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Sunday, October 14, 2012

DIY Bin Re-do

Years ago I went to Deseret Industries (Utah's version of Goodwill) and got a brown bin-like cupboard to keep our dog food in.  It wasn't particularly cute, but it was functional.  We poured our dog's food into it from the bag and then served them their food out of it daily.  I have been getting more and more interested in DIY furniture has been a really fun creative outlet.  A couple of months ago I decided that it was time to do something with that ugly bin.  Here's what it looked like "before"...

For the base color I used Krylon's Gumdrop spray paint.  Spray painting is soooooo fun!!!!!!

Here is the "after" shot.  I got the little fabric flowers at Michael's Crafts and I love them!!! I moved it to my two year old's room and it is now a home to some of her stuffed animals :)

PS...Since this picture my two year old ripped the flowers off and colored orange on the bin drawer.  Guess I get to DIY it some more!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Going Bananas...Banana Crack Cake

I don't know about you, but whenever bananas start to turn brown at my house I chuck them into the freezer figuring I will make them into banana bread "someday".  Truth is that banana bread is one of those things that I have made several times, but have never had that "perfect" loaf, so I really don't like making it all that much.  Searching Pinterest I found this recipe for Banana Crack Cake.  Love it!  Now I don't have to make banana bread with those bananas!!!  Here's the link:


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Some-Bunny Loves You

Our sweet little Maya-Boo turned 2 in September.  This little bunny cake was inspired by several different cakes that I saw online...just pulled a little from each of them to come up with the idea for this cute little guy.

Cutting into these cakes is so hard to do after I spend so much time making them, but it's so fun to see the kids get so excited about it's worth all in the end!


This little guy is the cake that we had at Kira's 14th birthday party with her friends.  His name is Gir and I had never heard of him until she told me she wanted a Gir cake.  I have to say I think he turned out cute.  Sorry...I couldn't figure out how to rotate this picture, so I guess you will just have to turn your computer sideways :P  Do you love his fruit roll-up tongue?  This was one of the cakes Kira and I had to create our own template...not too bad, eh?

The Cell Phone

I have to say this is one of my least favorite of all of the cakes I have done.  Too much white for one thing...and for another thing, don't you think it looks more like a calculator than a cell phone?  The buttons are rice crispy treats covered in almond bark.  The result...way too sweet.  Oh well, live in learn.  This cake was the one we celebrated Colton and CheyAnn's birthdays with in August while again picnicking in southern Utah.  It was Kira's birthday, too...her cake is in the next post :)

The Popcorn Cake

It just occurred to me that there are a few of my cakes I haven't posted on here yet!  We can't have that, can we?  The next few posts will be cakes that I have done the last few months with birthdays and graduations happening in our fam.

This cake was for Colton's (left) graduation and Bryson's (right) 17th birthday...we were in Southern Utah visiting them back in May and had a lil picnic at the park.  The popcorn on the cake is kettle corn.  The redstripes are licorice.  Got this idea from

Freaking Amazing Lasagna Soup!

Lately I have become a bit of a Pinterest addict...I usually try a couple of new recipes off of there every week.  I found this  recipe on there for lasagna soup (I know, right?) that looked fabulous....but then I took it a few steps further.  I changed it up a bit, and the results were FREAKING AMAZING!  Remember my Freaking Amazing Lasagna recipe (also on this blog)?  Well, the soup I made today is the beautiful sister (not ugly step-sister) of that lasagna.  Here's what I did...thanks to for the inspiration that led to this yummy recipe!!!

2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 huge tomatoes, diced (got them from my garden...if yours aren't huge, adjust number accordingly)
1 large onion, chopped up small

Saute all of the above (I do it in the same pot I am making the soup in, then add:

1 1/2 lb ground beef, drained (original recipe called for Italian sausage-didn't have any)
20 slices of pepperoni, cut in quarters (got that idea from my Freaking Awesome Lasagna recipe)
1 small can of tomato sauce
2 bay leaves (don't eat those...just seasoning)
7 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
handful shredded mozzarrella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. dried basil

Simmer on medium low for a couple of hours.  Season to taste with a little garlic salt.

A half an hour before we were ready to eat I added broken up lasagna noodles (probably about 4 or 5 lasagna noodles worth).  Cook for about 30 minutes on medium heat (maybe less time...just til noodles al dente).  Serve and garnish with a little extra mozzarella cheese.

PS...Thanks to my former roommate and all-around BFF, Becky, for her Freaking Amazing Lasagna recipe which inspired me to put pepperoni in this yummy soup!!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chaos, Peace, and Almond Bark Pretzels

I can basically break every year down into two parts.  I call them Chaos and Peace.  Peace starts in February once our taxes are submitted and lasts until August.  Chaos starts with runs through "back to school" time, birthdays for Colton, CheyAnn, Kira, my sister, my mother, Katelyn, myself, and my husband, and also includes Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  It is then punctuated with preparing for taxes in January and submitting them in February.  By then I welcome Peace with a sigh of relief.

Why am I rambling about this?  Well, as I have begun thinking about what fun cake designs to do for the three kids who have August birthdays and thinking of how Chaos is about to begin, that got me thinking about the holidays and one of our favorite Christmas treats that is seriously so easy it is almost embarrassing to call it a "recipe":  Almond Bark Pretzels!  We make lots of them every Christmas....some to give away to friends, some to eat while we make more, and some for during the Christmas holiday.

So here it is...Almond Bark Pretzels!!!

I like to use the little knot pretzels or else the really big fat pretzels sticks for this, but you can use whatever your favorite type of pretzel is...

Melt Almond Bark (found by the chocolate chips at the grocery store) in your crock pot on low heat.

Using a fork or some other utensil to avoid burning your fingers, dip the pretzels into the melted almond bark and then let them cool/dry on waxed paper.

Yep.  That's it.  If it is Christmas I usually sprinkle a little green or red colored sugar on them just to make them look festive. must try these!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chicken Tacos

In the crockpot, place 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 package of dry taco seasoning, 1 package of dry chicken gravy mix (sounds weird...but trust me, this is gonna be good!), and 1 small can chicken broth.  Slow cook on low for six hours.  About four hours into the cooking time, shred the chicken with forks or cut up into small pieces with a kitchen scissors.  Then continue cooking until the six hour mark so that the chicken can absorb some of the yummy liquid!  Drain with a slotted spoon and place on warmed tortillas.  Then top with your favorite taco toppings (ie. lettuce, tomato, black olives, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa).  Soooooooooo good!

Beef Au Jus Sandwiches

Slow cook the following ingredients in a crock pot for six hours on low:

1 Chuck roast
1 cup of water
1 packet of dry au jus mix (found at the store near gravy mixes)
Season with onion powder, black pepper, salt

After slow-cooking for six hours, the roast will be very tender.  Either shred it with a fork or use a kitchen scissors to cut it into bits (while still in crock pot).  Strain meat and put it on hard rolls.  Put extra liquid into small dishes for au jus sauce to dip the sandwiches in.  Delicious!

Barbacoa (Pulled Pork)

Cook the following ingredients on low in crock pot for six hours:

1 pork roast (trim fat off first)
1 can of Dr. Pepper or Coke
1/2 bottle of barbecue sauce
Season to taste with onion powder and any other seasoning you like

After it has slow-cooked for six hours it will be very tender.  Then you can either shred the pork with a fork or else cut it into bits with kitchen scissors.  Serve on hard rolls. YUMMY!

Freakin' Amazing Cheesecake

2 cream cheese
16 oz. sour cream
1/4 lb. butter
6 eggs
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon juice

Let all ingredients come to room temperature.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Blend cream cheese, butter, and sour cream together with mixer on high speed.  Then add cornstarch, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice.  Next, beat in one egg at a time until all are well-mixed.  Pour into a greased 10 inch springform pan.  Place the springform pan into a large roasting pan.  Fill roasting pan with enough hot water to come 1/2 way up the OUTSIDE of the springform pan.  Bake at 375 dgrees for one hour or until the top is brown.  Check after 40 minutes.

After it is finished cooking til the top is brown, turn off the oven and open the oven door.  Let the cake cool in the oven for one hour.  Then remove it from the oven and let it stand for 2 hours.  Refridgerate for at least 6 hours before serving.  Cut into sixteen slices with dental floss.  For best results, wipe floss after each cut.

***This is delicious plain, but sometimes I like to cut up strawberries and add a touch of water and a little sugar and drizzle the strawberry mixture over the cheesecake.  Freakin' amazing!

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

25.6 oz. box of instant non-fat dry milk (about 10 2/3 cups)
6 oz. jar of non-dairy creamer (about 3 cups)  ie. Coffeemate
2 cups powdered sugar
16 oz. can Nestle's Quik drink mix

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  If desired, sprinkle a little cinnamon in it to give it a holiday flavor.  Makes about 17 cups of mix.  Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.  Use within 6 months.

To make a cup of hot chocolate from the mix:
Fill mug about 1/4 full of mix, add hot water, stir.  Great topped with whipped cream or marshmallows.  Enjoy!

***You can put the dry mix into a cute jar and makes a fun holiday gift : )

Cheesy Potatoes

2 lb. bag southern style hashbrowns
1 can cream of potato soup
8 oz. sour cream
1 stick butter
2 cups Velveeta

Spray 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.  Spread the frozen hashbrowns in bottom of pan.  Cook remaining ingredients on stovetop at medium heat until warm.  Pour the melted Velveeta mixture over the hashbrowns.

If desired, may crush 2 cups of corn flakes and sprinkle on top.

Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour at 350 degrees (until bubbly).  Freezes great for cooking later, too!

Stuffing-Stuffed Chicken

1 box Stove Top stuffing, prepared
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Pound the chicken breasts flat, then cover 1/2 of breast with stuffing.  Fold the chicken over and use a toothpick to hold it in place.  Repeat with the other chicken breasts.

Bake at 350 degrees for half an hour or until chicken cooked through.

**can sprinkle dried bread crumbs on top or drizzle cream of mushroom soup on top, if desired.

Chicken Roll-ups

Our oldest son graduated from high school in May and is getting ready to go out into the world on his own.  It is exciting and a little terrifying to know that he will be left to his own devices.  Hope he learned everything he needs to know.  There is something really fabulous about watching them learn how to become interested in things like buying housewares!  Anyway, going through my cookbook to find some of my "cheap and easy" recipes for here we go!

Chicken Roll-ups

1 can cream of celery soup
1 can chicken broth
1 can cooked chicken (12.5 oz)
Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
1 package crescent rolls

Combine the soup and the broth in a bowl.  Pour half of it into the pan.  Set aside.

Combine broken up chicken pieces with equal amounts of shredded cheddar cheese in a bowl.  Fill each crescent roll with the chicken/cheese mixture and then roll up (sorta like you do with pigs in a blanket).  Place them in the pan.  Pour the remaining soup mixture over the top and sprinkle with a little more shredded cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for about half an hour.  Yummy : )

Monday, March 19, 2012

Yummy Taco Corn Bread Squares!

YUM!  I made this one last night for the first time and my family loved it.  I added a little homemade was amazing!  This recipe is not mine...I got it off of Taste of Home magazine's website...but it is too good not to share, so here is the link!

Happy cooking!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Busy Birthday Cake Season

I like to make fun birthday cakes for my family, but have no formal training at all...unless you count my ex-husband's mother doing my first cake with me 15 years ago.  I guess that SHOULD count because she is amazingly talented far beyond anything I could do.  Anyway, August to January we have LOTS of birthdays around here.  Here are a couple of other cakes I did that I forgot to post.  Those of you that know my husband know that he LOVES to here's what he got for his birthday last month...

Katelyn turned 16 back in November and had a 50's themed murder mystery party (very fun, by the way).  It was about a 50's rock star, so of course there needed to be an electric guitar cake : )

I am thinking I will try a Valentine's cake next...Dave has a cousin that has a cake decorating business here in town and she offered to teach me some tricks : )

What to do with Leftover Ham? A Casserole, of course!

                                Baked Potato and Ham Casserole

Whenever I make ham (or any meat for that matter), I hate to see any of it go to I am always looking for ways to use it.  I found a recipe that actually calls for bacon, but I used ham instead (same thing, right?).  Then I changed things up a bit to make it my own.  SO EASY and YUMMY.

5-6 large potatoes
Leftover ham : )
1 can of evaporated milk
1/2 cup of milk
2-3 cups of shredded cheese (divided)
1/2 Tbsp. minced dried onions
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch of garlic salt (or more depending on your tastes)

Bake five large potatoes (I have one of those microwave potato-baking bags that my mother-in-law gave it!).  Once they are baked, dice them and spread them out in a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Next, cut up your leftover ham and make a layer of that on top of the potatoes.

In a separate bowl, combine a can of evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of 1% milk (or whatever you have at your house), 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, and then season to taste.  For seasonings I used about a 1/2 Tbsp. of  minced dried onions, a tsp of dried parsley flakes, 1/2 tsp. of black pepper, and a little garlic salt...maybe 1/2 tsp.  Once you have it seasoned to your liking, pour the mixture evenly over the ham and potatoes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese (I used the three-cheese pizza blend) over the top, cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 or until heated through.  Seriously...I made this thing so fast and it was GOOD!  Enjoy!