Saturday, November 28, 2009

Grandma’s Chocolate Ice-box Pie

This recipe was my grandmother’s as well as my mother’s recipe.  So it has been in the family a while.  It tastes very similar to Luby’s ice box pie.  It can be made with a merangue top or without and served with cool whip or whipped topping. You do need to cook it on the stove top.  So buy the pudding mix for cook-n-serve.  It is very rich.  Just a warning to those who can’t handle rich desserts.


1-5oz or large box of cook-n-serve Jello Chocolate Pudding mix
½ cups of small marshmallows
¼ cup or 2 oz of your favorite chocolate (semi-sweet chips, or milk chocolate chips are fine, too but you only need a little bit!)
3 cups milk
cool whip or can of whipped topping
1-9” pie crust (frozen section)

Bake your pie crust according to manufacturer’s directions.  This is usually thawed for about 15 minutes at room temperature.  Pricked with a fork.  And baked at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until done.
In a 4-quart sauce pan, heat your milk on medium.  Stir frequently to keep from sticking or scorching.  Heat this to a boil.  I cover mine with a lid to speed up the process, but don’t forget to stir. Add your pudding mix and allow this to cook.  Add your marshmallows and chocolate, too.  Going by your manufacturer’s directions, when it is done, poor into a ready baked pie crust and chill until set before serving.
Chill this according to the manufacturer.  Probably 1-2 hours or more. You can prepare a merangue topping, too.  We just top ours with whipped cream as we eat it.  I usually place a sheet of plastic wrap directly touching the chocolate when I refrigerate it.

Tortilla Soup

This has got to be my favorite soup recipe.  I had a bowl of Chili’s Tortilla Soup a long time ago, and that is when it became my favorite.  I’ve had other tortilla soups, even Luby’s, but this one is my favorite.  It has more of a clear broth whereas Luby’s is a creamier texture.  It tastes like chicken enchiladas in a bowl.  I love the fact that you can change up the ingredients, too.  Luby’s adds corn to theirs.  You can add hominy, black beans, pinto beans, whatever you want.  I think the main taste comes from the chili peppers.  I use a can of rotel.  To me, it taste just like Chili’s recipe.  I also add more green chilies and green salsa like I use on my enchilada recipe.  Green salsa is made from tomatillos.  They aren’t spicy, but they have a very distinct and delicious flavor to them.
I’m going to try this recipe with some of my left-over turkey.  The recipe calls for chicken, but I bet it tastes just as good with turkey. One thing that is important, ripe avocado really makes this wonderful.  I had never thought to use avocado in soup, but that’s the way Chili’s serves it.  Prior to serving it, you top it off with crumbled tortilla chips, avocado, and Monterey jack cheese.


3-4 roasted chicken breasts, chopped or shredded into bite size pieces
1 can rotel (hot) (near the canned tomatoes)
1 can green chilies (diced)
1 can green salsa (in the Latin section of your grocer)
4 cups chicken broth
1 can pinto beans or black beans
1 can hominy or whole kernel corn
1 bag corn Tortilla Chips (I buy the generic brand, but similar to Tostitos)
2 cups (16 oz) shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1-2 ripe avocados
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp Garlic Powder
½ tsp Cayenne pepper

In a large pot, cook your chicken breasts if you haven’t already done so.  Cover them with water and I cook mine on medium high and then back down to medium, until they are so tender they fall off the bone. Mine are usually done in 40 minutes.  Some people cook their chicken for 2 hours.  I guess if you cook it on a low setting, but make sure your chicken is fully cooked.  You can save the liquid to use in this recipe, but drain it using a sieve to get out any loose skin – to make it as clear as possible.  I season my chicken when I cook it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.  After it is cooked, remove any loose skin, chop or shred it into bite size pieces and add the stock and chicken back to the pot.

If you already have your chicken cooked and cut up, but don’t have any stock, you can add broth and your cut up chicken to a large pot.  Add a can of drained beans, hominy, chilies, green salsa and rotel.  Taste it.  Adjust your seasonings.  You may need more salt, pepper, garlic powder, or cayenne.  Add 1 cup of cheese and some crumbled tortilla chips. Let it cook and let the flavors combine for about 20 minutes on a medium to medium-low setting.  When ready to serve, add soup to a bowl.  Top with more crumbled tortilla chips, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, and chopped avocado.

Piggies in a Blanket

Although this is an easy and quick version of a “Kolache”, I have recently been experimenting with different ways to make a delicious, easy, snack which has turned into a favorite in our house.  This recipe is great for left-over meat or lunchmeat that needs to be used up. I haven’t bought canned biscuits in ages, but I recently bought a 4-pack of them and a bag of little smokies.  I made a batch of piggies in a blanket.  We were still craving them when all the little smokies were gone.  So I had some thin sliced lunchmeat.  I sliced the thin ham lengthwise and rolled it up, added some cheese, and they tasted as good if not better than the original recipe.  Still craving the little rascals, but out of ingredients, I made my own batch of biscuit dough, made a meat filling using sausage and sauted potatoes. I wanted to share this recipe, because it is not only easy and inexpensive to make, but very versatile.  With turkey left-overs, this is a great way to use up those left-overs.  Just add a little provolone, mozzerella, or parmesan to the turkey.  I read somewhere where instead of canned biscuits, you can use the canned crescent rolls, because they come out flakier.  The sky is the limit with this recipe.  Only the limits of your imagination will interfere with your creation.


1 bag little smokies (Hillshire Farm’s– near the hot dogs and sausage)
2 cans of canned biscuits (10 in a can)
sliced cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. (use the manufactuers settings here)
Open the biscuits and roll it out using a rolling pin or using your fingers, make it very flat and as big as you can.  Place a little smokie and a slice of cheese about the size of the little smokie on the flat dough and fold it.  Pinch the outer sides together to keep everything inside.  Place on cookie sheet. Repeat this step till all the biscuits are used up. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes.

These taste great when served with creamy white gravy.  Gravy recipe below.

Other Fillings:

Sausage and sauted potatoes

1 package of Jimmy Dean regular sausage
2 medium potatoes peeled and diced
2 Tbsn oil
1 tspn Kosher salt
½ tspn course ground Black Pepper

In a large skillet, break up the sausage into small crumbles and brown until done.  Add the potatoes and a little oil.  Season with salt and pepper. When done, set it aside to cool. You can prepare these like the little smokie recipe above, or make your own dough using the recipe that follows:

Biscuit recipe


4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ cup shortening
¼ cup butter
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups of milk
2 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender or a fork, add the shortening and butter and combine until mixture resembles course crumbs. Add milk and mix until it forms a ball of dough.  Add flour to your hands to keep it from sticking.

Using a lighlty floured surface, place some of your dough and roll it out using a floured rolling pin.  Using a knife, slice it into squares.  Set the squares aside to be used in the recipe above.  Any extra dough can be refrigerated and made into biscuits or more roll-ups. Prior to baking - brush the tops with melted butter and they should come out flakier.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until done, lightly golden on top.

Gravy Recipe

2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs oil
3-4 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 cup milk

In a saucepan, heat the butter and oil until the butter melts. Add your flour and stir with a whisk.  After the flour is absorbed, add 1 cup cold milk.  Place a lid on it – I usually cook this on medium-high, but stir frequently.  When it starts to warm up, turn the heat down to medium (you don’t want this to boil over and ruin your stove top!). Don’t forget to stir frequently.  Once it comes to a boil, remove the lid, turn the heat down some more.  Keep cooking – you want to cook the flour taste out.  Add your salt and pepper.  When it is done, turn down to low or remove from heat and serve. If it gets too thick, add more milk or even a little water should help.  If you need to thicken it up, add a little cold water to a measuring cup and about 1-2 Tbsp of flour, stir to mix well to get the lumps out, then add to the gravy.  I know when I make gravy, and it sits on the stove top, it tends to get too thick, so I just add a little water sometimes to thin it out again. Any extra can be refrigerated and used within a day or two.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turkey and Dressing

This is my husband’s family recipe for dressing.  I think it is referred to as oyster dressing.  Although today’s version doesn’t have oysters, but giblets and sausage.  It has a variety of ingredients that make it one of the best dressing recipes around.
Like most of the dressing recipes, you do need to add a batch of already baked cornbread.  There are three different ways to do the cornbread:  make it from scratch, make it using Pioneer ready mix, or you can buy a bag of Pepperidge Farm cornbread crumbs. It will taste great with any method.  The hardest thing about this recipe is getting the seasonings right, so I usually get my seasonings adjusted before I add the raw egg, that way, I can taste if it is right or not.


1 bag Pepperidge Farm seasoned bread crumbs
1 already baked batch of cornbread (or Pepperidge Farm cornbread crumbs)
1-32 oz container of Chicken broth
3-4 stalks celery - chopped
1 onion - chopped(optional)
1 apple – grated with peel on
1 package Jimmy Dean sausage with Sage
Kosher Salt
Course Ground Black Pepper
Allspice seasoning
Ground Nutmeg
2 Eggs
½ - ¾ cup chopped Pecans
½ cup of cooked chopped giblets


Cook the sausage in a skillet like you would ground beef.  Drain and reserve the fat for sautéing the celery, onion, and apple.  After sautéing them, add them back to the sausage and set aside and let it cool off (we will be adding egg, so we don’t want it to cook the egg if it is too hot).
In a large mixing bowl, combine ½ bag of Pepperidge Farm seasoned bread crumbs and the corn bread.  Use about the same amount of cornbread and bread crumbs.  Add 2 cups of the chicken broth and combine.  If you need more liquid, add water or more broth.  It needs to be really moist, like a thick batter.  Add your sausage mixture and seasonings before the egg, so you can taste if the seasonings are right.  I always eyeball the seasonings.  I would start with 1-2 teaspoons Kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1-2 tsp Allspice, and go light with the Nutmeg about ¼ - ½ teaspoon.  Taste it. You will probably need more Allspice, salt, and pepper. After you get the seasonings right, add the 2 eggs slightly beaten.  The last step is to add the nuts and giblets. You can bake this in a 13 x 9 pan or a disposable foil pan. If you use a pan larger than 13 x 9, you may need to increase the ingredients in this recipe.

The dressing will need about an hour to bake at 350 F.  You can also stuff the turkey with some of it.  You may need to cover with foil to keep it from over-browning on top and getting too dry.  Take the foil off towards the last 15 minutes of cooking time.

Since we bake the turkey at 325 F, you may need to add more time for the dressing, say 1-1/2 to 2 hours, if you want to bake it with the Turkey.  Just watch that it doesn’t get too brown or dry.

To bake the Turkey:

Allow 20 minutes per lb.  A 16 lb turkey at 20 minutes per lb would take a about 5 hours and 20 minutes up to 6 hours to roast.  The key to roasting a turkey is to thaw it out completely in the refrigerator (this may take 1-2 days) and remove everything on the inside before stuffing it and roasting. When I roast my turkey, I baste it with melted butter and seasoning every 30 minutes of cook time.  Take a turkey baster or a brush and brush the skin so it turns a nice golden brown.  Use the baster to get inside of the turkey.  Some people buy injectors to inject it with flavor.  I think you can purchase them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for under $20. Stuffing is optional.  Add your uncooked dressing to the large empty cavity before roasting. Turkey is usually done when the juices run clear and the thermometer pops out. The ultimate test is if it is falling off the bone – delicious. The easier it is to get off the bone, the better it is, and that is a sure sign that the turkey is done.

Some of the best seasonings to use on a thanksgiving turkey are:  Rosemary, Thyme, Poultry Seasoning, Garlic powder, Basil, Sage (optional).

Once the skin has turned a nice beautiful brown, cover the turkey with foil until it has finished roasting. When I roast a 4 lb chicken, I usually flip it.  I like to allow the skin on the bottom to get golden, too.  I usually roast it upside down first, and then flip it.  If you are unable to flip it, don’t worry about it, just make sure you have the top bake last, so that it is nice and golden. If you have a large, long wooden spoon, you can insert that into the cavity and use tongs to rotate the turkey. Get assistance because it is heavy and it is going to be hot!

You can cook the giblets in a pan of water on the stove until done.  Drain, chop, and set aside to use in the dressing or in the gravy.

I don’t make my gravy from scratch –  I buy the McCormicks packets at the store.  However, if there is any extra juices, they can be added to the gravy or reserve them and make your own gravy.  We like to add hard boiled egg and chopped giblets to our gravy.

Lasagna and Garlic Bread

I love to make lasagna every once in awhile.  This is a great recipe.


1-2 lbs ground beef
½ box of lasagna noodles
Kosher salt
1 –32oz can tomato puree
1 – 15oz can tomato sauce
1-2 Tbsp of tomato paste
1 – ½ tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp Course ground black pepper
1-2 tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp dried Oregano
½ tsp dried Basil
½ small 15oz container of Ricotta cheese
1-16 oz bag of pre-shredded Italian blend cheese (Parmesan, Romano, Mozzerella…)
1-16 oz bag of pre-shredded Mozzerella
Non-stick spray or 4 Tbsp of cooking oil


In a large skillet add non-stick spray or 2 Tbsp of oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. On medium heat, cook the ground beef, and drain the fat.  While you are cooking the sauce, place a large pot of water with 2 tspn of kosher salt  cover and cook on high until boiling.  Once the water boils, add the lasagna noodles – don’t force them – they will break.  Allow them to get soft and stir them in.  One half a box of lasagna noodles is enough to prepare 3 layers in a 13 x 9 dish.  If you want to prepare the whole box of noodles you will probably have extra noodles left over.  Cook these according to manufacturer’s directions or uncover and cook on medium-high for about 10 minutes usually does the trick.
Meanwhile, once the meat is done and the fat drained.  Combine 1-2 Tbsp of tomato paste to the meat. Then season the meat with salt, pepper, garlic powder – I also add a little dried oregano and dried basil to my meat.  Add the tomato puree, tomato sauce, and seasonings:  Italian blend, oregano, and basil. You need to taste test this now and adjust the Italian seasonings right.  Add more salt, garlic powder, or Italian blend if you need to. If your sauce does not taste right, nothing will.
Turn the heat down on the meat sauce or you can turn it off – it doesn’t matter while you prepare the lasagna.
Drain the noodles.  Prepare a 13 x 9 dish by coating the bottom with non-stick spray or I drizzle a little oil on the bottom and spread with a paper towel. Lay out 3 strips of noodles side-by-side to cover the bottom of the dish. Add ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp dried Oregano, and ½ tsp dried Basil to ½ the container of ricotta cheese and combine before spreading it.  You will use about ½ container of the Ricotta cheese in this recipe. Spread the ricotta out in a thin layer over the noodles.  I use a small spatula or a fork and my fingers to press it down as I apply it. Add the Italian blend cheese and Mozerella shredded cheeses lightly over that and then 1/3 of  the meat sauce. Remember to use 3 equal portions of the meat sauce or you may run out.  You need enough sauce for each layer.  Repeat this for each additional layer.  Don’t cover the top with cheese until the lasagna is done.  Cover the lasagna with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.  When the sauce starts to bubble on the sides. Then when the lasagna is done, remove the foil, and sprinkle some Mozzerella on top and put it under the broiler until the cheese melts, usually about 1-2 minutes.

Serve with garlic bread.  I make my own garlic bread sometimes.  Below is a recipe that I use.

Garlic Bread Recipe


1 loaf of Texas Toast or French Bread
½ to ¾ cup of butter or margarine
2-3 tsp of Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1 tsp dried Basil
2-4 Tbsp of olive oil (I use Smart Balance cooking oil – it’s a combination of oils – including olive oil – it’s great if your watching your cholesterol and B/P and don’t want
to sacrifice the taste.)

Combine the butter and seasonings using a small rubber spatula.  You may need to add more garlic powder.  You can do a small taste test first.  I usually eyeball this.  It seems like you add a lot of garlic powder, but you need to.  Also don’t use garlic salt.  I used to wonder why my bread never came out right when I was younger, because we used garlic salt.  I found out quickly that I prefer garlic powder over garlic salt any day.  My husband prefers to use it when he cooks, but I stick to the garlic powder.  If you are using french bread, cut the loaf in half and separate the top from the bottom.  Spread the bread thickly with the butter mixture.  If you are using Texas toast, just make sure you spread the mixture on both sides of the bread.  I like to drizzle a little oil on top. Coat the bottom of your baking sheet with non-stick spray or drizzle a little oil on it. Cook the garlic bread at 400 degrees or place it in the oven with the lasagna towards the last 10 minutes of cook time for the lasagna.  It doesn’t take long to bake the bread.  You don’t want it to get cold.  Make sure you just allow 5-10 minutes to bake it.  The Texas toast will take 5 minutes on each side. If you need to speed up the process, I sometimes put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes – if Texas toast – broil both sides. I like mine soft, but lightly golden.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Skillet Beefy Mushroom with Potatoes

This recipe is a different way to cook ground beef especially when you have run out of ideas and are trying to stretch a dollar.  It is quick, easy, and inexpensive.  I fry my potatoes up before I do anything.  I know you could add them to this and let them cook, but I like the fact that it doesn’t take long to do, and it tastes great.


1-2 lbs ground beef
4 regular size russet potatoes
1 can cream-of-mushroom soup
1-2 tsp Kosher Salt
½ - 1 tsp Course Ground black pepper
1 tsp Garlic powder
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
¾ - 1  cup of heavy cream of milk
½ cup of beef broth (optional)
cooking oil to fry potatoes in
shredded cheese (optional)


Slice your potatoes into very thin oval slices.  You can leave the peel on them – that is optional.   I do this while my cooking oil heats up. Try to make them all the same thickness so they cook the same length of time. Fry them in the cooking oil and set aside. You may have to make two batches, so do this before you prepare the meat.  When you are done, add a little oil to a skillet to lightly coat the bottom of the skillet.  Add your ground beef.  I don’t add any seasonings until the meat has finished cooking so I can drain off the fat without losing all of my seasonings.  So after you brown the meat, drain the fat.  Then season the meat with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper.  Next, add a can of cream-of-mushroom and combine.  Add the cream or milk and the beef broth if you have any.  (I use either cream or milk – which ever I have on hand. If I have broth on hand, I add a little, too.) This will make a gravy.  Add the potatoes and stir.  Allow everything to heat up then serve like that or you can add cheese prior to serving it.  It tastes great both ways.

Mexican Rice

I recently discovered a delicious recipe for Mexican rice that is quick and easy.  You can even use left-over rice. By taking cumin, and chili powder and combining it with a little tomato paste, you can flavor regular white rice to taste like the real mexican rice.


2 cups broth
1 cup rice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1-2 tspn ground Cumin (I usually go light with the cumin, you can always add more later)
1-2 tspn Chili Powder (I usually add more chili powder than the other seasonings)
dash ground Cayenne Pepper
1-2 Tbs of tomato paste


To make your rice, add 2 cups broth to a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add 1 cup regular long grain rice and salt.  Bring to a boil then reduce to Med-low and cover and simmer until tender. This may take about 15 minutes or so. Stir often so it doesn’t stick to bottom of pan.

Add the tomato paste and seasonings and mix until combined.  You may need to adjust your seasonings to taste.  Serve with refried beans.

If you have left-over rice, just add the tomato paste and seasonings after you heat your rice up and serve.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pumpkin Bar Recipe

I decided to try a recipe I had printed last year that I had never tried before. The recipe had pumpkin and cream cheese in it, the ingredients also called for a box of yellow cake mix. So the other day I decided to try it. The original recipe came from foodnetwork, Paula Deen, so I knew it had to be good. This recipe was so good that it was almost gone in one day. If you are like me, and you love cheese cake and pumpkin pie, then you should love this recipe. The foodnetwork version, Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes also includes different versions for other gooey cakes, too. For instance, there is a recipe for Pineapple Gooey Cake, Banana Gooey Cake, and Peanut Butter Gooey Cake. The recipe warns you that it should be gooey, not to overcook it.
I altered this recipe a little before I had even tried it for the first time. I didn’t have a lot of butter (thanks to my husband – he’s a butterolic) I have to hide it from him, or he’ll use it all up. So I opted to use my favorite cooking oil “Smart Balance”. I also added an additional egg to the cake mix which forms the crust, and it came out great. So I am posting this recipe the way I cooked it, but I will also include foodnetwork’s version, too and post a link to the original recipe.


1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs (or you can use 1 – like foodnetwork)
½ cup of cooking oil (or 8 Tbs of butter) Not both – one or the other.

1 8oz package cream cheese
1 can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 box or 16oz of powdered sugar
1/3 cup cooking oil - (Or you can use 8 Tbs of butter) Not both.
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice – (Or 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg instead)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Prepare the crust
In a large bowl combine the cake mix, egg, and oil (or butter) and mix well. Spray a 13 x 9 inch pan with non-stick spray and press the batter down to form a crust making sure it is spread evenly across.

Prepare the Topping

In a separate large bowl combine the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Then add the eggs, vanilla, and oil (or butter) and mix well. Then you add the powdered sugar and spices. Spread this over the unbaked crust.

Bake this for 40 to 50 minutes. Remember to leave it gooey. I baked mine for exactly 40 minutes and it was not gooey, but very moist. I think next time I will bake it for 35 minutes. That is about the time I started to smell it in the oven. They say when you smell it baking, that it is usually ready, and that is true for this cake.

Serve with whipped cream.