Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween "Dirt" Cake

When thinking of different ways to decorate this "dirt"cake, I challenged myself to see if I could actually make a cake without using any sprinkles!  It was tough, but I managed :) I have seen many, many recipes for this type of cake on the Internet, but about 90% of them used chocolate pudding and whipped topping. I decided to go in a different direction and make a devil's food cake in keeping with the Halloween "theme" and then spread orange frosting on the top.  The "dirt" is crushed Oreos.  I used a few Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies as the "grave" markers and some candy corn, marshmallow pumpkins and some gummy worms.  When I showed the hubby my finished "creation" he said, "wow!" Yesterday, when I was cutting the three of each a piece, I plucked one of the pumpkins out of the "patch" and popped it into my mouth. Dominic's eyes got as wide as saucers. I think he thought I was eating a real pumpkin!!! Poor guy, I reassured him it was candy!!!


Prepare one box of  devil's food cake mix per the package instructions for a 9 x 13 inch cake - I used a 16.5 ounce box of Duncan Hines Devil's Food cake mix.  Let cake cool completely. Frost with your favorite frosting. I used a 15.6 ounce can of Funfetti Halloween frosting by Pillsbury. In a zippered gallon sized bag, put a dozen chocolate sandwich cookies, like Oreos, close it up and crush into small pieces. I used a meat mallet, since I don't own a food processor.  Press the different decorations gently into the frosting. I had a bag of Brach's Autumn Mix, which included two different kinds of candy corn and a handful of the marshmallow pumpkins. I also had a bag of Brach's Gummi Worms, so I put a half dozen of those on too!!  I melted some orange Wilton's Candy Melts to write the messages on the "graves." Decorator icing in a tube would work too.  Sprinkle the crushed cookie "dirt" around the decorations.  Serves 16. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Turkey Veggie Chili

Growing up, I was a picky, picky eater.  Eating chili in any way, shape or form was definitely not on my "radar" screen at all.  Never in a million years could I have ever imagined that chili would become one of my favorite foods! I have made vegetarian chili, chili with ground meat, chili with ground turkey and chili with chuck roast. The hubby has been stocking up lately on those one-pound frozen "chubs" of ground turkey when it's been on sale.  I think we had at least six in our freezer at one point a few months ago! Yikes. Earlier this week, as I did an "inventory" of what veggies we had a lot of in the fridge, I spotted a pack of carrots. When the hubby asked what was for dinner that night, I told him turkey chili.  When we sat down at the table and he looked at his bowl, he said rather tentatively, "I've never seen carrots in turkey chili before." Since there weren't any leftovers, he kind of HAD to eat the chili for dinner. Guess what? He ended up going back for seconds! The next morning, he made a point of telling me that my chili was really good. Cool, guess that means he liked the "addition" of the carrots!


1 pound ground turkey
2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup water
12 ounce bag 3-pepper and onion blend,
15.5 ounce can light red kidney beans,
  rinsed and drained
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in tomato sauce,
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1.25 ounce package chili seasoning mix, any brand

In large stockpot, slowly brown the ground turkey. Drain the grease off and then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well with large spoon, cover and then turn down to simmer. Cook for another one hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Put on a "bed" of rice or elbow noodles. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese, if desired. Makes 4-6 servings.  Note:  if you are on a low-salt diet like I am because of my heart "issues," try the chili seasoning mix from Mrs. Dash - it has zero sodium!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dutch Apple Pie

Not too much intimidates me, but for some reason, making a pie does. I guess, because I think they are really hard to make and I would rather stay in my "comfort zone" of making muffins :)  I normally don't have a frozen pie crust in the freezer or sour cream in my fridge, but since I did and this recipe that I found in my mother-in-law's "collection," had those two ingredients, I knew it was meant to be to make this apple pie!!  This recipe is actually pretty simple and quick to put together. You'll spend the most time peeling, coring and slicing the apples. I started out trying to layer the apple slices in a real pretty design, but then decided to just pile them up!  I was a little concerned, because I put 3 1/2 cups in and I thought the juice that was bubbling up around the apples might spill over and drip onto the bottom of the oven. I baked the pie on a cookie sheet to catch any "drippings."  It was interesting to watch this pie kind of "deflate" as it was cooling. I felt like I was watching a science experiment. When I cut the hubby a slice to "sample," he said, "this would taste good with vanilla ice cream!" I fished around in my purse, found a gift card to the Cold Stone Creamery and asked the hubby to go down the street and get us some ice cream. Yep, this pie is really good warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Great idea my hubby had, don't you think?!?!?!?!  The other night, I was telling my mom that I had made an apple pie. She gave me a good bit of advice. She said, "don't ever use Red Delicious apples in an apple pie, I learned the hard way!"  Okay, mom.  I ended up using Gala apples :)


9-inch frozen pie crust
3 tablespoons white flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup sour cream
3 1/2 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  (about 5 medium)


1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pull pie crust out of the freezer and set aside. In large bowl, put flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and sour cream. Mix together with large spoon. Set aside. Peel, core and slice the apples.  Pour apples into the pie crust and then cover with the ingredients in the large bowl. In small bowl, put the cinnamon and white sugar. Combine together with a small spoon and then sprinkle evenly on top of the pie. Put pie on a cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 350 degrees for another 45 minutes or until the apples are bubbly and the top of the pie is turning a golden brown. Remove to wire rack until cool enough to eat.  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired. Store covered with a piece of plastic wrap or foil on top in the fridge.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chocolate Brownies

Even though he doesn't talk about it very often, I know that my husband (being an only child), misses both of his parents.

I can't even imagine what that must be like for him, because I still have both of my parents and my two younger siblings. I was fortunate to have known both his mom and dad and though I was very close to his dad, I became very, very close to his mom during the final six months of her life. When I am missing my mother-in-law, I like to go through her big stack of newspaper clippings we found while cleaning out their house and see if I can find a recipe where I have all of the ingredients "on hand." When I found a chocolate brownie recipe, I knew that was one to try! When the hubby had one of these the other day and I told him where I found the recipe, he said, "I remember my mom making these!" Cool, I love when that happens :) The original recipe had 3/4 cup of chopped nuts, but I choose to use 1/4 cup of milk chocolate chips, 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of peanut butter chips instead.


1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 squares (2 ounces) semi-sweet
  baking chocolate bar, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup white flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 x 9 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In large bowl, put the margarine and white sugar and cream together with a large spoon. In small bowl, melt two squares of the baking chocolate bar in the microwave. Pour the melted chocolate in with the margarine and white sugar and then add the eggs. Mix well and then add the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine well and then mix in the milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips and the peanut butter chips. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the brownies comes out clean. Remove to wire rack to cool. Serve with a little powdered sugar on top, leave plain, add your favorite frosting or serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

While taking a stroll through the pumpkin muffin recipe "blogosphere," I came across several recipes for two-ingredient pumpkin muffins. The two "main" ingredients being a can of pumpkin and a box of spice cake mix. Since I was at the Kroger today doing my regular grocery shopping anyways, I decided to pick up a box of spice cake. Imagine my disappointment, when I got to the boxed cake aisle and they were completely out of any brand of spice cake!!  I guess I could have asked a clerk to help me, but I decided to grab a box of yellow cake mix instead. The more I thought about it, I would much rather come up with my own combination of spices. I love cinnamon and nutmeg together - to me, they are always the perfect "pair!" I was extremely skeptical that I could make muffins out of a cake mix. I thought if I didn't add the eggs, oil and water, like it says on the back of the cake box, that it would be a big disaster! I figured if it was, I had only spent $1.25 for the cake mix and a $1.00 for the can of pumpkin!!!!!!!!!!!!  Well, when the pumpkin muffins got cool enough to "sample," I found them to be delicious and just the right amount of spice. Try whipping up a dozen for the family one morning and see if you don't agree with me!


16.5 ounce box yellow cake mix, any brand
   (I used Duncan Hines)
15 ounce can pumpkin, any brand
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put paper liners into a 12-muffin tin and set aside. In large bowl, put all the ingredients in the order given and beat for one minute on high with electric mixer or by hand with large spoon until all ingredients are well combined. Distribute batter evenly between the 12 paper liners and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool five minutes. Remove to wire rack to continue cooling. Makes 12 muffins.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

My favorite grocery store, Kroger, has started to put pumpkin on sale for just a buck a can!  When I told the hubby, he said, "you better stock up and get five or ten cans!" Little does he know, I'm going to get that many cans EVERY time I go shopping for about the next month. I learned my lesson big time a few years ago, when there was a pumpkin shortage and I couldn't find canned pumpkin ANYWHERE!!!!!!! Since my family loves pumpkin and also cinnamon rolls, how about putting them together?!!?!? I topped these when they were still warm with an easy three-ingredient icing. When Dominic came home from school today and wanted a snack, I asked him to point to the pumpkin cinnamon roll that he wanted. He pointed to the middle one. Yep, that comes as no surprise, because that is the one that always has the most icing!


2 1/2 cups white flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold
1 1/4 cups packed pumpkin
1/3 cup milk


3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg


3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. In large bowl, put the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, white sugar, salt and vanilla. With two knives or a pastry blender, "cut" in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the pumpkin and milk and mix by hand with large spoon. On a lightly floured board, press out dough to a rectangle about 12 inches long. In small bowl, put the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well with small spoon. Sprinkle the filling ingredients evenly, so it covers the entire rectangle. Roll dough tightly, like a jelly roll. Cut into eight slices and put into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes on a wire rack. In small bowl, put the powdered sugar, butter and milk. Mix with small spoon until thoroughly combined. Spread evenly on the cinnamon rolls with a dinner knife. Eat immediately. If you have any leftovers, store in fridge in a covered container. To reheat, put a cinnamon roll in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Yummy!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate and peanut butter are a "classic" combo that have been around for a long time. Did you know that the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup was invented in 1928? Lauren and Dominic "inherited" their love of cinnamon from me and their love of peanut butter and chocolate from their dad! When I make the peanut butter crisscross cookies they barely last a few days.  How about if I added chocolate? They would probably last a few hours!!


2 cups white flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/4 cups white sugar + 1 tablespoon white sugar (reserved)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl, put all the ingredients in the order given (except the one tablespoon of reserved white sugar). Mix well with a large spoon by hand until combined. Roll into 36 equal sized balls with the palms of your hands and put a dozen balls at a time onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  On small plate,  put the reserved one tablespoon of white sugar. With a dinner fork, first dip in the white sugar and then crisscross the top of each ball to flatten.  Add sprinkles if desired. Bake for 12 minutes and then remove to wire rack immediately to finish cooling. Makes three dozen cookies.