3 Top Ten for 2012

Welcome to the top ten popular posts of 2012!

According to Google Analytics, these are the posts that have been looked at the most during the year.

#1 is the Outback Bread shown above. This bread is simply a version of my wheat bread recipe.  What makes this bread unique is the dark coloring and the hint of cocoa powder.  It can be made without the caramel coloring with the same great taste ~ the bread will be a lighter color.

#2 on the list is White Texas Sheet cake.  This moist, buttery vanilla cake is perfect for  a group of people and it will disappear quickly!  Readers have left comments how they have added almond flavoring to the cake and different toppings...nuts or crushed peppermint candies.

#3 is General Tao's Chicken.  Tangy, sweet, and spicy chicken that is perfect served over a bed of rice.  I love how you can adjust the spice level of this chicken by increasing or decreasing the amount of red pepper flakes.  You can also choose to stir fry your chicken instead of dipping it in flour and deep frying it.  One reader added broccoli for a healthy version.

#4 Chick Fil A Nuggets.  This is such a popular recipe and kids LOVE them!  These moist, crispy pieces of chicken are marinated, dipped in a savory breading and fried.  I love that there is enough seasoning in the chicken and breading, that there is no need to dip them in sauce.  They are great by themselves!

#5 is another copy cat recipe: Myzithra Spaghetti, a popular dish from the Old Spaghetti Factory.  Browned butter gives this fast, easy, and simple dish its characteristic caramel flavor.  If you are unable to find Myzithra goat cheese, you can use any of your favorite hard cheeses to top this dish.

#6 is my ever-popular Dinner Roll recipe.  This is a soft, not overly sweet roll that is sturdy enough to mop up gravy. I have made this countless times and it is a very good beginner-bread-baker recipe.  What is fun about this recipe is that I can make a variety of shapes for all occasions...Valentines {heart}, Easter {bunny}, etc. These rolls can be made ahead of time, or made into soft, buttery bread sticks.

#7 is a pressure cooker recipe: BBQ Chicken.  What is unique about this recipe is that you can plunk a piece of frozen chicken, pour some sauce on top (add a little water if necessary) and  will have moist, flavorful chicken in 15 minutes.  Pressure cooking is fast and with the new electric and stove top models, is very safe to use.

#8 is Bahama Mamma Tortilla Soup, a chicken soup with a tropical twist.  This soup is a copy cat recipe from the popular restaurant, Rhumbi Island Grill. Diced chicken, carrots, tomatoes, spices, and coconut milk are poured onto shredded mozzarella cheese and topped with crispy corn tortilla strips for a wonderful and filling soup.

#9 is a popular side from many restaurants, including Ruby Tuesday.  I like them sliced thin and crispy on the side or included in a juicy hamburger.  A little bit of cayenne gives these Onions Straws {strings} their addictive kick.

#10 Last, but not least, is Pork Barbacoa, a popular dish served in Cafe Rio.  This sweet and spicy (you can adjust the heat!) slow cooked shredded pork is great by itself, on a soft flour taco, or in a burrito.  You can save a whole lotta time by making this dish in a pressure cooker!

It looks like my readers have chosen many of my favorites!  Here's to another New Year and to new recipes to come!


4 Merry Christmas, from my family to yours!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!  

Thank you for being a part our lives.  We wish you all the very best ~ may you find joy this week and the rest of the year with your family, friends, baking and cooking.  May you find comfort if you have lost loved ones or are far away from home and family.

My gift to you are our family favorite simple recipes to enjoy throughout the holidays!

Snowflake White Hot Chocolate

Creamy, silky white chocolate with your favorite add-ins is a nice change...

Low-Fat Eggnog

Eggnog from the store is too thick, too rich for me.  Try making your own using a stove-top custard method that makes this drink safe for everyone.

White Cheddar Cheese Ball

Sharp, tangy white cheddar, cream cheese, sour cream and green onions, is  popular combination that even the pickiest eater will love.

Peppermint Bark Fudge

The best of both worlds: White chocolate and traditional semi-sweet chocolate, this two layer fudge is smooth, creamy and peppermint-y.  A great way to use left-over candy canes.

Candied Cinnamon Almonds

Love nuts? Then you'll love these vanilla/cinnamon almonds that are SO easy to make on the stove top for 10 minutes, then popped into the oven for 10-15 minutes.  The aroma from your kitchen will be amazing!!

Andes Mint Topped Brownies
Another simple, yet mind-blowing recipe.  Find the Andes Mint bits in the baking section and sprinkle them on top of your fresh-out-of-the oven brownies for a real treat!

This casserole is not an egg-y one, since it uses cubes of bread...more like a French Toast texture. It is loaded with cheese, is easy to make the night before and pop into the oven for an hour before the kiddos wake up.  You can top it with cooked sausage, but our favorite is the maple flavored bacon that is available at Sam's Club.


23 Edward's Desserts Holiday Celebration & A Giveaway!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Edwards for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
Are you having a hard time fitting everything you want to do this holiday season? Between shopping, baking, attending parties and everything else....it's hard to find a balance!
Part of celebrating the holidays is giving back, whether it is to your family, friends, neighbors or the community.  Edwards Crème pies has done just that, helping families to create a balance of enjoying dessert, sending e-cards, and donating money to a worthy cause: Toys for Tots!
For every Edward's Desserts products purchased during the rest of December, Edward's desserts will donate $1 to Toys for Tots.*  I found this lucious looking pie in the frozen section of Walmart for under $5.

Oh, did I mention e-cards?  Edward's Desserts has a microsite for sending a holiday e-card to friends and family.  It is way cool and so easy to use.  You can choose from two designs and send an e-card up to 50 people, all at the same time!  With every e-card sent, both you AND your recipiet will get the added bonus of receiving up to two coupons for $1 off any Mrs. Smith's or Edwards whole pie via an email link!**

I love that this pie can be served whole or cut into slices.  There was only the two of us at home, so I used a warm wet knife and cut two slices of the frozen pie and put the rest back into the freezer.

I choose this Hershey's Creme Pie because it looked like the perfect blend of chocolate and vanilla.  Too much chocolate can be extremely rich and I couldn't wait to try this one!  I let our single slices "thaw" out in the fridge for about 20 minutes.  The fork went easily into the creamy filling....

... and into the crispy, crunchy, chocolate cookie crust.  I was pleasantly surprised that the crust wasn't soggy!

Perfect!  I loved every bite.  Hubby especially enjoyed the cookie crust.

I would definitely bring this pie to a gathering to share; it looks pretty and is delicious.  For under $5, (especially with the $1 donation going to Toys for Tots), it is a bargain.  It would take a ton of ingredients and time to throw together this pie, and I wouldn't hesitate trying some of the other flavors that are available.

Giveaway!  Edward's Desserts has graciously given me a coupon for a FREE pie to give away to one of my readers!!  I would love for you to try this pie for yourself... all you need to do is visit the Edward's Dessert site and tell me which pie you like to try for yourself and family. Leave the name of the pie you'd try in the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway P.S.  The winner selected by Rafflecopter will not only get a coupon for a FREE pie, they will have a $20 donation from Edward's Desserts made to Toys for Tots in their name.  Happy Holidays!

Remember to try out Edward's Desserts e-card site to share some holiday cheer and dessert!

*Up to $50,000
**only two coupons total will go to each IP address
Coupon is for (1) free pie, up to $8.99, expires 1/31/13
Visit Sponsor's Site


1 Sandy Hook Day of Remembrance

If you would like to donate to help the victim’s families and community of Newtown, Connecticut, please consider donating to the United Way’s Sandy Hook School Support Fund.  


0 Pheels Like the Holidays With Philadelphia Cream Cheese!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PHILADELPHIA cream cheese for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.


Who loves Philadelphia cream cheese?  I do!  Philadephia is a classic brand that I have known forever.  Cream cheese just makes everything richer and creamier. I first ate cream cheese smeared on a toasted bagel and it has been love ever since!  I love making many of my appetizers and desserts with cream cheese, but did you know that you can use it in other meals?  This stuff's not just for cheesecake any more, folks!

How about breakfast?

Doesn't that look good?  It's an Apple Breakfast Pancake...


Baked apple pancakes, sweetened with cinnamon, cream cheese, and served in a skillet.  It can be eaten at breakfast or .... served with ice cream as a dessert.

Or, how about these Chicken Parmesan Bundles for dinner?


Spinach, cream cheese, Parmesan, and Ritz crackers come together for a great combination that your family will love!

Need some inspiration? 

You can find recipes for the Apple Breakfast Pancake and Chicken Parmesan Bundles by visiting PHILADELPHIA cream cheese, and clicking on the recipes link.  There are a ton of great recipes. Many of these recipes feature Philadelphia cream cheese to impress your family and guests.  Recipes covering breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner and dessert.  I love the tangy and creaminess that cream cheese brings out in many of my dishes and I'm sure you do, too!

Once you discover your favorite recipes that you'd like to try, pin them on Pinterest and share them with others.  I love using Philadelphia cream cheese for holiday entertaining and Pinterest is a great way to keep track of recipes I like to try.

What do YOU like to make with Philadelphia cream cheese?

Visit Sponsor's Site


7 Andes Peppermint Topped Brownies

A sweet neighbor of mine brought some amazing brownies to a holiday gathering last year.  I usually don't eat brownies that have a thick layer of frosting and sometimes prefer to eat brownies topless.  However, these brownies were different.  I loved the thin chocolate layer and minty taste of these brownies and had to ask her for the recipe.

"There really isn't a recipe," she said.

Huh?  Well, what do you do? I asked.

"I used Andes mint chips."

Huh?  I have never heard of Andes mint chips before....

And guess what?  She dropped off a bag of Andes baking chips the very next day.

The simplicity of using your favorite brownie recipe (or mix) and topping it with these Andes mint chips is ingenious.

I used my favorite saucepan brownie recipe back from my college days and immediately out of the oven, sprinkled these baking chips on top...

How much you want to use is entirely up to you!

Wait a couple of minutes for the chips to melt and begin spreading.

Allow the chips to cool and set. 

When cool, the brownies are ready for cutting and serving. 

In this case, these brownies are ready to ship out to my missionary son, who is in the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Provo, along with some peanut butter cookies that his dad made for him.

Your family, friends, and neighbors will love this simple, easy to make brownie!


5 Peppermint White Chocolate Pretzels

Don't these look pretty?

Well, not only are they pretty to look at, they are pretty darn tasty, too!

I love the salty-sweet combo of pretzels and chocolate for years, and now I am learning how to make my own.

I found this large, ornament-style container of Holiday shaped pretzels at Sam's Club . 
That planted the idea to dip them in chocolate and give them to neighbors and friends.

You will find star, tree and bell pretzel shapes.  I picked out all the star shapes and got my white chocolate ready.

I am using Guittard White Ribbon chocolate coating.  You can find this coating at the Honeyville Farms store in Salt Lake.

I microwaved the coating on high for one minute, gave it a stir and then microwaved it again in 20 second increments till it was fully melted.

Tip:  Put the container of melted chocolate onto my uncovered heating pad to keep the chocolate melted throughout the dipping process. 

You can see that using a fork will hold to much of the melted chocolate under the pretzel...

Tip:  Use a chocolate dipping fork.  I found this one for under $4 at Orson Gygi, but you can also find it at Cooking.com.

You can keep the melted chocolate plain, or add any flavoring you like.  I chose peppermint oil.

To start, simply put your naked pretzel into the melted chocolate,

flip it over with the dipping fork, tap it several times against the container to remove the excess chocolate,

and wipe the bottom edge of the fork against your container.

Place your dipped pretzel onto parchment paper and sprinkle with colored sugar sprinkles.

The chocolate sets fairly quickly, so I only dipped two pretzels at a time and then sprinkled them.

What a pretty, edible treat to give away to someone you love!

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