Thursday, October 30, 2014


Pull-Apart Spiderweb Cupcakes

Treat your family with a perfect Halloween dessert! Enjoy these wonderful spiderweb cupcakes made with white cake mix and fluffy white frosting.

Pull-Apart Spiderweb Cupcakes

Prep time:  20 minutes
Total time:  1 hour 40 minutes
Servings:  24

1 box white cake mix (or any other flavor)
Water, vegetable oil and eggs as called for on cake mix box
orange gel food color
2 containers fluffy white frosting
1 tube (0.68 oz) black decorating gel
Plastic spiders for decoration


1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.                           

2. Mix and bake cake mix as directed on box for 24 cupcakes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.                           

3. On large round platter or pizza pan, arrange cupcakes, placing them close together. In medium bowl, mix food color and frosting. Spread frosting over cupcakes and spaces in between to create 1 large circle of frosting. Squeeze 1 large dot of black gel in center of frosting. With gel, draw concentric circles around the dot, spacing them about 2 inches apart. To create the web design, drag a toothpick from the center dot to the outer edge of the circle, about 12 times. Place plastic spiders on web. Store loosely covered.                           

Expert Tips

Use gummy spider candies for more color and to make this dessert completely edible.

Look for black cupcake liners with a spiderweb motif to complete the theme.

To easily transport the spiderweb, build it on a portable deli tray that comes with a cover.

If you have only one pan and a recipe calls for more cupcakes than your pan will make, cover and refrigerate the rest of the batter while baking the first batch. Cool the pan about 15 minutes, then bake the rest of the batter, adding 1 to 2 minutes to the bake time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Slow-Cooker Chicken Parmesan with Penne Pasta

Warmly welcome your family home with the Italian aroma of chicken parmesan slow cooking in the kitchen.

  • Prep Time 15 min
  • Total Time 5 hr 25 min
  • Servings 4

1 egg
1/3 cup Progresso™ plain bread crumbs
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lb)
1 jar (26 oz) tomato pasta sauce
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend (2 oz)
2 2/3 cups uncooked penne pasta (8 oz)


  • 1 Spray 2- to 3-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
  • 2 In small shallow bowl, beat egg until foamy. In separate shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Dip chicken into egg, then coat evenly with bread crumb mixture; place in cooker. Spread pasta sauce evenly over chicken.
  • 3 Cover; cook on Low heat setting 5 to 6 hours.
  • 4 Sprinkle Italian cheese blend over top. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 10 minutes longer. Meanwhile, cook and drain pasta as directed on package. Serve chicken with pasta.

Expert Tips

This dish will quickly become a family favorite. For variety, experiment using different flavors of pasta sauces and serving it with various pasta types.

Fresh steamed green beans and slices of whole grain bread would round out this meal nicely.

The penne can be swapped with any of your favorite pastas.

To complete the meal, serve with fresh steamed green beans and warm chewy Italian bread.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Italian Spumoni Cupcakes

The layered flavors of Italian spumoni ice cream is captured in cupcake form thanks to layers of white cake, pistachio pudding and pie filling, cherry juice and chocolate frosting.  Yum!

  • Prep Time 20 min
  • Total Time 1 hr 20 min
  • Servings 18

1 box Betty Crocker™ SuperMoist™ white cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
3/4 of box (4-serving size) pistachio instant pudding and pie filling mix
1/4 cup cherry juice (from jar of maraschino cherries)
1 container (12 oz) Betty Crocker™ Whipped chocolate frosting
18 whole maraschino cherries with stems


  • 1 Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Place paper baking cup in each of 18 regular-size muffin cups. 
  • 2 Make cake mix as directed on box; divide batter evenly into 2 bowls. Add 3/4 box pudding mix to 1 of the bowls; mix well. To other bowl, add cherry juice; mix well.
  • 3 Divide pistachio batter evenly among muffins cups. Divide cherry batter evenly over pistachio batter in muffin cups.
  • 4 Bake cupcakes and cool completely as directed on box.
  • 5 Frost cupcakes with frosting. Top each with cherry.

Expert Tips

The mixture will have two different textures. The pistachio batter will be thick and the cherry will be thinner. I like to add the pistachio layer first to the muffin cups because it is thicker, and then top with the cherry batter.

A few drops of red and green food color can be used when making the cupcakes to enhance the color.

If you have only one muffin pan and a recipe calls for more cupcakes than your pan will make, cover and refrigerate the rest of the batter while baking the first batch. Cool the pan about 15 minutes and then bake the rest of the batter, adding 1 to 2 minutes to the bake time.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Honey Brown Sugar Chicken Tenders

Favorite kid friendly honey and brown sugar flavored tenders. 

  • Prep Time 10 min
  • Total Time 30 min
  • Servings 4

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain panko crispy bread crumbs
1 package (14 oz) uncooked chicken tenders (not breaded)
1/4 cup honey


  • 1 Heat oven to 400°F. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  • 2 In medium bowl, mix brown sugar, honey and salt. In large resealable food-storage plastic bag, place bread crumbs. Dip chicken into brown sugar mixture. Place in bread crumb bag; seal and shake to coat. Place chicken on cookie sheet.
  • 3 Bake 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center and bread crumbs are golden brown. Serve with honey.

Expert Tips

Try honey mustard for another dipping sauce.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Always make stock in a large quantity and freeze it in plastic bags. That way, when you want to make a nice soup or boil veggies, you can simply pull the bag out of the freezer.

Charlie Trotter
Charlie Trotter's, Chicago

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Pizza Cupcakes

Pizza Cupcakes
Here’s a fun way to have pizza in a cupcake!
  • Prep Time 15 min
  • Total Time 30 min
  • Servings 8

1can ( 8 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1/2 cup Muir Glen™ organic pizza sauce
1/4 cup mini pepperoni slices
1/4 lb mild Italian sausage, cooked and drained
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 oz)

  • Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 8 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray. Unroll dough; separate into 8 triangles. Press into muffin cups.
  • In small bowl, mix sauce, pepperoni, sausage and 1/4 cup of the cheese. Spoon about 2 tablespoons mixture into each dough-lined cup; sprinkle each with about 1 teaspoon additional cheese.
  • Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately remove from cups and serve.

If you can’t find mini pepperoni slices, purchase larger ones, and cut them into fourths to fit in the muffin cups.

Friday, October 24, 2014


Easy Broccoli, Cheese and Ham Muffins
A great on-the-go breakfast!  Sounds really good!

  • Prep Time 15 min
  • Total Time 35 min
  • Servings 12

1 bag (12 oz) Green Giant™ Steamers™ frozen broccoli & cheese sauce
1 1/2 cups Original Bisquick™ mix
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup diced cooked ham
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (2 oz)

  • Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 12 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray.
  • Cook broccoli as directed on bag.
  • In large bowl, stir together Bisquick mix, milk, oil and egg. Stir in broccoli, ham and cheese just until well mixed. Spoon mixture evenly into muffin cups.
  • Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan. Serve warm.

Wrap and refrigerate any leftover muffins. Unwrap and reheat 1 at a time on microwavable plate 15 to 30 seconds or until warm.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Impossibly Easy Mini Pumpkin Pies

More pumpkin for you.  Ready in 50 minutes, these delicious mini pumpkin pies topped with whipped topping are a wonderful dessert – that’s made using Original Bisquick® mix.
Impossibly Easy Mini Pumpkin Pies
  • Prep Time 10 min
  • Total Time 50 min
  • Servings 12

1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup Original Bisquick™ mix
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup frozen (thawed) whipped topping, if desired

  • Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 12 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray.
  • In medium bowl, stir all ingredients except whipped topping until blended. Pour 1/4 cup of mixture into each muffin cup.
  • Bake about 30 minutes or until muffin tops are golden brown and edges are starting to pull away from sides of pan. Cool 10 minutes. With thin knife, loosen sides of pies from pan; remove from pan and place top sides up on cooling rack. Cool 10 minutes longer, and serve with 1 generous tablespoonful whipped topping.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Smothered Chicken Casserole

Smothered Chicken Casserole
Enjoy this creamy chicken casserole baked with chicken thighs, broccoli and angel hair pasta. The bacon sprinkled on top adds to the "yum" factor! 

This sounds so good and easy.  I must try it soon.  Probably this weekend.  I would think you could use whatever chicken you happen to have.

  • Prep Time 30 min
  • Total Time 1 hr 5 min
  • Servings 4

1 tablespoon oil
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 oz uncooked angel hair pasta
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups frozen broccoli florets, cut into smaller pieces
3 slices precooked bacon, crumbled

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 1/2-quart casserole with cooking spray. In 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken thighs; sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper. Cook chicken 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until golden brown and juice of chicken is clear when thickest part is cut (at least 165°F).
  • Cook pasta as directed on package; drain. In large bowl, mix soup, half-and-half and paprika; reserve 3/4 cup sauce. Stir in cooked pasta and frozen broccoli.
  • Place pasta mixture in casserole; top with chicken thighs. Spoon reserved sauce over chicken thighs. Top with bacon. Cover and bake 20 minutes; uncover and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until sauce bubbles.

You can try different vegetables, such as cut green beans, corn, or thawed and drained frozen spinach.
If desired, substitute boneless skinless chicken breasts for the chicken thighs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Bars
Here's another pumpkin recipe for you.  Make classic pumpkin bars with the help of Bisquick® mix, then smother them with buttery cream cheese frosting.

  • Prep Time 15 min
  • Total Time 2 hr 45 min
  • Servings 48


2 cups Original Bisquick™ mix
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs, beaten
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of 15x10x1-inch pan with shortening or cooking spray.
  • In large bowl, beat all bar ingredients except raisins with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in raisins. Pour into pan.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 2 hours.
  • In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar on low speed until smooth. Spread over bars. For bars, cut into 8 rows by 6 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

Two teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice can be used instead of the ground cinnamon in this recipe.

Top each bar with a piece of Halloween candy. Or lightly press small leaf-shaped cookie cutter into center of cut bar. Use cotton swab to dust ground cinnamon inside cutter, creating leaf design. 

You can also use a 1-pound container of cream cheese frosting instead of making your own.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes
Mmm! Toasted and sugared nuts top cream cheese frosting on sweet and spicy pumpkin cupcakes. Tis the season! 
  • Prep Time 40 min
  • Total Time 1 hr 35 min
  • Servings 24                    
  Baking Cups
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
3 tablespoons sugar
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 container cream cheese frosting

  • Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Place Baking Cups in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.
  • In heavy 8-inch nonstick skillet, cook pecans and 2 tablespoons of the sugar over low heat about 8 minutes, stirring constantly, until sugar is melted. Spoon and spread pecans onto sheet of waxed paper. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar; toss.
  • In large bowl, beat cake mix, pumpkin, water, oil, eggs and pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (about two-thirds full).
  • Bake 19 to 24 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  • Frost cupcakes with frosting. Sprinkle edge of frosted cupcakes with pecans; press lightly into frosting. Store loosely covered.

Use a heavy skillet, low heat and a constant eye to cook the sugar and nuts to ensure no burning.

If you have only one pan and a recipe calls for more cupcakes than your pan will make, cover and refrigerate the rest of the batter while baking the first batch. Cool the pan about 15 minutes, then bake the rest of the batter, adding 1 to 2 minutes to the bake time.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Use a coarse microplane to shave vegetables into salads or vinaigrettes. You can create an orange-fennel dressing by adding grated fennel and orange zest to a simple vinaigrette. 

Paul Kahan
Avec, Big Star, Blackbird and The Publican, Chicago

Saturday, October 18, 2014


It's supposed to get cold tomorrow.  Just the type of weather to have some soup.


Reduced-sodium chicken broth and ham provide a flavorful addition to this creamy butternut squash soup - a perfect side dish.

  • Prep Time 15 min
  • Total Time 15 min
  • Servings 4

2 packages (12 oz each) frozen butternut squash
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
2 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup diced cooked ham
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

  • Microwave squash on High 5 minutes or until thawed. In large microwavable bowl, mix squash, broth, cinnamon-sugar and pepper. Microwave uncovered on High 3 to 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. 
  • Meanwhile, in 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Pat ham dry with paper towels. Cook ham in oil 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add rosemary; cook 1 minute longer.
  • Ladle soup into 4 bowls; sprinkle ham topping in center of each bowl.

Friday, October 17, 2014


I haven't tried this yet, but I will very soon.  It sounds wonderful.

10 minutes prep time
12 hours 10 minutes total time
12 servings


1 boneless beef sirloin tip roast (3-4 lbs), trimmed of fat
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 bottle (16 oz) Italian salad dressing
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
12 burger buns, split

  • Spray inside of 3- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. If beef is tied, remove strings or netting. Place beef in cooker. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Pour dressing over beef.
  • Cover and cook on Low heat setting 10 to 12 hours.
  • Remove beef from cooker; place on cutting board. Shred beef, using 2 forks. Return beef to cooker; add Italian seasoning and mix well. Using slotted spoon to remove beef from cooker, fill each bun with about 1/3 cup beef. Serve with remaining juices.
  • Sprinkle hot sandwiches with your favorite shredded cheese and serve with a green salad. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Peach Long Cake

I got this recipe from my Amish and Mennonite Cookbook.  It is so good!  I have made this so many times and it never lasts long.  You will love it.

PEACH LONG CAKE (makes 10 servings)
4 cups peaches, sliced (I used a large can of sliced peaches)
1/2 cup sugar


2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening (I used margarine)
1 large egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk

1.  Sprinkle sugar over sliced peaches.  Set aside.

2.  Sift flour.  Add baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Cut in shortening.  Add egg and milk and stir until moistened.  Spread dough into a well-greased 9"x13" pan.  Arrange peach slices over dough.


1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp. flour

1.  Cream together all ingredients.  Drop by spoonfuls over peaches.

2.  Bake at 375* for 30 minutes.  Serve warm with milk or whipped cream.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


I offered to bring the lunch for the Elders' Meeting a few Sundays back.  The elders' wives take turns bringing lunch.  I wanted something quick and easy so I turned to my old standby, Conchitas con Carne.  I got this recipe from my blog friend Marissa at High Heels and Daffodils.  I'm so glad I copied it down.  It is easy and good!

Picture courtesy of Marissa at High Heels and Daffodils.

  • 1lb ground sirloin
  • 2 cups uncooked shells
  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/4 small onion chopped
  • 1/4 bell pepper sliced
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 1 beef boullion cube
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

  • Brown the beef over a medium heat in a Dutch oven.   Drain, then add the shells and stir it around a bit. Let them fry a little with the beef.   Add all the remaining seasonings along with the onions and bell pepper.   Add the tomato sauce and stir.  Add the bouillion cube and cover with water.  Simmer for 5 minutes, then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until the shells are tender.  Serve and enjoy!

    I served it with tortilla chips, but Marissa said it's delicious with corn tortillas.  I'll bet it is!

    Monday, October 13, 2014


    I saw on Debbie Macomber's website a recipe for Panzanella Salad.  I had never made (or even eaten) Panzanella Salad.  But the recipe looked good and easy so I got the things I needed to make it.  I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.  I did cheat because it was after work and I was tired.  I used croutons instead of cutting up bread.  And I used sea salt instead of kosher.  But otherwise I was true to the recipe.  When I make it again I will make more dressing, though.  The bread just soaked it up.

    I forgot to take a picture of the one I made, so here is a picture I got from the Barefoot Contessa's site.


    2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
    1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    9 oz. day-old peasant bread, cut into large cubes (about 5 cups)
    2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, cored and diced (about 4 cups)
    1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
    1 lb. seedless peeled cucumbers, cut into large cubes (about 4 cups)

    1.  Whisk together the lemon juice, zest, garlic, salt and pepper.  Add the oil gradually while whisking until thickened to make the dressing.  Set aside.

    2.  Put the bread in a large salad bowl and pour about half the dressing over the bread.  Toss to moisten evenly.

    3.  In a separate bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumbers and onions with the remaining dressing.  Fold the vegetables into the bread.  Let the salad rest in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours before serving.

    Serves 8


    Sunday, October 12, 2014


    Store spices in a cool, dark place, not above your stove. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor.

    Rick Tramonto

    Tramonto's Steak & Seafood, Osteria di Tramonto and RT Lounge, Wheeling, IL

    Saturday, October 11, 2014


    OK, you can't get any easier than this one.  It's the perfect snack for kids or adults.

    Apple Pie Graham Crackers
    2 sheets graham crackers (she used honey graham)
    1/4 cup light cream cheese
    1/2 cup diced apples in 100% juice, drained (Dole makes these)
    2 teaspoons cinnamon

    Add cinnamon to drained apples and mix.

    Break each sheet of graham cracker in half and spread with 1 tablespoon cream cheese on each piece.  Top with apples and enjoy!