Sunday, November 27, 2011

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

This is a recipe my mom came up with Thanksgiving morning when she decided she didn't want to just bring plain potatoes to dinner. They turned out to be a hit! There were no leftovers, much to my dismay. The amazing (frustrating) thing about my mother is that she NEVER has recipes and can rarely tell you how much of something she puts in. This was the best I could get out of her. (Love you mom). 

8 potatoes
1 c shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for the top
1/3 stick butter, softened
3 oz sour cream
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
bacon bits
green onions


1. Boil the potatoes whole in their skins until soft. Peel potatoes. (You could probably do them regular mashed potato style too if you chose- already peeled and cubed then boiled until tender).
2. Add 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, soft butter, sour cream, and dressing mix and mash. Add a few sprinkles of bacon bits and green onions and mix. Whip the potatoes with a hand mixer until smooth.
3. Top with remaining shredded cheddar. Bake in a 350* oven for 25-30 minutes or until hot.
4. Top with more bacon bits and green onions, if desired.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Classic Green Bean Casserole

We all have green bean casserole on the holidays. It just isn't Thanksgiving or Christmas without it for many of us! I know ya'll don't need the recipe. But I'm posting it anyways, because this is what I was elected to make for Thanksgiving this year. 


1 can cream of chicken mushroom soup (sorry for the typo. Thanks Cara!)
1/4 c milk
2 cans cut green beans, drained
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 1/3 c French's onions


1. Mix soup, milk, and pepper in a 1 1/2 qt baking dish until blended.
2. Stir in beans and 2/3 cup fried onions.
3. Bake at 350* 30 minutes.
4. Take out of oven, stir and top with remaining fried onions.
5. Bake 5 more minutes or until golden.

Chocolate Chess Pie

If you've ever been to Angus Barn in Raleigh, you've heard of chocolate chess pie. My sister and I can't make it out of there without at least sharing a slice. In high school, we even had my mom make it for our special Sunday dinners once in a while. It is rich, gooey, and chocolatey. Basically everything I want in a dessert. I did not sign up to bring dessert to Thanksgiving tomorrow, so I guess I will just have to surprise them with this perfect pie. 


1 1/2 c sugar
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1 can (5 oz) evaporated milk
1/4 c butter
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust


1. Mix together sugar and cocoa powder. Mix the eggs then beat them in. 
2. Beat in the milk, butter and vanilla. I let the mixture beat for about 5 minutes.
3. Pour prepared mixture into pie crust.
4. Bake at 350* for 45 minutes or until set. Let cool before slicing.
5. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some fresh made whipped topping.

Overnight Sticky Buns

Since my family is spending Thanksgiving with the Barhams this year we knew we wouldn't have those all familiar smells filling our home when we woke up this morning. I took that as an opportunity to make my home smell like sweet sticky buns. These were so easy to throw together the night before and even easier to stick in the oven this morning as we got ready to make our other dishes. 

Even dad ate one! They were so sugary and warm, the perfect kick off to the holiday season. I might add cinnamon next time. Or even some chopped up pre-cooked bacon....yum.
Recipe Source: Plain Chicken


1/2 chopped pecans
9 frozen dinner rolls (Rhodes work best. Of course Lowes was sold out so I had to manage)
1/2 package butterscotch cook and serve pudding (NOT instant)
1/4 c butter
1/4 c brown sugar
cooking spray

1. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray. Scatter the pecans in the bottom evenly.
2. Arrange the frozen dinner rolls around the pan on top of the pecans, evenly spaced.
3. Sprinkle the buns and the pan with 1/2 the package of pudding.
4. In a small saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar and melt, stirring.
5. Pour the mixture over the buns and on the pan.
6. Cover with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise overnight.
7. The next morning, cook the rolls at 350* for 20-25 minutes. Invert the rolls onto a serving dish. Enjoy with a cup of coffee. 

Fried Egg over Cheesy Potatoes: Guide Recipe

I woke up this morning and needed to make breakfast quick. My parents are coming in town and I, of course, have some last second cleaning to do. I remembered my leftover cheesy ranch potatoes I had in the fridge and my lightbulb went off. 

Leftover potatoes of any kind are perfect for breakfast in my mind. If you have leftover roasted potatoes, heat them up in a frying pan with some onions and make a hash. Serve with eggs. You can use leftover mashed potatoes to make fried potato "pancakes". Leftover baked potatoes can be cubed and also made into a hash. Since my potatoes were already in hashbrown form and covered with cheese I had it easy! I just heated them up, fried an egg and plopped it on top. Something about that yolk mixing with my rich cheesy potatoes let me know I was going to have a great day :). 

I don't really need to explain ingredients and directions for this one. Its leftover potatoes and a fried egg. How easy is that!?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chocolate Candy Cane Pie

Have a little bit of time on your hands this holiday season? I made this pie last year for Thanksgiving to kick off the Christmas season. It is very rich and delicious, especially if you love the chocolate/peppermint combo like I do. It takes some TLC but it is well worth it! Surprise your family with this special pie, which could be served frozen or simply chilled. Mmm..

1 Oreo pie crust

For the Chocolate Layer:
3 T water
3/4 c chocolate chips
1 c heavy cream
1/2 c powdered sugar

For The Peppermint Layer:
1 1/2 c miniature marshmallows
1/4 c milk
1 c heavy cream 
1/2 c finely crushed candy cane (7 regular canes) or you could use some crushed peppermint bark
sweetened whipping cream, for topping (that's about 3 c total for entire pie)


1. Chocolate Layer: heat chocolate chips until melted in a double boiler. (Or you could put a glass bowl over some simmering water, just make sure the bowl does not touch the water or your chocolate will burn.)
2. Let the chocolate cool to room temperature.
3. Chill a large mixing bowl and the beaters in the freezer. Whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff. Fold in cooled chocolate.
4. Pour this mixture into the bottom of the pie. Chill.
5. Peppermint Layer: Break candy cane into chunks. 
6. Combine marshmallows and milk in wok. Cook, stirring constantly over low heat until marshmallows are melted. Cool this mixture until just slightly warm.
7. Prepare whipping cream as before with chilled bowl and beaters. Stir in peppermint candy. Fold in marshmallow mixture. Chill mixture for 10 minutes.
8. Top chocolate layer with peppermint layer in pie crust. Chill pie until set. It can also be frozen.
7. Serve with a dollop of freshly made whipped cream and some additional crushed peppermints.

Recipe Source:

Quick and Easy Turtle Cheesecake

I made this recipe a couple of years ago for Thanksgiving and I have been thinking about it a lot recently. I was really hoping to make it this year but the soiree I will be attending will already have PLENTY of desserts. Maybe I will save it for Christmas. I suggest you try it this holiday season!

1 Oreo pie crust
16 oz cream cheese
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla
2 eggs
6 oz pecans, toasted and chopped
7 oz caramel candies (half a bag)
1/4 c milk
1/3 c mini chocolate chips


1. Preheat your oven to 325*
2. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until well blended.
3. Add eggs; mix until just blended and pour into pie crust. 
4. Bake 30-45 minutes or until center is set.
5. While your cheesecake is cooling, microwave caramels and milk on high until melted. Pour caramel over cooled cheesecake. Tilt the pan until there is an even layer of caramel.
6. Sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans on cheesecake.
7. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe Source:

Hasselback Potatoes- Guide Recipe

I've seen recipes for these little gems all over the internet and I have always wanted to try them. After making them I don't know why I waited so long! They're no more difficult to make than a baked potato but they look so much more elegant. They would look great on any holiday table.

I just made a couple using some small white potatoes. You could make these using new potatoes or even large russets. It just depends on how many you are feeding. You could also add cheese between the slices, flavored butters, fresh herbs etc... you don't need to follow this recipe to a T. Add whatever you and your family like! The possibilities are endless. Here is how I did mine.


3 small white potatoes
2 cloves garlic, sliced
parmesan cheese
salt and pepper


1. Wash potatoes thoroughly and dry. 
2. Slice a little bit of the bottoms of the potatoes to create a flat surface.
3. Place a potato in a large spoon and slice. The spoon ensures the knife will not cut all the way through the potato and will give you the fanning effect. Repeat with all potatoes.
3. Here is where you add your own spin: I thinly sliced a couple of cloves of garlic and inserted them in every other space. I alternated with thin slices of cold butter. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
4. Bake at 425* for about 45 minutes. (Time may vary depending on the size of your potatoes).
5. Top with a dollop of butter or sour cream and serve hot!
2. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Pepperoni Calzones

I let Mr. Picky decide on dinner last night since he was buying. But I didn't like what he picked so I decided to make calzones. :) I really was just craving anything with my homemade marinara sauce, and calzones fit the bill. The great thing about calzones is that you can make them to suit anyones tastes. They're also pretty easy to make!

I bought a ball of frozen pizza dough and let it thaw under a damp towel for a couple of hours. I then was presented with the task of separating the dough into two separate balls and stretching it out. This frustrated me. If any of you have been around me when I'm trying to do something that frustrates me I quickly transform from a woman to a 4 year old child that pouts and screams. I walked away from the dough and came back and formed to nicely shaped 10 inch rounds to build my calzones. A sight for sure.

Speaking of sights... I found myself watching some Martha Stewart special on pies Saturday night on the cooking channel. (I mean....I was out raging with all my friends). Anyways I finally learned how to make crusts look pretty. I was happy to use my new skill.

1 ball frozen pizza dough
7 oz ricotta cheese (about half of a small container)
1 c mozzarella cheese
1/4 c parmesan cheese
~Optional Ingredients~
cooked sausage
black olives


1. Thaw dough (either in the fridge overnight or for 3ish hours at room temperature.) Separate dough into two equal parts. Lightly flour and roll or stretch into 2 10-inch rounds. Place on a greased baking sheet and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine cheeses. Separate into two equal portions and place on one half of your calzones. Then pick your pizza toppings and add them to your calzones. I added a handful of pepperoni to each, some sliced deli him and onions to mine. I put black olives in Mr. Picky's. The possibilities are endless! I mixed some of the toppings in with the cheese and placed the rest on top.
3. Fold the dough over and seal the edges well. Poke holes in the top of the calzone to let the steam out.
4. Bake your calzones at 450* for 10-15 minutes or until hot and golden brown.
5. Enjoy with your favorite marinara dipping sauce! (I made my own. Very against jarred sauces. Yuck.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chicken Poppers and Cheesy Ranch Potatoes

Last night was an "empty your pantry" kind of night. I had some chicken tenders in the freezer, a few slices of bacon in the fridge and hash browns in the freezer. What is a girl to do? Make a delicious meal, thats what.

And delicious it was, even Mr. Picky agreed. Of course, he didn't know there was almost a full container of sour cream in the potatoes. Shh.. our secret.

I'm sorry for the poor quality photo. It was another from my phone and also I was STARVING.. can't waste time taking exquisite pictures :)

I got the idea for the chicken poppers from my fantastic brother-in-law. He actually does this using pork loin instead of chicken and he grills them. Truthfully, I like those poppers better but this is what I had and they turned out pretty darned tasty! He also does not use the sugar, I got that from a similar Paula Deen recipe and thought I'd try it out. I could take it or leave it.

For the Chicken Poppers

1 lb chicken tenders, cut into one inch cubes
Allegro Hot and Spicy Marinade
1 lb bacon
2/3 c brown sugar
2 T chili powder


1. Marinade the chicken in the Allegro for at least an hour.
2. Cut each slice of bacon into three.
3. Wrap the marinated chicken in a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
4. Dredge in the sugar mixture, then place on a greased broiling rack and pan.
5. Bake at 350* for 35-40 minutes or until bacon is crispy. Yum!

For the Cheesy Ranch Potatoes


1/2 a bag of frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 16 oz container sour cream
1 packet ranch dressing mix
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
1/4 c garlic croutons
1/4 c french fried onions

1. Mix everything together but the croutons and the onions in a large bowl. Transfer to a greased 8 inch casserole dish.
2. In a Ziploc, crush the croutons and the french fried onions into a fine crumb and combine together. Sprinkle mixture on top of the potatoes.
3. Bake alongside the chicken in a 350* oven for 35-40 mins or until hot and bubbly.

This turned out to be a wonderful dinner with things I just had in the fridge and cupboards! The potatoes were really different with the addition of ranch dressing, we really enjoyed them.

Thanksgiving Oreo Turkeys

You can find a lot of different variations of these all over the web. I cannot take credit for making these little beauties. A room mom of ours was nice enough to make these for our Thanksgiving feast and they turned out great! The kids were really excited to eat them (as were many adults).

Double Stuff Oreos
Can of Chocolate Frosting
Candy Corn
Malted Milk Balls (Whoppers)
Cinnamon Red Hots


1. Take the Oreos apart, separate the creamed side from the plain side and make two different piles.
2. Spread the chocolate frosting the flat side of the plain chocolate cookie. Press the candy corn into the frosting to resemble turkey feathers.
3. Insert the frosted turkey into the cream of the other cookie half.
4. Put a little bit of icing on the malt ball and press it on in front of the frosted cookie.
5. Frost a red hot and place that on top.
6. If desired, pipe a little face on.
7. You can also use the white part of a candy corn and stick it on with frosting to look like a beak. Cute!

Our classroom was a disaster after the "feast." Signs we had a good time!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

This is dangerous. Not as in it will make you ill dangerous but... sinfully dangerous. These are brownies topped with an extra rich EGG FREE cookie dough, so its safe to consume as much as you want without fear of getting sick.

That, my friends, is why these delicious morsels are dangerous.

I don't really like baking and I don't do it much. I hate feeling restricted to a recipe and that is how I feel when I bake. Plus I really don't like sweets that much. But I was asked to make brownies for our Native American Feast tomorrow in my class and they handed me over a boxed brownie. How boring. So I searched the internet until I came across these beauties. And.. oh my..

Forgive the picture. I left my camera at school and had to use my phone!

Recipe Source: Recipegirl

The original recipe calls for homemade brownies. If you love baking then go right on ahead and make your favorite brownies from scratch to fill a 13x9 pan. I just used a family sized boxed variety.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Yield: 32 brownies


1 family sized box of brownie mix
3/4 c butter, softened
3/4 c light brown sugar, packed
3/4 c granulated sugar
3 T milk
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 c mini chocolate chips


1. Make brownies according to package instructions. Let cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract. Slowly add the flour and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
3. Spread the mixture on in an even layer on top of the cooled brownies. Refrigerate until the dough is firm. The more firm the dough is, the easier the brownies are to cut. Wipe your knife between cuts to avoid a mess.
4. Top with extra chocolate chips, if desired. Enjoy!