Thursday, July 30, 2009

the ULTIMATE lemon blueberry cheesecake bars

Have you ever seen the show 'Tyler's Ultimate' on the Food Network Channel? Welp, if your answer is no, you are seriously depriving yourself of 1) great entertainment, and 2) delicious recipes! Also note, Tyler Florence (the chef/host) is a HUNK! Anyway...this one was definitely a hit. Some of us even topped it off with some sliced strawberries, which only made it better! If you can believe it, this was the first time I'd ever made my own crust...I know, some cook, right?! haha yeah, it was super easy, fast, and yummy. It was also the first time I've ever used the parchment paper when baking...LOVED IT! It made the clean-up so much easier! Do not skip that step! The lemon was great...not too lemon-y, if you know what I mean. Definitely give this one a try!

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
by Tyler Florence
butter for greasing
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
9 graham crackers
1/2 stick unsalted butter
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. fresh blueberries
powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Base: Grease the bottom of a 9x9 baking pan w/ butter. Then place the parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, process the sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers until you have the texture of break crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down w/ the base of a glass. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done, set aside to cool.
Filling: Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooled base and then cover with blueberries. They will sink slightly but should still be half exposed - as the cake bakes they will sink a little more and break down.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into bars. Dust with powdered sugar.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Award-Winning Peach Cobbler & Homemade Ice Cream

You read it right - this is AWARD-WINNING peach cobbler! haha kind of. Earlier this summer our church had a dutch oven cook-off, and after a tie-breaking game of KOOB, I came out victorious! The prize was my very own dutch oven. First of all, if you don't know what KOOB is, you need to google it because it's the greatest yard game ever! Second of all, I had been playing terribly all night until the tie-breaking game where Rich and I faced off against the Jeff's - I totally dominated that game, knocking down the last 3 blocks in a row (that will mean more to you after you've googled)!!! And lastly, although the Jeff's had their game faces on and seriously delivered with THREE delicious dutch oven dishes (who knew you could make rolls in a dutch oven?!), I'm super stoked that my cobbler won! I had been telling Rich how badly I wanted to win, but even I didn't know how serious I was until I actually won. So, thanks to all of the tasters/voters who helped me get the big 'W'! And who am I kidding, I'd have never been able to do it without my Dad (we call him Poppa Don), because it was his recipe, after all!
And now for the homemade ice is different every single time we make it because of the flavor we choose to make depending on what ingredients we have in our pantry at the time, but there are a few things you have to have every time for the base. It goes great with anything - brownies, cookies, cake, and of course cobbler. But it is also de-lish all by itself. As long as you have an ice cream maker, you're in good shape. But don't make it too often, or you'll be in bad shape (hahaha bad joke, I know!). We got this recipe from my father-in-law, Dale, but we've adapted it a bit. Thank Heaven for Dads!!!

~My PRIZED dutch oven~

Poppa Don's Peach Cobbler
2 large cans sliced peaches, undrained
1 box yellow cake mix
ground cinnamon
Pour all the peaches into the dutch oven. Sprinkle the cake mix evenly over the peaches. Sprinkle generous amount of cinnamon evenly over the cake mix. Place ~15 ashy coals on top and beneath dutch oven. Let cook about 45 minutes, or until top is browned, and bubbling. Remove from coals and let cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

Homemade Ice Cream
Homemade Ice Cream
2 cans evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 c. milk
*flavoring of your choice* Example: we sliced 1 1/2 banana & added 2 regular sized bags of peanut butter M&M's. We have also used fresh berries & peaches, crumbled up cookies or brownies with peanut butter & sliced banana, and even cut up a piece of cheesecake!
Pour evaporated milk, sugar, egg, and milk into ice cream maker & whisk together. Add whatever flavoring you choose. Follow instructions for your ice cream maker. Ours usually takes 45 minutes-1 1/2 hour depending on how thick we want it & what flavoring we used.

SaLsA & tAcO sOuP

I've been looking at the Prudence Pennywise blog for well over a year now, and these two recipes are probably very close to our very favorite of hers! I'm not a big tomato fan - I mostly just don't like them chunky. So, the part where the blender comes in to mix the salsa is AWESOME! Both of these are super quick and super easy! They come in handy when you're asked to bring something to a party or pot-luck dinner, and they will always win you many many compliments! Also note, her recipe does not call for any meat in the soup, which I LOVE! But if you are looking to feed a lot of people, or just want to add some to make it a little more hearty, I recommend a can of chicken.

Blender Salsa
adapted from Prudence Pennywise


1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 white onion, chopped
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes w/ green chilies, undrained
juice of 1 lime
1/3 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender & mix until smooth.

Taco Soup
adapted from Prudence Pennywise


1 c. leftover smooth salsa
1 14 oz. can low sodium chicken broth
1 14 oz. can chili style beans
1 can corn, drained
3/4 tsp chili powder
1 can chicken, drained well (optional)
Combine in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer about ten minutes. Serve with sour cream & crumbled tortilla chips.

Friday, July 24, 2009

>Chili's GUILTLESS black bean burgers<

I don't eat beef. It hasn't always been that way - probably just less than a year or so. My reasoning isn't anything BIG or controversial ... I just don't. And I don't care if anyone else does (pretty sure cows are hear to be/make food for us). blah, blah, blah ANYWAY, I do like burgers! We usually make them out of ground turkey, but I like trying new things so tonight we had black bean burgers. Rich got one at Chili's ages ago, which I tasted & *LOVED*! So, I googled the recipe and ... ta-dah! They were very mighty tasty, but I do recommend cooking them longer than the recipe says to (calls for 2 minutes each side, we liked ~5 better). The flavor is awesome & its a good, healthy alternative to a hamburger!

Rich is usually pretty creative with his toppings :)

Chili's Guiltless Black Bean Burgers


1 1/2 cans black beans, rinsed & drained
2 Tbsp. white onion, chopped
1/4 c. diced red bell pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
~1/2 egg, beaten
~1/2 c. bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. olive oil


1. Mix one egg in a bowl. Use half for step 2.
2. Combine black beans, onion, pepper, cayenne, egg, bread crumbs, & cilantro in food processor & blend. If the mixture is not dry enough to shape patties, add more crumbs.
3. Form and shape into patties (4). For best results make 24 hours ahead & refrigerate so patties will set well.
4. Heat oil in large pan over medium heat. Fry 2-5 minutes each side.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

corny mango salmon & zucchini and summer squash gratin

I was watching the Food Network the other day, as I often do, and Sunny Anderson made this salmon recipe on her show 'Cooking For Real' that made me drool! I immediately went to the computer to look it up, and tonight we had it for dinner. It was DIVINE! Definitely the best salmon recipe I've tried so far. There is a sweet and salty taste to it that just makes your head spin! And I really enjoyed the crusty part of it, too. She served it with a zucchini and summer squash hash, but I decided to make one of our new faves from Prudy (a.k.a. Prudence Pennywise), zucchini and summer squash gratin that she adapted from none other than the Food Network.

Corny Mango Salmon


1 c. mango nectar

1 mango, diced

1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. cornmeal

2 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

4 6-oz. center cut salmon fillets

black pepper

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter


In a small saucepan over high heat, bring mango & nectar to a boil. As mango breaks down, pres down on it with a fork to mash it. Continue until mango cooks down to a chunky puree, about 15 minutes. Remove 1/2 for serving - other half for dredging. On large plate, mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, & salt. Preheat large skillet. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Brush glaze over salmon, then dredge in cornmeal mixture. Add oil & butter to skillet. Over high heat, sear salmon with cornmeal coating until golden, ~6-8 minutes for medium-rare. Flip halfway through to cook other side.

Zucchini & Summer Squash Gratin

adapted from Prudence Pennywise


2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1/4 tsp. salt1 med. zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch.

1 med. summer squash, sliced 1/4 inch.

2 Tbsp. chopped basil, or 2 tsp dried

1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese


In microwave & oven-safe medium baking dish or loaf pan, combine olive oil & garlic. Add onion, salt zucchini & squash, toss to coat with oil. Pat down into pan. Preheat broiler (if you want a crunchy top). Cover baking dish with plastic wrap & microwave ~6 minutes, or until veggies are cooked through. Sprinkle with basil & cheese, pass under broiler briefly to melt cheese.

-banana bread & whole grain breakfast cookies-

Unless you really know me, you wouldn't know that I haven't always liked cooking, and I haven't had a real knack for cooking until lately. Its a long story with lots of sad cooking disasters that you don't really want to me. But this banana bread recipe is one of the first things that I actually got right on my first attempt, so it is very close to my heart! I called Grandma Shirl looking for a recipe, and this is the one she gave me. It is from a Lion House cookbook, not sure which one. The more bananas you use, the better it tastes! And the riper, the better!

Banana Bread
1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. mashed bananas
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. milk
2 c. flour (I use half whole wheat)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or chocolate chips (or both!)
Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in bananas, lemon juice, & milk. Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt. Mix in nuts and chocolate chips, if using. Bake about 1 hour at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and pan and cool on rack.

I made these whole grain cookies for a health fair cook-off, and they were a big hit even though they didn't win. We liked them so much that I made my dad a plate for his Father's Day breakfast, and he loved them, too! Then, this past weekend we threw Momma a surprise 50th birthday bash, and I made them again...but this time my sister requested that I replace the raisins with white chocolate chips - they were AWESOME! The birthday girl, and all of her guests, ate every last one! So, if you're going for healthy, just do the dried fruit, but if you're looking for a white chocolate treat, make the substitution!

Whole Grain Breakfast Cookies
adapted from Prudence Pennywise
5 Tbsp softened butter
3 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. quick oats
1/4 c. wheat germ
1 c. combination of raisins & craisins (or white chocolate chips)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine butter and sugars in medium bowl, creaming until fluffy.
3. Add vanilla and eggs.
4. Stir in salt, cinnamon, powder, and soda. Stir in wheat flour, then oats, and then wheat germ. 5. Stir in cranberries and raisins (white chocolate chips).
6. Roll into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheets with at least two inches of space between them.
7. Bake for about 10-12 minutes.
*Don't let them get too brown, unless you like them crunchy. Bake until barely brown on the edges. Cool a couple minutes on the tray before transferring to the rack.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I'm sure everyone has a version of this meal in their family. My mom used to call them "Chinese Haystacks" until we had a missionary from China eat them at our house, and he informed her that in fact, there was nothing chinese about them. Now she calls them Hawaiian Haystacks, which I'm sure is just because pineapple is one of the ingredients, but Rich and I just call them plain old Haystacks. They are one of the easiest and tastiest dinners - which is probably why we have them at least once a week! They can be super healthy, too, depending on the ingredients you use. The best part of the meal is that each person basically makes their own haystack, so if there's an ingredient you don't like, just leave it out of your bowl! You can definitely add anything to the meal that you think would make it better, and you can leave out anything I use that you think sounds terrible (which is nothing, so don't even worry about it).
Chow Mein noodles (we use the fat ones)
brown rice
1 can of cream of chicken soup (use only ~3/4 can of milk/water to make soup so that it is thicker like a gravy)
sliced baby carrots
green onions, diced
pineapple, tidbits or chunks
slivered almonds
cheddar cheese
other possible ingredients:
water chestnuts
green bell peppers
shredded chicken
Make your own haystack by putting noodles and rice in the bottom of your bowl and stacking the ingredients you love on top of them. Cover with soup/gravy, mix, & enjoy!

> completos & potato salad <

Hopefully by now whoever is following this blog knows how much I absolutely love food, and I consider myself a very lucky girl that my Man loves it, too. Our loves are quite different, though. I'm pretty sure he doesn't think as much about what he puts into his mouth as much as I do - he'll swallow just about anything, I swear. Except for the cookie dough. Needless to say, when he recommends that I eat something, I ALWAYS ask questions. I won't give you all the details, but one time I came home from work and he had prepared "pork and beans casserole" ... so yeah, I'm gonna be skeptical when he says that something is worth eating. One thing I do have to give him props for, though, are "completos." He went to Chile on his mission, and they were one of his favorite things to eat there - he raves about them! They are basically a glorified hot dog, but there are a few requirements: 1) you MUST put avocado on it - not necessarily guacamole, just avocado 2) they can't be on Wonder Bread buns! You have to go with the good bakery buns, and toast them in the oven 3) You need a good weiner! We usually use brats of some kind. I caved and ate a beef brat tonight, and I can't lie, I loved it! Anyway, you can bring a little bit of Chile to your kitchen by making completos, just like we do.

I decided to make potato salad with our Chilean barbeque tonight. My Grandma Shepherd (we call her Shirl, cuz she's pretty much the hippest grandmother in the world) has to make her potato salad at every family get together of the summer because everyone loves it so much. But to tell you the truth, I think my mom makes an even better version! And it is something that no one in my family is willing to share with outsiders ... leftovers are literally fought over! I finally dared to try making it for the first time last summer, and it got good reviews so I'm keeping at it. Someone in my ward actually called me for the recipe on the 4th of July, so I've got to be doing something right ... right?!


6 bratwursts (whatever flavor you want)
6 bakery hot dog rolls
1 Tbsp olive oil
~3 avocados, peeled & diced
1tsp. lemon juice
pinch of salt
1 tomato, diced


1. Mix avocado, lemon juice, salt & mash together to desired consistency
2. Boil or grill bratwursts
3. Cut open hot dog rolls and lay face up on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil & put under broiler until warm and just slightly crisp.
4. Put bratwurst on a roll and top with avocado & tomato.
5. Add any other condiments you'd like!

Potato Salad
5 medium red potatoes, cut into ~1/2 in. cubes
1/2 - 3/4 c. mayonaise
1-2 Tbsp mustard
1 Tbsp Ranch dressing
4-5 hard boiled eggs, cubed
1/3 dill pickles, diced
2-3 green onions (scallions)
garlic powder
onion salt
1. Boil potatoes in medium pot until soft. Drain & run under cold water. Put in bowl you'll be mixing in & place in the fridge to continue cooling.
2. After potatoes are cooled, add mayonaise, Ranch, mustard, pickles & onions and mix.
3. Season with garlic powder and onion salt to taste.
4. Mix in eggs.
5. Store in fridge until ready to serve.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

!!! Strawberry Sour Cream Bread !!!

I had to put the exclamation marks on both sides of the name of this bread because I need you to know how much you will love it! When I found this on one of my newest fave cooking blogs, The Closet Cook, my brain started to FREAK OUT! I had never heard of such bread, but just the sound of it made my mouth immediately start to water ... as I'm sure yours is right now. As luck would have it I have a huge bag of strawberries in my freezer, so I hopped right to it and made this heavenly treat. It was a BIG hit with Rich, our pals the Purser's, and of course ME! The whole loaf had disappeared by the next day! Strawberries are on sale everywhere right now, so go get some and bake yourself the perfect summer bread. You'll be so glad you did!

1/2 c. unsalted butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
2 c. strawberries (fresh or frozen), diced
Cream butter and sugar in a bowl. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in another bowl. Mix 1/3 of dry ingredients into wet. Mix 1/2 sour cream into wet. Mix another 1/3 dry ingredients into wet. Mix remaining sour cream into wet. Mix remaining dry into wet. Mix in strawberries. Pour batter into 9 x 5 greased loaf pan. Bake about 60 min. at 350 degrees, or until golden brown & toothpick poked into center comes out clean.

...Jan-Jan's Killer Chocolate Chip Cookies...

Being a girl, every now and then I get the hankering for some's actually quite often that this need arises, but frequency's not important. Sometimes I fulfill this need in the form of ice cream or a candybar, but most of the time I'll make my Momma's chocolate chip cookies. These aren't just any chocolate chip cookies...I swear they will be the thing to finally bring about world peace and cure deadly diseases when the leaders of our world will ever pull their heads out of their you-know-whats. I'm not gonna lie to you, a lot of the batter never makes it to baked cookie form because I LOVE LOVE LOVE the dough so very much that I eat it right out of the bowl. You will, too, I just know it! Lucky for me Rich is afraid of getting salmonella, so I get all the dough to myself! I made a batch last week, and although I enjoyed my dough and a few of the actual cookies about 30 of them went into the garbage can at the freaking Stadium of Fire on the 4th of July...apparently my food-smuggling skills aren't what I thought they were! It was a shame, but I'm sure whichever homeless guy or gal who raided that garbage had the sugar-high of their life that night hahaha. I never can seem to get them to taste exactly like when Mom makes them, but any way you stack them they will satisfy your chocolate craving...I promise!!!

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. margerine
1/3 c. shortening
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 package chocolate chips
1. Cream sugars, margerine and shortening
2. Beat in egg and vanilla
3. Mix in flour, baking soda, and salt
4. Mix in chocolate chips
5. On a greased cookie sheet, bake for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees.
(Do NOT over-cook! They are PERFECT when edges are barely brown.)
6. Let cool 2 minutes on sheet before transfering to cooling rack.

Monday, July 6, 2009

crispy tilapia

I've always been a big fan of shellfish. You know, things like crab, lobster, shrimp, blah, blah, blah ... but I can't say that I really liked FISH fish until recently. We do fish for dinner about once a week now, and its usually salmon or tilapia. And maybe I just really like those because they're not super "fishy" tasting ... I don't know. We just buy it frozen because its A LOT cheaper that way - it's mighty tasty, too! This recipe came from the June issue of Woman's Day magazine. Its really good with some lime juice squeezed on it, and would be awesome paired with some spanish rice because its got a little kick to it!

~Richard's fish-face of approval~

1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. milk
1 1/2 lb tilapia fillets


1. Mix cornmeal, chili powder, cumin, and salt on a sheet of wax paper.
2. Place milk in shallow bowl or pie plate.
3. Dip tilapia fillet in milk, then into cornmeal to coat.
4. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
5. Cook tilapia2-3 minutes per side.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

homemade wheat pancake/waffle mix - & - banana walnut waffles

Welp, I'm happy to say that after working on our food storage for a little while it's finally starting to look like "storage," and not just the amount of food that is in a normal couple's pantry. I can also proudly say that we're grinding our wheat to make our own flour now, too! So exciting - I know! This is the first recipe I made with our awesome home-ground wheat flour, so I HAD to share. I got the mix recipe from Nigella Lawson on the Food Network website, and I added the bananas and nuts on my own. This is probably our FAVE weekend breakfast right now, and the leftovers are de-lish after just popping them in the toaster!

Homemade Banana Nut Wheat Waffles
~adapted from Nigella Lawson~
4 cups flour (I used half whole wheat)
3 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp sugar
***Batter: For each 1 cup mix, add 1 egg, 1 cup milk,
& 1 Tbsp melted butter. Do not over mix.
1 cups waffle mix
1 eggs
1 cup mik
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 banana, thinly sliced
~1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1. Mix the "mix" ingredients together and store in a jar.
2. Stir together mix, egg, milk, butter.
3. Gently fold in banana slices and walnuts.
4. Cook as directed for your waffle-maker.
5. Enjoy!
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