November 20, 2012

Chex Mix

One of the coolest things about being married is getting the chance to combine two completely different holiday traditions and make new ones to go with them. Rob and I have had the blessing of pretty similar traditions during the holidays because one of the main focuses have always been the Both our families seem to be cooking none stop this time of year with goodies, treats, desserts...and any other fattening thing you could think of. This recipe is from Rob's side of the family, and was my first time getting to try it out. It is beyond easy, and such a fun Thanksgiving snack that will last all week long! The extra bonus, it's actually pretty healthy!

Chex Mix

1 box rice chex mix
1 box corn chex mix
1 box wheat chex mix
1 can peanuts
1 box wheat thins
1 bag pretzels
olive oil
ranch packet
large paper bag

Instructions are super simple. Put about 1/3 of each kind of chex mix into the paper bag. Then add the peanuts, wheat thins, and pretzels. Softly mix it together. Then add about 4 TBSP of olive oil, close the bag and shake it up. Open the bag and add the ranch packet, close and shake again. That's it! Put it in a big bowl and munch on it all week long! Delicious!!!

Microwave Score: N/A
Freezer Score: N/A
Rob Score: 5.0 This is one of his favorite traditional snacks and LOVES it.
Overall Score: 5.0 This is the best snack food, and very easy to personalize if you don't like something.

November 9, 2012

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

I think this has officially become my new comfort food. I wanted something yummy but healthy and had a cold weather feeling, so I landed on soup. I found this recipe on a little known website called Pinterest. YAY CHEESE!!!

2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped carrot
1 cup celery, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Tablespoon flour
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup milk
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 heaping cups shredded cheddar cheese


Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add onions, carrots, and celery and saute over medium heat until tender. Add garlic and cook 1 or 2 additional minutes. Add chicken broth and potatoes, bring to a boil, and cook until potatoes are tender. Mix flour with water, add, and simmer until soup is slightly thickened. Add milk and broccoli and cook until broccoli is just tender and soup is heated through. Stir in cheese, allow to melt, and serve.

Microwave Score: 4.5-the cheesy will give it a strange texture when reheated, but still tastes amazing!
Freezer Score: 4.8- I actually really liked if after I froze it and reheated it. it made everything really soft.
Overall Score: 4.5-amazing but because of the microwave thing I lowered it.

Alfredo Lasagna Roll-Ups

I love love love LOVE alfredo. It's like one of my most favorite things ever. I actually have like 4 different recipes of alfredo that I use for different recipes and whatnot. Anywho, this is an amazing dinner that is super filling and absolutely delicious!

Alfredo Lasagna Roll-Ups

6 lasagna noodles
your favorite alfredo sauce
2-3 chicken breasts
Italian dressing
Parmesan & Mozzarella cheese and whatever else you want

Cook chicken in Italian dressing sauce until done. Break into small pieces.
Boil noodles for 8-10 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water. Lay noodles out and pat dry with paper towel.
Spread alfredo sauce over each noodle, add some chicken and cheese. Roll up.
Place roll ups in greased pan, seam-down. Pour the rest of alfredo sauce over the top and in between the roll ups. Top with cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted on top.

Microwave Score: 4.0 The chicken can dry up on this recipe, but other than that it's just as yummy as always!
Freezer Score:TBA
Rob Score:5.0 He loves and craves this recipes
Overall recipe:4.5 AMAZING recipe...just not the best leftovers 4 days later

November 6, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins with Streusel Topping

Below is my next pumpkin creation! I love muffins! They are so yummy and convenient. I found a recipe that calls for more than 1/2 c of pumpkin! I was so excited. You see, when my roommate was going to the store last week she asked if I needed anything. I told her that I would love to have some pumpkin pie filling to create yummy goodness (see previous post). I told her 2 cans should be fine. I was thinking 2 small cans of pumpkin, but alas she came home with 2 large cans of pumpkin. so now we have a lot of pumpkin to use, which is ok with me...anyways, so because of that situation, I have been trying to find recipes that contain large amounts of pumpkin, and voila! See below recipe:


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease or line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup oats, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Whisk pumpkin puree, 1 cup brown sugar, white sugar, vegetable oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla extract together in a separate large bowl. Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture; mix well. Fold in raisins.
  3. Beat 1/4 cup brown sugar with butter in a bowl until creamy and smooth. Whisk 2 tablespoons oats and 2 tablespoons flour, using a fork, into sugar-butter mixture until streusel topping is crumbly.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle each muffin with streusel topping.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen muffins.
Overall Score: 5.0 Everyone who tried them went back for fourths!

October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Roll

I never liked pumpkin pie, so I assumed I hated all pumpkin food. Fortunately I went to a Pumpkin Party on Saturday where we had all things pumpkin. I found that pumpkin cookies are so incredibly moist and yummy! So it triggered a desire to create pumpkin goodies. My first creation was to be a pumpkin roll. I loves rolls of every kind. Jelly rolls, chocolate rolls, cinnamon rolls, regular I also love cream cheese, so this worked out well in my favor.


  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)


Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar. 

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. (Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick. It's more than you think). Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Microwave Score: NA
Freezer Score: NA
Overall Score: 5.0 So very yummy!!!

October 21, 2012

Pull Apart BBQ Chicken

Crock Pot cooking is my favorite kind of cooking ever! I love how easy it is, and the meals are always delicious. I found this recipe for pull apart chicken and had to try it. It honestly took all of 3 minutes to get in the crock pot, and I had the rest of my day to not worry about dinner. It was so easy and SO yummy!

Pull Apart BBQ Chicken

3 lbs chicken breasts (I put mine in completely frozen and it worked fine)
1 (8 oz) bottle of favorite bbq sauce
1/2 Italian dressing
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

(I didn't want to have leftovers forever so I halved this recipe)

Put chicken in bottom of crock pot. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, then pour over chicken. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. That's it! Once you're ready to eat just pull chicken apart with forks and serve on buns or rolls!

Microwave Score:5.0 I know there are people out that have issues with reheated chicken, I don't care. I couldn't tell a difference at all 3 days after I made this and reheated it. Seriously.
Freezer Score: TBD I admit, I could have frozen some of this meal..but I ended up eating it all before I had the chance.
Rob Score: 5.0 He really liked this meal. He honestly had like 4 sandwiches the first night we made this.
Overall Score: 5.0 I'm giving this one a 5 because meals really can't get any easier than this one, and it tastes amazing!

October 11, 2012

Chicken Cordon Blue

I am always on the hunt for fast and easy, yet delicious meals. I found this recipe and knew I had to give it a try. This is now one of my favorite "go to" recipes when I don't have a lot of time for dinner, but still want something filling and delicious. Another thing I LOVE about this recipe, you can modify it super easily to accommodate how many people you're feeding. We're not a huge leftover family, so it was really nice that I didn't have to make a 9x13 of this.

Chicken Cordon Blue

(for 9x13)
Boneless chicken breasts
Sliced deli ham
1 pkg. Swiss cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
½ cup milk

Preheat oven at 350.
Layer half of chicken in bottom of baking dish. Top with ham and Swiss cheese. Layer rest of chicken on top of cheese.
Mix soup and milk in bowl, pour over chicken.
Bake for 30-45 minutes.
Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.
To make a smaller serving of this just use half the chicken you would have used, one can of soup with 1/4 cup of milk. It's really that easy.

Microwave Score: 4.0 I really liked this reheated and couldn't even tell a difference, but I know some people have issues with microwaved chicken, so I docked for their sake.
Freezer Score: TBD Next time I make this I am going to do a 9x13 so I can freeze it and see how it turns out. I don't see why it wouldn't be just as yummy though
Rob Score: 4.5 He REALLY liked this meal. I think he gave it a half point deduction just because his tummy and chicken don't always get along, so he docked for what his stomach might be doing that night.
Overall Score: 4.5 This is such an easy delicious meal! Half point docked for the possible reheating chicken issues.

October 5, 2012

Blueberry Orange Bread

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Prepare one package Krusteaz Wild Blueberry Muffin Mix as directed (don't use fat free version), reducing water to 1/3 cup and adding 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest.
Place batter in prepared 8½ x 4½ x 2½-inch loaf pan. Bake 44-48 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes and remove to wire rack. Cool completely and drizzle with orange glaze, if desired.

Orange Glaze: Whisk together 3/4 cup powdered sugar and 1–2 tablespoons orange juice until smooth.

Microwave score: This doesn't need to be hot to enjoy. Just as good at room temp.
Freezer score: Haven't tried it, but would probably work fine. I would not put the glaze on until after you defrost it though.
Overall Score: 4.5 Yummy variation on the blueberry muffins. Can dry out if not stored properly.

Larissa's critique: I LOVE this bread! I kind of crave it regularly. I haven't made it for my husband yet, but I need to! I give this a 5.0. Its simply delicious.

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

I have never been a big fan of meatloaf. I definitely don't mind it but it's not something that I ever crave or go out of my way to eat. However, as I was browsing through a recipe website one day (I cannot for the life of me remember what the website was or I would give it credit) I came across this recipe. BACON wrapped meatloaf??? Seriously?! I love, love, love bacon, but here's the husband isn't a huge bacon fan. I know, I know, it shocked me too. It's not that he doesn't like bacon, he's just pretty picky about how it's made and it's texture so given the choice, he usually passes on the bacon. But anyways, as I was looking at this recipe it really did look yummy, so I figured I'd give it a try. We were both beyond pleasantly surprised! He loved the bacon, I loved the meatloaf, it was perfect! It's really easy to make and it's WRAPPED IN BACON! Can life get better than that? I think not :)

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf


2 beaten eggs
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 lbs ground beef
12 strips bacon

Preheat oven to 375.
Combine everything in a large bowl, minus the bacon. Dig in and mix everything together. Then shape the mixture into two log shapes, about 6 inches long. Lay 6 slices of bacon side by side, and place first log on them. Wrap the bacon around the log and carefully move to a baking pan that has been covered in heavy foil and sprayed. Repeat with remaining log and bacon. (6 strips of bacon really is more than enough, but I always try to cram a bit more in there...and that's good too :)  )
Bake for 45-50 minutes. If, after 50 minutes the bacon still isn't brown enough for your taste, turn the oven to broil for a minute a two and it'll crisp up a bit more.
Can top with ketchup if that's your fancy.
The original recipe says this is a serving for 8...but my husband and I can eat almost a whole log for one meal, so I'd personally say more like 5-6.
Cook time is going to be between an hour and an hour and a half. Prep doesn't take long at all, you just have to patiently wait 50 minutes for it to cook.

Microwave score:5.0 My husband is NOT a leftovers person really at all, he doesn't like things reheated... he'll eat this meal every single day for every single meal if I made enough for him to do that. It tastes just as good 3 days later as it did the very first day.
Freezer score: TBD I haven't frozen this meal yet because I can never seem to make enough to actually have any to freeze. I'll have to make it and freeze it without my husband knowing :)
Rob score:5.0 He loves this meal. We have very different styles of cooking, and although we don't mind each others meals, they're not usually favorites. This is probably the first meal I made that he gets seriously excited for me to make.
Overall Score:5.0 I have yet to find anything that I don't like about this recipe. It is simply scrumptious.

October 4, 2012

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

So I have this amazing roommate right now, who is a very creative cook. She thinks "I wonder if X and Y would taste good together." She finds a recipe and then recreates it. One of the creations she made was cauliflower mac and cheese. She just kinda guessed and threw a dish together. The smell alone was good, but then I tried it, and it has haunted me ever since. It is one of the best dishes ever, and one of my go to comfort foods.

Because of that haunting deliciousness, I had to find a recipe for myself! I searched and searched, read recipe after recipe, and then I found this one. Maybe it was the healthier feel the whole grains brought, or maybe it was the sour cream, but either way I made it, and it was even better than I remembered it.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
  • 12 ounces multi grain elbow macaroni
  • 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 4 slices multi grain bread, torn
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (4 Tb dried)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar (6 ounces) or more if so desired...
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup 1 percent milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (can use regular)

  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the cauliflower during the last 3 minutes of cooking time; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Add the parsley, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper; pulse to combine.
  3. Return the pasta pot to medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Mix in the pasta and cauliflower and the cheese, sour cream, milk, and mustard.
  5. Transfer to a shallow 3-quart baking dish, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Microwave Score: 4.5-because this is pasta and cauliflower this microwaves really well. The cheese sauce keeps the pasta from getting dry and crunchy. Half point deduction - The bread crumbs get soggy.
Freezer Score: 4.0-crumbs get soggy and it's a lot more dry then when it is fresh out of the oven. I would suggest adding extra cheese or milk when you microwave it.
Overall Score: 4.5-the next day flavor wise, is even better! But when it comes to texture, you don’t have the crispy bread crumbs any more.

Larissa Critique: The only variation I did to this recipe is I used white bread instead of multi-grain only because I'm avoiding high fiber foods right now but the white bread was good, I had no complaints about it. Overall this was a really good dish. My husband gave it a 3.5 only because he said it was too "fluffy" and wished that it was saucier. Next time I make this I'm going to double the saucy ingredients and see if how much different that is. We both really did like this recipe though. I'd give it a 4.0.

October 3, 2012

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

While Maquel and I were roommates in college, I was telling her one night about my favorite dinner in the entire world: Chicken and Broccoli Casserole. And when I say favorite, I mean absolute, all time, without a doubt favorite. My mom made me Chicken and Broccoli Casserole every year for my birthday, whenever I got to choose dinner we had Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, I used to dream about this get the drift. I kind of really loved it. So I called my mom up and asked her for the recipe, and I realized the recipe is pretty intense with a lot of different spices and whatnot, and as college students, it was a bit much. But instead of giving up, Maquel and I got online and found a variable to my mothers recipe. Same basic principal, just not quite as intense. I was a little leery because of how much I loved my moms recipe, but we gave it a try, and I still loved it. Ever since it has been the dinner that I make when I feel like spoiling myself, and it's really pretty simple and easy, which is always a bonus!

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

1 Pkg. Stove top stuffing
1 1/2 lbs chicken breast
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup sour cream
1 bag frozen broccoli, thawed*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Prepare stuffing mix according to box.
Cook chicken and cut into bite size pieces. Mix in soup, sour cream, and broccoli. Grease a 9x13 pan and spread mixture into it. Top with stuffing.
Bake for 30 minutes.
This really shouldn't take more than an hour to make total.

Microwave Score: 2.5 I can eat this reheated without a problem, but I'm not too picky about chicken being reheated...but for most people, it's not as good the next day because the chicken dries up and the stuffing can get a bit soggy. Definitely a better dish to make for a larger crowd one day so there's not lots of leftovers.
Freezer Score: 2.5 Again, I'm not too picky about reheated chicken...but cooked chicken that was refrozen, thawed and warmed... not as good as freshly cooked chicken. I can do it...but only if it's a week or two old, definitely not one I would stock the freezer with in hopes of using in 2 months though.
Rob Score: 3.5 My husband really does like this meal, but he's not a fan of cooked broccoli. So if we take the broccoli out (which he does) he would give it closer to a 4.8.
Overall Score: 3.5 I know I'm biased, because I love it so much, so I tried to stay neutral on this score. It really isn't the best for leftovers...but for me, I LOVE it, and will always love it.

Maquel's Critique: I would give this meal a 3. Unlike Larissa, I have to be in a certain mood in order to want to make this one, and I am one of those people that can't handle microwaved chicken. It is really simple to make and tastes really good, especially when it's cold outside. Definately a comfort food.
*I do a broccoli cauliflower mix cause I really like cauliflower.

Mexican Stuffed Shells

I have pasta with almost all of my meals. It's kinda ridiculous. But it's easy and it goes with pretty much everything! I also love mexican food. I think it's actually the cheese and sour cream, they are some of my favorite things in this world, and I would eat them with every meal if I could, but I digress.
I found this recipe on a wonderful little site called Pinterest. Since I love mexican food and pasta I was quite excited to find them combined. I did have doubts on whether or not they would mix well together, but it was on the internet so it had to work, right? Well as I looked through the recipe I had another thing jump out at me. Cream cheese?!? I love cream cheese! ...but with taco meat? What? Yeah I know it sounds kinda sketchy, but somewhere in the back of my mind I just knew this was going to be a good one. Lucky for me it was. I was so excited to go to work just so I could take this yummy creation with me!

Mexican Stuffed Shells

1 lb. ground beef
1 package low-sodium taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
14-16 jumbo pasta shells
1.5 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce (or enchilada sauce will work)
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup monterey jack cheese
3 green onions
Sour cream
Black Olives

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a frying pan cook ground beef; add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside and cool completely (if you don't you will be touching really hot food). 

While ground beef is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain. run over them with cool water this will stop them from cooking and they won't stick to each other as much.

Pour salsa on bottom of 9×13 baking dish. Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. About 1.5 spoonfuls. Place shells in 9×13 pan open side up. Cover shells with taco sauce and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 5-10 more minutes.

Top with any condiments you’d like (green onions, black olives, etc.) Serve with sour cream and/or more salsa.

In total this should take about an hour to make. That includes prep, cooling, and baking time.

Microwave score: 4.5-heats up great, and everything is still yummy, just like it is right out of the oven. I would make sure to reheat it where everything its spread out (don't put a glob on a plate), otherwise the inside will stay cold. Yuck!
Freezer score: 5-I created some extra and put them in a pan and then froze them. Then I let them thaw out some and put it in the oven for about 30 mins (don't put a really cold glass dish in a really hot oven, could crack glass). Might need to be in longer if the shells and meat are still frozen all of the way through. It tasted just as good!
Overall Score: 5-It seemed like the good thing about this recipe was...everything!

Larissa's critique: All in all, I LOVED this recipe. It wasn't too complicated, was really easy to make, and was super yummy. My husband DEVOURED it and said I had to make it again...which is kind of a huge deal. I completely agree with the overall score of 5, there really wasn't any down sides to this dish!