer in their skins -- when you are ready to use, set them on the counter in a container and let them defrost.

3. You can freeze the pulp and lemon mixture too.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Oatmeal Lace Cookies

{Edited Dec 21, 2009: I made these following the recipe exactly. I got 31 cookies and they are pretty big. Next time I'm going to use just a half a teaspoon of dough for each one, and see if they aren't a better size.

Also, Mammy used to take these off the pans and put them on brown paper to cool, which gave the excess oil a chance to soak into the paper. I used a cooling rack, which I don't like as well -- got to find some brown paper to cool them on next time.

But the taste? Yup, a step right back into my childhood! And I'll probably try making them and adding about half a cup of coconut to the recipe next time.}
I've been searching for this recipe for years.

It was one Mammy used to make for Pappy --- light, thin, crispy

and lost to history -- or so it seemed!

My mother has been going through boxes of papers from my grandmother --- she found this in the box --- YIPPEE!!

1/2 cup oleo
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbls flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbls milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup old fashion (rolled) oatmeal

How To:

Cream oleo and sugar together until smooth

Blend in flour, salt, milk and vanilla until well mixed

stir in oatmeal

drop by teaspoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart (these are going to SPREAD!)

bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes

cool on pan for 2 to 3 minutes then remove from pan (this gives them time to "set up")

makes 4 dozen

in her notes, Mammy had written that you could substitute coconut for the oatmeal, but I don't remember her ever actually making them that way.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gma's Boston Style Clam Chowder

I like clam chowder -- especially the Boston Style ones.

This recipe came from my mother

3" cube of salt pork or an equivalent amount of bacon (about 1/4 pound)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cans of clams
1/2 pound (about 2 large) carrots, cubed
4 large potatoes, cubed
1 quart of milk

How to:

Cut the salt pork or bacon into small pieces, brown in the pan until browned

Add the chopped onion and cook until tender (do not brown)

Drain the clams and set aside, add the liquid to the pan

Add carrots and potatoes and enough water to cover, cook until the potatoes are tender (10 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the pieces and your altitude)

Add clams and milk, heat but DO NOT boil

enjoy with crusty bread

Monday, November 09, 2009

Product Reviews

Before I start here, let me say that none of the companies whose products I'm going to talk about gave me anything for free (but I'd be willing to accept something!)

This little gadget has been widely advertised on TV in our area.

It snaps over the top of an opened can of soda, and it's supposed to make the can spill proof and keep the "fizz" in if you don't drink the whole can.

Most of the places I'd seen it you could only by a 12 pack (and just why would I ever have 12 cans of soda open at once?!), but our new ACE Hardware store had them available individually at their recent Grand Opening.

It snaps on really easily -- I would highly recommend washing the entire top of the soda can before you snap it on as whatever you're drinking will probably come into contact with that surface as you drink out of it.

The spill proof part works pretty well, it fits tight -- in fact I had to work at it to get it off after the can was empty.

The keeping the fizz in part was about as effective as returning an opened and reclosed bottle of soda to the refridgerator. If there was a lot of fizz in the original, a lot will be retained. If you buy the cheap store brand sodas that don't have as much fizz in the first place, the result is less fizz.

I still can't see a use for a dozen of these, but having one is good since I never drink an entire 12 ounce can all at once.

So, I'd give this a B- grade.

These, on the other hand, get an A+

I saw an ad in the coupon section of our paper and when I visited our local Walmart, they had these (on an introductory sale)

A serving is 5 crackers

While I sort of expected that they would be like the standard Ritz cracker with a little sugar and cinnamon on top, they are actually quite a bit lighter, almost the consistancy of good pie crust.

They are not over sweet, and that serving size is just about right.

(Yes, these might be a logical candidate for squirting whipped cream on!)

I would definately buy these again, especially if I can get a coupon for them.

My daughter was asking about the attachment her dad uses to grind meat.

We don't buy hamburger or ground meat at the grocery -- there have been too many issues with e coli in ground meat that comes out of the big processing plants, and we just don't want to go there.

We buy chuck roast to make hamburger out of.

The DH cuts the meat into strips that are the right size to go through the grinder and then we put the hamburger into portion sized packages in the freezer.

We originally bought this attachment for our Kitchen Aid because we were going to make pasta with it, and that part of the attachment was a big disappointment -- the meat grinding part however has more than paid for this little gadget.

We had been receiving this magazine in the mail for quite a while, having signed up for it on line, and it was a free.

It arrived about every three months and was full of recipes, ideas and lots of coupons -- all for Kraft foods -- a sort of giant advertising brochure.

When our copy arrived last week, there was a bill. Evidently from now on to get this you will have to pay for them to send you their advertising.

Needless to say, I will not be paying for it.

I will miss the coupons and some of the recipes, but I refuse to pay for them to advertise to me.

Have you used any new products lately? I'd love to hear what you think!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Nick's "Death by Chocolate" Cookies

This recipe has been several years in the development. Every time I think he's made it perfect, he adds some little twist and it gets even better.

Our daughter gave the recipe it's name and it has become a holiday treat.

1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
2 tsp Mexican vanilla (Mexican vanilla has a different flavor and goes great with chocolate!)
1 1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans
12 ounces dark chocolate chips (semi sweet)
12 ounces white chocolate chips
12 ounces milk chocolate chunks

How to:

In stand mixer, cream together Crisco and sugars until smooth.

Add eggs, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and baking soda and mix well.

Blend in oats.

Add flour a little at a time and mix well.

Mix in pecans and chocolates.

Drop by heaped teaspoons (we have a small scoop that works great) on ungreased cookie sheets (silpats or parchment paper is highly recommended!)

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool on a rack.

Makes 120 cookies.

You could make these larger, adjust the baking time accordingly.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Heartburn Free "Fried" Chicken

I love fried chicken. And I know it isn't good for me to have the "real thing" -- too much fat, which means a big case of heartburn

For quite a while I've been fiddling around with different things to try and find something that satisfies that fried chicken taste without the pain

Last night was the latest attempt, and the results were great

So, here's what I did.

1 medium chicken, cut into pieces (you could use pre-cut pieces all of one kind, say drumsticks or thighs or whatever you like)
12 soda crackers
1 tsp paprika


Ahead of time, wash the chicken pieces, trim the extra visable fat off with kitchen shears or a sharp knife

Bring a small amount of water (about 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep) to a boil in a pan large enough for either your steamer basket or a small collandar to fit in.

Put the chicken pieces in the steamer over the water (chicken should not touch the water level). Reduce the heat to medium and steam for 10 minutes.

Drain the chicken on a rack

NOTE: If it's going to be longer than about 15 minutes before you move to the next step, put the chicken pieces in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them. The steaming could actually be done the night before or the morning off before you head off to work if that fits your schedule.

At cooking time, heat the oven to 375 degrees

Line your pan (I used a jelly roll pan, but a large cookie sheet would work) with parchment paper and set a rack on top of the parchment

In a zip top bag, crush the crackers until there are no big pieces (you're looking for the texture of cornmeal). Add the paprika and mix well.

Dip each piece of cooled chicken in water then put into the bag and shake, coating completely.

Place chicken on rack so the pieces don't touch each other.

Bake for 25 minutes, turn each piece over, bake for an additional 25 minutes or until the chicken is totally cooked.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Crunch top apple pie

I love pie.

Mostly, however, pies at our house are either made by the DH, or they are made in a "pre-fab" crust.

This one was made by me, crust and all, and it was actually edible!

So in honor of my making a good pie crust, I decided to share the recipe with you all (and yes, you too can make this pie crust!)

Crust Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbls sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tbls very cold water

2 cups cooked apples

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup butter

How to:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In an ungreased glass pie pan, stir together the dry crust ingredients (I used a fork).
  • Add the oil and water to the dry ingredients and continue mixing with the fork until there are no dry spots.
  • Using your fingers, press the mixture into the edges and bottom of the pie plate, make sure there are no holes, and that the top edge rises above the pan.
  • Use the fork to prick holes over the bottom of the crust (this is called "docking")
  • Put the crust into the oven and bake for 5 to 8 minutes (blind baking), just until the crust firms up so any liquids in the filling have less chance of making the bottom crust soggy.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and spread cooked apples evenly in the crust.
  • Using a pastry cutter or two case knives, cut together the topping ingredients until they look like coarse meal. Spread topping over the top of the apples.
  • Bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until topping is bubbly and the bottom crust is done.
  • Cool and eat.

I'm thinking you could use canned pie cherries in this instead and substitute almonds for the pecans. It would also be good with peaches (home canned?) and this topping.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Magic Peach Cobbler

This was a treat that my mother used to make when we were kids.

With most cobblers you put the fruit in the dish first and put the crust in on top. This one goes into the pan the other way and turns itself over. It always amazed me that it worked like magic!


1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
#2 can of peaches (or 1 pint of home canned peaches)

How to:

Drain peaches, reserve syrup, set aside

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Grease a 2 quart glass pan

Cream together 1/2 cup of the sugar and the butter

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together

Add dry ingredients and milk to creamed mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour batter into pan

Spread drained peaches over the batter.

Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup sugar over peaches.

Pour 1 cup of reserved syrup over peaches.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until crust is done and golden brown.

Great served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easy Almost Cheese Cake Dessert

From time to time we want something that sort of tastes like cheese cake but doesn't take so much time.

After some "fiddling around" this is what we've come up with.


1 graham cracker crust (we buy the store brand)
1 package instant pudding (we've mostly done french vanilla, but chocolate or lemon would be good too)
1 8 ounce package low fat cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups milk, divided (we use 1%)
1 cup whipped cream --- entirely optional, we used some out of a squirt can (Rediwhip)

How to:

Beat together the cream cheese and 1/2 cup of the milk until smooth and creamy and free of lumps

Add pudding mix and remaining milk, whip for 2 minutes

Fold in whipped cream if using

Pour into crust

Chill for at least 2 hours


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Cheesy Chicken Pasta Cassarole

I'm not usually the one that cooks dinner at our house, as the DH is better at it and enjoys it more.

He hurt his hand (beware of circular saws!) about 3 weeks ago, so I've been trying to keep us fed.

Every now and then I do come up with something that's pretty good --- and it's usually something that goes in a cassarole dish and involves some kind of pasta.

Last night was no exception to that.

This is a sort of combination of upscale macaroni and cheese with an italian overtone. Like most of my concoctions, I started off with good intentions to follow a recipe, but as I get into it, that whole "it's just a suggestion" thing takes over, and I'm off and running.

Sometimes that's a disaster in the making, but last night's excursion was pretty good.

This thing takes about an hour to do, so it's not a "quickie", but once you've got it made up, the left overs will freeze well and reheat pretty quickly.

Oh yes, like doing an oriental stir fry, this one is definately something that will dirty a lot of pans and utinsels, so be prepared!

So here's the recipe:

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
6 ounces (about 9 medium) white mushrooms thinly sliced
1/2 cup (about 1.5 ounces) sun dried tomatoes diced fine
1/2 cup green olives thinly sliced
1/2 small shallot diced fine
1 clove garlic diced fine
1 pound whole wheat rigatoni or penne pasta
2 ounces parmesian cheese very finely shredded
1 cup panko bread crumbs
6 ounces provolone cheese shredded or cut into very small dice
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbls butter
2 Tbls flour
2 1/2 cups milk
2 Tbls olive oil
cooking spray

Prep work (to keep from needing more than one cutting board, I do the prep in this order):

shred or dice the parmesian cheese -- combine it in a dish with the panko and set aside (this is the crunchy topping)

shred or dice the provolone and mozzarella cheese, set aside in a seperate dish

thinly slice the mushrooms and olives, put in a dish

dice the sundried tomatoes, set aside in a dish

dice the shallot and garlic, set aside

split the chicken breasts to make thinner pieces, salt and pepper both sides


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spray 9 by 13 glass pan with cooking spray

In a large pan, cook the pasta as the package directs (be sure to salt the water well before adding the pasta)

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, cook the chicken breasts for about 4 minutes per side -- they should be lightly browned and almost cooked through --- remove from the pan back to the cutting board

In the same skillet, saute the shallot and garlic until translucent, add mushrooms and olives. Reduce heat and let "simmer"

In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for a few minutes. Whisk in milk, bring to a simmer and let cook until slightly thickened. (This is a standard medium white sauce preparation)

Add tomatoes, provolone and mozzarella cheese to sauce, reduce heat to low and allow to combine. (I usually switch to a wooden spoon for stirring here)

Cut cooked chicken into 1 inch cubes.

When pasta is done, drain and return to cooking pan. Add chicken cubes and sauted vegetables, and mix. Pour sauce over mixture and combine well.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and spread panko/parmesian mixture over the top.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

1. Mushrooms or olives could be left out if one or the other is a "no go" item in your house.

2. This could be prepared using left over chicken from another meal --- just skip the chicken cooking and go right to vegetable saute in the skillet

Sunday, March 01, 2009


We like creole food.

Most of the recipes make really big batches, which are not practical for just the DH and I.

This is his most recent recipe, which for us makes enough for two meals. So, it should feed 4 if you're not looking for any left overs for another day.

CAUTION: This is NOT a "quickie" meal, but it really worth the time!


2 tbls olive oil
1/2 pound andouille sausage, sliced
1 cup cooked chicken, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped (or whatever color pepper you prefer)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can (14.5 ounce) crushed tomatoes
1 can (14.5 ounce) whole tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup brown rice
1 cup frozen sliced okra
1 tsp tarragon
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tbls parsley
3 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
tabasco to taste

How to:

Brown sausage in the olive oil, remove to dish for later

Saute onion, pepper, carrots and garlic in the oil until onion is translucent

Add tomatoes, chicken broth, herbs and rice and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes

Return sausage to pan and add chicken pieces, simmer for 15 minutes

Add okra and simmer for 12 minutes

Serve with crusty bread

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sunday Coffee Cake

We spent the weekend with our daughter and she made this great coffee cake for breakfast on Sunday.

The recipe came from one of her co-workers who gave us permission to use it here.

1 cup white sugar
1 cup cooking oil (canola, corn, sunflower)
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla (see notes)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 can pie filling of your choice
cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling

How to:
Combine ingredients (except pie filling and cinnamon sugar mix) in the order listed, blend well.

Pour half of the batter into a greased (or spray with non-stick cooking spray) 9 by 13 cake pan.

Sprinkle batter with mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

Cover with pie filling.

Spread remaining batter over the top.

Sprinkle with additional cinnamon and sugar.

Bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes (depending on oven, humidity and altitude)

Notes: Because we were using cherry pie filling, we used 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond. If you use apple filling you may want to use a bit more cinnamon.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cake Frosting

This stuff needs an extra ingredient to be kept in your pantry, but since it has a really long shelf life, just go ahead and buy it and keep it on hand. (I've got a container of the stuff I've been using out of for about 5 years!)

The nice thing about this recipe is there is nothing in it that requires you to keep whatever you frost with it in the refridgerator --- which means it's safe to use on a cake you're taking to the office or a picnic --- (poisoning the guests is probably a deal breaker!)

You can use this to frost the cake and to put through a pastry tube and make pretty decorations too if you're so inclined.

1 cup white shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla (if you want it to be really white, use clear vanilla)
1 teaspoon almond extract (or some other flavoring -- depending on the cake it's going on)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of water
1 tablespoon meringue powder (this is that "lasts forever" shelf ingredient)
1 pound (about 4 cups) powdered sugar

Cream together the shortening, water and flavorings until well incorporated (no liquid should be visible).
Add dry ingredients (put in the meringue powder with the first batch of sugar) and mix until well blended.
Beat at medium speed for one to two minutes.

Helpful Hints:
I like the consistancy I get with this better if I use my stand mixer, it's more even and less likely to be too stiff.

If the frosting seems too stiff, add 1/2 a teaspoon of water and rebeat. Consistancy depends a lot on the humidity and the temperature when the frosting is made.

This recipe makes 3 cups of frosting, which will generously frost a 2 layer cake.

You can store the left overs in the refridgerator for later use (within a week or so), just bring it to room temperature and rebeat before using.

If you want to color this, use gel colors (like Wilton), or reduce the water in the recipe slightly, then add the liquid color and beat well. Using liquid colors requires more "fiddling" with the liquids to get the right consistency.

You can cut this recipe in half, or double it and it works equally well.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

This is the way we scrub the pans

One of our pet peeves is two fold --

1. those nylon scrubbie things you buy in the store just don't stand up to any long term tough use, and

2. there ought to be something you can do with all these net bags you get assorted produce in at the grocery

A while back we came up with an idea that actually solved both of those problems, and we're happy to provide here a step by step instruction to transform that pile of bags (you ARE saving those aren't you?!) into something useful in your kitchen.

Here then are the step by step directions.

Step #1: Sort the bags you have on hand roughly into sizes.

The longest ones (about 18 to 24 inches) are the best ones for using on the outside of your scrubbie.

If the bags have a label of some sort on them, cut it off. The batch I had this time had a couple with paper labels over the top (or bottom) end of the bag, so I just cut it off. If you get a bag that has a label over part of the side, just cut the label off and use that netting for part of the inside of the scrubbie.

Step #2:

Select one of those longer bags.

at one end, tie a simple overhand knot and pull it up tight (the nice thing about this mesh stuff is that it does clamp down on itself really well, which is useful for keeping the knot snug)

Step #3:

Once you have tied the knot and pulled it snug, turn the bag inside out so that first knot is on the inside of the bag.

Step #4:

Select one of the other pieces from your pile and loosely bunch it in your hand. (Now is when you can make use of any pieces of mesh that are not actually a tube -- like the ones that you cut labels off of.)

The idea is to seperate the mesh so it is a soft loose sort of ball instead of being all stuck together.

Step #5:

Once you have that soft little bunch, slide it down inside your tube from step #2.

Don't press too tight -- the idea is to leave some "bounce" in the little bunch of netting

Step #6:

Repeat steps #4 and #5 twice more so you'll have 3 pieces of netting inside your bag.

I try to select netting of varing size and stiffness to make each one if I have a variety on hand.

Your bag will look something like this one when you have finished putting 3 pieces inside.

If you're using little pieces or smaller chunks, you may want to put in a few more to get to a nice "poofy" size.

Step #7:

Once you have the desired number of pieces inside, gently bunch the bag together --

The idea is to make a compact bundle but not one that is hard -- that "air space" inside give the netting room to move around and do the desired "scrubbing" when you use it.

Step #8:

Once you have everything gathered together, give the bag a couple of turns to twist the top.

Then turn the open end of the bag back over the bundle giving a double layer of mesh over the outside of the whole thing.

Step #9:

Tie another simple overhand knot at the top of the bag.

Push it down snug to the bundle.

Step #10:

Trim the end of the netting close to the top (don't forget to save that piece to put inside another scrubbie!).

These little lovelies do a great job on non-stick pans without scratching and they're pretty effective on steel pans too.

I run mine through the dishwasher with a regular load of dishes at least once a week (more often if I've cleaned up a particularly nasty pan or something that had either eggs or cheese as those things seem to get inside the mess worse than other things do)

Now, aren't you glad you thought there was something you could do with those mesh bags?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Peanut Marshmallow Gooey Bars

Last year at Christmas we did some experimental baking --- new recipes, new ideas --- and part of them put together in my daughter's brand new kitchen!

This one was a big hit -- it's sort of like a Rocky Road Brownie


for the base:
1 2-layer size devil's food cake mix (get what's on sale!)
1 stick of butter, melted
1/3 cup milk

for the top:
1/3 cup milk
3/4 cup peanut butter
7 ounces of miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup salted peanuts
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees

Mix cake mix, butter and 1/3 cup milk until well blended

Press 2/3 of mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 pan (set aside the rest)

Bake 12 to 14 minutes, until center is almost set. Cool for 3 minutes

Mix peanut butter with 1/3 cup milk.

Spread peanut butter mixture onto crust

Break remaining crust mixture into small chunks and arrange on top of peanut butter mixture.

Sprinkle nuts, chocolate chips and marshmallows over the top and press gently into peanut butter.

Bake for 18 minutes or until center is set

Cool completely before cutting


NOTE: my daughter tells me that you can keep an open bag of marshmallows from getting hard by storing them in the refridgerator.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Let me say right off that I have never tried to do any kind of dipped chocolates before.

In fact, my usual candy making involves a can of Eagle brand milk, a package of semi sweet chocolate chips and a microwave.

This year, however, the DH found a recipe for chocolate truffles that involved just 2 ingredients (before we tweeked it) and sounded easy.

So, we embarked on that candy making journey, and this box of lovelies was the result.

I'd like to add here that you should allow yourself a good bit of time to do this. While the recipe is short on ingredients, it is long in prep time, including a stint where you just hang out while the centers cool in the 'fridge.

This is how we did it:


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
24 ounces semi sweet chocolate
1/2 tsp each of lemon and peppermint extract (or flavors of your choice -- optional)
sanding sugar, powdered sugar or cocoa powder -- optional

Note: the original recipe called for 20 ounces and wanted you to use the baking bars of chocolate, chop them up with a knife, etc., but we found that semi sweet chocolate chips work just as well, and that with only 20 ounces we were a bit short when it came to the dipping part of the recipe.


Melt 8 ounces of chocolate.

Beat the cream cheese with hand mixer until creamy

Stir in melted chocolate

Divide mixture into sections and add flavors if desired (we did the peppermint, the lemon and left some just plain)

Refrigerate until firm --- at least 30 minutes

When firm, shape into balls (the original recipe called for making 36 balls, but we did smaller ones and got about 50)

Melt remaining chocolate

Dip each ball into chocolate using a fork, be sure to coat all around

If you are decorating, sprinkle as soon as the ball comes out of the chocolate dip (we sprinkled the lemon flavored ones with yellow sugar, the peppermint ones with red sugar and left the unflavored ones undecorated)

Refridgerate (remember, these have cream cheese in them, so when they aren't on the serving tray, they need to stay cold)

We used the fancy candy papers (I'd had these for years), and packed them in a gift box so they looked pretty.

Next time maybe we'll try some other things inside with the chocolate and cream cheese.