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Archive for the ‘Captain Cavedweller’ Category

Hash Brown Casserole PlatedOur weather has been incredibly and ridiculously cold the past week or so (although it seems like months!).

The bone-chilling temperatures just make me crave comfort-type food. Something warm and filling.

The other day, in a panic to come up with something edible for dinner before Captain Cavedweller arrived home, tired and hungry, I whipped up a hash brown casserole. Super easy, it proved to be quite tasty.

Simple ingredients

Simple ingredients

Start by giving your baking dish a good coating of non-stick spray.

Start by giving your baking dish a good coating of non-stick spray.

Melt the butter and crush, crumble or pulverize the crackers into the bowl.

Melt the butter and crush, crumble or pulverize the crackers into the bowl.

Stir together until cracker crumbs are well coated.

Stir together until cracker crumbs (in my case, chunks… did I mention I was in a hurry?) are well coated.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients.

Then scoop into your baking pan. If you love cheese, go ahead and sprinkle some on top.

Then scoop into your baking pan. If you love cheese, go ahead and sprinkle some on top.

Finish it off with your cracker crumbs and bake in a 350 oven for an hour.

Finish it off with your cracker crumbs and bake in a 350 oven for an hour.

When it's done, you'll have a crispy ,crunchy golden cracker crust on top of a gooey layer of cheese.

When it’s done, you’ll have a crispy ,crunchy golden cracker crust on top of a gooey layer of cheese.

Hash Brown Casserole

2 lbs frozen shredded hash browns

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

1 cup of sour cream

2 cups shredded cheddar (or colby-jack cheese) grated

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. all-purpose seasoning (like Mrs. Dash)

1 tsp. parsley

1 sleeve of Saltine crackers, crushed

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray an 11 x 14 baking dish with cooking spray.

Melt butter then crumbled crackers into it, stirring until well coated. Set aside.

Mix the remaining  ingredients together, place in prepared pan, and top with 1/2 cup additional cheese, if desired. Top with the cracker crumbs and bake for an hour.

Remove and indulge in the deliciousness!

She Who Should Not Make This Again, but It Was So Yummy

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Kolacky plated

In my soon-to-be-released holiday romance, The Christmas Calamity, the heroine of the story is of Polish descent.

The Christmas Calamity Cover

Alex the Amazing is a prestidigitator who knows her way around the kitchen, when she needs to cook.

She bakes a batch of cookies from a recipe her grandmother shared with her. The hero of the tale, Arlan, falls for her cookies almost as much as he does her.

Since the cookies were important in the story, I decided I better bake a batch of Kolacky.

Originating as a semisweet wedding dessert from Central Europe, Kolacky are especially popular for Christmas.

Oh, my gracious! These are so, so good. I had to practically beat Captain Cavedweller off with a stick so I could have a few.

Give them a whirl. They weren’t hard to make and are incredibly yummy! Here’s a modern version of a delicious recipe.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Start by creaming butter and cream cheese together.

Start by creaming butter and cream cheese together.

Beat together remaining ingredients (except jam!)

Beat together remaining ingredients (except jam!)

 

Until you have a nice bowl of somewhat sticky dough.

Until you have a nice bowl of somewhat sticky dough.

Roll out on a floured surface.

Roll out on a floured surface.

Traditionally, the dough should be cut into squares, but you can use a round cutter or a glass.

Traditionally, the dough should be cut into squares, but you can use a round cutter or a glass.

Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Add dollops of jam to the dough then fold edges together.

Add dollops of jam to the dough then fold edges together.

If you have trouble getting the edges to stick, use a touch of milk or water to hold it in place.

If you have trouble getting the edges to stick, use a touch of milk or water to hold it in place.

Remove from the oven before they start to brown. You want the dough to be just set.

Remove from the oven before they start to brown. You want the dough to be just set.

Top with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Top with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Then force the other inhabitants of your home to share.

Then force the other inhabitants of your home to share.

Kolacky

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (3oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup strawberry jam (any flavor works)

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Beat until fluffy.  Add flour then mix well. Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness on lightly floured surface. Traditionally, the pastry is cut into squares, but you can use a round biscuit cutter or glass if that’s what you have on hand.

Place pastries two-inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Spoon 1/4 tsp. jam onto each cookie. Fold opposite sides together. If you have trouble getting the sides to stick, dampen the edge with a drop of milk or water.

Bake for 12 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks and sprinkle liberally with confectioner’s sugar. It is nearly impossible to eat just one!

Yield about 2 dozen.

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grade schoolToday is Captain Cavedweller’s birthday.

Hooray!

There will be cake at our house later today (carrot, of course – his favorite) and maybe a present or two.

engagedBack when I first met this guy 21 years ago, I was so goofy in love with him, I didn’t give more than a random thought to the future. I just knew I wanted it to be with him.

Captain Cavedweller has put up with a lot from me over the years.

A lot.

Back in the days when I was a newspaper reporter, I used to drag him along to all sorts of events and interviews. Once, he ended up being the only male at a fashion show. (I still get reminded of that from time to time!) Thanks to me, he’s been nearly attacked by a cougar, gotten up close and personal with an ostrich, and lost in the hills in the middle of nowhere while attempting to locate a sheepherder. Those were fun times (not so much)!

wheat boy 1More frequently than you’d think, he gets coerced into being part of a prop in a photo. Like standing in a wheat field.

my valentineOr holding a heart (although I think he knows he’s always got mine in his hands).

I guess the point of my rambling is that CC has always been willing to help me, support me, encourage me and love me without hesitation or conditions. He’s got a huge, caring heart and is one of the most honest, upright, kindest people I know. (And I’m not biased in the least).

He’s the kind of person you can count on when the skies are blue, but also when life’s storms hit with full force. In the past year, I’ve been reminded time and again what a blessing he is to me and how blessed I am to have him in my life.

No matter what’s going on in my life, just being with him makes everything better, brighter, and definitely a lot more fun.

July PhotoHappy, Happy Birthday, Captain Cavedweller!

Love you!

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bundt cake platedMy most wonderful mother-in-law is spending the weekend with us.

So I baked a cake.

While it was baking yesterday, I kept thinking of that catchy tune If I Knew You Were Coming I’d’ve a Baked a Cake.

Since I did know she was coming and I did bake a cake, I thought I’d share the recipe with you.

I love bundt cakes because they are so easy to make and always so moist. I decided to experiment a little and boy was that a tasty idea. Even Captain Cavedweller gave this a two thumbs up.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Mix everything together except the sweetened condensed milk.

Mix everything together except the sweetened condensed milk.

Pour the milk into a thoroughly greased bundt cake pan.

Pour the milk into a thoroughly greased bundt cake pan.

Top with the cake batter. Do NOT mix or stir.

Top with the cake batter. Do NOT mix or stir.

Place it in an oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake for about 50 minutes.

Place it in an oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake for about 50 minutes.

Until it looks like this.

Until it looks like this.

Let cool completely before inverting on a serving platter.

Let cool completely before inverting on a serving platter.

Then prepare to be dazzled as the sweetened condensed milk made the most delicious topping you can imagine.

Then prepare to be dazzled as the sweetened condensed milk made the most delicious topping you can imagine.

Did I mention it was delicious?

Did I mention it was delicious?

As in you just have to have a piece good...

As in you just have to have a piece good…

Heavenly Bundt Cake

1 vanilla cake mix

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup oil

1 cup sour cream

1 small pkg. instant cheesecake pudding

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 and thoroughly spray a bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add in cake mix, water, oil, sour cream and pudding. Beat on medium speed about three minutes.

Open the sweetened condensed milk and pour into the bundt pan. Yes, the whole can.

Spoon cake batter over the milk. Do not mix or stir!

Bake for about 50 minutes, until cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Invert over a serving plate. All that deliciously yummy sweetened condensed milk has made the most glorious topping on your cake and soaked into the top layer.

If you can refrain from eating it right then, chill until ready to serve.

She Who Will Make This Again

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 strawberry cupcakes plated

We have a dessert potluck (I know – how fun is that!) to attend this weekend so I wanted to make something that would be easy for people to pick up and eat. Cupcakes are always yummy and simple to transport.

This is a new recipe I experimented with after successfully using root beer to make cupcakes a month or so ago.

The cupcakes have a surprise dollop of strawberry jam inside while the frosting – oh, my, the frosting – it has strawberry flavoring and a liberally dose of strawberry pop.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Make the cake mix according to package directions. Fill paper-lined muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full of the cake batter.

Make the cake mix according to package directions. Fill paper-lined muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full of the cake batter.

Drop about 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each cupcake center. If you don't have enough batter in the cup, the jam will sink to the bottom.

Drop about 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each cupcake center. If you don’t have enough batter in the cup, the jam will sink to the bottom. Top with batter and slide into preheated oven to bake.

    While the cupcakes are baking until they are a light golden brown (about 15-18 minutes), mix up your frosting.

While the cupcakes are baking until they are a light golden brown (about 15-18 minutes), mix up your frosting.

It will be perfectly pink and pretty. (Ha, say that 10 times in a row.)

You can add some festive sprinkles to the top if you so desire.

You can add some festive sprinkles to the top if you so desire.

Take a bite and enjoy the sweet, strawberry surprise in the middle!

Take a bite and enjoy the sweet, strawberry surprise in the middle!

Strawberry Filled Cupcakes

1 box cake mix (can be white, vanilla, yellow)

3 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1 1/4 cups water

1/2 cup jam

3 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup strawberry soda pop

2 tsp. strawberry flavoring

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the cake mix with eggs, oil and water until smooth.

Line the cups of a muffin pan with papers and fill each cup about 3/4 of the way full.

Spoon about 1/2 tsp of jam into each cup. If you don’t get enough batter in the cup, the jam will sink to the bottom.

Pour more batter over the top and bake until a light golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool completely.

For the frosting, mix powdered sugar with softened butter, salt, flavoring and soda pop. You can add more flavoring if you want a stronger strawberry flavor. The frosting will be a pretty shade of pink.

Accent with your favorite sprinkles or fresh strawberries. If at all possible, act pathetic and pressed for time so the big manly man of your house will help put the sprinkles on.

She Who Will Be Making These Again

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Chicken Tortelinni  plated

Knowing CC would be home and ready to eat soon, I started scrounging through the fridge last night and came up with some ingredients to throw together.  This fast, easy, yummy dinner comes together in about thirty minutes (if you hustle, which I did because a hungry man kept looming around the kitchen, wanting fed!).

At first, CC turned up his nose at it, but after one bite, he quickly ate what was on his plate and went back for seconds. I think that meant he liked it.

Ingredients

Ingredients

 

Cook tortellini according to package directions. While it's cooking, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.

Cook tortellini according to package directions. While it’s cooking, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.

Melt butter and then stir in Panko crumbs. You can also add seasoning if you like and a sprinkle of salt.

Melt butter and then stir in Panko crumbs. You can also add seasoning if you like and a sprinkle of salt. Set aside.

 

When tortellini is cooked, drain. Since I'm lazy, I mixed everything in the saucepan so I had one less bowl to wash.

When tortellini is cooked, drain. Since I’m lazy, I mixed everything in the saucepan so I had one less bowl to wash. Add your chicken and give it a good stir.

Then add the rest of the ingredients.

Then add the rest of the ingredients.

 

Blend thoroughly.

Stir thoroughly.

 

Spoon into a greased casserole dish, then top with  sprinkling of cheese.

Spoon into a greased casserole dish, then top with sprinkling of cheese.

 

Top with Panko crumbs.

Top with Panko crumbs.

Bake for about twenty minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.

Bake for about twenty minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted, then serve immediately. (Hungry men don’t like to wait while you do silly things like take photos!)

 

Cheesy Chicken Tortellini

1 package of cheese-filled tortellini

2 cups cooked chicken

1 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese (divided)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups Alfredo sauce

1 1/2 cups Panko crumbs

2 tbsp. butter

Seasoning

Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Cook tortellini according to package directions. While it’s cooking, cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Melt butter and stir in Panko crumbs. You can also add some seasoning to the crumbs, if you wish.

Drain tortellini. Add chicken to the saucepan and stir then add 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, the Parmesan cheese, Alfredo Sauce and any seasonings along with a sprinkle of salt. Stir well then spoon into casserole pan. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese then Panko crumbs. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.

If you want to get fancy, you can add a sprinkle of fresh or fried parsley on top.

She Who Will Be Making This Again

 

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Rootbeer Cupcakes finished

The other day I discovered a bottle of root beer in the fridge and debated drinking it or doing something fun with it.

I’m glad I went with something fun. These cupcakes (particularly the frosting) are super yummy and just scream “summertime!”

Staring with a cake mix, they are easy to make and the frosting can be whipped together in a jiffy!

Ingredients

Ingredients

Mix everything together, saving the addition of the root beer for last. I loved the way it bubbled up in the bowl.

Mix everything together, saving the addition of the root beer for last. I loved the way it bubbled up in the bowl.

Pour into paper-lined muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees until the tops bounce back when touched (about 15 minutes or so).

Pour into paper-lined muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees until the tops bounce back when touched (about 15 minutes or so).

Remove from pan and cool completely.

Remove from pan and cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, mix up your frosting. You'll need some vanilla (and you can use canned frosting for this or make your own. If you make your own, use  1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 2 tbsp. milk and 1 tsp. vanilla. Blend together and set aside.

While the cupcakes are cooling, mix up your frosting. You’ll need some vanilla (and you can use canned frosting for this or make your own. If you make your own, use 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 2 tbsp. milk and 1 tsp. vanilla. Blend together and set aside.

Here are the ingredients for the root beer frosting.

Here are the ingredients for the root beer frosting.

The root beer concentrate gives it the chocolatey color.

The root beer concentrate gives it the chocolatey color.

If you like root beer, the smell of the frosting will make your mouth water in anxious anticipation.

If you like root beer, the smell of the frosting will make your mouth water in anxious anticipation.

 

To get a root beer float affect on the cupcake, mix the vanilla and root beer frosting.

To get a root beer float affect on the cupcake, mix the vanilla and root beer frosting.

 

I just swirled it on. Swirling was very tasty.

I just swirled it on. Swirling was very tasty.

Root Beer Cupcakes

1 white or vanilla cake mix

3 eggs

1/3 cup oil

1 1/4 cups root beer

2 tbsp. root beer concentrate

Vanilla Frosting (optional)

Root Beer Frosting

Root Beer Frosting

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup butter (softened)

1 tbsp. root beer concentrate

1/4 cup root beer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, mix cake mix, eggs, root beer concentrate and root beer until smooth. Pour into paper-lined muffin cups and bake until tops bounce back when touched (about 15-18 minutes).

Remove from oven and cool completely.

Mix together the root beer frosting ingredients.

For a simple vanilla frosting, mix 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 1/4 cup softened butter, 2 tbsp. milk and 1 tsp. vanilla extract.

If you want to give the cupcakes more of a root beer float flavor, mix the vanilla and root beer frosting together. You can also just use the root beer. If you do that, double the frosting ingredients so you’ll have enough.

Try to keep from snitching as you frost the cupcakes because the root beer frosting is amazingly delicious. Even Captain Cavedweller raved about how good it was – and that is saying something.

For an added pop of color and fun, insert a paper straw before serving.

Note – you can find root beer concentrate in the flavoring section of most grocery stores (look near the vanilla extract).

She Who Will Make These Again

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