Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to make boxed potatoes taste like HOMEMADE

I loooooooooooove mashed potatoes. But I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaate peeling potatoes. I hate that the whole process to make mashed potatoes takes at least an hour, start to finish. So, I reserve REAL mashed potatoes for special dinners (Sunday dinner, holidays, etc.)

During the week, run-of-the-mill dinners get boxed mashed potatoes. Now. I haaaaate boxed mashed potatoes probably more than I hate peeling potatoes. So, I had to find a way to make them taste yummy. Here is my secret …

boxed potatoes like homemade

First of all … I’m not vouching for any brand or kind of potato other than these babies. I’m sure Idahoan makes some other yummy potatoes, but these are the ones I use. Here’s what you’re gonna need:

boxed potatoes like homemade2

2 – 4.1 oz pkgs of Idahoan Baby Reds
1 cup sour cream
2 cups milk
1 cup water
1 TBS bouillon (I use Better Than Bouillon)

Bring water, milk, and bouillon to an almost boil (scald it, you don’t want to boil that milk). Then add in the sour cream and let it come back to scalding. Dump in the potatoes and stir until well incorporated. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. I promise … you won’t miss the other 55 minutes of work you saved. ;)

Crockpot Ranch Chicken

I have seen this one all over Pinterest … and I made it years ago for a pile of freezer meals I was making at the time and it froze amazingly well. It’s a family favorite for sure!

crockpot ranch chicken

3 chicken breasts
1 block cream cheese (I use Neufchatel)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 pkg Ranch dressing mix

crockpot ranch chicken2

** This is a recipe that I would definitely recommend using a crockpot liner for … it will make your clean up a cinch!


Okay. Place your chicken on the bottom of the crockpot. Sprinkle the Ranch dressing mix on top of that. Then dump in the soup, sour cream, and cream cheese. Cook on HIGH 4-5 hours or on LOW 7-8 hours. If it’s cooked in the crockpot, I shred it up once it’s cooked and then return the shredded meat to the gravy. Serve over mashed potatoes or pasta. Your kids will LOVE this one.

crockpot ranch chicken

Monday, December 17, 2012

Easy Taco Pizza

I think I found a new favorite food blog … I mean, I love Our Best Bites, and Mel's Kitchen Cafe, and the likes.

But dude, Life as a Lofthouse, is my kind of girl! She is definitely what I would call ‘fast, cheap, and easy’. ;) In a good way. That’s a compliment, people!

I found this taco pizza, recipe on her blog.

taco pizza

1 pound lean ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 (10 ounce) can refrigerated Pillsbury pizza dough
1 (16 ounce) can refried beans (I used refried black beans)
2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese 1 green bell pepper, diced 1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced black olives
4 green onions, chopped
Taco Bell Mild sauce (see picture below)
Lettuce for topping

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brown ground beef in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Drain grease. Add taco seasoning to the ground beef according to package directions.

Unroll pizza dough onto greased 10”x15” cookie sheet. Let dough sit at room temperature for a couple minutes. Press dough over the bottom and up along all 4 sides the of cookie sheet. Bake pizza dough for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from oven.

Place refried beans into a microwavable-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir well and 2 TBP of Taco Bell sauce and stir. Then spread bean mixture evenly over the top of the warm pizza crust. Top with the cooked ground beef mixture, sprinkle with cheese and then add the peppers, black olives and green onion.

Return to oven and bake another 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Top with fresh tomatoes and chopped lettuce. SO DELICIOUS!

We also like the other Taco Bell sauces on top: the Chipotle one is our FAVORITE.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Peppermint Rice Krispy Treats

peppermint rice krispy treats

4 TBS butter

4 cups marshmallows

6 cups Rice Krispies

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

2-3 drops red food coloring (optional)


Melt butter on low in a stock pot. Add marshmallows and cook on low until completely melted. Stir in peppermint extract (may need more, just add to taste). Add a couple drops of food coloring … if you want. Spread out in a cookie sheet or 9x13 baking dish. Cool and cut into squares. I love these, especially at Christmas time!

Easy Teriyaki Chicken

chicken teriyaki 

1 lb cooked chicken (shredded or diced … I use rotisserie chicken)

1 green bell pepper, julienned

1 red bell pepper, julienned

1 small onion, julienned

1 cup Kikkoman’s teriyaki sauce (see picture below)

1/2 cup brown sugar

3-4 cups sticky rice (my favorite is the Botan Calrose rice – white bag, red flower)


Prepare rice according to the package … I usually make a double batch a rice. If I have leftovers, we make rice pudding. :D

If you’re a little more on the lazy side, like me, then pull the meat off of a rotisserie chicken and set aside. In a large skillet, combine teriyaki sauce and brown sugar. Add onion and peppers. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, then add chicken. Heat through. Serve over sticky rice.

teriyaki chicken2

I still have not ever found a bottled teriyaki sauce that I like. Half of y’all will say, “Stop being so lazy and make your own then!” That is the half of y’all who don’t know me. The best teriyaki I’ve found … is the combination of this sauce and brown sugar together. It’s stupid easy and it works.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pinwheels (Beef Roll Ups) with Cheese Sauce

This is yet another classic at the Church household. Gary grew up eating these little goodies and it was one of the first things he made for me after we got married. I had never had them before, but I loved them! We made them for dinner tonight.

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped

Biscuit dough:

4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups milk
1/2 cup oil (I use olive)

Cheese sauce:

4 TBS butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Brown meat and onion together. Drain grease and set aside. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix together. Add milk and oil and mix using electric mixer until dough forms a ball. Kneed dough until uniform (just about 1-2 minutes). Roll dough out on a floured surface, as you would for cinnamon rolls (about 1/4 inch thick). Sprinkle meat and onion mixture all over dough, extending all the way to the edges. Roll up the dough (just like cinnamon rolls) and slice in 1-1/2 inch rings using a sharp knife (again, just like cinnamon rolls). Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. While the pinwheels are baking, make your cheese sauce to pour on top of pinwheels. Start by melting the butter. Add the flour to make a rue. Once the flour and butter are uniform throughout (30 seconds), add the milk. Bring to a boil (you will notice the mixture start to thicken). Once it thickens, salt and pepper to taste and add shredded cheese gradually until melted and uniform. Serve on top of pinwheels, or on the side for dipping. Kids LOVE this meal.

**This usually makes about 15 pinwheels ... plan about 3 pinwheels per person.

Brisket Tacos

1 eye of round roast, cut into 3-4 big chunks
1 1/2 cups homemade salsa (or your favorite jar of salsa)
garlic salt (I use the Lawry's garlic salt)
olive oil
sour cream
shredded cheese
Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a skillet. Use garlic salt to salt all sides of the hunks of meat. Sear every side of meat until caramelized. Move meat to the crock pot. Pour salsa into the crock pot. Cook on high for 5 hours. Meat will be super tender. Remove meat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Using two forks, shred meat into strips. Serve in your favorite tortillas, with your favorite fixings.

Sunday Donuts

(This is really our picture ... we really made these!! Can you believe it!?)

2 cups scalded milk
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar; 1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 TBS yeast
4 eggs (beaten)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
7 cups sifted flour; divided into 3 cups & 4 cups separately


3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cold water

Mix together ingredients for glaze and set aside (glaze will be very runny ... don't add more sugar to thicken it ... it's supposed to be very runny). Melt butter in hot milk; add 1 tsp sugar and salt. Allow mixture to cool. Beat in yeast, nutmeg, eggs, 2/3 cup sugar, and then add 3 cups flour. Switch to the hook attachment on your mixer, if your mixer has one. Add the rest of the flour (dough will be very sticky ... it's supposed to be that way). Knead (using your electric mixer with the hook ... or whatever attachment you have) for 5 minutes. Dough will still be VERY sticky. Allow dough to rise for 1-1 1/2 hours (remaining in the mixing bowl the whole time). Roll out dough to about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into doughnuts. Pull cut outs away from other dough and place on a greased sheet of plastic wrap. Allow doughnuts to continue to rise for another 30-45 minutes. Heat oil to 365 degrees about 15 minutes in advance. Fry doughnut holes first to test oil. Adjust the temperature of the oil if the holes burn or cook too slowly. Allow doughnuts to cool on a paper towel. Dip in room temperature glaze. YUMMY!
***We used one of Ryan's medicine droppers to fill some of the doughnuts, without holes, with raspberry jam and vanilla pudding. We covered the jam filled doughnuts with powdered sugar and the pudding filled ones with glaze ... would have been better with chocolate icing, but I didn't feel like making any, lol. We also dipped some of the regular doughnuts in a cinnamon sugar mixture. YUM!!

Chicken and Dumplings

2 chicken breasts
4-5 carrots, peeled and diced
1 small bag frozen peas
1/2 pkg frozen dumplings
1 can cream of chicken soup
10 bouillon cubes
8 cups water

Bring water to a boil, adding chicken breasts. Boil chicken breasts until cooked through. Remove from water and allow to cool completely on a cutting board. Add bouillon cubes and diced carrots. Cook for about 8 minutes, just until carrots lose their crunch. Using a slotted spoon, remove the carrots and join them with the cooling chicken breasts. Remove about 10-12 dumplings from the package and add them to the water one at a time. Set a timer and boil the dumplings, stirring occasionally, for 35-40 minutes. Gently whisk in cream of chicken soup. Dice the chicken and return chicken and carrots to the pot. Add 1 1/2 cups of frozen peas and heat just until peas are hot. Salt and pepper to taste; although, I'm pretty confident it won't need the salt, lol. ***If you don't like peas, you can use green beans, celery, etc.
*** I use Mary B's Open Kettle Dumplings, in the white package with black and red lettering. You can find them in the freezer section next to the pie shells at Wal-Mart. The dumplings have the flavor of a biscuit, but the texture is more like gnocchi.

Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce

3-4 chicken breasts, cooked & diced
18 corn tortillas
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 cups shredded Colby jack cheese
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
2 (4 oz) cans diced green chilies

In a large bowl, combine cheese, onion, 1 can chilies, and chicken. Set aside. Fry tortillas in large skillet, one at a time in hot oil for 5 seconds, each side. Drain tortillas in between paper towels as you cook them. Spoon chicken mixture onto all tortillas, rolling them up, and placing them seam side down in large greased baking dish.

In sauce pan, melt butter then blend flour into butter to make a roux. Add chicken broth and cook until mixture thickens and bubbles. Stir in sour cream and 1 can green chilies. Cook until heated through, but DO NOT BOIL.

Pour sauce over enchiladas and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes; then set oven to BROIL and cook for another 4-5 minutes (watch them closely ... I'd really hate for you to burn them now!) Enchiladas are done when sauce in the center is bubbling.


1 pkg Nestle Toll House Walnut Chocolate Chip cookies
1 box Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies
2 eggs
2/3 cup oil
1/4 cup water

Prepare brownies according to the back of box (using eggs, oil, and water). Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Add about 1/2 cup of brownie mixture to bottom of dish, smoothing it out with the back of the spoon to coat the bottom. Place 15 cookies on top of the thin layer of brownie mixture. Pour remaining brownie mixture over the top of the cookies, until all are coated. Break up the remaining 9 cookies into little pieces and sprinkle them on top of the last layer of brownie mixture. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Allow to cool. Try not to eat them all before your husband gets home from work. Good luck. My mom would be so proud. lol.

Wedge Salad

1 head Iceberg lettuce
1 lb bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled
4-5 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 pkg crumbled bleu cheese
1 pkg croutons (whatever is your favorite)
Bleu cheese dressing (we like the LiteHouse kind)

Clean lettuce head and remove core. Cut into 6-8 wedges, depending on how many people you are serving. Place lettuce on plate. Sprinkle generously with tomatoes, bleu cheese crumbles, and bacon. Don't scrimp on the bacon! lol. Add a couple TBS of milk to your dressing so that it drizzles a little more easily. Drizzle dressing generously all over the wedge and pile of toppings. Add a handful of croutons on top. Serve whole ... allow your guests to cut their own. Easy breezy. Looks oh so fancy!

**If you have bleu cheese issues, you could omit the crumbles and use a good ranch dressing instead ... I think ... you'll have to let me know how it turns out if you do that.

Sugar Cookies


1 lb butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp almond extract
6 cups flour

Buttercream Frosting

1 stick butter
2 lbs powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract (or vanilla)
Cream to consistency

Cookies: Cream together butter, sugar, and eggs. Add soda, vanilla, almond extract, and flour (2 cups at a time); mix well. Chill dough for 1-2 hours. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out with your favorite cookie cutters. Bake at 375* for 10 minutes. Do not brown!! Cool completely and frost.
Frosting: Combine butter, powdered sugar, and almond extract. Mix well. Add cream a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Beat until smooth.

Gingerbread Cookies

1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup unsulfured molasses
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon lemon extract
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease cookie sheets.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Mix in the melted margarine, evaporated milk, molasses, vanilla, and lemon extracts. Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. The dough should be stiff enough to handle without sticking to fingers (but mine wasn't ... so maybe it's the humidity here). I added an extra 3/4 cup of flour, put it all in a Ziploc bag, and stuck it in the fridge for 3 hours before rolling it out.
When the dough is cooled, roll it out to 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface, and cut into cookies. Place cookies on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks ... or paper towels.
**None of us really care for gingerbread cookies, but we all LOVED these cookies. Even my skeptical dad.Here is my adorable mom in her holiday apron that only a grandma of 7, soon to be 8, could pull off! And those are the gingerbread men just before going into the oven. WE ARE COOL.

Creamed & Scalloped Russet & Sweet Potatoes

1 teaspoon unsalted butter
4 cups heavy cream, or more as needed
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
8 ounces Swiss cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 2-quart square baking dish with the butter.
Bring the cream to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the salt and pepper and stir well. Add the potatoes, adding more cream as necessary to completely cover them. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are barely fork tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat.

With a large spoon, transfer 1/3 of the potatoes (both Idaho and sweet), with some of the cream, to the prepared dish, making an even layer. Top with 1/3 of the cheese, and continue layering the potatoes and cheese, ending with cheese, and topping each layer with some of the cream remaining in the pan. Make sure to add enough cream to each layer so that the potatoes are just covered with cream. (You probably will not use all of the cream remaining in the saucepan. Discard any remaining cream.)

Place the dish on a baking sheet and roast until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.

**Recipe compliments of and Emeril Lagasse

Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce


4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
Pinch cayenne
Pinch salt

Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use for the eggs benedict. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.


8 slices Canadian bacon
4 English muffins, split
2 teaspoons white vinegar
8 eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hollandaise sauce, recipe above
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Brown the bacon in a medium skillet and toast the English muffins, cut sides up, on a baking sheet under the broiler.

Fill a 10-inch nonstick skillet half full of water. Add white vinegar to the cooking water. This will make the egg white cook faster so it does not spread. Bring to a slow boil. Gently break 1 of the eggs into the water taking care not to break it. Repeat with remaining eggs. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook 3 1/2 minutes until the egg white is set and yolk remains soft. Remove with a slotted spoon, allowing the egg to drain. To assemble: Lay a slice of Canadian bacon on top of each muffin half, followed by a poached egg. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon hollandaise sauce over the eggs. Garnish with chopped parsley. Yield: 4 servings

*Recipe compliments of

Seasoned Crusted Rib Roast

1 (5-pound) standing rib roast
3 tablespoons House Seasoning, recipe follows

Allow roast to stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degree F. Rub roast with House Seasoning; place roast on a rack in the pan with the rib side down and the fatty side up. Roast for 1 hour. Turn off oven. Leave roast in oven but do not open oven door for 3 hours. About 30 to 40 minutes before serving time, turn oven to 375 degrees F and reheat the roast. Important: Do not remove roast or re-open the oven door from time roast is put in until ready to serve.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
**Recipe compliments of and Paula Deen

Brandied Mushrooms

3 pounds fresh mushrooms
8 tablespoons butter
Seasoning salt (suggested: Jane's Krazy Mixed-up salt)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brandy

In a large skillet, saute the mushrooms in the butter until brown. Sprinkle liberally with seasoning salt. Add Worcestershire sauce and simmer until almost all sauce is absorbed by the mushrooms. Add the brandy and continue to simmer until mushrooms are tender. Serve with steak or rib roast.

**Recipe compliments of and Paula Deen

Almond Joy Pie

1 graham cracker pie crust
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut (the sweetened kind)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 375*. Spray the empty graham cracker crust with cooking spray. Bake crust for 5 minutes at 375*. Do not over bake. Lower oven temp to 350*. Pour chocolate chips into pie crust. Top with almonds (optional); then top with coconut. Drizzle the can of sweetened condensed milk over the top; allow the milk to soak in for a couple minutes. Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray. Cover pie loosely with greased foil and bake at 350* for 20 minutes; try to keep the top of the foil from touching the pie. Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes, or until coconut is golden brown. Allow the pie to cool completely before cutting into it; otherwise, you'll have one giant mess on your hands. Store at room temperature.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

2 cups cooked, diced chicken
6 oz deli ham, diced
2 cans cream of chicken soup
8 oz sour cream
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
cooked pasta

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan until cheese is melted, smooth, and creamy. Serve over whatever pasta you like. I had bow ties; I've used penne, ziti, and spaghetti before. The flavor of this dish is incredible. An old college roommate of mine made it 7 years ago and I still make it all the time. Also, this is totally a dish that you can substitute fat free sour cream and fat free cream of chicken soup with, without compromising flavor. I usually use fat free sour cream. Enjoy!!

** Canadian bacon would also be good, instead of deli ham

Comfortable Chicken Noodle Soup

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups frozen peas & carrots
1 pkg Lipton Noodle Soup mix
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 small onion, diced
1 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste

Boil chicken breasts in about 3 cups of water ... just enough to cover the chicken breasts, using a good size pot. Chicken should boil for about 8 minutes. Remove chicken from water and place on a cutting board to cool. To the remaining water (chicken broth), add onion, peas & carrots, milk, cream of chicken soup, and Lipton soup mix. Whisk everything together until smooth and uniform. Bring to a boil. Allow the soup to boil for about 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, dice up the chicken and return it to the soup. Salt & pepper to taste. Pepper is essential. Easy breezy.

* The noodles in the Lipton soup mix hold up better than any other noodle I've tried. They keep for several days in the fridge without getting soggy.

Chicken Lo Mein

1 pkg Chow Mein noodles
1 red bell pepper, Julienne sliced
1 1/2 cups frozen french style green beans (already Julienned for you)
4-5 carrots, Julienne sliced
1 onion, Julienne sliced
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup Yoshida's Sweet & Savory Sauce

Sprinkle chicken with garlic salt and papper and then saute chicken breasts in olive oil for about 4-5 minutes on each side. In the meantime, cook chow mein noodles, according to package. Remove chicken and let it rest on a cutting board. Add onion and carrots to the pan to saute for about 5 minutes. If there isn't a little left in the pan, add some olive oil. Slice up the chicken. Then add the green beans and pepper. Return sliced chicken to the pan. Cook until all vegetables are tender. Then add the Yoshida's and let it simmer for a few minutes. Add the noodles to the pan and mix everything together ... tongs would be good for this part. This should serve 4-6 adults.

HOOTER'S Boneless Buffalo Hot Wings

Without the trampy girls in short shorts! lol.
(Look close and you can see my little punk kid's paws in the background)

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
2 TBS garlic salt
4 cups cooking oil
Hooters Wing Sauce (HOT)

Preheat oil in a good size pot, until it is 350*. Cut chicken breasts into strips or pieces; whatever you prefer. In a separate dish, whisk together eggs and 1/2 TBS of garlic salt; set aside. In a Ziploc bag, combine flour and 1 1/2 TBS garlic salt (we like the Lawry's salt). A lot of the garlic salt seasoning cooks out into the oil, so you have to add more salt than you think is necessary. Otherwise, they just taste like flour. lol.

Soak chicken in egg mixture until fully coated. Place each piece of chicken into the Ziploc bag with flour mixture, one at a time. Shake bag to coat. Place chicken on a separate plate, until all chicken is fully coated. Begin placing chicken pieces into hot oil, one at a time, until approximately 10 pieces are in the oil. Do not over crowd the chicken. You'll have to cook it in batches. If you're using a smaller pot, cook less chicken at a time. Cook chicken pieces until golden brown and cooked throughout; approximately 3-5 minutes, depending on the size of pieces. Drain chicken on paper towels.

Place drained chicken pieces in a Ziploc bag. Pour room temperature Hooters Wing Sauce on top. Shake bag to coat chicken throughout. Place chicken on a plate; it will get soggy quick if you leave it in a bag. YUM! Serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing.

We have made our own buffalo wing sauce several times and never really liked any of them. We finally tried Hooters' and it was great! I am a major whimp when it comes to hot wings, and the HOT wing sauce was just right. It wasn't near as hot as I thought it would be. Even if you're a whimp like me, you can handle this sauce. We found it at WalMart, so I'm sure you can find it just about anywhere!

Again, this is Gary's recipe ... he makes these frequently, but never measures anything ... so I took the liberty of guessing what the recipe amounts are so that y'all can reproduce this goodness. Enjoy!

Addicting White Chocolate Popcorn

3 bags microwave popcorn (salty)
6 squares (1/2 pkg) Almond Bark

Pop the popcorn and place in a large bowl, removing all un-popped kernels. Melt Almond Bark in microwave at 30 second intervals until melted smooth. Drizzle Almond Bark over popcorn, stirring throughout to coat. Allow the popcorn time to 'dry' ... about 15 minutes before serving. Warning: this popcorn is SUPER addicting and oh, sooo yummy. It's my grandma's recipe ... need I say more? Oh, and it tastes like it's way harder to make!

Chicken Pot Pie

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 cup frozen peas & carrots
1 small onion, diced
1 potato, peeled & diced
2 rolled prepared pie crusts
1 can cream of chicken soup
2/3 cup cream
garlic salt/pepper
4 chicken bullion cubes

In a medium skillet, saute diced chicken and onion in 1-2 TBS olive oil, sprinkling with garlic salt and pepper. Once chicken is almost finished cooking, add the diced potato. Continue to cook all ingredients for about 5 minutes. Add the 4 bullion cubes and crush them until dissolved. Add the peas and carrots, soup, and cream. Stir until uniform throughout, and bring back up to heat. Roll out one pie crust into bottom of pie plate and pour mixture into the crust ... it will be heaping. Unroll the top pie crust onto the top of the pie. Tuck the excess pie crust under the edges of the deep dish pie crust. Bake, on a cookie sheet [in case some bubbles over], at 400* for 15-18 minutes, or until pie crust is golden brown. If you like lots of crust ... this is the pot pie for you ... eat it from the sides. If you don't like a lot of crust ... take yours from the middle. YUM!

Mini Deep Dish Pizzas

Pillsbury Grands Refrigerator Biscuits (Home style, Butter, whatever)
Your favorite spaghetti/pizza sauce
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Pepperoni, sausage, ect.

Preheat oven as directed on the biscuit package (I think it was 375*, but I could be totally wrong). Grease a muffin tin. Place biscuits, one to an opening, in muffin tin. Gently press the biscuit to form a cup around the sides of the muffin tin ... sort of like making a little cup to hold sauce, toppings, and cheese. Bake empty 'cups' for 8 minutes until puffy and just slightly brown. Remove from oven. Add a TBS of sauce, then sprinkle cheese, then sprinkle toppings. Return to oven and continue baking until cheese is melted and toppings are golden. Kids will love it!

** If you don't bake the biscuits for a few minutes before adding toppings, then they'll probably come out dough-y.

Rocky Road Cake

This was taken straight from ... it is Paula Dean's recipe ... I added the marshmallows to make it a Rocky Road cake.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (16-ounce) can chocolate syrup (recommended: Hershey's)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350*. Grease and flour a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.

For the cake: Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in another bowl. Add to creamed mixture, continuing to beat. Add vanilla and chocolate syrup to batter and mix well. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. While cake is baking, prepare the frosting.

For the frosting: Put butter, chocolate chips, sugar and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stirring ingredients together, boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and nuts. Allow frosting to cool a bit and then add marshmallows. Pour over warm cake. Serve at room temperature.

Chopped Salad

1 rotisserie chicken, white and dark meat, diced
1 lb cooked, crumbled bacon
2 tomatoes, diced
1 8oz block Monterrey Jack cheese, diced
1 cucumber, peeled & diced
1 head iceberg lettuce, diced/chopped
Good Ranch Dressing

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, adding dressing last. Mix well until combined throughout. This would easily feed 6-8 people DINNER, or provide a side salad for 10-12. It's a huge recipe. Enjoy!

Fall Apart BBQ Pork Chops

Forks only with this one ... you won't need a knife!8-10 bone-in pork chops
2 bottles Bulls-Eye ORIGINAL bbq sauce
garlic salt

Garlic salt and pepper both sides of pork chops. Place in a 9x13 casserole dish ... you can stack these 2-pork-chops high, but no higher. I had to use 2 casserole dishes for the 10 chops. Pour a ridiculous amount of bbq sauce over the top and make sure all the chops are coated with the sauce. I used 1 1/2 bottles of sauce on 10 chops. Cover tightly with a greased piece of foil. Bake at 300* for 3 1/2 hours.

Fire up your grill. Remove chops from oven. Grill chops for about 3-4 minutes on each side ... just until the sauce chars a little bit. Serve with more fresh bbq sauce on top. These made our 4th of July HEAVENLY!!! The meat is so tender, flavorful, and juicy ... Enjoy!

** You can make your own bbq sauce, or use whatever your favorite is. We love the Bulls-Eye ORIGINAL though. MMM.

Teriyaki Chicken Wings

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, DICED
2 cups green beans (or whatever frozen veggies you have on hand)
1 1/2 cups Mr. Yoshida's Original Gourmet Sweet & Savory Sauce
2 cups prepared sticky rice (I use the Botan Calrose brand -- white bag with red flower)
garlic salt & pepper
olive oil

Saute the thighs in a hot pan with olive oil. Sprinkle chicken with garlic salt (Lawry's Garlic salt is my fav) and pepper, turning to cook on all sides. When chicken is fully cooked and starts to caramelize, add the Yoshida's sauce. Allow chicken and sauce to come back to a boil (add more sauce if you think you need it) and then let simmer for about 5-10 minutes, so that the meat soaks up the sauce a little. Add green beans (or any frozen veggie) for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Serve over sticky rice ... or whatever rice you prefer.

***I'm not sure where all you can find Yoshida's sauce, but I buy mine in the 1/2 gallon size at Sam's Club OR Costco and it lasts all year. Finally, Costco is carrying the stuff!! It's on the spice aisle ... I think.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

the meat from 1 rotisserie chicken
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can RoTel tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained/rinsed
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans, drained/rinsed
4 chicken bullion cubes
2 cups water
1/3 block of Velveeta cheese, diced
1 cup sour cream

tortilla chips

Combine everything, except tortilla chips, Velveeta, and sour cream in a big pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and whisk in sour cream and then add the Velveeta. Soup is ready to serve when all the cubes of Velveeta have melted. Salt & pepper to taste. Serve with tortilla chips.

German Pancakes

1 cup milk
1 cup flour
6 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 TBS sugar
6 TBS butter. cubed

Preheat oven to 425*. In a blender, combine milk, flour, eggs, salt, and sugar. Blend until smooth; about 30-60 seconds. Place cubed butter in a 9x13 glass baking dish and place in oven for butter to melt. Once butter has melted, remove dish and pour in mixture from the blender. Return to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes ... until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup ... these are so buttery, that butter isn't necessary.

**If you are not familiar with German pancakes, the batter rises a LOT. Make sure to leave at least 8 inches of 'growing room' in your oven, above the dish. Do not double mixture into one casserole dish! The corners and sides (and on occasion, the middle too) will raise about 6-8 inches and fall slightly when removed from the oven. Also ... this serves about 4 adults ... although, most of the time, my husband can eat half of the casserole dish himself. So, if you have a big crowd, plan on making a few casserole dishes to satisfy everyone. This also re-heats extremely well ... much easier than standing over the frying pan cooking pancakes all morning.

Cowboy Beans

1 lb. lean ground beef
3/4 lb. bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
2 cans (16 oz. each) pork & beans
1 can (16 oz.) kidney beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 TBS liquid smoke
3 TBS white vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Brown meat; drain and put into crock pot. Brown bacon and onions; drain and add to meat. Combine all remaining ingredients in crock pot and stir well. Cover and cook on low heat 4-6 hours, depending on your schedule. Can simmer on low for up to 9 hours. Kids LOVE it.

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos

My friend Claire served these to the adults at her daughter's birthday party ... they were SO amazing that my husband had to re-create them. Claire, let me know if he botched the recipe. lol.
12 fresh jalapenos
1 8 oz block cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1-2 TBS garlic salt (I use Lawry's)
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
6 slices bacon, cut in half lengthwise


Combine softened cream cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic salt, and pepper, until creamy and uniform. Prepare jalapenos by cutting of the top 1/4 inch, including stem. Scrape out the seeds, as best as you can. Rinse them out. Poke a hole in the tip of each jalapeno, using a toothpick. Stuff the jalapenos with the cheese mixture until full. Wrap with 1/2 slice of bacon and secure bacon with a toothpick. Bake on a broiling pan at 425* for 10-15 minutes, or until bacon is cooked and crisping. Remove toothpicks before serving. ABSOLUTELY delicious!!

CHEWY Peanut Butter Granola Bars

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 by 8-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a small saucepan melt butter with honey over low heat, stirring continually, until well combined; do not boil.

In a large bowl stir together oats, almonds, pecans, coconut, cinnamon and salt. Pour butter mixture over oat mixture and stir until combined well.

On a large baking sheet, spread the granola evenly in a thin layer. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes to keep from sticking or burning, until golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. (Do not overcook; the granola will crisp more when cooled.)

Remove from oven and allow the granola to cool on the baking sheet. When the granola is completely cooled, place in a large bowl.

Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, and peanut butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is at a boil. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the granola, stirring to coat well. Cool slightly and press into the prepared baking dish and let cool completely and harden. Cut the mixture into ten 1 1/4 by 4-inch bars and serve at room temperature.

You can store the bars in an airtight Ziploc at room temperature for a week, or in the fridge for 2 weeks.

BBQ Sausage Pizza

In Texas, we BBQ-up everything!!
1 Pillsbury Pizza Dough Crust
1 link all beef sausage (the kind that comes in a u-shaped package) , diced
bottle of Bullseye Original bbq sauce
2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 425*. Brown up the diced sausage in a frying pan. Spread pizza dough out on pizza stone. Spread dough with bbq sauce. Sprinkle with diced beef sausage. Coat the top with cheese. Bake at 425* until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Yum!

Deep Dish Breakfast Pizza

This is a GREAT alternative to the breakfast casserole idea ...

1 can Pillsbury Pizza Dough
1/2 lb bacon, cooked & diced
1 lb breakfast sausage, cooked & drained
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 cups cheddar cheese
6 eggs
salt and pepper

Cook bacon, drain, and crumble into pieces. Cook sausage and drain well. Dice peppers.

Preheat oven to 425*. Spread pizza dough out in a casserole dish. Bake pizza dough for 6-7 minutes -- do not let it brown, you just want the cooking process to begin. While the dough is baking, beat 6 eggs with a little bit of salt and pepper.

Remove dough from oven and pour egg mixture onto dough. Then sprinkle with sausage. Then sprinkle with bacon. Then, sprinkle with peppers. Finally, top the dish with the 2 cups of cheese. Place back in the oven to finish baking, for about 15 minutes, or until the eggs are solid and no longer runny. The cheese will be bubbly and browned.

$2 Cookies

I'm calling these $2 cookies because that's what you would pay for EACH one of these beauties in a fancy bakery. They are the perfect cookie!!

2 c. All-purpose flour
½ tsp. Baking soda
½ tsp. Salt
¾ c. Butter, MELTED
1 c. Brown sugar
½ c. White sugar
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
1 Egg
1 Egg Yolk
2 c. Semi-sweet chocolate chips
1½ c. Chopped pecans

1. Mix flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. Mix melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until blended thoroughly. Add vanilla, egg and egg yolk. Blend until light and creamy.
3. Mix in dry ingredients – a little at a time – until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.
4. Chill the dough 30-60 minutes or overnight (or put in freezer to speed up process).
5. Preheat oven to 325ยบ F. Drop cookie dough ¼ cup at a time (or really large spoonfuls) onto greased cookie sheet 2-3 inches apart.
6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until edges are lightly toasted. Do NOT wait until they’re brown all over!
7. Cool on the cookie sheet (or rack for crispier cookies).

How To: Can Fresh Peaches

Lots of peaches
Lots of sugar
Quart mason jars

Before you begin ... make sure that your peaches are almost completely ripe. Not mushy, not crunchy ... it's best if they are almost totally ripened.

Peel all of your peaches and put them into a bowl of salt water to rest, until you've finished peeling all of your peaches. (You can peel them with a potato peeler, or you can blanch them and then pull the peels off -- I tried blanching, it didn't work so well, so I used the potato peeler)

Before you begin slicing up your peaches, pour about 3 inches of water into each quart mason jar and then put 3/4 cup sugar in each jar. (NOTE: 3/4 cup sugar for each QUART jar, not pint) Stir the sugar and water in each jar until it is dissolved.

Once all of your peaches are peeled and your jars have the water/sugar mixture ready to go, slice the peaches into quarters, removing the pits. Fill up each jar, to the curved neck with peaches, then fill the rest of the way with water. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Process the quarts in a water bath canner, boiling them for 20 minutes. They will stay fresh and delicious on your pantry shelf for up to one year. YUMMY!!

Hershey's Fudge

3 cups Hershey's semi-sweet chips (or milk, if you like it sweeter)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whole roasted almonds

Melt chips and milk over very low heat until smooth. This will be THICK. Stir in almonds -- they won't want to stick, this is normal. Line a 9x9 glass dish with wax paper. Pour into wax paper and smooth out the top with the back of spoon. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Pull entire brick of fudge out, using the edges of the wax paper. Cut into squares on a cutting board. ENJOY!

* Keep refrigerated
* If you can handle ultra sweet milk chocolate, you could use milk chocolate chips instead. :D

Restaurant Style Chopped Taco Salad

1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 cup corn
1 cup black beans, drained
2 cups shredded cheddar or jack cheese
ranch dressing
1 pkg taco seasoning
* grilled chicken/taco meat optional

Combine all ingredients in a giant bowl. Serve with tortilla chips. This. Was. Heaven. The key: the taco seasoning. Ranch + salsa makes for a GREAT dressing.

Should serve 4-6 for a meal; 6-8 as a side salad.

Southern Pecan Pie

3 eggs
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. butter, melted
1 c. corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans
pie crust

Blend eggs,sugar,butter,syrup,and salt in the blender until smooth. Spread chopped pecans over bottom of pie crust. Pour blender mixture on top of pecans. Bake at 375* for 45-50 minutes, or until fully browned.It will still jiggle slightly. It's the easiest pie you'll ever make!