Sunday, January 27, 2013

Better Than Everything Cake

So here's the thing about the lions.
I made this cake on Monday night for dessert.  There was some leftover.  The next day was our Cub Scout Blue and Gold banquet and each cub scout had to bring a dessert having to do with one of their favorite scripture stories.
Well, since we already had cake and I didn't really have time to make another one, we used the leftover cake to make a lion's den.  You know, Daniel and the lion's den.
When I sat down to post this recipe, I realized that this is the only picture that I took of the cake.  So there you have it.
The moral of this story is...this cake is heavenly and you should make it.
1 chocolate cake mix
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 jar caramel ice cream topping
1 pint whipping cream
Heath Bar pieces

*Make chocolate cake in a 9x13 according to package directions.  Let cool for a few minutes, but not completely.  Poke holes all over the cake using a fork or knife.  Make sure holes go all the way to the bottom of the pan.  Pour sweetened condensed milk over the cake.  Let it soak in for a few minutes.  Pour caramel topping over the cake.  Let it soak in for a few minutes.  Whip up your whipping cream until stiff, adding a little sugar and vanilla to taste.  Spread over cake and sprinkle Heath Bar pieces on top.

You could also use Cool Whip, but you know how I feel about Cool Whip.

The salted caramel sauce from Trader Joe's is way better than Smucker's.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Not really fruit season, but cobbler tastes so good warm with a scoop of ice cream! Sounds good to me on a cold winter's night--even though here in AZ it has been 81 for the last few days. Last week the high was only 45.  Go figure--Arizona!!

I titled this Fruit Cobbler because you can use any or a combination of fruit.  I am somewhat of a cobbler "snob" and don't particularly like the cobbler made with cake mix.  I got this recipe from a friend (same friend I got Maori Bread from--thanks Marti) and it has been my favorite since. My personal favorite (the top photo) is a combination of blueberries and raspberries.  You can use either canned fruit or fresh.  Just be sure if you use canned, you use the kind that is in its own juice.  Otherwise, it's too sweet.  I have used frozen fruit as well.  Just let it thaw and drain a little of the juice off if it seems to be too much liquid.  If I use plain, fresh blueberries, there is no liquid at all and it is fine.


 6-8 cups cut up fruit (if using canned fruit such as peaches, use the kind in its own juice and DRAIN THOROUGHLY)**
1/4 C Flour
1/3 C sugar
1 t. lemon juice

 Stir fruit and flour, sugar and lemon juice together well.  Place in a greased 9x13 dish. 

1/4 C sugar
1 stick butter - softened
1/3 C packed brown sugar
1 1/3 C flour

 Mix flour and sugars together then blend in butter. Mix w/ fork and crumble over blueberry mix. Bake at 350 for 30 min.

**If using fresh blueberries I leave out the lemon juice.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Restaurant Review: Spinato's

My husband and I have fallen in love with various restaurants at various times in our marriage.  I would like to introduce you to our latest obsession.
A few years ago, BC was at the barber getting a haircut, and a man, who was also getting his haircut, handed him a gift certificate  for his family's pizza joint called Spinato's.  The certificate sat in our house for months until a client of BC's took him there for lunch.  He loved it and came home raving that we needed to go back.  Really soon.
It is now safe to say that this is our favorite place to eat out.  Like one of those places that I could never ever get tired of.  The pizza is OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD.  The antipasto salad is so delicious and the homemade dressing makes it even better.  The cheesy garlic bread is irresistible and the calzones are amazing.  Let me also mention that they have the best ice!  I am a connoisseur of good ice.  Some day I want to try their desserts, but so far we have always been too stuffed at the end of our meal to think about eating another bite.
We have our order down to a science.  We get an antipasto salad to share (half spinach, half lettuce), and a large pizza.  Half of the pizza is pepperoni and sausage for BC and the other half is the L'Italiana, or "the other signature," for me.  It has spinach, roasted red peppers and feta.  (My mouth is watering).  We get a large so we can take some home for leftovers.  This helps with the fact that you can't stop thinking about the pizza after you eat it.
If you live here in Arizona, you might already love this place.  If you haven't tried it...go now!!  If you don't live here in Arizona, come and visit so you can eat there!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


This is one of those dishes that you just "do" and it turns our right. I actually took several quinoa recipes I have seen and concocted my own version. I'm trying to eat "cleaner" and fool the husband into thinking it's good and not just healthy. He has an aversion to anything he thinks might be "healthy". To him, that means it tastes awful! Think--white bread, white rice, etc.

That being said, I haven't had luck getting him to eat this, but I'm working on it.  This is great heated up the next day.

Cook 1 cup quinoa grain in 2 cups of chicken broth.  I use my rice cooker and here is a great hint I read online:

**Quinoa has a bitter natural coating on the outside.  Rinse it very well before cooking.  It will remove the coating and bitter taste without removing any nutrients.  I was having a hard time eating quinoa before I did this. I think it really helps-- a lot!! 

Set aside the cooked quinoa.  Note--it seems to cook a little faster than rice, so I turn the cooker off before it goes off automatically--I burned some and it wasn't pretty!!

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-3 T. olive oil

Cut chicken breasts into small cubes.  Saute them in olive oil, just until they are done (no pink).

1/2 red bell pepper cut in small pieces
1/2 yellow bell pepper cut the same
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 clove garlic, minced (I use the kind out of the jar--I hate    the smell of garlic on my hands!!)
Continue sauteing until onions and peppers are just crisp, tender.  Add:

1/2 bunch of kale, washed, dried and torn into bite size pieces.  You can adjust this proportion--more or less.  Saute just until the kale is wilted. Mix with the cooked quinoa and add salt and pepper to taste.  

I also splashed mine with a little soy sauce, mixed with a little balsamic vinegar (my favorite) and garnished with a little diced avocado and coarse grated Parmesan cheese.  I'm sure there are lots of other things you can add to this dish.

I told you it was "do" as you go!!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Easy Beef Stroganoff

Happy 2013!!
Hope it's been a good year for you so far.
I didn't do a lot of dinner-making during the month of December. In fact, we may have set a record for largest number of hot-and-ready Little Caesar's pizzas consumed in one month.  I hope the person that came up with that idea got a raise.  Best idea ever.  
But now it's a new year and we don't have an activity every night of the week and I'm cooking again!  Hooray!
This dinner is so easy and family-friendly.  Kids like anything with ground beef and noodles, right?  And it tastes great!
Just make sure and serve something green with this dish because it's not exactly the role model for healthy dinners.
1 pound lean ground beef
diced onion
1 can cream of mushroom
3/4 cup sour cream
fresh ground pepper
garlic powder
egg noodles

*Brown beef with onions.  Add soup and sour cream.  Mix well.  Add a little salt to taste and a generous amount of pepper.  Add garlic powder to taste.  Let simmer over medium low for 10 minutes or so.  Serve over cooked egg noodles.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Yesterday late afternoon our friends invited us to watch the BCS Bowl Game (sorry Notre Dame fans) and have dinner. I saw this recipe a few days ago on How Sweet It Is ( and had thawed some chicken tenders to make--I don't know what. I had buttermilk left over from a dish I made for New Years (that stuff lasts FOREVER) so I tried these!  Delicious!! I made a few changes from her original recipe.  She used smoked paprika--I used chile powder. She used whole wheat Panko--I did not.  These were sooooo easy!!  I didn't have almond meal and I ground whole almonds until they were fine in my food processor.  Worked great!!  I also only marinated them in the buttermilk about 3 hours.  The key to these being crunchy is baking them on a rack.  They were perfect!!

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup almond meal (I ground almonds in food processor)
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon  paprika (or chile powder
Add chicken to a baking dish and pour buttermilk over top to coat. Let soak for 4-6 hours refrigerated, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray the rack with nonstick spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine almond meal, panko, flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Remove each chicken tender from the buttermilk and dip in breadcrumbs, gently pressing to adhere. Place on the wire rack. Spray each with a mist of olive oil or nonstick spray. Bake for 12 minutes, remove from over, gently flip and mist with spray, then bake for 12 minutes more.
[The key to crunchy chicken fingers and keeping the breading on the chicken is the wire rack AND the misting spray!]
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