Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bake Sale Frosted Brownies ~ Tigelaar Style

If you attended Guilford High School circa 1993, you may have been lucky enough to enjoy these brownies while watching a new episode of 90210 on a Thursday night, in the Tigelaar family room.  They were served warm out of the oven or with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  Delicious.
I was so excited when Liz's mom, Mary, shared her recipe with me a few years back. I couldn't believe it called for a box brownie mix!  They taste like someone spent hours in the kitchen, running their Kitchen Aid while shaving chocolate and sifting cocoa. 

I call them bake sale brownies because they are perfect for the many events throughout the school year that call for moms and dads to bring a refreshment of some sort.  The recipe yields an enormous tray of these frosted little treats.  There is nothing worse than telling your kids they are not allowed to touch the freshly baked whatever that has been smelling up the house all day because there won't be enough for their classmates at the Cocoa Social! Enough to bring to school AND share with your family at home. Perfect!

Frosted Brownies
For the brownies:
2 boxes Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix (Not the pouch.  Usually the box reads family recipe 9 X 13 pan..or something like that).  
Eggs, canola oil and water as called for on the box.

Prepare the brownies as stated on the box.  Spread batter onto a cookie sheet with sides (also called a jelly roll pan measuring about 24 X 16 inches.
Bake at recommended temperature for about 18-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the Frosting
1 stick of butter
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
1/3 milk
1 box confectioners sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan. 
2.  Mix in cocoa powder and stir in milk.  Bring to boil.
3.  Off heat, stir in sugar and vanilla (and nuts if using). 
4.  Pour over brownies while still warm.   

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Autumn Pork Chops

This is the perfect recipe for any fall weeknight!  I have to warn you that the smells from the kitchen around dinner time will be slightly deceiving.  Your children will think you are baking up a big fat apple pie for dinner and will be very disappointed when you tell them it's pork chops!  They will be pleasantly surprised when the flavors in their dinner are reminiscent to those found in the apple pie they had been hoping for! My girls love a big bowl of the baked apple served next to their sweet and saucy pork!

Prep Ahead Plan:  Place all ingredients except for the final 1/4 cup of sherry and cornstarch in a 9 X 13 inch baking dish the night before (it doesn't need to sit overnight).  Cover and refrigerate until the next evening when you are ready to bake it. 

Autumn Pork Chops
  • 6 pork chops
  • 3-4 large apples - peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 t  cinnamon
  • 3 T butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry

1/4 cup sherry mixed with 3 T cornstarch

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Grease the baking dish and mix the apples, brown sugar and cinnamon in it.  Add the pork chops and pour the 1/2 cup of sherry over the top.  Season with salt and pepper.  I like to mix it up and place a few apples on top of each pork chop.  Dot with butter.
3.  Cover and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.  Remove baking dish from the oven and add the 1/4 cup of sherry mixed with the cornstarch.  Bake an additional 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Weekend Baking...Cinnamon Buns

I remember my first attempt to make cinnamon buns from scratch.  I can't remember the exact recipe I used, but I do remember the time it consumed.  Of course they were a huge hit.  Despite their decadence, it didn't seem to make much sense to devote my entire Saturday morning to cinnamon buns. I now needed to figure out an easier way to serve these up without chaining myself to the kitchen counter for hours and hours.   

My bread machine makes more than a weekly appearance on my kitchen counter.  I use it regularly for making a variety of breads and dough.  While seeking out a cinnamon bun recipe that utilized the bread machine, I came across two Betty Crocker recipes I really liked.  I combined them and came up with my version of homemade cinnamon buns.  

We love to have these cinnamon buns on Christmas morning or any other lazy weekend that calls for comfort food!

Prep Ahead Plan:  These can be prepared up to 48 hours ahead of time.  I usually make them the day before and leave them in the fridge, covered in the 9 X 13 baking dish.  Before baking, leave them on the counter, covered with a kitchen towel for 2 hours for the buns to rise!

Cinnamon Buns
For the dough:
1 egg plus enough water to equal 1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon of water
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 t salt
1 1/2 t bread machine or quick active dry yeast

1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon

3 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Mix all ingredients until smooth and spread over warm buns.

1.  Carefully measure all ingredients in the bread machine pan.
2.  Select dough setting and wait for the beep!
3.  When the dough is done, let it sit on a lightly floured surface on the counter for ten minutes (cover with a towel).  Make filling (see below)
4.  Butter/grease 9 X 13 baking dish.  Roll dough out into a 15 X 9 inch rectangle.
5.  Pour the butter over the rolled out dough. Combine cinnamon and brown sugar and sprinkle over dough. Roll up and slice into one inch pieces.  Place the pieces in the 9 X 13 baking dish.
6.  If baking that same day, cover for 40 minutes and then bake at 375 degrees for 23-28 minutes until golden brown.  Pour glaze (see below) over warm rolls.  Here they are just out of the oven waiting to be glazed!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup

I love serving soup for dinner.  Most of the time, I prepare a big pot on the weekend and put it on the menu for dinner one day that next week.  This recipe happens to make a TON!  Sometimes I freeze leftovers in 16 ounce containers for later use but more often then not I leave the entire pot in the fridge to be eaten for lunches or for random snacking!

This soup requires a small amount of "stand over time" as you mix up the meatballs for baking and chop and saute the veggies.  It's worth it for the amount of prep ahead meals it yields if not for the yumminess factor alone!  

I combined elements of Ina Garten's Italian wedding soup recipe with one I found on Allrecipes and came up with a version of my very own!  I hope your family enjoys it as much as ours does!

Italian Wedding Soup

For the meatballs:
1 lb ground chicken
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T dried parsley
3 T parmesan cheese
2T pecorino romano
2T milk
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork.
2.  Roll heaping teaspoons of the meat mixture into balls and place on a greased cookie sheet.  
3.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  Makes about 50-60 little meatballs.

For the Soup:
2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3-4 carrots, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
12 cups chicken broth (3- 32 oz cartons) I use Natures Promise Organic
1/2 cup of white wine
escarole, about 1 cup chopped or 1 cup baby spinach
1 cup pasta
bay leaf

1.  Heat oil in a large soup pot.  Saute onions and add in garlic for about a minute.  Add in carrots and continue to saute for another minute before adding in celery.  Saute the veggies for a few minutes more.
2.  Add broth, pasta, bay leaf and wine and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add escarole and meatballs.  
3.  Cover and simmer for about an hour or until veggies are desired tenderness and the flavors have all come together.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

baked teriyaki chicken

It's easy enough to run to the store and buy a bottle of teriyaki sauce, pour it over chicken and bake it.  There are some decent brands out there that don't include high fructose corn syrup and other genetically modified ingredients such as Soy Vay, Natures Promise and Trader Joes.  However, all of them contain sesame seeds and my kids freak out at the sight of them splattered all over their chicken.  The sodium content tends to be a little too high in those bottled brands as well.  I came across an easy recipe for teriyaki sauce that can be quickly mixed up in a small sauce pan.  I usually use the sauce for baked chicken but it would work well as a marinade for grilling or on wings!

Prep Ahead Plan:  It takes about 5-10 minutes to thicken the sauce in a sauce pan.  I do this the night before and pour it over the chicken in a 9 X 13 baking dish.  I cover the baking dish with foil until I am ready to bake it the next evening!  We serve it with mixed steamed veggies and rice!

Baked Teriyaki Chicken


  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 T cold water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts


  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, cold water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and ground black pepper. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles (about 5-10 minutes)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Place chicken in a lightly greased (or sprayed) 9x13 inch baking dish. Pour sauce over chicken.  Flip each piece of chicken so that it is completely covered with sauce.
  4. Bake,covered, in a preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. I like very thin chicken breast so mine are usually done within 35 minutes!
  5. Serve with rice and mixed steamed vegetables!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Glazed Meatballs

The Pioneer Woman's "comfort meatballs" was one of the first recipes I tried when I picked up her cookbook last year.  They were absolutely delicious but did require a little "stand over time" while frying the meatballs.  I adapted the recipe a little and came up with this version that bakes both the meatballs and the glaze in one pan and can be prepared ahead of time.  

These meatballs aren't of the Italian variety and are more like little round meat loaves! There are many different glaze options for this recipe.  The other night we had these meatballs with PW's  sauce.  I will include three glaze recipes that work well!  

This is a great prep ahead entertaining recipe!  I like to make them the night before and heat them up the next day before guests arrive by keeping them in the slow cooker on the warm setting.  Guests can help themselves right from the pot.

Prep Ahead Plan:  There are a few different options in preparing these ahead of time.  If I am serving these for dinner, I prepare them in a baking dish and refrigerate them raw, covered in sauce until I am ready to bake them up for dinner the next day!  If I am serving them at some kind of gathering, I usually bake them up the night before and warm them in the slow cooker when I am ready to serve them.

Glazed Meatballs


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion (or 1 t onion powder)

Glaze Options (I always double these glaze recipes because we like the meatballs to be very saucy!  Some people prefer less sauce though.)

Smokey BBQ Style

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring

Cocktail Meatball Style

  • 1 (8 ounce) can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 3/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

PW Style
1 cup ketchup
2 T sugar
3 T vinegar
2 T worcestershire sauce
4 T (to 6 T) onion
1 dash Tabasco


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease (or spray) a 9 X 13 baking dish.
  2. In a bowl, mix beef, egg, oats, milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and 1/2 cup onion. Form into 1 1/2 inch balls and arrange in a single layer in the baking dish.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix sauce ingredients. Pour sauce over meatballs.
  4. Bake uncovered 1 hour in the preheated oven, until the minimum internal temperature of a meatball reaches 160 degrees F.      

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin Bread-3 loaf recipe

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I posted a pumpkin muffin recipe but I can't let the fall months go by without sharing this yummy pumpkin bread recipe. It bakes up moist and sweet with a great flavor combination of fall spices. A small amount of work goes into making this bread and it yields three loaves.  It isn't quite as healthy as the other pumpkin recipe I shared as this one calls for a fair amount of sugar.  We like to eat it as a late morning snack or even dessert. 

Prep Ahead Plan:  I am a little bit of a weekend warrior when it comes to baking because I can't seem to fit it in during the week.  I always double and triple ingredient amounts, making multiple batches to make sure my time has been well spent!  Prepping ahead and freezing baked goods is a great way to serve home baked goodness on busy weekdays! 

After the breads have cooled, I slice one and store it in an air tight container for snacking that week.  After slicing the other two loaves, I wrap the slices individually in plastic wrap and freeze them in storage bags.  It takes about 15 extra minutes to do this but it's so worth it.  The wrapped, frozen slices defrost very quickly on the counter or when microwaved on the defrost setting for about 45 seconds.


  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Elsie's Garlic Chicken (oven baked)

In our house this dish is called "Stacey's Mom's Chicken."  Now that I am a mother myself, I am acutely aware of the degree to which we lose our identity once we have children and renamed the dish to give credit where credit is due. Stacey is a childhood friend I met back in first grade. We grew up together and share many fond memories from "back in the day."  I love how food often comes with a little memory or story to be told.  That's why this recipe is special.  After having dinner at her house one evening, I told my mom about this chicken dish that was "way better than any chicken recipe we ever had at our house."  (As a parent I now know that other people's food always tastes better so I'm sure she was not at all insulted by my comment.)  I'm so glad my mother ignored my obnoxious, teenage attitude and called Elsie to get the recipe from her!  It is made almost weekly at our house.  A family favorite for sure!   Thank you Elsie! And you too, Stacey :)

Prep Ahead Plan:  I like to bread the chicken the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight on a pan, ready to be baked .

5 T butter
1 clove garlic minced
2/3 cup bread crumbs
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
dash of salt and pepper
4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1.  Melt butter and garlic in a bowl in the microwave.
2.  Combine bread crumbs, cheese, parsley and salt and pepper in a bowl or on a piece of tin foil. I like to mix the breadcrumb mixture on a large piece of foil.
3.  Spray a pan with cooking spray.  Dip a piece of chicken in the melted garlic butter and then coat with breadcrumb mixture and place on pan.  Repeat with remaining chicken.
4.  If you have remaining breadcrumbs and butter, mix them together and sprinkle them over chicken.
5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Steak Fajitas (slow cooker)

This is another great recipe adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann.  

We love having Mexican on the menu any night of the week.  I was excited when I saw this "set it and forget it" fajita recipe perfect for weeknight cooking.  It calls for flank steak which is a lean, flavorful cut of meat.  The slow cooking method really tenderizes the meat making it perfect to serve on a flour tortilla topped with onions and peppers!  

3/4 cup salsa
1 T olive oil
1 T tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
3 T lime juice
1 t  ground black pepper
1/2 t salt
One 1 1/2 lb flank steak, trimmed of excess fat
1 red onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
flour tortillas (about 12)

1.  Mix salsa, oil, tomato paste, garlic, lime juice, ground black pepper and salt in the slow cooker.
2.  Add in flank steak, flipping it over once or twice to coat it in the mixture.
3.  Lay the peppers and onions on top and cook on low 6-8 hours.
4.  Remove vegetables and place on a serving platter with meat.  Cover with foil for 10 minutes before slicing.  Cut meat across grain into 1/2 inch slices.  Serve with sides of shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole or any toppings you choose.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Prep Ahead Football Food: Queso Blanco and Asian Style Wings

Here are two easy and delicious prep ahead appetizer dishes that are perfect for a Sunday afternoon full of football watching!  

It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare these wings the night before you want to serve them.  They bake up sweet, sticky and full of flavor!  I like to buy a large foil pan to bake them in.  This makes for an easy clean up!

1 large package chicken wings or 2 small ones (I'm not sure of the weights) 
1 lb light brown sugar
1 small bottle of lite soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of honey

1.  Combine all ingredients in foil pan and mix until it is smooth and syrupy.  
2.  Mix chicken wings in pan and stir to coat.  Refrigerate overnight, turning once.
3.  Bake chicken at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half, covered.  Drain all but about a half inch of the liquid.  Bake an additional 1/2 hour uncovered.  I like to broil them on high for the last 15 minutes or so until the skin gets a little crispy.

 Slow Cooker Queso Blanco
Be prepared to give this recipe to anyone who tastes it!  It is addicting.   If you happen to forget to drain the diced tomatoes, your queso just might look a little less seen in the picture above! :)
The recipe yields a ton of queso.  It freezes very well.  I like to wait until it cools and spoon some into freezer bags to have on hand for another day. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave on MEDIUM.  

1 small onion diced 
3 garlic cloves, minced 
1 (14.5-oz) can petite cut diced tomatoes, drained 
1 cup milk 
3/4 cup pickled jalapeno sliced, minced 
1 Tbsp. juice from jalapeno slices
 1 (4.5-oz) can chopped green Chiles, undrained 
1 tsp. cumin 
1/2 tsp. dried oregano 
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper 
2 lb. deli white American cheese, sliced
1. Place onion in a microwave-safe bowl; cover loosely with plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and next 8 ingredients. 
2. Roughly tear cheese, place in a 4-qt slow cooker. Pour onion mixture over cheese. 
3. Cover and cook on LOW 2 hours. Stir gently to blend ingredients. Serve with tortilla chips.