Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Daring Baker's Yule Log


The December Challenge of the Daring Bakers was supposed to be a French Yule Log.  I was really excited about attempting this challenge since I have never attempted anything like this before.  When I first read the challenge I was a little overwhelmed but then I got a little more comfortable with the idea and thought I could possibly accomplish this challenge.  

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

I got every thing ready to start making all the elements of this challenge and started out with my Almond Cake.  Everything in that element went well; the mixture of it and then the baking of it.  The almond cake is where it all ended; every other element of the log that I attempted didn't turn out as well as I wanted.  Since a lot of the other elements of the Yule Log didn't turn out I was unable to attempt to even put the yule log together. 

To see a completed Yule Log please visit the host of this challenge website at  Saffron & Blueberry.  Hopefully I will get back in the groove for next month's challenge.   

Peanut Butter Balls

Growing up, I'm sure everyone had that particular food that was always on hand.  It's a food that was just a staple in life as you were growing up.  I had several of those foods from main dishes to desserts.  This particular recipe is one of those.  This recipe is great to through together, especially when there is no time to involve baking.

This recipe for peanut butter balls is a recipe that is consistently good and turns out the same way every time.  These cookies have been made to take to several different events as well as to keep around the house to snack on.  It's one of those cookies that pretty much everyone likes; you get your sweet, salty and crunchy all in one.  Who doesn't like that?  I haven't met anyone that has turned down this cookie; so it's definitely a no fail recipe!

I made these to have some around the house but to also send to my solder, Mandi, as part of Operation Baking Gals.  There was a peanut butter theme going on during this round of Baking Gals, it defnitely wasn't planned it just happened to turn out that way.  I wanted to send her something that has been in my family for years and it's something that we ALWAYS have around at Christmas time as well.  I hope she enjoyed these as much as I do!

 Peanut Butter Balls


1 Cup sugar
1 Cup Karo syrup
1 1/2 Cups peanut butter
6 Cups Corn Flakes


Pour 6 cups of Corn Flakes into a large bowl.

Bring sugar and Karo to a boil and then add the peanut butter, stirring continuously.  Once mixture is creamy and well blended remove from heat. 

Pour peanut butter mixture over Corn Flakes and stir together.  Once well mixed shape mixture into small balls about the size of golf balls and place on wax/parchment paper.  Once all the mixture is shaped and set on paper, let set until stiffened then store in air tight container with wax paper separating the rows.

Recipe Source: My Dad and MaMaw

Monday, December 29, 2008

Munchin' on some Peanut Butter Munchies


 I have made quite a few things with combination of peanut butter and chocolate; it's just an awesome combination and probably one of my favorite combinations.  I love it in all different types of desserts; it's just two flavors that go so well together.  Whenever I come across a recipe that has this combination of flavors it's a must that I make it at some point in time.  When I came across this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens, it was no exception.

I baked quite a lot throughout Christmas for many different occassions and this was one of the things I decided to make.  I made these cookies to send to my solder for Operation Baking Gals.  Although this is not a traditional cookie recipe I cook during the Christmas holiday it looked so good that I had to try it. 

This recipe did not fail.  Spencer, like always, was my taste tester and he loved them.  I made enough to wear I could send some to my solder, Mandi, but still have some here so Spencer could have some to snack on.  I think those are probably some of his new favorites.  I guess it's not too far from one of his all time favorite candies, Reeses Peanut Cups.  He ate them until they were pretty much all gone!  I'll probably be making these over and over again. 




1/2  cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1/2  cup butter, softened

1/2  cup granulated sugar

1/2  cup packed brown sugar

1/4  cup peanut butter

1  egg

1  tablespoon milk

1  teaspoon vanilla

3/4  cup sifted powdered sugar

1/2  cup peanut butter

2  tablespoons granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degree F. In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda; set aside.

 In a large mixing bowl beat together butter, the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and the 1/4 cup peanut butter with an electric mixer until combined. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; beat well. Beat in as much of the dry ingredients as you can with mixer. Stir in remaining dry ingredients by hand with a wooden spoon. Form chocolate dough into 32 balls about 1-1/4 inches in diameter.

Peanut Butter Munchies

For peanut butter filling, in a medium mixing bowl combine powdered sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup peanut butter until smooth. 

On a work surface, slightly flatten a chocolate dough ball and top with a peanut butter.  Repeat with the remaining chocolate dough and peanut butter filling balls.

Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. 

                   Peanut Butter Munchies              Peanut Butter Munchies

Bake cookies in preheated oven for 8 minutes or until they're just set and surface is slightly cracked. Let cookies stand for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool.

 Peanut Butter Munchies


Adapted from:  Better Homes and Gardens, Peanut Butter Munchies


Friday, December 26, 2008

Operation Baking Gals-Round 5

So this is the fifth round for Operation Baking Galsand it is growing by leaps and bounds.  This is only my third round to participate but it's amazing to see how many teams have been added over the past few times.  I'm so glad that more people are getting involved with the Baking Gals.  At times I don't feel like baking cookies is enough but after reading some of the letters I've received from the soldiers I've sent cookies to I realize that it means so much to them.  Having a batch of home made cookies really gives them a piece of home when they are so far away.

It's so hard to be away from family no matter what time of year it is but during Christmas or any other holiday it's that much harder.  I can only imagine how hard it is to be so far away family during some of the most special times of the year.  When I bake cookies for the troops it really makes me stop and think how fortunate, blessed and privilaged we all are to live in a country with the freedom that we have.  It's because of all these men and women in the service that we are able to do all we do and that we have all we have.  During this special time of the year take a moment and remember our troops that are fighting so we can maintain our freedom; say a quick prayer that they are kept safe during their tour and thank God that we have people like them.  

For round 5 I was part of "Team Go-Lightly Gourmet".  Our team leader was Dana of   Go-Lightly Gourmet.  Dana has a special relationship with her soldier, she is her soon to be daughter-in-law!  Dana was a great team leader and a wonderful motivator.  She made herself readily available if we had any questions or if we needed any recommendations for cookie ideas.  

Here's a little about our soldier, Mandi.  This team's soldier is Mandi  Lee LaFrance who is on her second deployment to Iraq. She has been in the Air Force for 11 years. She is a very active Christian, being a part of many church groups, and has also been on a mission to the Philippines.  Mandi loves working with children and Children's Ministries. She is highly involved in the Girl Scouts so this girl knows her cookies! Mandi loves Christmas and wants to bring the Christmas Spirit to her buddies  stationed in Iraq with her.


For Madi and the rest of the troops I baked peanut butter chocolate cookies with peanut butter filling and I also made peanut butter balls.  Recipes to follow.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Not Your Ordinary Green Beans

For Thanksgiving I wanted to make a green bean casserole.  It's one of those dishes that is just a staple for a holiday meal.  I wanted to do something a little different with the casserole; just to give it a little twist.  When I was looking on the Food Network website I saw a green bean casserole on their main screen that looked absolutely incredible.  After seeing that casserole I knew that was the one I would be making to take to Thanksgiving; it was Alton Brown's "Best ever green bean casserole".  There was more to this casserole than the traditional green bean casserole but I think the extra work was worth it.  It involved making homemade cream of mushroom soup; which that was good by itself.  The soup had a wonderful flavor.  Instead of the French's fried onions it called for homemade onion rings that were covered with Panko bread crumbs; those bread crumbs gave it so much crunch and such a great texture.  Once all of the elements were combined it made one of the best tasting green bean casseroles I think I've ever had.  It was such a big hit at Spencer's Thanksgiving that I made it for my family's Thanksgiving too.  

Green Bean Casserole
Since I had never made this recipe before I wasn't sure how it would turn out if I made the soup and onion rings in advance so I made everything the morning of Thanksgiving.  Now that I've made it I have figured out that it's a recipe that can be made in advance and combine and mix everything together except the onion rings.  I wanted the onion rings to have the same crunch they did when they came out of the oven so when I made it for my family's Thanksgiving I did everything the night before and mixed it together but I put the onion rings in a plastic bag and just put them in the day of before I baked it.  I would recommend this recipe to anyone who is a fan of green beans and green bean casserole; you'll definitely be hooked.  

Best Ever Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole


2 Medium onions, thinly sliced
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp panko bread crumbs
1 Tsp Kosher salt
Non-stick cooking spray

For the beans and sauce-

2 Tbsp + 1 Tsp Kosher salt, divided
1 Pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
12 Ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 Tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1/4 Tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Cup chicken broth
1 Cup half and half


Preheat oven to 400. 

Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine.  Coate a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread onions on the pan.  Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.  Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during baking.  Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use.

For the beans and sauce-

While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans.  Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice water, place by stove.  Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan.  Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes.  Drain in a colander and submerge in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Drain and set aside. 

Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

Recipe Source: Alton Brown, Food Network

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Twist on a Thanksgiving Classic

Everyone associates different foods, traditions and memories with every holiday that comes around.  Thanksgiving is no exception, for most people when they hear Thanksgiving they automatically think pumpkin.  A lot of people start breaking out the pumpkins to make pie and all sorts of stuff during the fall and sometimes through Christmas.  This year I decided to jump on the pumpkin bandwagon and make quite a few things pumpkin.

I have made cookies, bars and a few other things; I got the recipes from a variety of different places.  I was looking through an issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine and the picture on the front caught my attention right off the bat.  There was a picture of two different types of pies on the cover; Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake and then a Pumpkin Gingerbread Pie.  Right when I saw the Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake I knew I had to make it.  It has a lot of the different flavors I love in desserts; chocolate, cheesecake and pumpkin.  Combine all of those flavors and it sounds like a winner.

I had been looking at the recipe for a while trying to figure out the right time to make it.  I love making sweets but I don't like making something that makes a ton just for Spencer and myself.  I knew I wouldn't make it for my families Thanksgiving becaues my dad takes care of the desserts for ours; so I knew that it would be a great thing to make for Spencer's Thanksgiving. 

This was a pretty easy recipe to make.  There were a few little steps but nothing that was too overwhelming and nothing that took up too much time.  To save some time I bought a deep dish pie crust that was premade that way all I had to worry about doing was the filling.  The recipe for the batter for the pumpkin and cheesecake makes quite a bit.  Even though I bought a deep dish crust (which is what the recipe calls for) I still had quite a bit of extra batter; probably enough for a second whole pie.  I just poured the rest of the batter into a couple of smaller dishes and baked a crustless pie:).  It worked out perfectly though, I was able to sample it before I took it.  Since I had never made that recipe before that helped a lot; I would have been a nervous wreck otherwise. 

All of the flavors blended together perfectly.  One didn't overpower the others; it was just the perfect blend of all of the flavors.  I didn't get a picture of a cut slice but the slices looked very pretty too; have the different layers stacked on one another.

On to the good stuff...

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake


 1  Deep Dish Pie Pastry

12  oz. cream cheese, softened (1-1/2 8-oz. pkgs.)

1/4  cup granulated sugar

1  egg, lightly beaten

3/4  cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate or miniature chocolate pieces

1  15-oz. can pumpkin

2/3  cup packed brown sugar

2  tsp. pumpkin pie spice

4  eggs, lightly beaten

3/4  cup half-and-half or light cream

  Chopped chocolate (optional)


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare and roll out Deep Dish Pie Pastry. Transfer pastry to a 9-1/2- to 10-inch deep-dish pie plate. Trim crust edge 1/2-inch beyond pie plate. Flute edge high. Line pastry with double thickness of foil. Bake 8 minutes. Remove foil; bake 6 minutes more or until golden. Cool on wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

 In medium mixing bowl combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 egg; beat on low speed until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture in cooled pastry shell. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate.

In bowl combine pumpkin, brown sugar, and spice. Stir in 4 eggs. Gradually stir in half-and-half. Slowly pour pumpkin mixture on chocolate layer. To prevent overbrowning, cover pie edge with foil.

Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Remove foil. Cool on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate within 2 hour. Top with chopped chocolate.


Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake


Recipe Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Sausage Balls

I guess I had a theme of pork going on for my appetizers for Thanksgiving, it wasn't planned at all.  Actually I hadn't even thought about the ingredients in everything until just now.  To go along with the Hearty Sausage Dipand the Piggie SticksI made sausage balls.  Everything went together very nicely and everyone loved it all.

I love sausage balls, they are one of my absolute favorite appetizers.  They are heavier and more filling that a lot of other appetizers out there and they are so versatile; they can be served hot, cold or room temperature.  They are a great thing to make ahead; they can easily be mixed and rolled into balls the night before and then cooked the day they are needed.  When you are cooking a lot of stuff for an event recipes like this are a life saver. 

I know there are a ton of different recipes out there for sausage balls.  They can be the simple, basice recipe or there can be different items added to them to spice them up a little.  I decided to stay simple and do the classic recipe and they were awesome.  I also did a dip inspired by Paula Deen; it paired with the sausage balls very well.


Sausage Balls

Sausage Balls


1 (1-pound) package ground sausage

 3 cups baking mix (I used Bisquick)

4 cups grated sharp Cheddar

1/8 tablespoon pepper



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray.


 Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl. Mix well with your fingers. The mixture will be very crumbly. Form into 1 inch balls, squeezing the mixture so it holds together, then rolling it between the palms of your hands to form balls.

 Place the balls on the baking sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. To prevent sticking, move the balls with a spatula halfway through cooking.

For the dip:

Combine 1 cup of mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon of spicey mustard.  Stir together well and serve with sausage balls.

Sausage Balls


Recipe Source: Paula Deen

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Piggie Sticks

Alone both pretzels and bacon are very good but combine the two and you have a wonderful snack or appetizer.  This is one of the easiest things to make and it makes such a wonderful snack.  This is another of the appetizers I made for Spencer's family Thanksgiving.

Since I had quite a few things to make for Thanksgiving, I was looking for some easier appetizers that could either be made in advance or had very few ingredients.  This one was a great one since you really only had to have 2 ingredients, although I used 4 since I added some seasoning.  I got rave reviews on these bacon wrapped pretzels.

Piggie Sticks



1 package pretzel rods

1 package bacon, uncooked

1/2-1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2-1 tablespoon brown sugar



Wrap a strip of bacon around a pretzel rod.  Continue process unitl all the pretzels and bacon are used.  Once all pretzels are wrapped in bacon sprinkle with both chili powder and brown sugar. 

Bacon Wrapped Pretzels

Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and place pretzels on rack.  Place pretzels in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minuts. 

Bacon Wrapped Pretzels 

Recipe Source: A Lynsey original

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sausage Dip

I know it's December, my blog has been lonely and there aren't any recipes from Thanksgiving on here yet.  I've been busy so I really haven't had time to share everything I cooked for Thanksgiving...but that's all about to change, better late than never, right?

So for Thanksgiving with Spencer's family I was asked to do some appetizers, a dessert and a side item.  For the appetizers I wanted to do some simple things that were good served either warm or room temperature.  I decided to make sausage balls, bacon wrapped pretzels, and a hearty sausage dip.  All the appetizers turned out awesome and everyone ate them up.

The sausage dip was first introduced to me by one of my best friends, Heather.  She made this dip at Spencer's birthday party this past fall and it was eaten up by everyone in a matter of minutes.  The same effect took place when I made this dip.  From the time the lid was taken off the container people dove into it and it was a hit!  This is definitely a must try for your next party. 

Since she's introduced this dip to me it's been a go to recipe for me.  There isn't much to this dip at all and it consist of 3 ingredients, that's it!  It's so easy and it's one of those where the sausage can be browned the day before and then everything thrown together the day of.   

Hearty Sausage Dip


1 pound sausage, browned and drained
2 (8oz) blocks cream cheese, softened 
1 can Rotel, drained  


Mix all ingredients together and serve warmed or at room temperature with favorite chips. 

Sausage Dip
Recipe Source: my friend, Heather

Outrageous Oreo Crunch Brownies

Oreo Brownies


Brownies are a dessert that have been around for many years and I know there are several different ways to make them.  I know everyone has their very own favorite family recipe that cannot be beat, I know there's a recipe in my family that I consider "The Best" recipe!  Brownies have always been a common dessert in my family, it wasn't out of the ordinary for us to have a pan of brownies sitting around at any given time.  They are so easy to throw together and you have a delicious dessert in no time!  It's also a great thing to have around just to nibble on, you can cut a little piece and walk around and eat it.  Brownies can easily be one of those desserts that doesn't have to be eaten with a fork. 

Brownies are also one of those desserts where there are endless ingredients that can be incorporated into the recipe to give it a kick.  While looking on the baking isle it is easily seen that there are endless options that can be added to make a desired taste .  It's amazing to me to look at the box brownie mixes and far they've come over the years; there's not only plain brownies but brownies with marshmallows, double chocolate and tons of other things.  I've seen many things added to brownies to spice them up but until this recipe I had never seen a recipe where Oreos or any other type of cookies were added. 

This recipe for Outrageous Oreo Crunch Brownies created by Ina Garten is absolutely awesome.  This is definitely a recipe for any brownie, chocolate or Oreo lover.  Whatever your sweet craving is, this is a recipe that will quench and fill it!  


Outrageious Oreo Crunch Brownies

Oreo Brownies


4 sticks butter

1 pound semisweet chocolate chips

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

6 eggs

3 tablespoons instant coffee granules

2 tablespoons vanilla

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup plus 1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups chopped Oreo cookies (50 cookies = 1 package regular filled Oreos) 



Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 f.  Butter and flour an 11 1/2 in x 14 1/4 in x 1 in baking pan. (I used a regular 9x13).

Set a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Place butter, chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate in bown and melt until smooth.  Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, coffee, vanilla and sugar.  Blend chocolate mixture into egg mixture; cool to room temperature. 

In a medium bowl, sift together one cup flour, baking powder and salt.  Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture.  in a small bowl, stir Oreos and remaing 1/4 cup flour.  Add Oreo mixture to chocolate mixture.  Pour batter into baking pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula. (I reserved a few Oreos to sprinkle on top) 

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothepick inserted comes out clean. 

Oreo Brownies

***Since I used a 9x13 mine were thicker and needed to cook longer than 35 minutes.  Mine were a little gooey but I loved them like that!


Recipe By:  Ina Garten and found on the website for Oprah Magazine

Friday, November 28, 2008

Whip it good!

Potatoes are one of my favorite side items to have; I love them mashed, baked and practically in other way they come.  There are a multitude of things that can be done with potatoes and there are tons of different ways they can seasoned.  Potatoes are one of those great things that are basically a blank slate waiting to be made and seasoned according to ones desire.

Mashed potatoes are a weakness of mine.  I could eat them with a little salt and pepper, with gravy or even like a loaded baked potato.  For this version of mashed potatoes I wanted to keep it pretty simple so I made garlic whipped mashed potatoes.  Those are never a disappointment; I love garlic and I love potatoes so this was a perfect match.  This recipe was so easy to throw together and the end result was fluffy, whipped potatoes!


Garlic Whipped Mashed Potatoes

Garlic whipped potatoes 


2 Medium potatoes

1 Small clove garlic, mined (1/2-1 teaspoon pre-minced garlic)

1/4-1/3 Cup milk or cream

2 Tablespoons butter, softened

Salt and pepper, to taste

Chives for garnish


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Place potatoes in pot and boil until fork tender.  Remove from pot and let cool enough to be handled.

Mash up the potatoes using a fork or potato masher, just break them up enough to make it easier to mix with hand held mixer. (I leave the skins on mine but you can remove them if desired).  Once potatoes are mashed turn hand mixer on low and gradually add milk/cream and butter.  Mix together well and then stir in the minced garlic, salt and pepper.  Once everything is mixed and to taste serve and garnish with fresh cut chives.

Garlic whipped potatoes

Recipe by: Lynsey Lou

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sugar Seared Scallops with Caramel Sauce

Scallops are one of my favorite things, I just love them.  It seems like they are a very versatile thing to cook.  They can be cooked with bacon, salt and pepper, butter for a more savory traditional way or they can be made with a little bit of sugar for a completely different and sweet taste.  I'll eat them pretty much any way they are cooked.  

For this particular night I really wanted something a little different but with a sweet kick.  I took the rout of using sugar rather than the savory rout.  The results were amazing.  I think I've found my new favorite way to have scallops...and I thought nothing could beat bacon wrapped scallops, I guess I was wrong.  This was awesome and we paired it with steamed asparagus and creamy, garlic mashed potatoes.

It's a cheesy world

To continue with the cheesy theme that started with my Cheez-It Chicken, I decided to make some cheesy baked squash.  As I previously stated in my cheesy chicken post, I love cheese, so that also means there can never be too much cheese...kind of like you can never have too much chocolate:).  Squash is one of my favorite vegetables; I have prepared it in many different ways but never combined with cheese. 

I was really please with the way this recipe turned out.  The squash was so teneder, the onions had a great flavor and the cheese went wonderfully.  I basically took all the flavors that were in my Cheez-It Chicken and put them in this dish.  I thought it turned out pretty tastey especially since it was an experimental dish!


Cheesy Baked Squash

Cheesy baked squash 



2 Medium squash

3-4 Tablespoons butter

Salt & Pepper, to taste

2 Well rounded tablespoons sour cream

1/2 Medium onion, sliced

Olive oil

1/4 Cup shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 F. 

Rinse squash and then thinly slice.

Cheesy baked chicken



Place squash and sliced onions in an oven safe baking dish.  Drizzle a little olive oil on the squash and onions, salt and pepper to taste and then mix together.

Cheesy baked squash cheesy baked squash

cheesy baked squash

Add sour cream and stir together well. 

Place in oven and baked for 20-25 minutes.  After about 20-25 minutes take out of oven and sprinkle cheese over top, put back in the oven until cheese has melted.

cheesy baked squash  cheesy baked squash


Recipe by: Lynsey Lou

It's so easy being cheesy

Cheese is one of my favorite foods.  I use cheese in all kinds of dishes; from comfort foods to savory foods.  There is such a variety of cheeses; I love trying new kinds but sometimes good old cheddar is just what I need.  Cheese and cheese flavors also come in so many forms from the infamous cheese in a can to cheese flavored crackers to cheese coated crackers and chips.  It's everywhere! 

Since I love cheese so much I thought I would experiment and make a super cheesy chicken.  Why not combine my love for cheese in all forms and make a wonderfully cheesy meal?  That's what my Cheesy Cheez-It chicken and cheesy squash casserole was all about.  If you love cheese or just have to satisfy a craving for it then this will definitley do it for you!


Cheesy Cheez-It Chicken

Cheez-It Chicken   


2 boneless, skinless chicken breast

2-3 well rounded tablespoons sour cream

1/4 Cup shredded cheddar

1/4-1/2 Cup Cheez-It crackers, crunched up

Pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line pan with foil and spray with a little cooking oil

Season both sides of chicken with fresh, ground black pepper.  You may use a little salt if you like but the crackers have plenty of salt in them.  I used a little sea salt:). 

Cheez-It Chicken

In a bowl mix the sour cream and shredded cheddar.  

Pour crackers on a plate to roll chicken in.

Coat chicken in sour cream mixture, roll in crackers and then place in prepared pan. 

Cheez-It Chicken

Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

Cheez-It Chicken


Recipe by: Lynsey Lou

The combination of tequila and lime...

Can be paired together to make a variety of things from drinks to seasoning and marinades.  For this recipe it was used to make Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa's, Tequila Lime Chicken.  One of my favorite things is tequila lime chicken, there are so many recipes and variations available now that there are endless options.  I looked through several recipes before I came across this one and I decided this was the one I would try this time.  

I was so happy with the outcome.  All the flavors were so evident but they weren't overwhelming or overpowering.  I watch Barefoot Contessa from time to time but I don't think I've ever made any of her recipes.  After trying this one she is definitely on my "fave's" list of Food Network chefs/cooks.   

WC Fall Gift Exchange

This was my first time to participate in the "What's Cooking" gift exchange and I had a blast.  I had so much fun buying the stuff for my person as well as anticipating the stuff I would get from the person who got my name.  It was kind of like an early Christmas!

Amy of Skinny Food By Amy fixed me up with some awesome goodies.  She gave me a tart pan, which I have been wanting one for quite some time now, some pretty pink sprinkles, pumpkin loaf mix, some not cards and sticky notes.  I absolutely loved my package of goodies.  I can't wait to get in the kitchen and start using them all.  I know I'm going to get tons of use out of the tart pan.  I can't wait to make the pumpkin loaf; I know it's going to be incredible.  Thanks Amy (Joey'sGirl)!

WC gift swap

It's a sweet and tart sandwich

We kept super very low key last night since I have a ton of cooking to do this evening and tomorrow for Turkey Day.  I still wanted to cook but I didn't want anything that was going to be too involved and take a ton of time.  I had already pulled some chicken out of the freezer before I went to work, so I at least knew we would be having something involving chicken!

I looked through some cookbooks and narrowed it down to Rachael Ray's "grilled honey lime chicken" or her "pecan crusted chicken cutlets with maple barbeque dressing".  Both recipes looked pretty easy; I have made the pecan crusted chicken before, which is awesome, but I've never tried the other.  I asked Spencer his opinion, since they both sounded good to me, and he chose the grilled honey lime chicken.

I was very happy with his selection!  It wasn't hard to get everything together and prepared for this meal.  I had everything mixed and diced in no time.  While I had it marinating it gave me time to get some other stuff done around the house, which was an added bonus. 

Once they finished marinating it didn't take any time to cook them.  In a total of about 15 minutes I had everything cooked, toasted and made.  This was exactly the type of meal I was wanting to cook; something good, not difficult but still tasted wonderful. 

All the flavors of the marinade blended together perfectly.  There was a tartness from the lime juice but the sweetness from the honey really toned it down and paired very well.  It also had a kick of spiciness to it because of the steak seasoning; it was definitley a flavor filled dish that was wonderful!

Rachael Ray's Grilled Honey Lime Chicken

honey lime chicken


The juice of 1 lime

2 Tablespoons honey

1 Rounded teaspoon cumin

A handful of cilantro, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 tabelspoons)

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 pieces boneless skinless chicken breast (I used about 10 chicken filets)

1 Teaspoon steak seasoning blend (I used about 1 1/2-2 Tablespoons, the filets were generously coated)


Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl to make dressing.  Sprinkle chicken with seasong blend or salt and pepper.  Coat chicken in dressing and set aside for 10 minutes.

Pan-fry over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet, uncovered, 6 minutes per side.

Honey lime chicken

Spread honey lime mayo on bread and then place chicken filets on bread to make sandwich.

Honey Lime Chicken Sandwich  Honey Lime Chicken Sandwich

Num, num num....

Recipe from: Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals 2

Toned down tartness

Last night we had Rachael Ray'sHoney Lime Chicken, which was awesome!  I made sandwiches using the chicken so I wanted a different type of sauce/spread to use for the sandwiches.  I wanted something that complimented the marinade but didn't over power or have too much going on.  The honey lime mayo I came up with was awesome.  

I used it as a spread on the sandwiches I made but it would be great as a deep or even as a dressing.  Spencer went on and on about how much he liked the sauce and how well it went with the chicken on the sandwiches.  I will probably be doing some more experimenting with this sauce in the near future; possibly try it as a glaze or marinade! 

Honey Lime Mayo


1/4 Cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 Teaspoon lime juice

1/2 Tablespoon honey

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste


Place mayo, honey and lime juice in a bowl and mix together well.  After all ingredients are combined add fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Serve as a dip or a sandwich spread.

honey lime spread


Recipe by: Lynsey Lou

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Three Bean Chili

3 bean chili

It's chili time!!!  Sunday was a day of many "to do's"; I had stuff to do around the house plus I was baking cookies for round 4 of Operation Baking Gals.  I wanted to make something good for supper but I didn't really have to time prepare a meal that needed a lot of attention through the cooking process since I had the cookies going on I was doing other stuff.  I decided that chili would be a pretty easy thing to put in the crockpot and let let it go.
I have made chili multiple times before and it's always met our expectations.  Even though I love the past chili recipes I've made, this time I wanted to make one all my own.  I am so glad I decided to make my own version of chili, it turned out so very good!  There were so many flavors that went into this recipe and they all blended so well and made a very good flavored chili.
This recipe really didn't take long to put together.  It would also be a great meal where everything could be prepared ahead of time and then put together and cooked at the desired time.  It would also be great meal for the crockpot or on the stove top.
Remember, the spices and flavors will blend together more after the chili sits a day.  Be careful with the amount of heat added because it will get more intense!

Three Bean Chili

1 Pound sausage
1 Pound ground beef
1 Can chili hot beans
1 Can black beans
1 Can navy beans
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
1 Large onion, chopped
1-2 Carrots, chopped
1 Stalk celery, chopped
2 Medium jalapenos, seeded and diced
1 1/4 Tablespoon seasoned pepper blend
1/2 Teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 Tablespoon garlic salt
1 Bay leaf
2 Cups Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Louisiana hot sauce (or any type of hot sauce desired)
1/2-2 Tablespoons chili powder (season to desired taste)
Salt and pepper, to taste


In a large pan brown the sausage and beef.  Once browned drain meat well and set aside.
Heat skillet and melt 1-2 tablespoons butter.  Once butter has melted add onion, carrots and celery.  Sautee the mixture until onions turn clear.  Once onions begin to turn clear remove from heat. 
In a large stockpot or crockpot (whichever cooking method desired) pour all 3 cans of beans in and mix together.  Stir in tomato paste and water.  Add browned meat, veggies, jalapenos, bay leaf, hot sauce and other seasonings and mix together well.  Adjust seasonings to fit your taste. 
Once everything is mixed together turn on the heat. 
For crockpot cooking cook on high for about 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally then turn to the warm setting.  If needing to cook for a longer time set temperature on low.
For stove top cooking turn stove on medium to medium high and let chili cook/simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half.
Spoon into a bowl and serve with favorite toppings...chives, sour cream, cheese etc.

3 Bean Chili

Recipe Source: A Lynsey Original

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin


There are many things that make me think of times when I was growing up; specific foods and recipes as well as many other things.  Oatmeal Raisin cookies are one of the many things that are classics that bring back memories of when I was younger.  They are awesome cookies and they are very much a classic.  I can look back at cookbooks and recipes and find that there are many cooks that have been making these for quite some time and the recipes have been passed down from generation to generation.

Oatmeal Raisin cookies are one of my favorites, as well as Spencer's.  It's not a recipe that really jumps in my head when I start thinking of cookies to make but any time I have them they are always so good.  As part of the cookies for Operation Baking GalsI decided to send some homey, classic cookies and what better type of cookie than Oatmeal Raisin?  

Although there is nothing wrong with the classic version; it's one of my favorites and it's been around for a while, I decided to put a little twist on this batch.  I wanted to bring a different taste to these as well as a fall inspired taste.  When I think of fall and winter I think of the smell of spices; cinnamon and cloves to be exact.  I thought that a little hint of fresh ground cloves would bring a different taste to these cookies; so I decided to add just a little to the recipe.  It was an awesome addition to these cookies; it wasn't too much and it wasn't overwhelming at all but it did add that little something I was looking for.  

I loved the final outcome of these cookies.  It was definitely a different spin on a classic but the cloves complimented the rest of the flavors very well.  I made Spencer try the first batch out of the oven and he LOVED them!  I think this is his new favorite Oatmeal Raisin cookie!!! 


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies



1 Cup butter flavored crisco

1/2 Cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 Cup brown sugar

3 Eggs

1 Teaspoon vanilla

1 Teaspoon baking soda

1/4 Teaspoon baking powder

1/2 Teaspoon salt

1 1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon

2 Cups flour

1 1/3 Cup Raisins

2 Cups oats

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves



Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large mixing bowl combine crisco and both sugars, mix until well creamed.  Once creamed add eggs and vanilla and mix well. 

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves.  Slowly add flour mixture into crisco mixture.  Make sure mixture is thoroughly mixed.  Once everything is combined mix in oats.  After oats are mixed in fold in the raisins. 

Spoon balls of dough (make them about the size of a walnut or golf ball) on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.  

Recipe makes about 4 1/2 Dozen.


Oatmeal Raisin Oatmeal Raisin


Recipe Source: Lynsey Lou's Blog

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

So many things to do with pumpkin

Pumpkin Cookies

There are many things that can be done with pumpkins.  We carve them, toast the seeds, puree the filling of them and use that for multiple things.  I believe we can all agree that the most popular use for pumpkin is Pumpkin Pie.  Although I think people are trying to change peoples minds and expand their outlook on pumpkin and uses for it this year. 

Over the past few months I have seen so many different uses for pumpkin.  I have seen the pumpkin quarted and baked and then served with meat, I've also seen it hollowed out and used as a bowl for soup; as well as seeing it served with pasta as a sauce.  There are many uses for pumpkin, other than pie, there just needs to be a little creativity! 

I decided to try something different with pumpkin as well.  For round 4 of Operation Baking GalsI decided to send them a "taste of the season" by making Pumpkin Butterscotch cookies.  Many of you are probably turning your noses up right now, just like my darling Spencer did.  Let me tell you, don't knock it until you've tried it.  These cookies were very good, and the flavors were mild but still delicious.  If you're looking for a cookie that has very strong flavors this isn't for you; if you're looking for a cookie that has a more mild flavor but is still tasty then you must try it!


Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies


1 15 oz. Can pumpkin puree

1 Cup butter flavored crisco

1/2 Cup sugar

1 Cup brown sugar

1 Teaspoon cinnamon

1 Teaspoon vanilla

1 Teaspoon baking powder

1 Teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of nutmeg

1/4 Teaspoon ground cloves

4 1/2 Cups flour

1 Teaspoon salt

1 Bag butterscotch chips



Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large mixing bowl combine crisco and both sugars and cream.  Once creamed add the pumpkin puree and mix together well.  Once cream mixture and puree are mixed well add in cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and cloves and combine.

Sift together baking powder, baking soda, flour and salt.  Add mixture into pumpkin mixture 1 cup at a time.  Once all the flour is added and mixed fold in butterscotch chips. 

Spoon on cookie sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Let cookies cool 5 minutes on sheet before removing to cooling racks to completely cool.

Pumpkin Cookies


Recipe by: Lynsey Lou

Operation Baking Gals...Round 4




Round four of Operation Baking Galsconcluded this past Monday, November 10.  This is only my second round but it's amazing.  It's such an incredible feeling knowing that I'm helping to send a little piece of "home" to the men and women so bravely serving us and our country.  What better way is there to celebrate Veteran's Day than to be part of this "Operation" that ended the day before.  We are giving thanks to the men and women that are serving our country and who is also one day call themselves veterans.   

During each round there are multiple teams that are formed.  For each team formed there is a soldier which the team bakes goodies for.  We have a designated window of time in which we ship our baked goods to the soldiers.  Having this window of time guarantees that the soldiers will recieve the goods around the same time and they will have tons of goodies to enjoy. 

Personally I am so grateful for every one of these men and women and their selflessness.  If it weren't for them and all the ones that were there before them and the ones that will be there after them we would not have the country that we do.  I'm so proud to be an American and I'm so proud of every soldier in the U.S. forces.  Baking cakes and cookies isn't a huge thing; but it's one thing that we can do for them to send them a little piece of home every month until they return. 

This month I joined two teams so I had two soldiers to bake for.  The teams I joined were "Team Just Add Nuts" and "Team Crumbly Cookie".  I appreciate both teams; their willingness to lead groups and find soldiers to support are amazing.   

 The leaders of "Team Just Add Nuts" are Val and Randy Romeo of Michigan of Just Add Nuts.  They were wonderful leaders who provided tons of support for the bakers and gave us a little background on our soldier, Alex Herrera. 

Here is a little about our Soldier:

Our soldier for this round is SFC Alex Herrera. Alex is a husband and father of two sons. His family lives in the Sterling Heights, Michigan area and are anxious to see him return. This is Alex's fourth tour of duty. He has served our country in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is a member of the Army.


The second team I joined was "Team Crumbly Cookie".  The head of this team was Bridget of The Way The Cookie Crumbles.  She was also a great team leader.  She answered any questions we had but she was very layed back as well.

I don't know very much at all about this soldier.  I do know that his name is Joshua and he is stationed in Iraq.  I hope that he along with the rest of the soldiers remain safe and return safely.


For this round I wanted to send them something homey feeling but also something with the flavors of the season.  I made Oatmeal Raisinwith a hint of clove for a classic recipe to send them.  I also made Pumpkin Butterscotchcookies so they could have a taste of the season.

May God Bless Them.  Please remember to keep the men and women of the service in your thoughts and prayers everyday. 


Don't Drop the Hot Potato or it will Crash...

I don't guess a crashed hot potato is a bad thing... it's actually very good.  Just add a little salt, pepper, butter and chives and you have a wonderful side dish for any meal:).  Can I just say I loved this recipe!?!?

This is yet another recipe from The Pioneer Woman.  She definitely knows her way around a kitchen and cooks meals that could feed an army.  Which is a good thing since she has a small army of her own.  For this recipe I downsized quite a bit; if I hadn't then I would have had enough Crash-Hot Potatoesto last me the rest of the year!  I thoroughly enjoyed this recipe as well.  

I decided to make these potatoes to have along side the Crispy Yogurt Chicken.  Boy did it compliment the chicken well.  This recipe was very easy; I also timed it perfectly so they were done at the same time as the chicken.  There isn't a whole lot that goes into these potatoes but they sure are good and very full of flavor.  Pretty much everything used in this recipe are things that are on hand at all times.  I followed the recipe pretty much step by step, but I'm sure it would be good with any other toppings desired.  

My dad and Spencer were in the kitchen visiting with me as I made this meal and they started watching with particular interest when I started making these potatoes.  Everything was pretty normal with the boiling part but when I moved them from the pot to the baking sheet is when they starting paying close attention to what I was doing; with all the smashing it's can get pretty interesting.  After I finished the process and put them in the oven they both said, well that's a great way to cook potatoes!

The end result of this recipe was awesome.  The potato was nice and soft just like a regular baked potato but the skin and outer parts were a little crispy and crunchy...crunchy is right up my dad's alley!  I loved how these came out; it had a couple of different textures and tons of flavor.  Next time I make these (and there will be tons of next times for this recipe) I may try to add some other toppings and flavors...we'll see.  So now, on to the good stuff!!!


Pioneer Woman's Crashed-Hot Potatoes


1 Bag new potatoes (I used a couple of regular baking potatoes)

Olive Oil, for drizzling

Salt and Pepper, to taste

A fresh herb of choice (I used fresh chives   


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add desired amount of potatoes into boiling water, cook until they are "fork tender" (You should be able to gently press a fork into the potato). 

Drizzle olive oil generously onto a baking sheet.  This will keep the potatoes from sticking to the sheet...this is a critical step so drizzle generously!!!  When the potatoes are tender place them on the cooking sheet.  With a potato smasher (I used the bottom of a glass) gently press down the potato until it's smashed, then rotate the smasher 90 degrees and smash again (not necessary if using a glass).  ***Don't smash them all the way.  Make it about the thickness of a cookie.  Repeat process until all potatoes are smashed.

Generously brush the top with olive oil.  Sprinkle potatoes generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper.  After salt and pepper, top potatoes with the fresh herb of your choice. 

Crashed-hot potatoes

Now place the potoates in a 450 degree oven on the top rack.  Cook potatoes for 20-25 minutes...or until golden and sizzling. 

Crashed-Hot Potatoes

Recipe from: The Pioneer Woman

Crispy, not fried chicken

I have been wanting to try The Pioneer Woman'syogurt chicken for a while.  The recipe makes quite a bit, I knew I could down size it but I could only down size it so much so I wanted to make it when there were others eating with us so we didn't have a ton of leftovers.  My dad came in town the other day so I decided it would be the perfect time to try this recipe.

This is a wonderfule recipe and it's pretty easy and not ver time consuming at all.  There really isn't a lot of prep work for it; so as along as you have everything on hand there's really not much to it.  I was able to assemble it, put it in the oven and do some other things.  It's a main course that is no fuss to put together.  

Another thing I loved about this recipe is that it's a great alternative to fried chicken.  The end result is crispy chicken but it's much healther.  You also get the nice crunch of fried chicken; but the flavor is a lot different than that of fried chicken.  The flavoring that's included in this recipe is awesome; both Spencer and my dad were very impressed as was I.  I know I will definitely be making this recipe over and over!!!


Pioneer Woman's Crispy Yogurt Chicken


1 package chicken legs (or any type of chicken desired)

2 Cups plain yogurt

2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped

Parsley, chopped...a tablespoon or so (I used fresh chives)     

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and Pepper


Panko breadcrumbs


In a medium bowl mix together yogurt, garlic, fresh herb (of choice) and lemon juice. 

Rinse chicken and salt generously with Kosher salt. 

In another bowl pour in the panko breadcrumbs, start with about 2 cups.  Salt the breadcrumbs and mix.

Butter the dish being used to bake the chicken. 

Roll the chicken in the yogurt mixture, 1 piece at a time, then roll in breadcrumbs.  Place chicken in baking dish.  Repeat process with all chicken.  Once finished breading the chicken, place a slice of butter on the large part of each piece of chicken.  Be sure every piece of chicken has a slice of butter on it so the Panko breadcrumbs have enough moisture and don't dry out.  

PW Yogurt Chicken 

Cover with foil and bake about 1 hour on 350 F.  Remove foil for the last 15 minutes or so to allow the chicken to get nice and golden.  Bake until golden, you may need to leave it in the oven a little longer. 

PW Yogurt Chicken


Recipe from: The Pioneer Woman
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