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Monday, December 26, 2011

LadyBug Crackers

We all agree that lady bugs are far too cute to even think about what they would taste like. That would just be a crime. But....if you could make an appetizer look like one, that included seasoned cream cheese, olives, tomatoes etc, well than maybe you might think it would taste great! That's what my mom and I did for one of our Christmas appetizers. They tasted great and everyone thought they looked super cute!

2 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp sour cream
Black Paste food coloring ( I didn't have this, so I used equal parts of yellow, blue and red food coloring until I got it dark enough)
1/2 tsp chives, minced
1/8 tsp garlic salt 
1/8 tsp fresh parsley, minced
Ritz crackers
Cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters or grape tomatoes, cut into halves (width wise)
Large, ripe pitted olives
Chive pieces, cut into 1-1 /2 inch long pieces for antennas

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Remove 1 tablespoon to a small bowl and tint black. Place tinted cream cheese mixture in a small plastic bag and set aside. 

 Add the chives, garlic salt and parsley to the remaining, non tinted, cream cheese mixture. Spread over crackers. Arrange two tomato pieces on each cracker, for the ladybug wings. 

For heads, halve the olives width wise and  place one half on each cracker with the larger hole end facing up. Insert two chives into the olive head for antennae. 

Use tinted cream cheese mixture to pipe spots onto wings. 

Orange and Vanilla Cranberries

Cranberries are not usually "my thing" but I actually wound up liking these. The sugar helps cut the tartness of the berry and the orange flavoring just adds an exciting taste twist to it. Since cranberries are so tart, I was sure glad these were rolled in sugar, because the sight of me puckering is not pretty! Well maybe when the hubby leans in for a kiss, but definitely not with a cranberry in my mouth. HaHa. Be prepared as you bite into some of the cranberries, your mouth will burst with cranberry juice that squishes out of the berry. Some of the berries behave well and do not do this! These make a great dish to have sitting out instead of the usual candies or cookies at some gatherings. If I had remembered to take a picture when they were all set up in their pretty dish with a green leaf to make them festive, the picture might have been more appealing....but instead you got stuck with the "they are done, so I just have time to throw them on a plate and take a quick one" kind of picture!

3 3/4 cups sugar, divided 
1 1/4 cups water 
1/2 cup orange juice  
2 tsp. vanilla 
2 tsp. orange extract 
1 (12 oz) bag of fresh cranberries 

Combine 2 ½ cups of sugar, water, orange juice, vanilla extract and orange extract in a sauce pan. Heat over medium until the sugar has completely dissolved, but don't allow it to come to a boil. 
Put in the cranberries and stir. Place the cranberries and the liquid into a large bowl. Use a small plate or a smaller size bowl that will fit inside the larger one and place it on top of the berries to keep them as pushed down under the water as you can. Put a cover on it and leave it in the refrigerator over night or for at least 7 hours. Place the remaining 1 ¼ cup of sugar in a dish that will fit all the cranberries and allow you to shake it all up. Drain the cranberries and shake them in the sugar until they are completely coated. Place them on a cookie sheet to dry for a couple of hours.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Whole Roasted Chicken with Orange and Rosemary

Between the pine scent from the Christmas tree, the orange and rosemary scent from the chicken that was roasted earlier and the brownies that are now cooking in the oven, my nose feels like it's been on a vacation to paradise! Thank God it wasn't really paradise and I didn't have to worry about putting on a bikini after this meal! ;)
Believe it or not, tonight was my first experience roasting a whole chicken. I guess I'm a little bit embarrassed to admit that! I just usually take the easy way out and buy the pieces already cut up. Well...that's about to change. I loved cooking my chicken like this. It was super moist and really easy to do. I can't wait to conjure up some new ways to cook it. Tonight I decided on trying a recipe I had read about awhile back that sounded good. For my first try roasting a chicken, I thought I might as well depend on someone that knows what the heck they are doing with whole BAM...I used an Emeril recipe!
*I did adapt the recipe a bit as I used an orange instead of the tangerines called for in his reccipe. I also substituted fresh orange juice instead of the tangerine juice called for.

Here is a link to the recipe!

This first picture is before I put this "bad boy" in the oven!
 Now it's roasted and ready to eat!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cilantro and Jalapeno Latkes

This was my first experience making Latkes. I don't think it will be my last. It's almost like having a yummy, flavor filled hash brown with dinner. I really liked the flavor of these. The cilantro and jalapeno added a good, spicy, combination to the potato. I'm not exactly sure how they will fare for leftovers today, but then again, leftovers are never my favorite!

3 cups shredded and peeled potato
 1/2 cup grated onion
 3 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
 1 Tbsp chopped Jalapeno
 1 egg white and a small part of the yolk ( I just used my fingers to break apart the yolk)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 cup olive oil, divided
Combine potato and onion in a colander. Drain 30 minutes. Press occasionally with the back of a spoon to get more of the liquid/moisture out of them.. Combine potato/onion mixture, flour, cilantro,, jalapeno, egg, cumin and salt in a large bowl. Mix together with a spoon. 

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan. Spoon 1/2 cup potato mixture at a  time into the hot oil. Flatten with a spatula. Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Candy Cane Hearts

I saw these cute candy cane hearts awhile back on the Internet. I had 5 leftover candy canes from a recipe earlier this week and they were beckoning me to either eat them or make something else with them. For once, I decided to let the "make something" side of me win the argument haha! Maybe next year I will make these as "gift toppers" to go under the Christmas tree. Just add some plastic wrap, some ribbons and voila.....a cute "gift topper".
Candy Canes
Milk Chocolate
Andes baking mint chips
Crushed Candy Canes

On a sheet of wax paper, place two candy canes in the shape of a  heart. In a bowl, melt the chocolate and Andes mints in the microwave (or you can use a double boiler, I just don't happen to have one anymore) and spoon the melted chocolate into the middle of the candy canes. Sprinkle  the crushed candy cane onto the chocolate immediately and let it all firm up on the counter.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Comfort food? Yes please. I love to eat good old comfort food. This is the time of year when the classics seem to make an appearance at our home. One of those classics is chicken pot pie. Sure it might be easier to buy the little frozen Swanson brand pies at the market, but I'm sure they wouldn't be as fresh or taste as good as home made. This is a super easy meal to make and it really doesn't require a lot of cooking skills.
* Next  time I make this I am going to think of a way to incorporate cream of chicken soup into the recipe. I think it will make the insides even more of an authentic pot pie taste. 

1box Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
2 3/4 cups cooked, shredded, chicken
 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

Preheat oven to 425. Roll out the bottom pie crust as directed on package. Place into an ungreased 9" pie pan. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until well blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened. Stir in chicken and mixed vegetables. Spoon the mixture onto the bottom crust, which is in the pie tin.Top with second crust ( I like to cut hearts out of mine before I place it on top) Trim the edges or seal and flute them. (Cut slits in several places in top crust, if you don't use a decorative cutter) Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. During last 15 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with foil to prevent burning.

Peppermint OreoTruffles

Once in awhile I take a recipe I am already familiar with and love, and add just a little something different to it to produce new results. That's what I did today with this batch of Oreo Truffles. John and I are bringing these yummy truffles for the greeting ministry at church tomorrow. How can you go wrong with the words "Peppermint, Oreo and Truffle" all in one title? You can't!!! I hope they get eaten up at church tomorrow or I will be forced to bring them back home, in which case, I'm sure I will make a pig of myself eating them. It seems as though they call out my name each time I pass by. So far I have done well at ignoring their calls but I'm not sure how much longer I can keep it up! ;)
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese
1 bag Oreo Cookies (not double stuffed)
6 Candy canes crushed (you can put the candy canes in a sealed baggie and crush with a hammer)
1/4 cup Andes mint baking chips (unfortunately these are only available at Christmas time in your local stores)
Semi sweet chocolate chips, melted with just a touch of shortening
* A few chopped Andes mint baking chips for the tops of the candies

Place the cream cheese, cookies, crushed candy canes ( you can put the whole candy canes in a sealed baggie and crush with a hammer) and the 1/4 cup Andes mints in the food processor. Process together until it comes together in a big ball and no white  cream cheese is visible anymore. Roll into balls and place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and place into the freezer for about 10-20 min. (You don't want these to be frozen, but you do want them firm enough to dip into the chocolate). Remove from freezer and dip into the melted chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip off and place back onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet Place a little bit of chopped andes baking mints onto the top of each truffle. Place the cookie sheet into the refrigerator until they are completely solid, firm and not shiny!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut butter and chocolate go together almost as good as my hubby and I. So why not add some chocolate chips to your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe and bring some new life to it? I did that along with trying a new peanut butter cookie recipe and I actually liked the results. To be honest, if I had my choice, I would go back to the old style peanut butter cookies that are rolled in sugar and flatted with a fork to make a criss cross pattern. Maybe that's because the look and taste of those take me back to my childhood. But.....these did turn out good and I'm sure they will get eaten at work tomorrow. Today began our two weeks of our all day "grazing" pot luck in our staff lounge. Oh boy, my thighs are already staging a protest by rubbing together! *UGH*

1/2 cup (1cube) butter, softened
1cups smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3/4 Tbsp milk
3/4 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4  tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350
In a large bowl combine the butter and peanut butter and beat until it's light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and mix thoroughly. Add the eggs and mix until it's well combined and light in color. Add the milk and vanilla and mix again. Add the dry ingredients and mix only enough to combine. Do NOT overmix. Stir in the chocolate chips. If you allow  the cookie dough to sit on the counter for 10 min or so it will firm up and be easier to scoop. Place balls of dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet with a space of about 1 to 2 inches between the cookies. Bake for 10-11 minutes. Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes after baking, then move them to a cooling rack.

Cinammon and Sugar Pull Apart Bread

Well, I guess there is a first for everything. This is the first time I have ever posted on my blog without trying the recipe first. But really, how can you go wrong with bread, cinnamon, sugar, spice and butter? Those are practically staples of life. Tomorrow will be a verdict as to whether or not this recipe is a keeper. If so...then Pinterest gets another "high five" from me for having the most amazing recipes ever.

These next couple of weeks at work are going to be filled with potlucks of endless "grazing" in our staff lounge! As if I didn't feel like a cow already, this grazing definitely will not help my cause ;)
Since everyone signed up to bring two things each, I decided to make both mine tonight and contribute them tomorrow. So for now I will go lay down in my "pasture" and rest, for tomorrow brings more grazing!!

For the Dough:
2 3/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling:
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
4 Tbsp. butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.  Set aside.
Whisk together eggs and set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted.  Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract.  Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers 115 to 125 degrees F.
Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula.  Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.  This takes awhile but keep stirring! Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir for about 2 minutes.  The dough might be sticky.  That’s ok!
Place the dough is a large, greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel.  Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size.  (about an hour or so)
While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling.  Set aside.  Melt 4 Tbsp. of butter. Set aside.  Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch  loaf pan.  Set that aside too. Punch down the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes.  On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out.  The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long.  If you can’t get the dough to 20-inches long… that’s okay.  Just roll it as large as the dough will go.
 Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough.  Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.  
Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips.  Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again.

You’ll have six stacks of six squares.  Place the dough squares in the pan so the top looks like the pages of a book. (with the thin sides down, not the flat parts)
 Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown.  The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw.  A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Banana Bites

Tonight I had a craving for something sweet. Being as tired as I was, I  had to make something easy and quick! I tried to justify making these because they have fruit and peanut butter in them, so I just kept telling myself they would be healthy haha! Since I only ate two, I guess it isn't so bad. I love peanut butter and chocolate together and if you throw in a banana, I guess it's just a triple good thing! These are super yummy,  but next time I am going to make them with semi sweet or dark chocolate and cut some of the sweetness. I only had milk chocolate on hand tonight, so that's what I used.

1 Banana
Peanut Butter
Melted Chocolate, (milk chocolate, semi sweet or dark)

Cut the banana into slices. I wanted mine thick. You can cut them as thick or thin as you like.Place a small amount of peanut butter onto the top of each slice. Dip them in melted chocolate and place on wax paper to harden the chocolate.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Miracle Bread

When my sister told me about this yummy bread recipe, I was kind of hoping that the title meant that I would eat it, and wake up thin!! That would be an amazing miracle. It didn't work. A girl can dream can't she? Even though that miracle didn't take place, it was super delicious and so easy to make. Sitting in my sisters house in Oregon with the smell of freshly baking bread was such a wonderful blessing this week. Being from Southern California, where we try not to turn on our ovens too frequently, due to the fact that it is usually as hot as an oven outside.....I don't bake fresh bread too often. This recipe will definitely change that. In fact, I can't wait to make it again!! I just might try adding some fresh herbs next time, or maybe some cheese. We'll see!
Here is the link to the original recipe.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Italian Meatball Sub

I genuinely do not like ground beef. This is about one of the only ways that I can tolerate eating it. Back in the old days I would have just bought a bag of meatballs and a jar of spaghetti sauce to make this sandwich, but not this time. The meatballs and sauce are both home made. There is just something about making something yourself, which automatically makes it taste better. At least that's my opinion. You are probably wondering how I got my mouth around this monstrous thing, but oh don't you worry, food has never stopped me before!
*In this picture you can't see it, but this sandwich is also loaded with melted provolone cheese.
* cooks note: I adapted the original recipe by adding extra salt and italian seasoning, fresh basil, fresh oregano and fresh parsley into the meat portion. For the sauce portion I adapted it by adding fresh basil, fresh oregano, extra salt, italian seasoning, crushed red pepper and an 8 ounce jar of tomato sauce!I also served it with pepperoncini's on the top as a garnish.
Here is the link to the original recipe.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Caramel Corn

Today John was working overtime, so I decided to make some home made caramel corn that he could have when he got home from work. I really like this particular version to make, because not only is it super quick and easy, but it stays chewy instead of getting hard, like some of the versions of caramel corn that are out there. I know people have many different ways they like to eat caramel corn, but I am all for the sticky, chewy versions. I mean really....who doesn't love picking the ooey, gooey, stickiness out of their teeth all night. I'm sure my dentist appreciates me eating this snack, as it keeps me coming back to see him. Fortunately I was a good girl and got all the unpopped kernels out this time, so there was no broken teeth involved. Maybe that should have been my opening line "No teeth were actually harmed in the eating of this snack" ;)

1 bag microwave popcorn, popped
1 C brown sugar
1/4 C white Karo syrup
1/4 t salt 
1 cube butter, cut into bite size chunks
1/2 t baking soda
1 t vanilla

Pop popcorn and put it into a very large bowl. Try to get out all the unpopped kernels. (Trust me, your teeth will thank you for this extra step!) In a large bowl, place the brown sugar, karo syrup, salt, and butter.   Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir thoroughly to combine. Cook on high for 2 minutes. Take it out and stir it again. Place it back in the microwave for 2 more minutes. When the caramel is done in the microwave, take it out and stir in the baking soda and the vanilla. Stir it well and pour it over the popcorn making sure to coat all the pieces. You can put a piece of wax paper on the counter and pour the popcorn out onto that, but I say just enjoy it warm right out of the bowl. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lemon Twists with Lemon Marshmallow Dip

Yesterday as I contemplated what I could bring to the pot luck at work today, absolutely nothing came to mind. So thankfully I had some chocolate chip, banana bread in the freezer that I had made last week. So when I suddenly woke up at 4 AM, (unfortunately this happens a lot) I decided I had no excuse to not have time or energy to make something. So the hunt began to find something in the house that I could make for work. Since I don't need coffee to get going in the morning, I dove right in and started looking for ingredients. Thankfully I had some puff pastry in my freezer. Oh and thankfully I have a microwave for defrosting things ;)
So once I had decided to use the puff pastry, I reved up the imagination and started making a concoction that I hoped would taste good. Thankfully it did! In fact, I would make these again. I really liked them. they are light and crispy and it helps that they were very simple to make. Now that it's 4 PM I hope I can remember how I threw these together this morning!
Ingredients for twists:
One sheet puff pastry
4 Tbsp butter, melted
Lemon juice 
Zest of one whole lemon 
1/2 cup sugar 

Ingredients for the Dip:
Approximately 3 cups marshamllows
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, softened

For the twists:
Heat oven to 400
Flour a work surface lightly and roll out on sheet of puff pastry with a rolling pin until it's just a little bit thinner than it came in the package. Cut the dough into strips. I made 24 by cutting the dough into strips. I cut twelve strips and then cut across them in the other direction to create 24 strips.
In a bowl, combine 4 Tbsp of melted butter with lemon juice. You can use as much or as little as you like to bring out the lemon flavor. I used almost an entire lemon. In a separate bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Take each strip of pastry and completely cover it with the melted butter/lemon mixture. Next put the buttered pastry strip into the sugar/lemon zest mixture. Make sure you get the mixture onto the entire twist. Twist the pasty and place it on a Pam coated cookie sheet. Bake at 400 for about 7 minutes and then flip them over. Bake for about 7-8 more minutes. If you have extra lemon juice and you want them more "lemony", squeeze some extra juice onto them when you flip them. 

For the Dip:
Melt marshmallows in the microwave with the corn syrup. Stir completely and add in cream cheese. Use a mixer to blend these together thoroughly. Serve soon after making. (My dip got a little "thicker" as the day wore on and it didn't seem to be as creamy later in the day! But it was still YUMMY!!!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stuffed Salmon wth Sriracha Cream Sauce

I'm not sure I could ever truly convey my genuine love for sushi!! I think I could eat it day and night and not tire of it. I have always like the sriracha cream sauce on the top of the rolls at sushi restaurants. So when I stumbled across this recipe, I just knew I would have to try it. It's not sushi, because the salmon is cooked, but the sriracha cream sauce is a perfect copycat of the sauce that comes on the rolls at sushi restaurants. The next time I make it, I will leave out the cream cheese on my portion as I am not a lover of cream cheese mixed with my seafood.
Here is a link to the recipe:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Grilled Lime Chicken Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette Dressing

I'm not one for making a lot of salads at home. We do like salad, but I think we'd both rather have a hearty vegetable on the side, then a salad. So when I get the chance to make a hearty salad that serves as a main dish, I wind up liking it a lot. This was no exception. Too bad I didn't realize it was going to be so cold today as this would have made a great salad for a warmer evening.
We still managed to eat it though ;)
* Thank you Pinterest for another winner recipe!
For the salad:

For the dressing:

Banana, Coconut, Chocolate Chip Bread

Lately I have been finding recipes and modifying them. That's almost as fun as creating it yourself, not quite....but almost! I found a recipe for banana coconut bread on Pinterest and then modified it, by adding less almond extract, a little pinch of cinnamon and a few chocolate chips. It turned out really good.
The original recipe can be found here:

I modified this recipe by adding only 1/4 tsp almond extract instead of the 1 tsp it called for.  I also added about 1/8 tsp cinnamon to the dry ingredients. You can add as many chocolate chips as you like, but I only added about 1/4-1/2 cup as I don't like my bread too chocolatey! I also found that mine cooked for quite a bit less time then the original recipe called for. So set your timer for about 40 min and keep checking it from there!

Prosciutto, Basil and Gruyere Rolls

Who doesn't love bread? Seriously....but who truly doesn't love bread stuffed with yummy goodness? Last night was our first cold day/night of the Fall season. So I made a big pot of vegetable soup and made these rolls to eat with it. These will definitely be made again at this house, because every single one of them got eaten....and quickly!! They made a great addition to a bowl of hot soup, but trust me, I could eat these as the main dish itself. Super simple to make and I can't believe I never thought of doing this before finding this recipe.
*Sorry that my pictures aren't great. I never claimed to be able to take pictures haha!

*Recipe adapted from: 

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
4 ounces thinly-sliced prosciutto
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
 1 cup grated Gruy√®re cheese  

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 400°
Place puff pastry sheet on work surface. Cut in half.
Place the prosciutto on each half leaving a small border along one side. Place basil onto each half on top of the prosciutto. Top with the gruyere cheese. Sprinkle red pepper over the top. Brush the small border that you left unfilled, with the beaten egg. Starting at long side opposite the egg washed border, roll the pastry up, pressing gently to seal. You can use more of the beaten egg if needed, to help seal. Wrap in plastic wrap. Put in the refrigerator for about an hour to firm up the dough. After the dough is ready, cut into 12 individual "pinwheels" or servings. Place on a Pam sprayed cookie sheet (or you can line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I just used Pam) and bake at 400° for about  16 minutes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

I have always loved making my mom's home made chicken and dumpling recipe, ever since I became a grown up and started cooking my own meals. It's a "go to" meal for each winter and I can't wait to make it this winter also. A few days ago I stumbled onto a recipe for a chicken and dumpling bake. Sounded interesting! After trying it tonight, I truly like it. I can't say it's exactly as good as making good ole fashioned chicken and dumplings, but it's definitely something I would make again. It's super quick and easy, especially since I decided to use a store cooked rotisserie chicken, instead of cooking my own. I also just used a can of chicken stock instead of making my own.

Here is a link to the original recipe.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Cupcakes

Boo! My daughter had to make cupcakes for her work party and she came to my house so we could make them together. I'm usually not one for liking most of the scary type Halloween things, but how could I say no to spending time with my beautiful daughter? :)
So we made these spider web cupcakes and shattered glass cupcakes. I talked to her today and she said they were a big hit at work!!

For the spider web cupcakes. Just bake cupcakes and frost with orange frosting. Then use black gel to make 3 or 4 circles around the cupcake. Then use a knife to "drag" through the circles and create the spider web look.
For the shattered glass cupcakes. Just bake cupcakes and decorate with white frosting. Then make sugar glass (see recipe below) and use red gel food color (the gel works better than the liquid for this effect) and put it on like blood on the glass.

Sugar Glass:
2 cups water
1 cup white corn syrup
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Mix ingredients and cook until it's 300 degrees on the candy thermometer. Then pour out onto a buttered cookie sheet. Let cook and harden. Break into "glass"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cinnamon Apples

Oh my goodness, these apples are amazing! Who cares that it's 89 degrees outside still and iced tea is the drink of the day instead of hot apple cider? I care....but not enough that it stopped me from making these delicious apples. These are so simple to make and the blend of cinnamon and apple together is perfect. I like to use the actual cinnamon spice in my foods, but this is the first time that cinnamon candies have ever been involved. I am usually not a big fan of cinnamon candy, but I made the exception for this dish. So glad I did!!
4 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 cup butter
1 bag cinnamon red hot candies

Place your peeled and sliced apples (you can chop them if you want bite size pieces) into a large skillet. Add the butter and cinnamon candies. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until all the candies have melted. Then put a lid on the skillet and cook until apples have achieved the softness that you desire. You can serve these hot, warm or cold if you choose. The more they cooled, the more the cinnamon taste came through.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Caramel Apples

Ok so I admit that I have been known to go buy Caramels and melt them to make caramel apples. But I found this recipe for home made caramel on Pinterest and made it this morning. It may still feel like summer outside, but I am just pretending that it feels like Fall  and it's time for caramel apples. These are really yummy. The caramel  may be a bit more "chewy" than store bought, but it sure was much more fun making them. You are probably thinking, "why doesn't she just go buy caramels?" Well...I truly think it takes just as long to unwrap all those individually wrapped caramels as it does to whip up your own, besides, nothing is better than home made! I know mine don't look very "professional" but hey I'm just a mom that likes to bake and cook. I can cook it up, I just need someone else to come over and make them look pretty. I made 6 of them and none of them are the same!
Caramel/Milk Chocolate/Peanut
Caramel/White Chocolate
Caramel/White Chocolate/Milk Chocolate
Caramel/ Peanut Butter/Chocolate/Peanut
Caramel/Roasted Marshmallow
Here is the link to the home made caramel recipe!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vegetable and Pasta Soup

I'm pretty sure no one actually needs to learn how to make vegetable soup, but just in case, I decided to blog this tonight. I am still waiting for the weather to get cold and stay cold, but in the mean time, I just had to make soup. Too bad I can't make it in the morning when it's still nice and cool outside. Southern California had better figure out pretty soon that it's Fall or I'm going to be seriously disappointed. Wait...I already am!! So in the afternoons, I still hibernate while patiently waiting for the day time cold weather to finally come and stay. I say cold, but we all know in Southern California, that it's never truly that COLD, it's just less warm haha! (except for the nights...bbbrrrrr)
This soup was so delish!! My hubby probably would have preferred it with some chicken  or some kind of protein in it, but I was just hungry for vegetable soup tonight. I can't wait for leftovers tomorrow. Yummy!!
* I took a picture of my hubby's serving and forgot to take a picture of mine, which had fresh shaved parmesan and fresh basil on the top as garnishes. 

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 can green beans (I didn't have any fresh, but you can use fresh also)
3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes ( you can use less if you don't want your soup spicy at all)
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp thyme
1 (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes
6 cups water
2 cups rainbow rotini (or your favorite pasta)

In a  large soup pot, melt the butter and toss in the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, green beans, italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook until the vegetables are semi soft. Add the can of tomatoes (including the juice) and the water. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add your pasta and cook for about 10 minutes. *You can also serve this with freshly grated parmesan cheese on top, and/ or fresh basil.

Jolly Rancher Lollypops

This by far will be the easiest thing you ever make in your lifetime! It requires only 1 ingredient and a little bit of time. I love how colorful they are and the best part is, that you can change the flavor combination to suit your tastes.
Here is your big ingredient list:
Jolly Ranchers :) oh and I guess you need lollipop sticks too ;)

Heat oven to 275. Spray a cookie sheet with Pam thoroughly. Place 3 Jolly Ranchers together. Leave a big enough space between sets of 3 Jolly Ranchers to place the stick after they come out of the oven.
Place the cookie sheet into the oven for 6-8 minutes, or until the candy is completely melted. Take out of the oven and immediately place a lollipop stick into each one, 3/4 of the way up the sucker. Very gently, roll the stick in the sucker until it is coated with the candy. Leave until they are cooled all the way down. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Garlic Parmesan Edamame

I have two words for this one. YUM YUM! I love Edamame by itself, but this just gave me even more reason to love it. I'm pretty sure I ate more than my fair share tonight, but fortunately I have some left to take to work tomorrow. The hubby really liked them too. He personally thinks that they are not worth all the effort to get the edamame out of the shell, but I sure think they are.
Here is a link to the recipe!
*Note: I skipped the food processor part of this recipe and I just cooked my garlic in the olive oil. Made it much quicker and more simple!

Slow Cooked Apples

Cooking this today made my home smell absolutely wonderful. Now if the weather would just cooperate and make it actually seem like it's FALL instead of an extended summer like we are having here in So Cal. I admit that a few times today, I actually went over to the crock pot, lifted the lid and took a big whiff. my spoon actually went in it also to taste test. These didn't need to be taste tested, but it sounded like a reasonable way to explain away why I was constantly lifting the lid. I mean if I'm going to let that kind of steam escape from the pot, just to smell the darn stuff cooking, then I might as well take a taste while I'm there, right? Don't answer that ;)
8 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 8 wedges each
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6 Tbsp melted butter

Spray your crock pot THOROUGHLY with Pam. Coat it at least twice. Place the apples into the bottom of the crock pot. Drizzle the lemon juice over them and stir. In a bowl, mix up the sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir it and then pour it over the apples. Stir to coat all the apples with the sugar mixture. Drizzle melted butter over the apples and stir again. Cook on low for 3 hours or high for 2 hours. Serve warm!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

7 up Biscuits

When I first saw these biscuits on the Internet, I seriously thought it might be a joke. Then I looked at the ingredients and thought "hhmmm these just might taste pretty good. So when I went grocery shopping, I bought the ingredients necessary to make them. I think this just might be my new favorite biscuit/dinner roll. Really easy....really fast....really good and oh so buttery.

2 cups Bisquick
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup 7-up
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 450.
Cut sour cream into biscuit mix, add 7-Up. Makes a very soft dough.
Sprinkle additional biscuit mix on board or table and pat dough out. Cut biscuits with a biscuit cuttter or just cut them into sqaures. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a 9 inch square pan.  Place cut biscuits in pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sweet and Salty Bacon Wrapped Pretzels

 Sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy, spicy! Those are the words I would use to describe this treat. My company tonight definitely loved these and I will remember these as a "go to" recipe for a pot luck type appetizer dish. They are quick to make, easy as pie and are a crowd pleaser!! :)

 1 package of bacon, cut into halves
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 Tbsp chili powder
3 Dashes cayenne pepper (next time I'm going to use more cayenne and make this good and spicy)
1 package Pretzel rods

Preheat oven to 375.
Break the pretzel rods in half. Cut the bacon slices in half also. In a bowl, (use a flatter edged bowl for easily dipping the bacon), stir together the brown sugar, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Dip each bacon half into the brown sugar mixture, pushing down and making sure you coat all sides of the bacon with the sugar mixture thoroughly. Wrap the dipped bacon half around the half of a pretzel rod. Cover the entire rod with the piece of bacon. (for some pieces it only "almost" covers them, that's ok)
Place the covered pretzels onto a broiler pan (or any pan that has holes for the fat to drip through into a bottom container) so that when the bacon cooks, the fat drips off of them into the broiler pan below. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes. Let these cool as the pretzel "hardens" back up after it cools a bit. Serve!

Pork and Chicken Posole

I love feeding people. I truly think it's my calling :) So when a phone call came at the last minute this afternoon that my daughter and son in law were on their way over with friends....I didn't have to panic because I had almost finished cooking a big pot of home made posole. I am pretty sure it was a hit as there was none left to send with my hubby to work tomorrow. This is not a quick recipe, but it sure is an easy one. This picture does not do this soup justice as you really can't see all the goodies snuggled down deep in the broth, but trust me it's yummy! Also, this picture was taken before I added all my garnishes to the top of the soup.
2 small-med onions, diced
1 lb pork, cut into bite size pieces
2 lbs chicken, cut into bite size pieces
12 cups of beef broth
2-4 lbs of hominy, drained (canned is fine)...use as much or as little as you like
1/4 cup garlic, minced
4 cups red chili sauce ( I use las palmas colorado's like enchilada sauce)
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp oregano
4-8 Dried New Mexico Chilies

* for garnish: Chopped cabbage, diced onion, cilantro, fresh lime juice

In a large soup pot, heat your onion, pork and chicken. When meat just begins to brown, add the beef broth, hominy, garlic, chili sauce, cumin and oregano and the dried chilies. Stir well. Cook for about 2 hours or longer, until hominy is softened. Use a spoon to dip out all the dried chilies. Make sure you dip out the stems also. Throw all the chilies away.  Serve with your favorite garnishes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Asian Slaw with Ginger Peanut Dressing

First off I need to apologize about how this picture looks of this food. I had my grand daughter here today and I guess I got sidetracked and forgot to take a picture before we ate. So after everything was all packed away, my brain kicked into full gear and I thought "whoops....I forgot:. So after spending all day running around after a 15 month old, I was just too lazy to take the slaw out of the tupperware I had already packed for the hubby tomorrow for work. So now that the explanation is done, let me move on to the food. This is another Pinterest recipe. I am really beginning to wonder if I am ever going to create my own food again. I have been spending so much time on Pinterest and there are so many wonderful recipes, that I can't imagine how long it will take me to cook so many of them that I want to make. This was such a refreshing, light slaw. I know it's supposed to be Fall, but it was 102 degrees here today, so yes I made a nice cold, refreshing SUMMER slaw!! If you like the taste of Oriental chicken salads at restaurants, then you will LOVE this (minus the chicken of course)!
Here is a link to the original recipe site!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Crispy Fried Brussel Sprouts with Honey and Sriracha

This picture might look unappetizing, but I'm not a photographer, I just LOVE to cook. To be honest, I was just too lazy to even think about getting all the sauce off the sides of the bowl etc. I think I have just discovered one of my new favorite vegetable recipes. I love that this dish offers a spicy kick, along with a sweet undertone and a little bit of acidity from the lime. I'm pretty sure that someone that doesn't even like brussel sprouts would like these.
Here is a link to the recipe I found!

Frozen Cappucino Cups

It seems lately that I haven't been creating as many of my own dishes and I've been trying a lot of  new recipes I have found here, there and everywhere on the Internet. This is another idea taken from Pinterest and oh it ever wonderful!!! I made these with the intent of having something small to eat when a sugar craving hits, but now the task will be to just eat one and  not eat the entire making of them ;)
The hubby tried one out tonight and really liked it. Since he is not much a sweet eater, this is saying a lot for him to like this. I can't wait to have one tomorrow night. I am too full from our wonderful dinner to even think about eating one tonight!
I know this picture is terrible of this dessert. The camera broke again and I really needed to pop these back into the freezer quickly to get them solid again after topping them with the cool whip and cookie crumbs. Tomorrow I will try to take a picture of one cut in half so you can see all the yummy goodness....
15 Oreo cookies
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 pt coffee ice cream, softened

1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
cool whip
Oreo cookie crumbs
* you can also top it with chocolate syrup or any other "fixins" you like

Crush oreos in your food processor. Place into a bowl and stir in the melted butter. Mix thoroughly. Place cupcake liners into a muffin tin and place a small amount of cookie mixture into the bottom of each liner. Press down with the back of the spoon until it's flat and evenly pressed down.
In a bowl, place softened ice cream with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir and mix well. When it's all mixed, place a small amount of the ice cream mixture on top of the cookie crumb mixture in each cup. Top with cool whip and extra crushed cookie crumbs. Place in freezer until frozen.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Orange Rum Glazed Salmon

Don't you love when you come across a recipe on the Internet and it turns out to be really good? That's how I feel about this one....and trust me I have tried many duds! Red Lobster has a section on their restaurant page that gives free recipes. I got this recipe from that site. I didn't happen to have any snapper, which is what the original recipe calls for, so I tried it on salmon. John loved it, I loved it, so I will definitely be making this one again.
Here is a link to the recipe:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jalapeno Cream Cheese Rolls

This is another recipe I found on Pinterest. I cannot tell you how much I love that site! These rolls were super delicious and went very well with my vegetarian enchiladas and spicy asparagus.Yep, I had to keep the "spicy" theme throughout the whole meal. I did modify the amount of rolls the original recipe said to cut these into, as I wanted a little more than just a bite size.  These take only a few minutes to whip up and make for a great tasting bread side dish.
  • 1 package Cream Cheese (8 Ounce Package)
  • 4 ounces, weight Canned, Diced Jalapenos
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 8 ounces, weight Tube Refrigerated Crescent Rolls
Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, half the jalapenos ( I used almost the whole jar because I like my food spicy) and the sugar. Mix well with a fork. Set aside. Open crescent rolls and place on a cutting board. Separate them into two rectangles. Pinch together the perforations in each rectangle. Spread  the cream cheese mixture evenly onto the rectangles.Starting with the long side of each rectangle, roll up each rectangle into a "log" Once they are rolled up, cut each "log" into 8 pieces. Place the pieces onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 13 minutes until they are golden brown.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blue Raspberry Chocolate Filled Meringue Cookies

Once again, this is what happens when you wake up at 4:30 AM and your alarm isn't set to go off until 600 AM. You bake!!! I attempted these cookies yesterday from a recipe I found on Pinterest and it didn't work at all. The meringue would never set up and the cookies just came out flat. They did taste good though :)
So this morning I attempted to re-make them since there isn't much to them and they came out much better. I skipped an entire step from the original recipe and added much more cream of tartar than the original recipe called for. I really liked the results. They taste the same as yesterday's batch, which was yummy, but they look a whole lot better!       

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp flavoring ( I used raspberry, but you can choose any flavor)
Food coloring (as little or as much as you would like to produce a color of your choice)

 Heat oven to 175 degrees.
In a mixer, blend the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. This takes quite awhile, but be patient. After stiff peaks have formed, stir in flavoring and food coloring.
Line a cookie sheet (you will probably need 2 cookie sheets) with parchment paper. Place a single chocolate chip (for each cookie) approximately 2 inches apart on parchment paper. Insert a star tip into a decorating bag. Fill the bag with meringue and pipe it over each chocolate chip to form stars. Bake at 175 degrees for an hour and a half. Remove from oven and let cool.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chicken Enchilada Soup

I adapted this recipe from a recipe I found on Pinterest. I must admit that Pinterest could easily take the place as my new found second love haha! Just kidding. God first, then my hubby, then family and friends...then Pinterest? ;)
Even though it's not quite fall yet and I usually wait until then to make soups, I decided to try this one out today. I gave it a quick sample and oh my goodness, I loved it! It was super easy and basically I just threw all the ingredients into a crock pot after I got off of work. (Yes I'm blessed to be home super early everyday from work). It took about 3 hours in the crock pot, but it's still on high at this point and I'm sure the tastes can only get better as it sits in there warming for longer. So I will just let it go until dinner time tonight and then voila...a super easy and tasty meal ♥

3 cups chicken broth
4 skinless, chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
3 large jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (12 oz) bag frozen corn
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
8 oz cotija cheese, crumbled
 2-3 oz pepper jack cheese, grated
2-3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
* for a garnish:
chopped cilantro
extra cojita cheese, crumbled
You can add tortilla chips if you would like

 Place all ingredients (except garnish) into your crock pot. Make sure to use already cooked and shredded chicken. Turn the crock pot onto high and leave for a few hours. I am cooking mine about 5 hours today! I'm sure it can only taste better the longer it cooks!

Butterfinger Candy

This was quite possibly the easiest candy I have ever made. I'm sorry the picture is so bad, but I actually forgot to take a picture of all the candy, until there was only one piece left at work. So hence the horrible picture of an amazing tasting candy! I wish I had thought to cut it open  so you could see the beautiful orange "butterfinger" like center. These take almost no time at all and are so easy that anyone could do it!!
1 (13 oz) bag candy corn
1 cup peanut butter
1 bag Milk chocolate chips

Melt the candy corn in the microwave, stirring every 15 seconds. Keep stirring each time  you check it because it gets hard quickly. When it's all done melting, quickly stir in the peanut butter. Make sure you stir thoroughly and you may even need to use a fork or the back of your spoon to break up any "hard spots" in the candy corn from it setting up too quickly. Line a square pan with parchment paper (leave enough out on the sides to be able to pull out the whole candy piece as one sheet). Press the candy down into the parchment paper lined pan. Spread out the best you can. Chill for awhile until it's thoroughly cooled down. Cut into squares. (These are pretty rich and sweet, so smaller squares work better). Melt your milk chocolate chips in the microwave, also stirring every 20 seconds or so. These burn quickly before they actually lose their shape, so stir a lot each time you check it. Dip squares into the melted milk chocolate and lay on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Place in  the refrigerator until they are cooled down and set up!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chicken and Pesto Stuffed Shells

If you read my earlier post today, then you will know that I almost didn't leave enough pesto sauce to make tonight's dinner. ;) Well I did have enough and it actually turned out to be pretty tasty! I will definitely be making this one again. You could always substitute store bought pesto sauce, but hey, I grow so much basil in my garden, that I cannot justify not making it myself.
16 jumbo pasta shells
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan + 1/4 cup for topping
3 tablespoons Pesto sauce
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
small handful of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
enough butter melted to moisten the bread crumbs(maybe 1/8 cup)

In a large pot over high heat, boil water and cook the jumbo shells for 12 minutes or until "al dente". Drain the pasta and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, except the 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping. Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in a greased baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells. 

In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave and stir in Panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle all over the top of the shells and then bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.

Basil Pesto

Let me first admit that I could sit down and eat this entire making  of pesto sauce with a spoon. Who needs pasta when this tastes so good by itself? Secondly I admit that I did continue to taste this, under the guise of taste testing of course, to make sure I had it right! ;)
So....luckily I had some left to use in my stuffed shells I am making tonight for dinner. (I will post the recipe for those also, after I get a picture of it tonight)
2 cups basil leaves, packed down
1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt/Pepper to taste

In your food processor, pulse the pine nuts and basil a few times. Add the garlic a pulse a bit more. Slowly add the olive oil while the food processor is running. (Stream it in continually while the food processor is going) Turn off the processor and scrape down the sides. Run again for just a few seconds to mix it all up. Add the grated parmesan and mix again until thoroughly blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pasta or you can put it over chicken or anything else that sounds good!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cookies

I don't think I know anyone that doesn't like the combination of peanut butter and chocolate! It's a classic that always makes me happy. Today I made these cookies for a church ministry tomorrow. Hopefully it will make people there happy also :)
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup granulated sugar (plus more for dipping)
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
¾ cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 375˚F.
Stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, butter and 1/4 cup of the peanut butter until light and smooth.  Add in the vanilla and egg, beating one at a time to combine.  Gradually stir in the flour mixture.  Set dough aside.
To make the filling, cream together the powdered sugar and remaining 3/4 cup of peanut butter until smooth.
To assemble the cookies, spoon a generous tablespoon of chocolate cookie dough and flatten into a circle with your hands.  Scoop a small amount of peanut butter filling mixture and place in the center of the chocolate dough.  Wrap the chocolate dough around the peanut butter filling, pinching ends together to seal.  Roll the cookie in between hands to smooth into a ball.  Roll into a bowl of sugar and place on the cookie sheet.
Use the bottom of a glass to slightly flatten the cookies.  Bake for 7 to 9 minutes.  Do not over bake.  Let cool on wire rack.

Lasagna Cups

My mom always taught me not to play with my food, but making this version of lasagna in a cup felt kind of like playing with my food. Sssshhhh don't tell my mom ;)
This wasn't necessarily as easy as making regular lasagna in a pan, but it also makes for great single servings to store in the freezer for work lunches. These would be great to make for a party, or for when a pot luck at work calls for more "single serve" style food.

*Makes 11 lasagna cups

for the sauce-
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion
1/4 lb lean ground beef, cooked and drained
1/4 lb hot italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small zucchini, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-6 oz. can tomato paste
1-8 oz. can tomato sauce ( plus 1/2 can water)
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sugar
salt & pepper to taste

for the cheese filling-
1-10 oz. tub Philadelphia Italian Herb & Cheese Cooking Cream
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese,
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, grated & divided
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 egg

1 box lasagna noodles ( I use whole wheat)

Parmesan cheese for the top along with the extra mozzarella

For the sauce- heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onions, pepper, zucchini and garlic for about 5 minutes. Stir in cooked ground beef and tomato paste and mix together. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook 30 minutes.

For the cheese filling- stir all ingredients together excluding half of the grated mozzarella cheese. Set aside.

For the pasta- Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta sheets 2 minutes less than package directions and drain.Rinse with cold water and place pasta on greased baking sheet until you are ready to put together the lasagna cups.

For assembly- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut out 11 large squares of parchment paper. Line 11 jumbo muffin tins with the squares. They won't stay down on their own, but don't fret, the pasta will help "weigh them down" so they will stay. Line the edges of the muffin tins with 1 lasagna noodle.  The lasagna noodle will overlap itself about 2 inches. Spoon about 1/2- 1 tablespoon of sauce into the bottom of each cup into the center of the noodle lined muffin tin holes.  Next cut the rest of the noodles into quarters and press one of these pieces of pasta into the bottom of each cup,  on top of the sauce. Top the noodle square you just placed at the bottom with a generous tablespoon of sauce. Then place a generous tablespoon of cheese filling on top of the sauce.  Repeat this pasta-sauce-cheese layering one more time being sure to press out any air bubbles. Top these lasagna cups off with a 3rd piece of pasta, more sauce and the remaining mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle parmesan cheese all over the top of the mozzarella. Bake for 25-30 minutes.