Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cappuccino Fudge

The countdown to Christmas is on for REAL at my house, y'all.

Every day I'm hearing kids saying things like "5 days and a wake-up!"

The pressure for last minute shopping is looming over my head. Primarily what we're lacking is the kids' gifts for each other. I had them draw names so they would only be buying something for one sibling, and so far, only the two little ones have their gifts bought.

 Because I bought them during our grocery trip. Ha.

I had every good intention of taking kids shopping yesterday, but the day just got too busy. I decided it would be the best evening to deliver goody trays to our neighbors, so I spending my spare hours of the day, aside from the five hours we spent at Corban's two basketball games, lunch, and some time with my parents, making treats like this fudge, Peanut Brittle, and Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles (which, for the record, I ended up modifying significantly because the original dough just wasn't very good).  I already had a double batch of my favorites, Hint of Berry Bon Bons, in the fridge, which I made on Thursday.

Ok, so this fudge. Wowzer!

Now admittedly, I've never met a fudge I didn't like. I love the different flavors, add-ins, whatever.
So when I saw this version, a fairly traditional recipe flavored with coffee or espresso powder, I was just dying to try it.

It did not disappoint.

Like any cooked fudge (assuming its cooked properly), it has a dreamy, creamy, melt in your mouth texture. No grittiness, no stickiness, just pure, simple smoothness.

I used instant coffee granules, a little more than originally asked for, and I found the coffee flavor to be really complementary to the chocolate. Not too overpowering, but certainly present.

There is an interesting addition of cinnamon, which I find mostly interesting because I can't taste it. Maybe its adding some complexity to the fudge that I would miss if it wasn't there????
I dunno. Well anyways, I won't omit it, because it's not like it costs much to toss in there.

So if you're looking for a simple, yet definitely different version of fudge to make this year, I highly recommend this one. I'm going to have to use some serious restraint to make sure we have some leftover pieces to share with my family on Christmas!

Cappuccino Fudge
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

7 (oz) jar of marshmallow cream
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee or espresso powder
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 (12 oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Line an 8" square pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease the bottom with butter and set aside.
In a 2 qt. saucepan, combine marshmallow cream, sugar, cream, butter, coffee granules, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until smooth.

Pour immediately into prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Place on cutting board and cut into 64 1-inch squares.

Source: Adapted slightly from Annie's Eats

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies

It's Cookie Season! 

I'm sure you've seen more cookies than you know what to do with on Pinterest and everywhere else....but I figured I might as well contribute to the madness and post a couple of recent cookie recipes I've tried and had great success with. 

If you love chocolate and mint, these beauties will be an instant winner in your book. 
And if you don't love chocolate and mint, these might just make you a convert. 

I made these for a cookie exchange a couple of weeks ago and they were a smashing hit. With a soft, brownie-like cookie, a creamy chocolate mint frosting, and some festive sprinkles on top, they're hard to resist. 

My kids were quite unhappy with me for taking nearly the entire batch with me and would be delighted for me to make another round. Fortunately, since I found the Andes mints on sale, I bought enough for two batches, so another one may be appearing at our house soon. :) 

Marissa (9) is exceedingly interested in baking these days and thought it was great fun to help make these, especially the part with the mints and sprinkles. 

Note: Be sure to plan ahead, since the dough does require some chilling time. 

Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun
Yield: 3-4 dozen depending on how big you make them

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 (4.5 oz) pages Andes mints

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, water, and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter melts. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Pour mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer and allow to cool 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda. 

Using the paddle attachment on the mixer, blend in the eggs one at a time with the chocolate mixture. Add vanilla and stir gently. With the mixer set on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. 

Cover and refrigerate dough for at least one hour. 

Preheat oven to 350°. Scoop dough out by rounded tablespoons and shape into balls. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicon liners 2 inches apart. Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until edges are set and cookies are slightly crackled. Allow to cool for 1 minute (meanwhile, unwrap chocolates) then add 1 Andes mint to the top of each cookie. Allow to rest for a minute or so, then spread over the top the cookie gently with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. 
Decorate with sprinkles if desired. 
Transfer to a cooling rack and allow chocolate to set. You can speed up that process by refrigerating the cookies for a few minutes if necessary. 
Store in an airtight container.

Source: adapted slightly from Allrecipes

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pecan Pie Squares

For as long as I can remember, pecan pie has been one of my favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts. My grandma always made it for those two holidays and it was always served with heaps of generously sweetened homemade whipped cream.

Since then, I've tried some variations over the years. Caramel pecan pie, chocolate pecan pie, and pumpkin pecan pie to name a few. And honestly, I haven't met one yet that I didn't like.

But this year for Thanksgiving, since we had a crowd of 24 people meeting up at my parents' home, 13 of which are the grandkids, I figured a traditional pie wouldn't be the best option. They're a little tricky to cut, kids would likely end up with more than they wanted and that precious pie might be wasted, plus a lot of people just want a small taste and not necessarily the commitment of a whole piece of pie.

These were a perfect solution. The recipe makes a 13 x 9" pan, so there's plenty to go around when you cut little squares. Dessert-seekers could grab one to sample and still have room on their plate (and in their stomach) to have some of the other dessert options.

Now, these pecan pie squares aren't exactly like pecan pie. They have more of a toffee, chewy texture on a shortbread crust, which is reminiscent of pecan pie in flavor but very distinctly different.

I thought some of us die-hard pecan pie fans would feel deprived of our tradition - but you know what? I didn't hear a single complaint. What I did hear was lots of compliments and requests for more.

Personally, I couldn't keep out of them. I was astonished at how addictive they were - and even non-pecan pie eaters enjoyed them. They're not messy, easily portable, small portions, and absolutely scrumptious.

I'm making them again for Christmas. Can't WAIT!!

Pecan Pie Squares
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chopped pecans (chop first, then measure)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 13 x 9" pan with foil, leaving enough for a 2-inch overhang on all sides. 
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, make crust by creaming together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add in the flour and salt and mix until crumbly. 
  3. Press the crust into the foil-lined pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  4. While the crust bakes, prepare the filling by combining the butter, brown sugar, honey, and heavy cream in a saucepan and stirring it over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in pecans and vanilla.
  5. Remove the crust from the oven and pour the pecan filling on top, spreading to cover surface completely. 
  6. Return pan to oven and bake for 18-20 minutes. 
  7. Remove the pan and allow the bars to cool completely in the pan. 
  8. Using the foil overhang, lift the bars from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Peel off the foil and cut into squares. 
Store in a sealed container at room temperature. Bars will remain delicious for several days.  

Source: adapted slightly from Just a Taste

Monday, December 8, 2014

Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies with Whipped Chocolate Ganache - SRC

Most people find a pan of brownies pretty irresistible, right?

How about if you cover the brownies with a layer of peanut butter topping?  Oh, don't stop there, let's add a layer of whipped ganache frosting!!

This pan of decadence got 2 big thumbs up from my crew of eaters. I never saw them eat their soup so fast, knowing this was waiting for dessert.

The recipe came from my Secret Recipe Club assignment for the month, It's Yummi, where Chef Becca uses her culinary expertise to create and share from-scratch, mainly healthy recipes. She has a wealth of amazing recipes, like Key Lime Cheesecake with Hazelnut Crust , Slow Cooker BBQ Baked Beans and one that Grant would cheer for  - Double Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Tart. 

(I need to ask for a tart pan for Christmas. Seriously, how have I baked for so long without one?)

All that to say, I thoroughly enjoyed browsing her blog and have found plenty of pin-worthy recipes to add to my list of things to try.

These brownies just sounded too good though. And they did not disappoint. I ended up halving her ganache layer ingredients - I mean, I LOVE ganache, but I figured we could cut the calories a little bit without sacrificing the flavor.

The peanut butter layer, which is just a package of peanut butter chips melted with some butter, hardened up more than I was expecting and I wondered if it would matter - turned out it added a nice texture variation and great flavor. Just don't expect it to be light and fluffy like a peanut butter buttercream frosting would be.

It still cuts fine with a sharp knife at room temperature, but I imagine if you chilled the brownies in the fridge, they would be harder to cut neatly.

These brownies were a huge hit and would be a great gift for that chocolate-peanut butter fan in your life.

Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies with Whipped Chocolate Ganache
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

Yield: 9"square pan of brownies

Brownie Layer:
5 oz (1 stick plus 2 Tbsp) salted butter, room temperature
3.5 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
3.5 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 oz (2/3 cup) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Peanut Butter Layer:
10 oz (1 bag) Reese's peanut butter chips
2 oz (1/2 stick) butter

Ganache Frosting:
5 ounces chocolate, finely chopped (I used mostly semi-sweet and some white chocolate)
4 ounces heavy cream

For the Brownies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line an 8 or 9" square baking pan with foil, extending up the sides by 2 inches. Spray with cooking spray.
  3. Melt butter and chocolates in a medium bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat; whisk in sugar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next.
  4. Continue to whisk until mixture is completely smooth and glossy. Add flour and baking powder and stir just until incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out with wet crumbs - about 20-25 minutes.
  6. When the brownies have about 5 minutes left to bake, make the peanut butter filling.
For the Peanut Butter Layer:
  1. Place the peanut butter chips and butter into a microwaveable glass bowl. Heat at medium power for 1 minute. Stir and continue to heat on medium power in 30 second intervals until the mixture is melted and glossy in appearance.
  2. When the brownies come out of the oven, pour peanut butter mixture over the top of the warm brownies. Spread evenly over the top. Cool brownies completely.
For the Ganache: 
  1. Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring cream to a simmer (do not boil). Pour cream over chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Place in refrigerator until completely chilled, whisking occasionally.
  3. After ganache has chilled, transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Spread on top of brownies.

Source: adapted slightly from It's Yummi

Friday, November 28, 2014

Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Day after Thanksgiving!!  Hope y'all had a lovely holiday filled with lots of laughter and delicious food!
In case you need an extra dessert to whip up for lingering family or friends.....or you want to get a head start on that Christmas's a cookie you don't want to miss.

Chocolate chip cookies.

Everyone seems to have their own favorite recipe.  There must be hundreds of variations on this "simple and ordinary" cookie.  It can be overwhelming to pick which one to try - everyone likes to claim that their version is "The Best".

Well, I guess y'all know that I completely avoid the "Best" label even when I might think it - because it's so subjective and very personal.

That being said, this version of chocolate chips cookies has rocked my world.

And what is so special about it?

It's the basic Tollhouse recipe....EXCEPT with one less stick of butter and one less egg.

Wait, what?

You can eliminate butter and an egg and still end up with an awesome, chewy, delicious cookie?

Yup. That's right.

When I heard the claim, I couldn't resist testing it out.

I made a double batch and took them to share with our church small group. Everyone wanted the recipe. One friend (who is an incredible baker and cook) texted me later that night and said that after I had left, her 8 year old son had asked her, "Mom, when are you going to learn to bake cookies like Ms. Rebekah?" LOL.

One thing to note - you MUST measure the flour appropriately, or they may end up too dry and crumbly. Here's how you do it.  Hopefully your flour is in a bin so this will be easier.

  • Whisk the flour in the bin around gently to aerate it a little
  • Scoop the flour with a spoon into your measuring cup.
  • Level off with the flat side of a knife. 
 Bonus - the dough doesn't need to be refrigerated before baking, like many cookies.

Another HUGE bonus - you're saving money (and calories) by eliminating that butter and egg. 


Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies
from: Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

Yield: 30-32 cookies

1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz), room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, brown sugar, and sugar until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.

Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir until combined. Add in chocolate chips and stir until incorporated.

Form the mixture into walnut-sized balls and place two inches apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicon liners.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until lightly golden and crackled on top. Cool on cookie sheets for a couple of minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Source: adapted slightly (added more vanilla) from Good Cheap Eats

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cinnamon Raisin Brioche - SRC

It's no secret that I love bread - I even have a Nutrimill wheat grinder to grind organic wheat berries for the freshest bread possible. I've made homemade cinnamon rolls, pizza crust, dinner rolls, crescent rolls, sandwich bread, French bread, and of course, biscuits and a wide variety of quick breads.

But I had never made brioche.

In case you're wondering, brioche is a kind of French "pastry" bread that has a high butter and egg content and a dark, golden crust.

So when I saw a recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Brioche on my Secret Recipe Club assignment for the month, I couldn't resist.

Julie is a fellow carboholic who blogs over at White Lights on Wednesday.  She has a really great assortment of DIY home projects, decorating tips, blogging advice, and of course, lots of recipes!

I was tempted to try the Crockpot Rocky Road Chocolate Cake (still haven't used my crockpots for desserts - what am I waiting for?), I love the sound of this Caramelized Onion and Cornbread Dressing, and I have a feeling this Peanut Butter Crack is gonna make it to my Christmas baking list. But I just had to try the brioche.

Now, this bread isn't something you can rush. It requires several hours of prep time, most of which is the rising periods, of course. Some traditional brioche recipes even require refrigerating the dough for a day or two to further develop the flavors. Yeah, I didn't plan ahead enough for that.
But it's really not too involved, so it's perfect for a day that you don't have to be anywhere.

Okay, another confession. The recipe called for 3/4 cup of butter per loaf- that's a stick and a half for anyone who's counting. I stood there and looked at all that butter and just.couldn'

Butter is expensive. And that would be a ton of calories.

So I made the only reasonable decision I could at the time and only used 1 stick of butter total. Yes, I cut the amount of butter called for by two-thirds.

And you know what? The bread was still delicious. Maybe not as "pastry-like" as it could have been, but I wasn't trying to make dessert anyways. The kids and I gobbled up half on one loaf within 10 minutes of removing it from the oven. Nobody complained that there wasn't enough butter in there. :) A couple of my kids didn't like the raisins in there, but whatever. I loved them.

I made cinnamon toast the next morning with the leftover bread by slicing it, spreading on a little butter, sprinkling with cinnamon sugar, and baking at 350°F until golden brown. Simply scrumptious!

Cinnamon Raisin Brioche 
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun
Yield: 2 loaves

2 teaspoons sugar
2 packets active dry yeast (or 5 teaspoons)
1/2 cup warm whole milk
(105-110° F)
1 scant cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons hot water (or milk)
6 eggs
3-4 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 1/2" slices

1 1/2 cups raisins
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon


In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and yeast. Pour in warm milk and stir to combine. Let the mixture set for 5 minutes until it's foamy. Stir in the flour until a soft dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside, at room temperature, for 1 hour.


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the salt, sugar, and hot water (or milk) until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Using the whisk attachment, beat eggs on medium low speed with a stand mixer until the eggs are fluffy. Add the sugar mixture and beat to combine. Add 3 cups of flour and mix until combined.  Add in half of the butter and mix for another minute.
  3. Remove the whisk attachment and switch to the dough hook. Transfer the starter dough into the dough mixture. Beat for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Add a little additional flour if dough is too runny and sticky. Add the rest of the butter and beat until it's incorporated into the dough.
  4. Transfer the dough to a large buttered bowl. Dust the top of the dough lightly with flour to prevent a crust from forming. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled. I like to use my unheated oven with the light on. 
  5. Coat 2 standard loaf pans with butter. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon.
  6. Uncover dough and punch it down a bit. Add raisins to the dough and knead them in by hand. 
  7. Section the dough into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece in cinnamon sugar, coating heavily, and form into a ball. Place 8 balls in each loaf pan in a 2 x 4 format.
  8. Cover the pans with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise until doubled, or slightly over the top of the pans. 
  9. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake bread for 25-30 minutes, until the bread is set and golden. Start checking about half-way through to see if it's getting too dark. If so, cover the tops with a piece of aluminum foil to prevent over-browning.  
  10. Remove bread from oven. Let sit in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out bread from pans and let cool. 
Delicious warm with butter; also makes great cinnamon toast and French toast!

Source: Adapted from White Lights on Wednesday

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Apple Scones and another Birthday!

I originally posted this recipe in 2009, so it was long overdue for an updated photo.

These scones have made an appearance on our breakfast table many times and have even been the birthday breakfast request from Marissa several times. And for good reason.

They're so tender and flaky, even though they have less butter than most scone recipes. The grated apple adds a lovely flavor and texture to the scones. And to top it all off, the glaze made with apple juice, cinnamon, and powdered sugar gives that extra apple boost and sweetness that makes them almost a dessert.
Everybody in my house is happy with a plate of apple scones for breakfast!

Since today is Marissa's birthday, here's a little collage of her first 9 years of life.

Happy Birthday to our amazing 9 year old girl! These years are going by too fast!

And thanks for choosing such an awesome birthday breakfast! 

Apple Scones
From Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun
Yield: 16-18 scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
6 Tablespoons  butter, chilled
2 apples - peeled, cored and shredded (3 if they're small)
3/4 cup milk

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Heavy dash of cinnamon
2-4 Tablespoons apple juice, or enough to achieve the consistency you desire.


  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Measure flours, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a large bowl. Cut in butter or margarine until crumbly.Use a food processor if you have one - it simplifies the process immensely! Add shredded apple and milk. Stir to form a soft dough.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently 8 to 10 times. Pat into three 6-inch circles. Score each into 6 pie-shaped wedges. Alternatively, you can just pat into a rectangle and cut into 16 equal pieces. Place on greased baking sheet. 
  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until browned and risen. 
  • While they're baking, mix together the glaze ingredients. Drizzle or spread on scones while still warm.
Source: Adapted from Allrecipes

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blueberry Muffins and a Birthday for for my Baby

A friend told me once, "Blueberries are like God's natural candy". I couldn't agree more. I have a hard time thinking of a fruit I enjoy more than fresh blueberries, especially ones we picked.
The kids and I picked 5 gallons of blueberries from local farms this June. Only 3 of those gallons made it to the freezer. In just a few weeks, we managed to eat 2 entire gallons of fresh blueberries. And we could have eaten more.

But I was determined to hide them away in the freezer for use throughout the fall and winter. I'm exceptionally stingy with them and won't let the kids just nibble at them whenever they want.
Sigh. One of these years we're going to have our own blueberry plants and not have to ration them so much. 

So my *baby* Miranda just turned 3 last week. Take a look at her.

Oh, this girl. So expressive, so affectionate, strong-willed, compassionate, clever, talkative, friendly, and full of sass. "Just like her mama," Grant says. (about the sass part)
And ohhhhh, those eyelashes. Just look at the upper right photo. 
Yeah. I'm jealous too. 
She is a blessing to our family and many others and just a precious delight. When she's not screaming, of course. :) 
We can't imagine our lives without her!

"Faces of Miranda"

Miranda is one of my biggest blueberry lovers. She would eat bowls full every day if I let her. So when deliberating what to make for her birthday breakfast, it didn't take me long to decide on blueberry muffins. (I decided against her original suggestion of spaghetti, mean mom that I am.)
Just as predicted, she was delighted, as were the rest of the children.

You just can't go wrong with tender, slightly sweet muffins with those juicy berries.
I decreased the sugar from the original by half, and the muffins are still sweet enough.
Of course, you can half the recipe if you're not wanting 24 muffins. I just always would rather  have too many than too little, and nobody complains about a leftover muffin the next day. I'm sure that extras would freeze nicely, too.

Blueberry Muffins
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

Yield: 24 muffins

4 cups all purpose flour (can substitute white whole wheat)
1 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 large eggs
1 cup oil (I use expeller pressed coconut oil)
1 cup milk, warmed in microwave
4 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries


  • Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and oil. Add the warm milk and vanilla extract.
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir just until combined. 
  • If using fresh blueberries, wash and drain them, then stir into batter. If using frozen blueberries, place in a colander and run hot tap water over them for about 20 seconds. Drain berries well, then stir into batter. (This step really helps - if you don't do it, the berries will clump together  when stirred into the batter. Trust me, I know.)
  • Use muffin liners or grease 24 muffin cups. Fill cups 3/4 full and bake for 15- 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. If making mini-muffins, start checking at 10 minutes. 
  • Cool in pan for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

Source: Adapted slightly from Tammy's Recipes (I reduced sugar and amount of blueberries)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs

October is one of our busiest months of the year, since three of the kiddos have birthdays. And things are just about to get even busier, since the youngest two are starting swim lessons next week and Corban is starting basketball in a couple of weeks.

But hey, with five children, life never seems to slow down.

That's why I rely on slow cooker meals at least once a week, sometimes two or three times.
Three cheers for slow cookers!!
I have three, actually. A 6-qt and a 7.5 or 8-qt (can't remember) are my primary ones, but I also have a little 1-qt. one for dips. It's so cute!

I actually made this recipe for a church fellowship meal a few months ago and barely even got to try it. It was one of the first dishes emptied. So last week, I decided it was high time for this meal to grace our table. It makes HUGE batch, so we had dinner from it twice, as well as lunch for a few people twice.

Grant loved these meatballs so much, he skipped dessert so he could have seconds of them instead.

The sausage gives such a nice flavor, and combining it with lean ground turkey keeps the calories down quite a bit. I used homemade breadcrumbs the first time, but this time I tossed some oats in the food processor and ground them up pretty fine.  Worked just as well.

I used homemade marinara sauce by simmering a couple of 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes with some garlic and herbs for awhile, but store-bought cans or jars of sauce work just fine and simplify the process a little.

We loved these meatballs over penne pasta, and I bet they'd be awesome as a meatball sub also. Annika had some leftover meatballs in a tortilla with some melted mozzarella cheese one day and said that was really good.

Any way you eat them, they're super delicious. And I'm sure they'd freeze really well.

Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
2 lbs ground turkey or beef
12 ounces bulk mild Italian sausage
1 1/4 cups breadcrumbs, Italian-seasoned if you prefer
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
6 cups marinara sauce (Two 24 oz jars) or homemade

  • In a large bowl, whisk together milk and eggs until combined. Add ground turkey, sausage, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder; mix with your hands until well combined. 
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with foil and lightly spray with non-stick spray. Using your hands or a medium cookie scoop (my preferred method), shape 1-2 inch meatballs. Place on prepared baking sheets. 
  • Bake for 10 minutes, or until browned. Transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker.
  • Top meatballs evenly with sauce. Cover and cook on low 4-5 hours in the slow cooker until meatballs are cooked through to an internal temperature of at least 160°F. 

Serve on top of pasta, on split hoagie rolls with melted cheese for meatball sub sandwiches, with mashed potatoes, or as an appetizer.

Source: Girl Versus Dough, originally adapted from Taste of Home

Monday, September 29, 2014

DIY Green Enchilada Sauce

Homemade green enchilada sauce is something I've thought about attempting for a long time.  I just cringe when I read the ingredients on any of the cans at the this one found here:


No soybean oil, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, corn syrup solids, artificial colors, or yeast extract (aka MSG) needed here.

So this recipe I found at Mel's Kitchen Cafe was intriguing because it involves roasting poblano or anaheim peppers before cooking them in the sauce. I don't have a gas stove to roast them on, but I do have an oven, which works just as well.  It really couldn't be easier.

After the peppers are ready, it's just a few more simple ingredients to simmer together on the stove, and then a quick whir in the food processor if you want a smooth sauce (I did), or you can just leave it chunky.
Presto!  You're ready to make enchiladas or Mexican stewed pork or any other thing you make with green enchilada sauce.

It's a little spicy, so full of flavor, and completely free of weird ingredients that I don't want to feed my family. Win/Win.

DIY Green Enchilada Sauce
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

3-4 Anaheim or Poblano chile peppers OR 1 cup canned diced green chiles, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp. oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1 medium jalapeno, finely diced (optional)

To roast peppers:

Preheat oven broiler to high. Wash and dry peppers and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil about 6 inches below the top oven element for 3-5 minutes on each side, until charred and blackened.
Remove from oven and immediately fold the foil up over the peppers and fold shut. The steam will help the peppers to peel easily.  After about 15 minutes, open the foil. The peppers should be cool enough to handle and the skin will slide right off. Cut off the stem, scoop out the seeds and discard, and dice the peppers.

To make the sauce: 

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and garlic; cook until the onions are softened, but not browned.
Stir in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Don't worry about clumps - just let the flour get golden and toasted.
Gradually add the broth, whisking quickly and constantly to smooth out any lumps.
Add all the remaining ingredients, including 1 cup of the diced peppers, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The sauce should be silky and thickened - able to coat a spoon but still drip off. Add more broth to thin out if needed.
Add additional salt to taste, if needed. Process sauce in a blender or food processor if you prefer a smoother consistency.

Sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or can be frozen for up to a month or two if well sealed.

Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, September 8, 2014

Chocolate Pumpkin Delight Cake - SRC

It's time for the explosion of pumpkin recipes again!  I couldn't be left out of the fun, especially since pumpkin baked goods are some of my very favorites. So when I saw this cake on the blog of my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month, it was a no-brainer.

Deb blogs over at Cooking on the Front Burner, and let me tell you, she takes some of the most beautiful food photos!  I just couldn't stop looking at everything and admiring how tempting everything looks.
Raspberry Peach Cobbler,  Strawberry Bruschetta, and Grilled Pork with Chile Lime Sauce were just a few of the options that caught my eye, but I just kept coming back to that cake. I mean, chocolate and pumpkin, with a caramel cream cheese frosting???? How could I resist that??

Now Deb's cake is absolutely fabulous with chopped nuts pressed into the sides and garnished with pecan halves on the top. But seeing as I'm the only person in my family who likes nuts with baked goods (boo), that was really out of the question.  Also, she made hers in 8" pans and had leftover batter - I just used 9" pans and used it all. I ended up modifying her recipe a little to increase the frosting so I would be sure to have enough and used less ganache inside the cake. I didn't want it to overpower the salted caramel frosting.

Oh, and I made my own caramel sauce - using this recipe. It's a fantastic sauce and very simple - and one batch of it makes exactly enough for the frosting.  (And if you happen to make a batch that ended up not cooking quite long enough to get that perfect color, you can always save it in the fridge and add it to your coffee. YUM.)

This cake is really big, so be sure you have a crowd to feed!  But it lasts well in the fridge for several days as well, so don't sweat it if you have leftovers.  They're just as delicious!

Chocolate Pumpkin Delight Cake
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

For the Cake:

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

For the Frosting

3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. caramel sauce (homemade or store-bought)
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted

For the Ganache
4 oz dark chocolate bar 
4 oz (1/2 cup) heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter (3) 9" cake pans and line each with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl or mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.  

In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla. In another bowl, sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg). Alternating adding the dry ingredients and the pumpkin mixture to the large mixing bowl, blending well after each addition. 

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove and cool on racks.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth, then add the caramel sauce.  Mix well and add the powdered sugar a cup at a time and mix until fluffy.  

To make the ganache, chop the chocolate bar into small bits and place in a bowl.  Heat the cream  in a small saucepan until bubbles form around the edges, then remove from heat and pour over the chocolate.  Let sit for a few minutes, then stir until smooth. 

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a serving dish or cake stand (I prefer to put it on a small board so I can put it in the fridge easier). Place pieces of wax paper tucked around the cake to help with the mess factor.  Put about a cup of frosting on top of the cake and spread within a half inch of the edges.  Drizzle some ganache on top and spread thinly. 

Repeat layers until you get to the last one.  Spread frosting around the top and sides of the cake, smoothing as desired. Drizzle or spread the remaining ganache over the top and allow to drip down the sides.  Use an offset spatula to blend the edges in with the frosting if desired.

Remove wax paper from the bottom of the cake.  Store covered in the refrigerator. 

Source: Adapted slightly from Cooking on the Front Burner

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cream Biscuits

I've tried my hand at all sorts of biscuits over the years.  Ones with just butter, ones with buttermilk, even ones with sour cream.  And don't get me wrong; Carb-a-holic that I am, I like all biscuits pretty darn well.  (Confession: when I was 16-18, I spent my summers working at McDonalds. I would rarely eat the food - mainly because I didn't want to spend the money - but I loved their biscuits. I would crave them. When I was working the breakfast shift and we would have leftover biscuits that were headed for the garbage, I'd sometimes grab a couple and stuff them in my purse for later.)  

When I came across these cream biscuits, I was won over in a heartbeat.  They're ridiculously easy, so fast to throw together, and practically melt in your mouth.  My kids could eat a whole pan of these without a second thought.  We love them with homemade sausage gravy, with jelly or apple butter, or just plain with a little dollop of butter.

I thought I'd mention them today because my sweet Annika is turning seven tomorrow (!!!) and these, with sausage gravy, is what she requested for her birthday breakfast. I'm making it today because tomorrow will be filled with cake decorating and party prep. That being said, I'm off to make my favorite middle child her breakfast.

Happy Birthday, Annika!! 

Notes: I usually make 1 1/2 times this recipe to feed my family.   

Cream Biscuits
adapted from Smitten Kitchen 
Yields 10-12 two inch biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar (optional; I use it)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I have used 1 cup cream, 1/2 cup whole milk successfully)
3 Tbsp. melted butter  (optional; I don't use it)

Preheat oven to 425°F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.
Sift 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar (if using) into a large bowl.  Fold in 1 1/2 cups cream. If the dough is not soft or easily handled, fold in the remaining 1/4 cup cream, little by little.
Turn dough onto a floured surface, mound it into a ball, and use your hands to press it to a thickness of about 3/4". Cut into rounds with biscuit cutters.  I like to use the miniature ones for the kids.
Gather the dough scraps and continue to make rounds. If desired, dip the top of each round in melted butter and arrange on the baking sheet.  I find I prefer them without being dipped in butter, but it's up to you. 
Bake about 12-15 minutes, or until golden. Serve immediately.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cream Cheese Banana Bread with Sweet Cinnamon Topping

I'm a sucker for banana bread recipes. I couldn't even tell you how many variations I've tried. 
Kind of drives Grant crazy. Pick a recipe and stick with it, he thinks. 

So when he tasted this one several months ago, he said, 
"This is it. If I ever ask you to make banana bread, THIS IS THE ONE I WANT. Not any others."

I think he made that pretty clear. :) 
And I can't say that I blame him.

It's lightly spiced, wonderfully moist and tender, and the crumb topping adds that extra delightful, sweet crunch. I love having the cream cheese in there - I feel like it makes the bread extra rich and flavorful without being over powering. And with two loaves, you can freeze one for later or share with a friend or neighbor. 

And for the record, I haven't make any other banana breads since then.  But I've made this one at least four times. It's a huge hit with the family every time. 

Cream Cheese Banana Bread with Sweet Cinnamon Topping
Yield: 2 loaves
From: Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, light or regular, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 large bananas)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 loaf pans (8 1/4" x 4 1/4") with cooking spray or butter and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, cream cheese and sugar until very light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and bananas.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined.

In a small bowl, mash together the topping ingredients until combined and crumbly.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle with the topping.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until the bread is nicely domed and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let rest in the pans for 5-10 minutes before turning out on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Source: Adapted slightly from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, August 11, 2014

Chicken Enchiladas Suiza (SRC)

I already have a couple of chicken enchilada recipes, both very different and both very tasty.  But with a husband that adores spicy and Tex-Mex sort of food, I figured you can never have too many enchilada variations.  So when I saw one featuring green sauce (instead of the typical red) on my Secret Recipe Club assignment for the month, Little Bit of Everything, I knew I had to try it.

Of course, I found several other recipes to try.  Julie blogs from Nebraska and has a beautiful collection of dishes, like Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread, Pot Roast Carbonnade, and Salted Caramel Ice Cream  (which I did make and it was to.die.for delicious - but I did encounter a few difficulties with making it so I didn't feel comfortable posting it until I make it successfully a few more times.  Ahem.)

So most of y'all know that I really don't like buying pre-made stuff, and that includes enchilada sauce.  I already have a homemade red sauce that my family really likes, but I didn't have a green one.  So I searched for one and found an intriguing recipe which involved roasting poblano chiles.  I'll be posting it soon, so stay tuned.

These enchiladas were simple and amazingly delicious.  While a couple of  the girls complained that they were too spicy (that's because of the sauce), Grant couldn't stop raving about them. He would eat them every week if I'd make them.  I loved them too and was bummed that I missed out on the leftovers.  Grant took them for his lunch the next day. Guess that's a sign of true love - you let the hubby take the awesome leftovers.

Chicken Enchiladas Suiza
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (4 oz) can chipped green chiles, drained
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 can Rotel mild diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
1 (14 oz) can mild green enchilada sauce (or use homemade)
2 cups finely shredded cheese - cheddar or colby jack
10-12 Fajita size tortillas 

Cook chicken as desired.  You can boil it, bake it, or cook in a slow cooker. You could even use leftover cooked chicken or rotisserie if you wanted.  I like to sprinkle the chicken breasts with kosher salt and pepper on both sides, place on a baking sheet, and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until done.  Cool chicken slightly and then dice finely or shred it.

Combine chicken, sour cream, green chiles, green onions, Rotel, and 1 cup of cheese in a large bowl. Mix to combine well. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 13 x 9" baking dish.
Divide the chicken mixture between the tortillas and roll up securely.  Place in the baking dish and pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven, top with remaining 1 cup of cheese, and return uncovered to the oven until cheese is melted.

Source: Adapted slightly from Little Bit of Everything

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pork

It's no secret that I love using my slow cooker in the summer. And winter. Okay, basically anytime. 
So convenient and easy. 

While we don't eat pork very often, this has become one of our very favorite ways to eat it. The entire family gets excited when I make this, and that's saying something. Very few recipes in my arsenal illicit such enthusiasm from 7 people. 

So what makes it special?

Apparently not the bourbon.  Ha.  See, this recipe is originally entitled Bourbon Pork - but we never have bourbon in the house and I just used water (through rinsing out the ketchup bottle) instead. It tastes so fabulous, I can't imagine bourbon making it any better. But if that's up your alley, give it a shot. 

But really, it's so simple to throw together. The longest part of it is trimming the fat from the pork. If you get a pork loin, even that is pretty fast.  However, I will say, as much as I love the easier trimming of a pork loin, the pork shoulder roasts are a little more flavorful and less likely to dry out.  You can't go wrong with either one, though. 

The sauce is slightly sweet with a little tang and complements the tender pork perfectly. 
I do recommend toasting your buns a little; otherwise, the bottom bun gets soggy pretty quickly from all the dripping sauce.  Or just eat it as soon as you make it.  No letting it sit around!! 

The leftovers are equally good and some people might have even been caught sneaking some bites straight from the bowl right in the refrigerator.  

Slow cooker Barbecue Pork
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

1 3/4 cups ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water (or bourbon, if you prefer)
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
4 lbs boneless pork roast, trimmed of as much fat as possible

Place all sauce ingredients in slow cooker and mix.  Add pork and turn to coat.  Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.  Remove pork and shred with two forks.  Return shredded pork to slow cooker and cook an additional 30 - 60 minutes.

Source: adapted slightly from Lemons for Lulu

Monday, July 14, 2014

Strawberry Monkey Bread - SRC

What's your favorite part of summer?

The longer, sunny days?
Time at the pool or lake or beach?
No school/vacations?
Outdoor concerts, farmers' markets, or grilling out?

All of those things are pretty great and all, but my absolute favorite part about summer in Arkansas is the fresh, juicy, sweet fruit that we pick at local farms (or buy at local markets, if you're so inclined).  We picked strawberries in late May, blueberries several times through June and early July, and now blackberries and peaches are in season.   I LOVE supporting local farmers!! 

There is just nothing as good as summer fruit, fresh from the vine/tree/bush - I just want to eat it all plain and not even bother cooking with it.  However, for this month's Secret Recipe Club assignment, I simply couldn't resist using some (store-bought) strawberries to make this luscious monkey bread.

If you're not familiar with monkey bread, it's basically a lightly sweet dough that's rolled into small balls, covered with cinnamon sugar, layered in a bundt pan,and doused with a large serving of a buttery, cinnamon syrup to bake.  This variation uses a homemade strawberry syrup instead of the cinnamon syrup, plus there are chunks of freshly diced strawberries sprinkled throughout the dough.  YUM!

I got the recipe from C Mom Cook, where Shelley doesn't let the busyness of being a stay-at-home mom of 2 stop her from making amazing recipes like Tiramisu, where she made each component from scratch. Including the marscapone, lady fingers, custard, everything. In fact, she has her youngsters helping her out. It's so awesome. I'm totally motivated to get my kids in the kitchen more, even though they usually slow me down and make three times the mess. :)
I also made her Skillet Arroz con Pollo, which was is a great and simple weeknight meal, but I didn't get a decent photo of it. We really liked it, though!
Oh, and these Apple Buns look perfect for fall - definitely have those on the list to make!
So needless to say, I loved perusing Shelley's blog and finding all sorts of amazing things to make.  She is one talented lady!

This delightful bread was a huge success with my family and we could have probably eaten the entire pan of it in one sitting if I hadn't made the kiddos stop. :)  Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave very nicely - but the bread is BEST served on the first day.  So make it when you have a crowd to help you eat it!

Strawberry Monkey Bread
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

1 cup milk
1/3 cup white sugar
5 Tbsp. butter (I used salted)
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
2 eggs
4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup diced strawberries

To prepare dough:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar, and butter. Heat until sugar dissolves, then remove from heat and pour into your mixing bowl to let it cool until just warm (about 110°F). Stir in the yeast and let stand until foamy.

Add in eggs, 4 cups of flour, and salt.  Mix until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing with a dough hook or knead by hand on a floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add additional 1/4 cup flour if dough is too sticky. Grease a large bowl with oil or cooking spray.  Place the dough in the bowl and turn once to coat. Cover and let stand in a warm place until double in size, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare sauce. Combine 1 cup sugar, butter, and strawberries in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.

To build the monkey bread: 
Prepared dough
about 1/3 cup of cinnamon sugar (1/3 cup sugar + 1 tsp. cinnamon, well combined)
1 cup diced strawberries
Prepared syrup

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously spray a Bundt or tube pan with non-stick cooking spray with flour, or grease generously with butter and dust with flour. Gently deflate dough and take small portions and roll into balls.  Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar, then place in prepared pan.  Interspersed through the balls, toss some of the diced strawberries so that they are evenly layered throughout the pan. Once all of the dough and berries have been added to the pan, pour the prepared syrup evenly over the top.

Place the Bundt pan on a cookie sheet and place the bread in the oven.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine was done at 40 minutes.  Check on bread periodically to make sure that the top is not over-browning. If it starts to get dark, cover it loosely with foil as it bakes.

Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before inverting onto a large plate and serving.

Source: adapted slightly C Mom Cook

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Deep Dish Sloppy Joe Casserole

Question: What do you get when a 10 year old boy crashes his bike going over 20 mph downhill?  
Answer: A trip to the ER with 2 broken arms, an overnight stay, surgery (with thankfully no pins) and above the elbow casts for the next 2 weeks. 

Question: What do you get when you have two daughters taking ballet classes from their amazing Aunt Anna?
Answer: A beautiful program/recital on a big stage and flowers afterwards.

Question: What do you get when you talk grandparents into taking their first Selfie?
Answer: Cute!!

Question: What do you get when the other grandparents agree to watch your 5 kids so you can take a long-awaited get-away vacation (the first since your honeymoon 13 years ago!)?
Answer:  One of the best weeks ever. Pura Vida - Costa Rica!!!  Visiting with relatives, rappelling down waterfalls, white water rafting, viewing volcanoes, soaking in natural hot springs, ziplines over the rainforest, wildlife tours, horseback ride to a waterfall, we packed a lot into a week. 

Question: And what do you get when you combine sloppy joes with pizza?
Answer: A dinner that Grant says is one of his favorite things EVER.  No kidding. He couldn't stop talking about how much he loved this meal.  And really - we all agreed.  It's so delicious!! 

You have a super simple pizza dough, a flavorful and meaty filling, and lots of cheese on top.  
It's like a deep dish pizza that you can just dig right into and serve up hearty slabs.  Eat with a fork or your fingers, whatever you please. We don't mind! 

The only problem with this recipe?
One dish of it doesn't make enough for us to have two dinners of it.  Everyone liked it so much, they kept going back for more.  So my plans of having leftovers for dinner kind of went out the window. Guess I'll make another one. :) 

Deep Dish Sloppy Joe Casserole

1 Tbsp. instant yeast
1 cup very warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cups flour (I use white whole wheat)

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 Tbsp. dried minced onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Montreal Steak seasoning
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 tsp. dried mustard powder
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

Begin by preparing pizza dough. 
In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast with warm water and sugar.  Allow to foam for a few minutes. Add salt, oil, and flour.  Stir until a dough forms.  Knead by hand or with a dough hook on the mixer for 5-6 minutes.  Cover and set aside. 

In a large saucepan or skillet, brown ground turkey with minced onion, garlic, and steak seasoning. Drain grease if necessary.  Add the carrot and chopped bell pepper and saute a few minutes longer, until veggies are beginning to get tender.  Add tomato sauce, mustard powder, ketchup, vinegar, and brown sugar.  Simmer for 5-7 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Preheat oven to 420°F.  In a lightly greased 13 x 9" pan, spread out pizza dough, coming up the sides about an inch to create a little crust.  Pour filling over the dough and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned. 

Source: adapted slightly from Finding Joy in my Kitchen 
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