Spaghetti Sauce

One of the easiest meals to make is spaghetti, but what do you do when you don't have any sauce? Use this recipe to whip up a super quick version of the best store sauce you can find! This recipe ends up pretty chunky, but you can stick it in the blender & puree it to whatever consistency you like. It also makes a great marinara dip!

1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (14 ounce) can tomatoes (I like petite diced tomatoes)
1 T sugar
1/2 T dried basil
1/4 t dried oregano
1 T dried parsley
1 Bay leaf

  1. Saute the onion, garlic, & bell pepper until the onion is soft & translucent.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients & simmer 30 minutes.
  3. Remove bay leaf, puree to desired consistency, & serve over hot noodles!

Merry Christmas!

Mom's Sugar Cookies (Cookies for Santa)

My Mom used to make these with us for Santa. We got to cut the cookies out & decorate them with an easy powdered sugar frosting. As I recall, Santa liked them very much! As an alternative to rolling the dough out, you can roll it into a log shape in parchment or waxed paper, refrigerate it, an the slice it into cookies!

1 c softened butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 egg
1t almond extract
1t vanilla extract
1 t baking soda
2 1/2 c flour

  1. Mix flour & baking soda well & set aside.
  2. Cream butter & sugar well.
  3. Add egg, almond, & vanilla extract to creamed butter.
  4. Fold in flour mixture.
  5. Refrigerate dough for 2 hours then roll out to about 1/4 inch & cut cookies.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. Decorate & enjoy!

Baked Apple Dumplings

This is a great Christmas Eve treat for the kids. Use a variety of apple that you like, just make sure they aren't too big or they won't fit in the pastry crust. We prefer Gala or Jonagold, but just about anything with lots of flavor will do well. Serve the apples hot from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yummy!

1 sheet Puff Pastry
4 medium apples, cored & peeled
1/2 c raisins, dried plums, or other dried chewy fruit snipped into raisin-sized pieces
1/8 c Brown Sugar
1/2 t Cinnamon
1/4 t Nutmeg

  1. Pre-Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, & nutmeg together in a small bowl.
  3. Unroll the puff pastry & slice into four pieces.
  4. Place an apple in the center of each piece.
  5. Spoon 1/4 of of the raisin mixture into the center of each apple.
  6. Moisten the edges of the pastry with water & fold the edges over the apples.
  7. Place dumplings in a baking dish & bake for about 40 to 45 minutes.
  8. Serve hot with ice cream.

Caramel Sauce

This homemade sauce is a great topper for ice cream, crepes, or baked apples.

1/2 c Brown Sugar
1 T Cornstarch
1/4 c Water (I use apple juice or cider when it's going on apples)
1/3 c Cream (you can also use half & half or milk, but cream is really best)
1/8 c White Corn Syrup
1 T Butter
1/2 t Vanilla extract

  1. In a pan on medium heat, mix brown sugar & cornstarch until homogeneous.
  2. Slowly add the water or cider, cream, & corn syrup.
  3. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to bubble.
  4. Continue cooking & stirring for about 2 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from heat & stir in the butter & vanilla until completely incorporated.
  6. Serve warm or let cool.

Brie en Croute

This melty cheese treat is a yummy appetizer at any party! Puff pastry can be found in your frozen foods section, but it's not usually with the sweet rolls like you might think. it comes in boxes of two, but this recipe only uses one. Check out the blog tomorrow for a yummy recipe to use the other one on!

1 sheet Puff Pastry
1 round Brie cheese (8 oz)
1/4 c Peach Preserves
1/8 t ground Ginger
2 T dried Cranberries
2 T Pecans, chopped
2 T Brown Sugar
1 large Egg, beaten
1 T Heavy Cream

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Defrost puff pastry according to package directions & unroll.
  3. Finely chop the cranberries & pecans then mix with brown sugar.
  4. Cut top & bottom rind off cheese.
  5. Press one side of cheese into the cranberry mixture.
  6. Sprinkle the rest of the cranberry mixture onto the puff pastry.
  7. Place the cheese, cranberry side down, onto the center of the pastry.
  8. Top cheese with the Peach Preserves & sprinkle with ground ginger.
  9. Gather up the edges of the brie, pressing around the brie and gather at the top.
  10. Gently squeeze together the excess dough and tie together with a piece of kitchen twine (or do like I do & just stick it together as best as you can).
  11. Mix the egg & cream together & brush over the top and sides of the pastry.
  12. Bake on a cookie sheet or baking stone for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown & flaky.
  13. Slice & serve hot with crackers!

Garlic Onion Dip

2 t dry Chives
1 1/2 t granulated Garlic
1 t dry, minced Onion
1/2 t Celery Salt
1/8 t Black Pepper

Dip Directions:
  1. Combine packet with 1 cup sour cream.
  2. Chill for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Serve with cheese & crackers.

Fiesta Fun Dip Mix (single)

1 T onion
2 t salt
2 t red pepper
2 t paprika
2 t garlic
2 t parsley

1 t cumin

Dip Directions:
Mix contents of package (about 4 tablespoons or a quarter cup) with one cup mayo & one cup sour cream.

Fiesta Fun Seasoning Mix (bulk)

This recipe will make almost two cup of Fiesta Mix! In case you like to use it as a seasoning the way my sister does.

To make a whole container of this stuff, use the following recipe.
1/2 cup onion
1/3 cup salt
1/3 cup red pepper
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup garlic
1/4 cup parsley

1/8 cup cumin

Veggie Herb Dip

2 T dry Parsley

2 T dry Chives or dry Green Onions

2 T Dry Dill Weed

1/4 t granulated Garlic

Dip Directions:

  1. Combine package with 1 & 1/2 cups sour cream.
  2. Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Serve with fresh veggies.

Bacon Dip Mix

This makes a single little packet of dip mix that you can attach instructions to & give as a gift.

2 T Bacon Flavored Bits (the kind that doesn't have to be refrigerated)
2 T dry Minced Onion
2 t Beef Bouillon (again, the kind that doesn't need refrigeration)
1/4 t garlic granules
  1. Pulverize the bacon bits & onion to powder.
  2. Mix powder with the beef & garlic granules.

Dip Directions:
  1. Mix packet with 1 cup mayo & 1 cup sour cream.
  2. Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes to develop flavor.
  3. Serve with crackers or veggies.

Mild Cilantro Dip

This recipe makes a single packet that can be given as a gift.

1 T dried Red & Green Bell Peppers, chopped
1 1/2 t dry, minced Cilantro
1/2 t Garilic Powder

Dip Directions:

  1. Combine package contents with 1/2 pound of cream cheese & 1/2 cup of cour cream.
  2. Serve with chips or veggies.

Pizza Seasoning

1 t granulated Garlic
6 t minced, dried Onion
1 1/2 t Salt
1 1/2 t Sage leaf
3/4 t Brown Sugar
3/4 t Black Pepper
1/4 t ground Ginger
1/4 t ground Anise

Pizza Casserole Directions:

  1. Brown 1 pound ground beef with 3 tablespoons seasoning mix.
  2. Add 4 ounces chopped pepperoni to pan & heat through.
  3. Pour ground beef mix into a baking dish 7 top with 1 can petite diced tomatoes & 1 cup shredded mozzarella.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese melts.
  5. Serve on toasted bread or crackers.

AFTERTHOUGHT-- My sister thought this was good, but says it needs some oregano. I don't know how much, but I would trust her if I were you. I layered this over pre-cooked penne & left it for her to feed my kids when she was sitting for me. They all loved it!

Lemon Herb Seasoning

4 T Basil
4 t granulated Garlic
2 t minced Rosemary
2 t fresh lemon peel (1 t dried lemon peel)
1/2 t Black Pepper
8 t Cornstarch

  1. Quickly sear 4 chicken breasts in 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. Mix 2 teaspoons lemon juice with 1/4 cup water & pour over chicken.
  3. Simmer until chicken is done (10-20 min)

Stuffing Seasoning

1 T Ground Sage
1 T Chicken Bouillon Granules
3 T Dried Celery
2 T Dried, minced onions
2 T dried Parsley
1/4 T Black Pepper

Stuffing Directions:

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/4 cups water, 3 tablespoons butter, and 3 tablespoons stuffing seasoning
Simmer 5 minutes on medium heat.
Stir in 4 cups bread cubes & cook 1 to 2 minutes until liquid is absorbed
Cover & remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.

Taco Seasoning

I swear this taco seasoning ends up tasting just like that Taco Bell one you can get in packets at the grocery, but it will cost you loads less!
Isn't it pretty all layered like that?

2 T Chili Powder
2 T Paprika
1 T cumin
1 T Garlic Powder
1 T Onion Powder
1/4 t Cayenne Pepper
1 T Cornstarch
This is what it looks like once it's all mixed up.
Not as pretty, but oh so yummy!

To Make Taco Meat:
  1. Brown 1 pound of ground beef until well-done.
  2. Add 3 T seasoning mix & 1 cup water.
  3. Simmer seven minutes or until thickened.
  4. Serve with tortilla shells, shredded cheese, beans, & lettuce.

Southwest Seasoning

This recipe makes about 1/2 cup of seasoning mix or enough for two meals.

2 T Chili Powder
2T Paprika
1 T salt
1 T Oregano
1 T Brown Sugar
1 T Crushed Coriander
2 t Cumin
1 t Black Pepper
1 t Cayenne Pepper
1 t Crushed Red Pepper

Quesadilla Directions:
  1. Mix 1/4 cup of this seasoning mix with one shredded breast of chicken (or one 14 ounce can of chunk chicken)
  2. Stuff into folded fajita style tortillas & top with shredded cheddar.
  3. Grill until melty.

*Flavor Favorite - add a can of beans and a can of chopped green chilies to the mix to make a full meal!*

Chicken Fajita Soup Directions:

  1. Saute a chopped onion in butter until translucent.
  2. Add one can chopped chilies, one shredded breast of chicken (or one 14 ounce can of chunk chicken) & 1/4 cup of seasoning mix.
  3. Stir in 6 cups of chicken broth, one chopped celery stalk, & one chopped carrot.
  4. Simmer 20 minutes & serve with tortilla chips.

What's Cooking This Week

Can you even believe that we only have two shopping weekends left before Christmas? Not that any of you will need it since I know you all are making this week's delicious recipes for everyone you know. Just don't make too much, I'm handing this stuff out, too!

This week I am focusing on seasoning mixes. You know, that great stuff you see in little packages or jars for $3 to $7 each? Now you can mix it up at home on the cheap. Or do like I'm doing, package it in little bags with printed instructions on them & give it as a gourmet gift. Dinner Babe gourmet, that is.

Monday starts the week out with Southwest Seasoning mix. This is the stuff that I use to make my fajita quesadillas and fajita soup.

Tuesday has us mixing up a Taco Seasoning that rivals what you can get at the store & beats Taco Bell hands down!

Wednesday we are cooking up a traditional sage Stuffing Mix that takes Stove Top by storm.

Thursday we'll introduce my experimental Lemon Herb Mix. It should come out like Devin's Lemon Herb Chicken recipe only faster. You'll have to let me know how you like it.

Friday we round out the week with a Pizza Seasoning mix. Great for whipping up a quick pizza casserole or adding a little Italian zip to store-bought sauces.

Lemon Poppyseed Poundcake

You can completely cook this then freeze it for gift giving or just mix up the dry ingredients & attach a tag on how to finish the bread. You may alo be able to freeze the prepared batter & cook later, but i haven't tried that yet.

3 T milk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
3 T cornstarch
3/4 c sugar
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 T packed grated lemon zest
3 T poppy seeds
13 T butter, softened

1/4 c Lemon Juice
1/4 c Sugar

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix milk, eggs, & vanilla together then set aside.
  3. Sift the flour, cornstarch, sugar, & salt together twice.
  4. Mix the lemon zest & poppy seeds into the dry mixture.
  5. Add half of the butter & half of the egg mixture to the dry mix.
  6. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine then mix on medium speed for 1 minute.
  7. Add half of the remaining butter & egg mixture then beat for 20 seconds on medium speed.
  8. Add the remaining butter & egg mixture & beat for 20 seconds on medium speed.
  9. Pour batter into the prepared bread pan until it is 1 inch from the top of the pan.
  10. Bake 65 to 75 minutes until well browned & a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Cover bread with foil about halfway through cooking to prevent over browning.)
  11. Combine lemon juice & sugar in a saucepan & heat until sugar is dissolved.
  12. Poke holes in the warm bread & pour lemon sauce over the bread.
  13. Let cool, dust with powdered sugar, & enjoy!

Frozen Wheat Bread

When I make bread, I mix up two loaves & freeze one. The frozen dough became a hit when my freezer was overstocked & I had to give some away. Now that's all anyone wants for Christmas. I'm freezing it in aluminum bread pans & handing it out this year!

This recipe makes two loaves.

1 3/4 c warm water (140 degrees)
1 1/2 T butter, softened
1/3 c brown sugar
3 c wheat flour
1 c all-purpose flour
3 t rapid rise or breadmaker yeast

  1. Warm your bowl with hot water & dry.
  2. Add first three ingredients & mix well.
  3. Mix flours & yeast together.
  4. Add flour mix one cup at a time mixing & kneading between additions until smooth & elastic dough forms.
  5. Shape dough into a ball & plop into a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.
  6. Let rise in your oven with the light on until double in size (about 45 min).
  7. Remove dough, punch down, shape, & put in greased loaf pans.
  8. Pop loaf pans into the freezer for about two hours or until dough is firm.
  9. Remove from freezer & wrap tightly with plastic wrap or vacuum seal (you don't have to take it out of the pan, but you can if you want to).
  10. Put the dough back in the freezer. It will keep for as much a 6 months if tightly wrapped.

To Cook

  1. Let dough thaw in the oven or on the counter for 8 to 10 hours or overnight.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees with the bread inside.
  3. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until bread is golden brown.
  4. Remove bread from pan & let cool or serve it piping hot.

*Cook's Tip: Store bread in a plastic bag or airtight container for a soft crust or just on the countertop for a harder crust.*

Homemade Pasta

This is a great treat & lets you add any kind of flavoring that you want! I make mine in my KitchenAid mixer, but Mario Battalli just mixes it right on the countertop.
This makes a great gift when dried & packaged in a nice little wine bag along with jar of homemade sauce.

2 large eggs
2 c all-purpose flour (or 1 cup whole wheat flour & 1 cup all-purpose)

  1. Add eggs to mixing bowl & beat briefly with flat beater attachment.
  2. Add half of the flour & mix until incorporated.
  3. Remove flat beater & attach kneading hook.
  4. Add remaining flour & knead until fully incorporated (this may take a few minutes).
  5. Dough should not stick to the sides of the bowl. It should resemble very stiff bread dough.
    If dough is too crumbly, add a bit of water or oil. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour.
  6. Cut dough into two or four pieces & roll out on a floured surface until about a thick as a pie crust.
  7. Flour top surface of dough & loosely roll it up to make a "log."
  8. Cut the "log" into thick or thin as slices, whichever you prefer, unroll & lay flat.
  9. Cook immediately in boiling water or dry in 150 degree oven for 24 hours (my oven stays about that hot if I just leave the light on).

*Cook's Note: I also like to add little things like a dash of oregano or a bit of tomato paste & garlic. Then I just top the cooked pasta with a bit of olive oil & a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Once you master this recipe (it's easy), you can figure out how to add all kinds of extras!*

Beer Bread

This yummy treat can be mixed up in no time, or boxed up & given as a gift!

3 c all-purpose flour
4 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t salt
1/2 c sugar
12 oz beer
3 T melted butter

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, & sugar.
  3. Add the beer & mix well.
  4. Pour batter into a greased 9x5 loaf pan.
  5. Pour butter evenly over the top of the mixture.
  6. Bake 50-60 minutes until the top is golden brown & a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Granola Cereal

2 c regular Quaker Oats
1/2 c sweetened, flake coconut
1/2 c nuts, coarsely chopped (I like pecans, but use what you like or leave them out)
1/2 c pure maple syrup (you could use honey, but I don't like it as much.)
1/3 c olive oil

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Combine everything except the oil & syrup, then mix well until it is homogeneous.
  3. Mix the honey & oil together then pour over the dry mix; stir well to coat.
  4. Pour evenly into your biggest pan (13x9 is fine) & bake for 30-35 min stirring about halfway through.
  5. Remove from oven & *immediately* pour out onto parchment paper or greased foil & let cool.
  6. Let cool, break into clumps, & store. This mix should keep for about 2 weeks (if it isn't eaten in the first day!)

*Cook's Note: It's really important to get the mixture out of your pan while it is hot. Otherwise it forms a hard, concrete-like substance that has to be carefully chipped from your pan because the cooked syrup forms an impenetrable, water-proof seal.*

The Week in Cooking

Welcome to Sunday! I know it has been a week or so since my last recipe post, but as I promised, I have collected up gift-giving recipes for the month of December.

I will start this week out on Monday with a great recipe for Granola Cereal. My kids just go gaga over this stuff & one recipe doesn't even last for two days!

Tuesday finds us preparing a delicious beer bread. You can mix up all of the dry ingredients, & attach a tag describing how to finish it. It's best made with regular, not light beer, but I make it with what I have on hand, as usual.

On Wednesday we prepare homemade pasta. It's not as hard as you think! Once you master the basic idea, you can mix this stuff up without a recipe at all.

Thursday we prepare frozen wheat bread for gift giving. If you've never been sure about how to freeze bread dough to be cooked later, today's the day you'll learn how. I was a bit skeptical myself, but it turns out really well!

We finish up the week on Friday by making a delicious, fine textured poundcake. I have adapted the recipe so that you can use regular flour instead of the cake flour that is usually called for. This one can get a bit involved, but it turns out great & it just super for giving fresh. I make it as a "dessert" and the whole loaf disappears in no time!

I look forward to hearing what you think about these recipes. I plan on handing this stuff out as gifts this year rather than trying to purchase something special for everyone.

Next week I think I will focus on spice mixes. I might even do two weeks of that since I have so many recipes!

Chili Cheese Sauce

I just put this on store bought tamales from Sam's club. Yum!

1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c water ( you can substitute 1 cup of half & half for the water & cream)
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
1/8 c flour
1/8 t garlic granules
1/8 c chili powder

  1. Mix the cream & water together in a small saucepan & cook just until the edges begin to bubble.
  2. Add the cheese & stir until melted.
  3. Whisk in the flour & cook until thickened, then remove from heat.
  4. Add the garlic granules & chili powder. Mix

Slacking Off

I know, I know. I haven't posted a new dinner in about a week. Does that mean I haven't been cooking dinner? Well, pretty much. Its cold here & I really have been slacking off. I think that one night I simply fed the fresh bread. Even today's post isn't really a dinner as much as it is a condiment. It happens.

In December, I hope to post some foodie gift ideas. I plan on making some spice mixes & baking mixes for Christmas rather than purchasing stuff that will never get used for everyone. In the past, I have baked sweets for my in-laws & they seem to have really liked it. Of course, they may simply be being polite, but I have heard that I'm a good cook. So at least you have that to look forward to. And the people on my gift list will get a sneak peek at their gift possibilities.

In the meantime, try out some of my old recipes or checkout my links list for more ideas.

Treva's Terrific Chicken Bake

My sister, Treva, works about 40 minutes from where she lives, so she is great at coming up with quick, easy, and yummy dishes!

1 onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped (You could substitute a green pepper if you can't find poblanos)
2 cans cream of chicken condensed soup
2 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded (or 2-14 oz cans boneless chicken)
1 bag corn chips
8 oz cheese, shredded (I used cheddar, but, as always, use what you have)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Mix chopped veggies, soup, & chicken together
  3. In a 9x11 pan, spread half of the chips.
  4. Top with half of the chicken mixture
  5. Sprinkle with half of the cheese
  6. Repeat the layers with the other half of the ingredients
  7. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot!

Stuffed Pepper Cups

6 medium peppers
1 lb. ground beef
1/3 c chopped onion
1/2 t salt
16 oz petite dices tomatoes
1/2 c water
1/2 c uncooked rice
1 t Worcestershire sauce
4 oz Sharp cheddar, shredded

  1. Cut tops off peppers removing seeds & membranes
  2. Brown beef with the onion & salt
  3. add tomatoes, water, rice, & Worcestershire sauce to the beef mix
  4. Simmer until rice is tender (15 min)
  5. Stir in the cheese the stuff each pepper with the mixture
  6. Stand peppers in baking dish
  7. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees 20-25 min

Braised Pork Chops

In this recipe, pork chops are interchangeable with just about any other light meat - chicken breast, turkey breast, etc...

4 boneless pork chops, trimmed of the fat
2/3 c water
2 t Dijon Mustard
2 T Brown Sugar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 t garlic salt

  1. Sear meat quickly in a large, oiled pan so that both sides are nicely browned.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together & pour over pork
  3. Cover & simmer until meat is done (45-60 min)
  4. Remove meat from pan
  5. Raise heat & cook sauce until thick
  6. Serve sauce over meat

Oven Option - follow steps 1 & 2. After pork is coated with sauce, remove to a baking pan, cover, & bake at 400 degrees until done (45-60 min). Add baking juices to pan & thicken sauce as above.

Chicken Pot Pie

This is so easy, you won't believe that you've never made it before! You can make this same thing look more elegant by cooking it in a double pie crust instead of just topping it with biscuits.

14-16 oz. Chicken Breast, shredded to cubed
3 c frozen mixed veggies (I like the "soup" mix, but use what you have. You can even use fresh veggies.)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery or onion soup
1 c Bisquick
1/2 c Milk
1 large egg

  1. Mix the chicken, veggies & soup well.
  2. Pour into a deep dish pie plate or 9x9 pan
  3. Mix Bisquick, milk, & eggs together
  4. Top veggie mix with Bisquick mix.
  5. Cook at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

*When it cools, package this in single serve size freezer bags, press out all the air, & freeze for later!*

Quick Chicken Pan Chicken

4 medium chicken breasts
OR 2 very large chicken breast cut in half
1 clove garlic
2 T olive oil
1 can condensed Cream of Chicken soup
1/2 c white wine (you can sub chicken broth, but it won't be as good!)
14 oz frozen veggies (I like Mirepoix blend, but use what you have)
2 c cooked rice

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan.
  2. Add garlic & chicken.
  3. Sear chicken until brown on both sides (about 3 min per side)
  4. In a separate bowl, combine win & soup.
  5. Add veggies to hot pan.
  6. Stir in soup mixture.
  7. Serve over rice!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

4 medium potatoes; scrubbed & coarsely chopped
3 c chicken broth (or enough to cover the potatoes)
1 c milk
2 T Bacon pieces
4 oz bar cheddar cheese; shredded
2 T dried chives
1/4 c sour cream

  1. Place potatoes in a large pot, pour in enough broth to cover then add the milk
  2. Bring pot to a boil then reduce to a hard simmer & let cook 10 minutes
  3. Lightly crush boiled potatoes in broth with a potato masher or large wooden spoon
  4. Add half of the bacon, half of the cheese, & half of the chives
  5. Serve in individual bowls topped with the remaining bacon, cheese, chives, & sour cream.
For a meatless meal night, just omit the bacon!

Judy's Pork Chops

6-8 boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat
3 T olive Oil
1 c Flour
1 t Pepper
1 t Salt
12 oz Chicken Gravy ( I like Heinz HomeStyle brand)
12 oz Beef Gravy

  1. Mix Flour, salt, & pepper.
  2. Dredge each pork chop in flour mix, lightly coating each side.
  3. Brown both sides of each pork chop in hot olive oil then place in large (9 x13) baking dish
  4. Pour both jars of gravy over chops.
  5. Cover & bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until pork is well done.

Family Chicken

6 chicken breasts (or however many you need)
2 T Olive oil
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 c White wine
1/2 c Chicken broth
1/2 c Grated Parmesan cheese
1 c Italian croutons, smashed to crumbs

  1. Quickly sear chicken until brown in the hot oil & garlic.
  2. Place chicken in a baking dish.
  3. Pour the wine & chicken broth over the chicken
  4. Sprinkle grated parm over each chicken breast
  5. Cover & bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is almost done.
  6. Uncover & bake for 10-15 minutes longer until chicken in done & cheese is slightly browned.
  7. Remove from oven & sprinkle lightly with croutons
  8. Serve & enjoy!

FLAVOR FAVORITE - for a complete meal in a pinch, serve with rice pilaf & bacon green beans.

Devin's Lemon Herb Chicken

My darling husband made this. Yours can, too!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz each)
1T olive oil
2T minced fresh basil (I use one of the tubes that you find near fresh herbs at the grocery)
4 cloves minced garlic
2t lemon juice (really, break out your juicer & juice one of the lemon halves. It will be worth it)
1t minced fresh rosemary (or 1/2 t minced dried rosemary slightly crushed to release flavor)
1/2 t freshly grated lemon peel
Dash Pepper

2 t cornstarch
1/4 c water
  1. Brown both sides of chicken in oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the broth, basil, garlic, lemon juice, rosemary, lemon peel, and pepper.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, & cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink
  4. Remove chicken & keep warm
  5. Stir cornstarch & water until smooth & stir into the pan juices.
  6. Bring to a boil & cook & stir 1-2 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  7. Serve chicken on bed of rice & top with lemon herb sauce.

The BEST Steak Marinade

1/2 c soy sauce
1/3 c vegetable oil
2 T brown sugar
1/4 c Worcestershire Sauce
4 cloves garlic
2 T minced chives
1 1/2 t ground black pepper
2 t balsamic vinegar
  1. Mix it all up everything but the vinegar.
  2. Take out 1/4 cup of the marinade
  3. Stick the steak into the larger portion of marinade & soak for 30 minutes
  4. In a separate bowl, add the vinegar to the 1/4 cup reserved marinade
  5. Cook the steak to medium rare.
  6. When the steak is done, pour the reserved marinade over it & let set 10 minutes

*FLAVOR FAVORITE - mix a whole stick of melted butter & 8 oz of softened cream cheese then stir in herbs (sage, oregano, onion, parsley, whatever you like). Let set then use scoops of the butter mixture to top the steak!*

Parmesan Chicken

4 Boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1¼ lbs.)
½ c Real Mayo
1 Clove Garlic
¼ c Parmesan Cheese
Seasoned croutons, crushed (I like Caesar croutons for this)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Mix mayo, garlic, & cheese well
  3. Coat chicken in mayo mix
  4. Roll in crushed croutons
  5. Bake 20 minutes until cooked through

*FLAVOR FAVORITE - I serve this with a side of spaghetti or pasta with Farmer's Market Sauce*

Ground Beef Stroganoccili

1 pound Ground Beef
1 tablespoon Flour
1 cup Beef broth (or water)
1 packet Onion Soup & Dip Mix (I use Lipton brand)
1 cup Sour Cream
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup Broccoli Florets (frozen or fresh)

  1. Brown the hamburger.
  2. Scoot hamburger to the sides & brown the flour in the oil that pools in the center.
  3. Add beef broth & Onion soup. Stir until smooth.
  4. Mix in Sour cream & soup.
  5. Add broccoli & stir until broccoli is thawed (or cooked)
  6. Serve over pasta!

Sweet & Sour Chicken

2-3 pounds chicken breast, cubed or cut in strips
2 T Olive Oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pkg. onion soup mix (I like Lipton brand the best)
12 oz orange marmalade, peach preserves, or apricot preserves
8 oz Russian or Catalina dressing
2 green onions, sliced

1. Pan fry the chicken in the oil & garlic.
2. Mix together the soup mix, marmalade, & dressing.
3. pour dressing over chicken & heat through.
4. Top with sliced green onions & serve over rice.

*FLAVOR FAVORITE - Cook rice in beef broth & add frozen stir-fry veggies*

~~In a pinch I have used orange juice mixed with a bit of cornstarch instead of the jam. Your sauce may need a bit of sugar, but it will still be yummy!~~

Chili Cheeserittos

1(6oz) can tomato paste
3 cups water
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon minced dried onions
1 can of refried beans
2 c prepared rice
2 lb of shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Mix ingredients for the chili sauce together in a saucepan.
  2. Simmer over medium heat until needed
  3. Mix the beans, rice, & cheese together.
  4. Put a large dollop of bean mixture on each tortilla & top with a ladle of chili sauce.
  5. Heat in oven or microwave until cheese is just melty
  6. Eat! Yum!

Treva's Oriental Hamburger Bake

1.5 lb hamburger
1 Onion, chopped
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 soup can of Minute Rice, uncooked
3/4 soup can of water
LaChoy noodles

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Brown Hamburger and onion together.
  3. Combine all ingredients except LaChoy noodles in casserole dish
  4. Cover & bake for 1 hour
  5. Serve with LaChoy noodles.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 14 oz. Can Chicken (you could also use a boiled, shredded chicken breast)
½ T Chili Powder
¼ t Cayenne Pepper
1 T Parsley
2 T Brown Sugar
¼ t Black Pepper
¼ t cumin
1 Can Chopped Green Chili (4.5 oz)
½ Onion, chopped

6 c water
2 T Chicken Bouillon granules
1 Carrot, chopped
1 Stalk Celery, chopped

6 Tortillas (6-inch)
Vegetable Oil
Shredded Cheese (Chihuahua, mozzarella, or cheddar)

  1. Sauté first nine ingredients until onion is translucent (add oil if desired, but not usually necessary).
  2. Add second four of ingredients and bring to a boil for about 20 minutes.
  3. Heat oil over medium heat & fry tortillas on both sides.
  4. Divide soup into bowls & top with hot tortilla & shredded cheese.

Mom's Chili Con Carne

1 pound Hamburger
1 onion, chopped
1/2 c mild chili powder
1 can petite diced tomatoes
48 ounce jar Great Northern Beans

  1. Fry hamburger & onion together
  2. Stir in chili powder, tomatoes, & beans.
  3. Simmer 15-20 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
  4. Serve with warm tortillas.

*FLAVOR FAVORITE - stir in grated cheese until melted*

Corn Syrup Substitute

Maybe you're trying to avoid all that corn syrup stuff, or maybe you're simply out of the stuff. Either way, give this little recipe a try to whip up a good substitute for just waht you need.

1 1/4 c sugar
1/4 c water

  1. Heat sugar & water in a small saucepan until sugar is completely dissolved & appears clear rather than white or milky.
  2. Raise heat to a simmer for about 3 minutes or until syrup is somewhere between "thread" stage and "soft ball" stage. You can use the "Cold Water Test" to tell when it has reached the soft ball stage.

Cold Water Test
  1. Fill a glass with cold, but not icy, water.
  2. Spoon a few drops of the syrup into the water.
  3. Form the drops into a ball using your fingers.
  4. Remove the ball from the water, if it flattens & runs off your finger, it is just about right.  If it simpy mixes with the water & cannot be formed or lifted, cook the syup a bit longer.

Perfect Pie Crust FAST

I use the word "perfect" loosely to describe this pie crust. It won't peel apart into yummy, flaky layers like your Grandmother's did, but it also won't make your hair turn grey in the process. AND it is so delicious that I can flatten & cook the leftovers & serve them as a treat with cinnamon sugar!

This recipe makes two pie crusts. If you're not making a double crust pie, slip half of the dough into a freezer bag, press all of the air out, & save it for later. It freezes very well!

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 t salt (omit if using salted butter)
2 T sugar (omit if making dough for savory or meat fillings)
1 1/2 sticks butter chopped into pieces
1/2 c Crisco
1/4 c vodka (use the good stuff, Absolut at least, and don't worry, the alcohol bakes out)
1/4 c water, very cold

  1. Mix half the flour & the rest of the dry ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Add in the butter & shortening & process until it's well mixed.
  3. Add the rest of the flour & process until incorporated (it doesn't have to be coated with butter, just mixed in)
  4. Dump the flour mixture into a large bowl, add the water & vodka and mix until it is all moistened & there aren't any pools of liquid left. The dough will be sticky.
  5. Divide the dough into two even pieces.
  6. Place each ball between pieces of parchment & press or roll out to the desired size.
  7. Remove one piece of parchment from the crust.
  8. Position the crust in your pan, parchment side up, then peel off the other piece of parchment.
  9. Fill crust with filling & use the method above to place the top crust.

Self-rising Flour Substitute

I usually have this flour on had, but it tend to be very old & not terribly useful anymore. Fortunately, there's an easy substitute.

  1. Measure one level cup all-purpose flour.
  2. Remove 2 teaspoons flour.
  3. Add 1 1/2 t baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Mix well.

Baking Powder Substitute

Inevitably, you will run out of baking powder at the height of baking season. Usually the night before Thanksgiving or on Christmas day when it is really impractical to go out for such a tiny thing. How do you cope?

For each teaspoon of Baking Powder required, substitute 1/4 teaspoons baking soda mixed well with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar.

For each tablespoon of Baking Powder required, substitute 3/4 teaspoons baking soda mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar.


When you are baking rice dishes or casseroles, minute rice is really necessary if you don't want to have crunchy bits of inedible rice in your meal. But I hate the texture of minute rice & I refuse to buy it, so what do I do?

Minute rice is just partially cooked rice, so all you have to do is partially cook your rice before adding it to your recipe. Here's what to do:

  1. Mix your rice together with twice as much hot water in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Simmer rice for 7 minutes or half the time required to fully cook the rice.
  4. Drain well & use as a one-for-one substitute for minute rice. (If your recipe calls for 3/4 cup in cooked minute rice, use 3/4 cup partially cooked regular rice.)

Cake Flour Substitution

If you are like me, you have tons of all-purpose flour, but your recipe calls for something else. Well, never fear, The Dinner Babe is here!

To make 2 cups cake flour, sift together:
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c cornstarch

To make 1 cup cake flour:
  1. Measure 1 cup all purpose flour.
  2. Remove 2 tablespoons flour.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
  4. Sift together.

To make 1/2 cup cake flour:
  1. Measure 1/2 c all-purpose flour.
  2. Remove 1 level tablespoon flour.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
  4. Sift together.

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

1 1/2 pounds Chicken Breast
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup White Wine
1 cup Chicken Broth

1 stick Butter
2 cloves Garlic
2 cups Heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon Pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated or crumbled

1 Box Fettuccine or other pasta (12 ounces)

  1. Brown chicken in olive oil
  2. Add wine & broth, simmer covered until done (10-15 minutes)
  3. In a separate pan, melt butter & warm garlic (DO NOT brown garlic. It will get bitter)
  4. Add cream & pepper.
  5. Bring to a simmer - do not boil.
  6. Add Cheese & simmer until slightly thickened ( 7-8 minutes)
  7. Remove chicken from pan, slice, & lay on a bed of pasta.
  8. Top with cheese sauce & enjoy!

Pizza Casserole

1 pound ground beef
4 cloves garlic - chopped
1 onion - chopped
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sage
1/4 t brown sugar
1/4 t pepper
dash ginger
dash ground anise

4 oz pepperoni - chopped
1 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes - drained
1 c shredded mozzarella
  1. Brown beef with the garlic, onion, salt, sage, brown sugar, pepper, ginger, & anise
  2. Add the chopped pepperoni to the pan & heat through
  3. Place meat mix in a baking dish & top with the tomatoes then the cheese
  4. Pop in the oven until the cheese is brown & melty
  5. Enjoy with crackers or chips!

My First Post

So, my friend Deann just posted a great recipe for brownies on her blog. She's a stay-at-home mom, & I remember that she always had something good cooking (my daughter used to go over to her house to get a snack)! At the time I really envied her abilities, & now that I get to stay home with my little ones, I expend a great deal of effort getting wonderful meals around for my husband & kids (okay, so sometimes they're not all that great, but I do try hard). Always looking for dinner ideas myself, I thought I would share with you all what I make for dinner. Eat & Enjoy!