Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reese's Cup Birthday Cake

In addition to the yummy meatloaf and baked beans served at this year's birthday dinner for my husband, I also made him a birthday cake. He loves Reese's Cups and frankly I couldn't think of a better flavor combination for a cake! I did some research on Pinterest, and came away with three different recipes to combine into one: chocolate cake, peanut butter buttercream icing, and decoration. I have to say, the combination of the three was a total hit!!

Reese's Cup Cake
adjusted slightly from Picky Palate

1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix
4 large eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. water
8 oz. sour cream
1 small box instant chocolate pudding mix
Bag of Mini Reese's Cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer, combine cake mix, eggs, oil, water, sour cream, and pudding mix. Mix until combined through. Pour batter into buttered and floured pans. Cook according to size of pans (i.e. 30-35 minutes for 8-in. round pans, 20-25 minutes for 6-in. pans, etc.). Be sure to check on cake several times while in oven to insure proper baking time. Do not overbake!

Peanut Butter Buttercream
adjusted slightly from Bird On A Cake

1 c. salted butter, softened
2 c. peanut butter
4 c. powdered sugar

Beat the softened butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Slowly add in powdered sugar while continuing to mix. Add small amounts of milk if frosting is too thick/unspreadable.

After taking the cakes out of the oven, remove them to wire racks to cool. When pans are cool, remove cakes. Using a long knife, remove rounded tops of cakes, if they rose too much in the middle during baking. You want flat surfaces to work with. When you are ready to frost the cakes, place a small amount of frosting on the cake plate to hold the bottom layer in place. Frost between each layer and use the remaining to cover the cake. (You should have at least 1/4-1/2 of the original amount of frosting to use for the tops and edges of the cake.) Chop up mini Reese's Cups for decoration. I got my inspiration from here.

This cake truly is delicious! Try it out!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mom's Baked Beans

This is the title of the recipe email I received back in 2009. In 2009, I spent Christmas with my husband (then boyfriend) and his family for the first time. His mom made these beans and ohhhh dear, are they ever delicious!! My MIL thinks its hilarious because she took a basic recipe and just tweaked it a bunch, so it's not really that involved or difficult, yet everyone goes bananas for them!!

This is also a regular part of the birthday menu rotation. You can find the main attraction, the meatloaf recipe, here.

Mom's Baked Beans
as copied from EGC, my mother-in-law

2 16 oz. cans Van Camp's Pork and Beans
1 chopped medium onion
4 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. molasses
1/2 c. ketchup
Garlic salt (to taste--start w/half a teaspoon)
Black pepper (to taste)
4-6 slices of uncooked bacon

Preheat to 350 degrees.

Stir together all ingredients, except bacon. Taste and determine if more garlic salt or pepper is needed. Pour ingredient into a greased 2 quart casserole dish and top with bacon.

Bake for 2 hours.

Best Ever Meatloaf

So begins the litany of birthday recipes. This particular recipe is long overdue. Every year, my husband requests a particular dinner for his birthday: meatloaf, baked beans, and Mac and cheese. It makes birthdays very easy, because I can prepare in advance. You can find the recipe for the baked beans here.

This recipe has two parts, the meatloaf and the sauce topping. The meatloaf recipe was from my husband's sister and the sauce recipe was from his mom. Together they make a fabulous combo!!!

Best Ever Meatloaf
as created by AT, my sister-in-law

2 eggs
2/3 c. milk
4 slices of bread, torn into bits
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese (do not use pre-shredded!!)
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 - 2 lbs. lean ground beef

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add milk and eggs, let stand until liquid is absorbed. Stir in the onion, cheese, and seasonings. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.

In an 8" x 8" greased baking dish, spread meat mixture out across dish. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

Meatloaf Topping
as created by EGC, my mother-in-law

3/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. allspice

Combine ingredients and spoon half of mixture over meatloaf. Bake 30 minutes longer, or until meat it no longer pink and thermometer reads 160 degrees. During cooking time, continue to brush sauce on meatloaf.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Of course, thanks to Pinterest, I usually spend at least an hour a week drooling over junk food photos on Pinterest.

This s'more recipe was one of the photos I found! And thanks to the endless amounts of Peeps we had at our house during Easter, it was an easy thing to throw together!

(please ignore our fine china!!)

as seen everywhere on Pinterest

Peeps (preferably the bunnies)
Graham crackers
Chocolate bar (we used dark chocolate!)

If you can't build up a fire, a microwave will work just fine!! Layer the graham cracker, chocolate piece, and Peep. Stick it in the microwave for about 10 seconds, but watch very closely! Marshmallows tend to explode in the microwave! If 10 seconds is not enough, only heat with another 10 seconds. When marshmallow is heated, top with another graham cracker piece.

Enjoy your Smeeps!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Roasted Veggie Lasagna

I found this recipe on the Panera website, actually, and was so excited to try it! I've always made just a traditional meat and cheese lasagna, and never tried roasted veggies before. This recipe is easily customizable, and you can add or subtract to suit your needs!

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
as adapted from My Panera 
12 lasagna sheets
2 red peppers, core removed and cut into slices
2 eggplant, peeled and cut length-wise into 1/4 inch slabs
3 medium zucchini, cut length-wise into 1/4 inch slabs
3 medium yellow squash, cut length-wise into 1/4 inch slabs
24 oz. ricotta/cottage cheese
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 28 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 Tb. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
3 tsp. dried basil (more to taste)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Take the chopped onion and tsp. of minced garlic and saute in the Tb. of olive oil over medium heat until the onions become translucent. Add the can of tomato sauce and dried oregano and basil and reduce the heat. Simmer while cooking vegetables.

Take two cookie sheets and lay out all slices of vegetables. Brush each side or each slice with olive oil (or spray each side with a Misto...seriously I need royalties, I talk about those products so much!!) Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes on one side, flip and roast for another 15-20. This is will change based on how thick you cut the vegetables. So watch closely if the slices are thinner!

In the meantime, cook the lasagna noodles until slightly underdone. Once they are done cooking, set them aside to cool.

In another bowl, combine the ricotta/cottage cheese, 1/4 c. of Parmesan, 1 1/2 c. mozzerella, egg, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Taste to determine if more salt or pepper is needed!

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a 9"x13" pan, spoon a bit of tomato sauce in the bottom. Layer noodles, cheese mixture, sauce, and vegetables. Repeat the process until all vegetables are used up. (I got three layers). Top final noodle layer with remaining sauce and sprinkle with the other 1/4 c. of Parmesan.

Bake until cooked through and browned on top, about 30-35 minutes.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

3 Envelope Pot Roast

This is so easy!! And so delicious!! I'm all about a crock-pot meal, and this one does not disappoint :)

Three Envelope Pot Roast
original recipe by Plain Chicken

1 3-lb. beef or pork roast
2 c. water
1 envelope onion soup/dip mix
1 envelope au jus mix
1 envelope zesty Italian dressing mix

Place roast in slow cooker. Pour water over roast. Sprinkle all three envelopes on top of roast. Turn slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours.

Sauteed Lemon Chicken

This was another Pinterest recipe I discovered and couldn't wait to try! The original recipe called for Meyer Lemons to be used but, unfortunately in our town, there aren't any Meyer lemons to be found. At least not at our Publix. So I had to go with regular old lemons. Honestly, it still tasted great, and wouldn't have thought otherwise!
 (My lemons got a little burnt, hence the black-ish color. Don't be like me--keep an eye on the food you're cooking!)

Sauteed Lemon Chicken
adapted slightly from Shrinking Kitchen

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 c. flour
1 Tb. butter
1 Tb. vegetable oil
2 lemons
2 tsp. minced garlic

Place each piece of chicken, individually, between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound out until thin. Sprinkle each side with salt, pepper, oregano, and flour. Shake off excess flour from each piece.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, melting the butter and oil together. Add chicken and cook until browned on each side. Remove chicken from skillet.
Slice lemons. Put garlic into skillet to heat up. Place lemon slices over the garlic.
Place chicken pieces over lemons. Reduce the heat to medium low for a few minutes until lemons soften and chicken is reheated through.