Posts for Recipes Category

Have Your Pumpkin Pie & Drink It, Too!

Beverages, Recipes - Jennifer - November 18, 2011

My son turned 11 earlier this month, and we had the family over for a little pizza party.  We had made pumpkin cookies earlier in the week and still had a half can of pumpkin puree in the fridge, so we tried out this little libation:


1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz.)
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 gallon apple cider
2 liters cold ginger ale

Whisk together pumpkin & spices, adding the cider and continuing to whisk until ingredients are smooth and sugar is completely dissolved.  Chill until ready to serve.  When ready, transfer to punch bowl and stir in ginger ale.  Serve over ice.

The above recipe is the kids’ version.  When serving adults, we added in an extra-special, grown-up ingredient:  a healthy splash of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum!  Oh man, was it good!

We’ve already decided that next time we will further customize our Pumpkin Pie Punch by hunting down some cinnamon ice cream for floats.

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Here Comes Fall; Time for Football Food!

Dinner, Recipes - Jennifer - October 26, 2011

Football season is in full swing, and although we don’t do it terribly often, we do love to have people over to watch.  Do you ever have one of those days where you’ve invited a few people, and then circumstances present you with a few more, and they bring a couple of extra kids, until your house is literally overflowing with people?  Summer gatherings where that happens are easy; you can just throw a few more burgers or dogs on the grill, and everyone’s happy.  But when you’re cooking for an uncertain number of people in the house, I’ve found that it’s best to go with too much and freeze the leftovers.  That’s where my super duper easy sloppy joes come in.  This is the same recipe the school moms used to make for us when I was in grammar school, and we only had hot lunch once per month!


Ground Chuck
BBQ Sauce (I prefer Open Pit Original, but it’s all up to you)

Brown your hamburger meat with as much onion as you like (make it SUPER easy on yourself and use dehydrated minced onion, my favorite pantry staple ’cause you never find yourself without onion!).  Drain meat, and add BBQ sauce and ketchup to taste.  Simmer on low for 10 minutes or so to let the flavors sink in.  Serve on hamburger buns (or in our house, hot dog buns for the little ones, which make it less likely that their meat will fall out).

THAT’S IT!  And it’s even better as leftovers!  And try picking up the stray meat with a potato chip!  Not so healthy, but divine!

When we’re expecting a crowd, I do about 4-5 pounds of meat and put it in the crockpot to stay warm for return customers.  And if the crowd isn’t as large as expected, I freeze the rest for a later meal.  Can’t beat that!


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Summer’s Last Gasp Chicken Salad

Dinner, Fruit, Potluck, Recipes, Salad - Jennifer - September 12, 2011

I had this great chicken pasta salad at one of our weekly potlucks this summer, and never got around to making it myself.  But since the temps around here climbed back into the upper 80s again today, I really didn’t feel like heating up the kitchen with dinner, and this worked out nicely.


2 boneless chicken breasts poached in chicken broth (maybe in cooler temps – we grilled ours tonight)
1 pound bow tie pasta
1 medium ripe cantaloupe or honey dew (honey dew is not my favorite, but we’ve had one sitting on the counter for a week that was purchased in error, so I guess it was serendipity)
1 8oz pkg swiss cheese
1 bottle poppy seed dressing
fresh mint

Cook chicken breast, chill and then shred with two forks.  Cook pasta according to directions – place in ice water bath to stop cooking.  Cube swiss cheese into small, bite-sized chunks.  Cut melon into cubes or use a melon baller.  Mix pasta, chicken, cheese, mint and some dressing – chill for 12-24 hours.  Before serving, add melon and additional dressing to coat.

I didn’t take a photo tonight before the gang gobbled the salad down, but here it is from the first time I had it, and I believe that’s cantaloupe in there.  Next time I make it, I’ll opt for cantaloupe as well, but that’s just my personal preference.  The true surprise in this dish is the mint.  When it was first described to me, I was skeptical.  But just like I always tell the kids not to pass judgment on food without trying it, I’m glad that I did, and the blend of flavors has won me over.

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Thankfully It Tastes Good No Matter What It Looks Like

Barbeque, Desserts, Potluck, Recipes, Salad - Jennifer - August 8, 2011

I don’t know why she makes it for Christmas, but my aunt makes Jello/Pretzel Salad every year.  And every year, I make up my mind to add it to my summer potluck rotation.  And every year, I follow the directions to the letter, and every year I fail.  Luckily, Cool Whip hides a multitude of sins.  Here’s my step by step near disaster, complete with pictures!

What you need:

2 c. crushed pretzels
2 tbs. sugar
3/4 c. melted butter

Okay, so far, so good.  Mix these three together, and transfer into a 9×13″ glass pan.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, and allow to cool completely.

Nice and crust-y!  Next:

8 oz. softened cream cheese
9 oz. thawed Cool Whip
1 c. sugar

Blend these three and spread over cooled pretzel crust.

Now, see the pretzels standing all around the edges?  Don’t do this.  I’m telling you, don’t do this.  My recipe told me to, and I think this decorative touch is the source of my constant woes with this dish.  Instead, make sure you spread the cream cheese mixture all the way to the edges so you get a good seal around the layer.  And then let me know if yours turns out better than mine.

6 oz. strawberry Jello (this is the big box, and trust me when I tell you, two small boxes do NOT equal 6 oz.–that was a return trip to the grocery store for me)
2 c. hot water
2 c. cold water
20 oz. frozen strawberries

Prepare jello according to package directions, and add strawberries.

Look at that!  They float!

Pour jello over cream cheese mixture and refrigerate overnight.

Okay, here’s where it gets tricky for me.  Every time I add the jello, it seeps under the entire thing and starts bubbling like it’s alive.  The cream cheese mixture sort of fragments and floats, which makes the whole thing look like what comes out of my 8 year old after he ingests too much cottage cheese and fruit punch significantly less appetizing.

Cool Whip to the rescue!  What they don’t know won’t hurt them, right?  (Side note:  I love Cool Whip beyond all reason.  I use it so much, I should purchase stock.)

It may not be pretty, but the Lunch Bunch crew loved it, kids and adults alike!

P.S.–Neither Cool Whip, nor Jello, nor Kraft Foods compensated me in any way for this post.  But if they’d like to, I’m willing to talk;)






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Still on a Blueberry Kick

Desserts, Fruit, Recipes - Jennifer - July 14, 2011

Since we never refrigerated our blueberry yield, some of them were getting kind of mushy. So we turned to the handy little recipe book provided by Eenigenburg’s Blueberries, and decided to make some dessert! It’s too hot here to use the oven, so we chose a no-bake option.


4 oz. cream cheese, softened
12/ c. heavy whipping cream, whipped
1/4 c. cornstarch
3 c. blueberries
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 9in. pastry shell, baked

In small bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped cream. Spread into pastry shell. In large saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, water and lemon juice until smooth; stir in blueberries. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for two minutes or until thickened. Cool. Spread over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate until serving.

Sorry no photo. Someone ate it before I got the chance!

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Constantly Happy I Married a Boy Who Bakes

Cookies, Recipes, Uncategorized - Jennifer - April 5, 2011

I went away this past weekend for some much-needed, relaxing time with friends:  a girls’ weekend, free of responsibility and full of laughs.  I left my poor husband home to fend for himself with all four children, and he never once complained.  And he baked.  So I returned refreshed and rejuvenated, to find these little lovelies in the cookie jar:

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c. softened butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg yolk, beaten slightly
2 tsp. orange extract
2-1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line two cookie sheets with parchment.  Mix butter and sugar well with a wooden spoon, and beat in the egg yolk and orange extract.  Sift the flour and a pinch of salt together into the mixture, add the chocolate chips and combine well.  Scoop out cookie dough by the tablespoonful, roll into balls, and place on prepared cookie sheets, spacing them well apart.  Bake 12-15 minutes, cool 5-10 minutes, and then transfer to wire racks to continue cooling.  You can also roll your cookie dough balls in superfine sugar before baking, but since the kids would be eating these, we usually refrain from introducing gratuitous sugar.  My only complaint about this recipe is that it only makes about 30 cookies, which is barely a day’s worth in this house.  Double batch!

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March Madness + Food = Weekend Happiness

Appetizers, Pizza, Recipes - Jennifer - March 24, 2011

Whoever said the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach should have met my kids!  They’ll sit through anything if the food is good enough.  So this weekend, I’ll appease them through the Sweet Sixteen games by making some fun snacks. (Basketball is big here in the Midwest, and the NCAA tournament is huge.)

We tried this one for the Superbowl, and it was a big hit. I was looking for a variation on the standard taco dip because more than one person invariably brings one to big gatherings.  So we went with a pizza theme instead:


8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1 c. parmesan
1 c. pizza sauce
favorite toppings

Preheat oven to 350, and combine cream cheese, garlic powder, oregano, parsley and basil in a medium bowl. Spread mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and sprinkle with 1/2 c. mozzarella and 1/2 c. parmesan. Cover with pizza sauce and another layer of remaining cheeses. Add favorite toppings (we went with green peppers, tomatoes, and mini-pepperonis–next time, I’m adding onions). Bake uncovered for 20 minutes to melt the cheese.  We served with breadsticks and crusty Italian bread for dipping.

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When My Daughter Is Old Enough to Be a Girl Scout, I’m In Serious Trouble

Cookies, Recipes, Uncategorized - Jennifer - March 3, 2011

I have three Cub Scouts, and every year they sell popcorn . . . really expensive popcorn that is actual WORK to sell because you have to convince people to buy it.  On the other hand, the Girl Scouts have it easy.  They’ve been in cahoots with those Little Brownie Bakers for more than 80 years!  Granted, the brightly packaged bundles of sweetness have diminished in size and grown in price over the years ($4 a pop now, they were $1.50 when I sold them in the -ahem- 1970s), but people look forward to the annual tradition and honestly don’t think twice about spending the money.  I should know; there are currently five boxes hiding on the tippy-toppiest shelf of the most out of the way cabinet in my kitchen.  Hey, they were expensive!

Since Girl Scout Cookie time comes but once a year, I looked around to see if anyone has any recipes for black-market approximations out there, and there are plenty!  I’ll give you a super simple one here, but if you want others, all you need to do is google Girl Scout Cookie recipes.


1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream the butter in a stand mixer, then slowly add remaining ingredients until mixture sticks together when pressed into a ball.  Roll the dough to 1/4″ thickness, and cut out shapes with a small cookie cutter (I think these would be cute and springy in a variety of flower shapes).  Transfer to baking sheet and bake at 375 for 11-14 minutes, or until the cookies have just set.  Sprinkle lightly with lemon zest and sparkling sugar.  And then hide them on the tippy-toppiest shelf of the most out of the way cabinet in your kitchen!

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Hey, A Girl Can Dream, Can’t She?

Beverages, Cookbooks, Recipes - Jennifer - February 21, 2011

I’ve never really been one to appreciate extremes. Politically, I like to think of myself as a middle-of-the-roadie. I don’t like to finish last, but I don’t over-exert myself to finish first, either. And I generally prefer the transitional seasons of spring and fall to the too, too wintery winter and the too, too summery summer. But in the midst of this overly long, cold and snowy winter, I find myself longing to skip over the chilly spring and dive headfirst into the sultry days of summer. I’m cold all of the time, people!

So as I browse the Kobo cookbook collection looking for inspiration, I’m drawn to the warm and colorful covers of the summer-themed titles like these:

Simply Summer, designed around smaller appliances that won’t heat up your kitchen.

Mediterranean Grilling, full of fresh ideas for when we tire of the usual burgers and dogs.

The Ultimate Guide to Pitcher Drinks:  Cool Cocktails for a Crowd, featuring more than 150 recipes for summery libations to help your sizzling celebrations chill.

So, are these thoughts of summer’s heat taking the edge off of my perpetual wintery discomfort?  Not really.  Maybe it’s time for a return to browsing the cold-weather dishes!

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The Big Pantry Cleanout

Cookies, Desserts, EZ Baking, Recipes - Jennifer - February 11, 2011

Does this ever happen to you? One day, you feel like there’s nothing in the house to eat, even though your pantry is so crammed with “stuff” that it wants to explode when you open the door? Well, we had been completely out of snacks for school lunches for some time, and I made a stock-up run to a certain warehouse club. When I realized I had no room to put anything away, I started a pantry audit and reorganization. I found that I had FOUR unopened cans of Canada’s Pure Jam (two cherry/two raspberry), which didn’t even take into account the open one in the fridge!

So when we were deciding what to make for Valentine’s Day, it was a no-brainer that jam would be involved. Here’s what we came up with:

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg yolk, beaten slightly
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 tbsp. jam or jelly, flavor of your choice
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375, and line your cookie sheets with baking parchment or waxed paper.  Mix sugar and butter, then beat in egg yolk, vanilla extract and peanut butter.  Sift together flour and salt into the mixture and stir until combined thoroughly.  This makes some dense dough, so a husband or partner with large hands and strong arms is highly recommended!  Scoop out tablespoons of dough and hand-form into balls, spacing them well on the cookie sheets.  Dampen the handle of a wooden spoon to make hollows in the middle of each cookie, and fill with your jam or jelly.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown; cool on cookie sheets for 5-10 minutes and then on a rack.  This makes about 25 cookies, so we doubled the recipe. 

They might not be pretty, but they sure are good!

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