Friday, July 31, 2009

Best Ever Zucchini Bread

I noticed this recipe on Tried-and-True Cooking with Heidi a little while back and immediately knew that I was going to try it! Coincidentally, my sister was planning to make zucchini bread the very same day, so she was going to make my Grandma's recipe and I figured I'd try out Heidi's recipe and then we'd determine which we preferred. Needless to say, with our crazy schedules, we never got to sample one another's, but I will say that I absolutely love my Grandma's and Heidi's was every bit as good! My husband had never tried zucchini bread, but he literally ate it for about a week straight...he took a slice to work for breakfast EVERY day! I would definitely make this recipe again and actually plan to, as soon as I get back home! I already have my zucchini ready and waiting :)

The Best Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 capful black walnut extract (or 1 cup walnuts), optional
2 TBSP sugar
2 TBSP butter

Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, walnut extract and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans. Sprinkle each loaf with 1 TBSP of sugar evenly over the top. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Source: Tried-and-True Cooking with Heidi

Monday, July 27, 2009

Frosty Mocha

I'm getting ready to head out of town for a visit with my parents, sister and nephew, but I thought I'd post this before leaving! I'm very much addicted to coffee, but when it's 90+ degrees out, it's sometimes hard to get psyched to drink a hot beverage. This drink is perfect...and certainly a lot cheaper than going to Starbucks or even McDonald's, for that matter!!! The only suggestion I would make is to serve it with whipped cream on top...that would make for a much prettier presentation :)

Frosty Mocha

1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup chocolate-flavored syrup
2 tablespoons instant malted milk powder, if desired
2 tablespoons instant coffee (dry)
3 1/2 cups small ice cubes


In a blender container, place all ingredients except ice; blend until well mixed. Add ice cubes a few at a time, blending well after each addition until smooth.

Source: Pillsbury Potlucks & Reunions

Friday, July 24, 2009

Balsamic-Glazed Chicken Breasts

We've been trying to eat more chicken and I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting recipes to switch things up a bit! This recipe happens to come from one of the cookbooks that I had listed on my giveaway: Pillsbury Best Ever Chicken. It was absolutely delicious! My kids both really seemed to enjoy it--the chicken had the slightest hint of "sweetness", but in no way was it "too sweet". I really enjoy using balsamic vinegar and I think that balanced out the sweetness of the brown sugar. This recipe was perfect "as is"...the only thing I would want to make you aware of is that we found that the chicken took significantly longer to cook. Perhaps that could be an issue with our grill, but anytime we've ever made the split chicken breasts, we've had them on the grill for 45-50 minutes...if not closer to an hour! (The recipe made it seem as if they'd be done in 20-22 minutes, but there was NO WAY!) I'm fairly certain that our chicken took about 55 minutes to an hour and it still was incredibly moist! This would be a great recipe to use for company!

Balsamic-Glazed Chicken Breasts


1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic


4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts (8 oz each)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Heat gas or charcoal grill. In small bowl, mix glaze ingredients; set aside. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken on grill, skin side down, over medium heat. Cook 10 minutes. Turn chicken; brush half of the glaze evenly over chicken. Continue cooking and brushing with remaining glaze 10-12 minutes longer or until juice of chicken is clear when thickest part is cut to the bone.

Source: Pillsbury Best Ever Chicken

Thursday, July 23, 2009

And the winners are...

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway and more importantly, thank you to all of you who follow my blog! I selected three numbers just now, completely at random and the winning numbers are:

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-07-23 15:12:04 UTC

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-07-23 15:13:31 UTC

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-07-23 15:14:04 UTC

Congratulations to Sarah, Krista and Julie! Please send me your mailing address to: and I will mail these magazines out to you right away!

Oh, may be wondering which magazine you won?!? Well, my four year old was more than eager to help me select your names from a hat, to determine which magazine would go to which person.

Sarah--Taste of Home Summer Slow Cooker Meals
Krista--Taste of Home Bake Sale
Julie--Pillsbury Best Ever Chicken

I hope you all enjoy these magazines as much as I have! I've already made several recipes from the copies I bought for myself and will start posting them soon!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My 100th Post!!! A few dedications and a GIVEAWAY!

I seriously cannot believe that I am already at my 100th post!!! Six months ago, I was talking to my sister on the phone, commenting on her food blog, when she suggested that I start my own. My initial reaction was to think "oh, okay, Sarah...I'll get right on that!", because I honestly have always been a little intimidated by her talent and while I've always enjoyed cooking, I didn't necessarily think anyone would be particularly interested in what I made. To my surprise, I have had so much fun trying new recipes and sharing old family recipes and am so unbelievably grateful to the 70+ people who think enough of my blog to follow it...and to all of you who take the time to post such sweet comments! I've really enjoyed "meeting" people from all over the world and have truly enjoyed all of your blogs!

I want to extend a special "thank you" to my sister, Sarah, for getting this "hobby" of mine started. You have expanded my knowledge so much and really opened my eyes to trying new ingredients/techniques!

(My sister, Sarah and I...I was exceptionally tan--she's not that pale!)

I'd next like to thank my Mom and Dad for always inspiring me and making me feel as if the sky is the limit! Anytime I get discouraged, they are the two people I can count on to give me that little "boost". My parents both instilled such wonderful values in my sisters and I and it's because of them, that I have such a strong foundation for cooking. Both of my parents are excellent cooks! I'm especially touched that my Dad religiously follows my cute is that?!?

Now for my husband, say he has come a long way is the understatement of the century! When we first started dating, his diet consisted of smoked sausage, steak fries and frozen corn---NO JOKE!!! Granted, we were in college at the time, but seriously, that's all he ever seemed to eat!!! Over the years, he's progressively gotten so much better and he's been such a good sport about trying all of these new recipes. Had you asked me 8 years ago if I thought he would have eaten even 10% of what I've made recently, I would have told you that there was absolutely no way!!! He, too, follows my blog and is always good about giving me input regarding things he likes/dislikes or ways in which he thinks the recipe could be improved. I love you, baby, and thank you for being so open-minded :)

Last, but certainly not least, I have to make mention of my two most faithful "taste-testers" children, Jake and Maddie. They are my absolute pride and joy and they, too, have been so wonderful about trying new things and trust me when I tell you...I get VERY honest opinions from them :)

(Jacob, 4 yrs)

(Madeline, 16 months)

Now, onto my GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I could literally spend a good hour every time I'm at the grocery store, glancing through the cooking magazines. While on my last shopping trip, I selected three magazines that I just had to have and bought duplicates to give to THREE lucky winners, who will be chosen through a random integer generator.

The cooking magazines are as follows:

1) Taste of Home Summer Slow Cooker Meals (includes 160 "clip and keep" recipe cards!)
2) Taste of Home Bake Sale (166 crowd pleasing treats...all on recipe cards with photos!)
3) Pillsbury Best Ever Chicken (includes budget friendly dinners!)

To enter, please leave me a comment letting me know which of my recipes you'd most like to try or which recipe you have already tried! (Feel free to give me your honest feedback if you're commenting on a recipe you've tried, as I'm always looking for ways to improve!!!)

For additional entries, you can do the following: (One additional entry can be earned for EACH of the following!)
1) Sign up to follow my blog or leave me a separate comment letting me know that you're already a follower.
2) Make mention of my giveaway on your blog and then post a comment with the link.
3) Make mention of my giveaway on Facebook and leave me a comment letting me know that you did!
4) Share one of your favorite recipes with me--you can either post it under my comment section or send me the link to your blog.


***This giveaway is open to and friends included! The winners will be selected completely at random!***

Friday, July 10, 2009

Beef Cheese Ball

Well, what do you know...another appetizer recipe ;) My Mom has been making this for as long as I can remember and it's one of those recipes that people tend to request. It's really pretty easy to make and since it has to sit overnight in the fridge, it's completely ready to go the next day! I would suggest serving it either on a buttery cracker (like TownHouse or Ritz) or Triscuits.

Just so everyone knows...I'm gearing up for my 100th post giveaway! Things have been SO hectic around here, but I'm trying to figure out exactly what I want to do. I'm hoping to have it posted no later than Monday!!!

Beef Cheese Ball

12 oz cream cheese, softened
1 package Buddig Beef
3-4 green onions
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
garlic powder to taste


Cut beef and onions into very small pieces. Add beef, onions, mayonnaise, lemon juice and garlic powder to softened cream cheese and mix thoroughly. Shape into ball and chill for several hours or overnight. (Serve with an assortment of crackers).

Source: Adele Fine

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Deviled Eggs

I told you...I LOVE appetizers!!! I never used to care much for deviled eggs, but lately, they've really started to grow on me. This isn't a particularly "fancy" recipe...just one in which you should have most of the ingredients on hand! If you're looking for a traditional deviled egg recipe, this one is a keeper :)

Deviled Eggs

12 hard boiled eggs
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoon prepared mustard


Slice eggs in half lengthwise and remove yolks; set egg whites aside. Mash egg yolks well with a fork and add the mayonnaise, salt, sugar, vinegar, and mustard; mix well. Fill egg whites with mixture (you can either use a spoon or a pastry bag, if you want them to look more fancy. Sprinkle with paprika. Refrigerate until serving. (Can be made a day ahead of time!)

Monday, July 6, 2009

"77" Meatballs

I must start this post by giving credit to my sister, Sarah, for the presentation of these meatballs...I was struggling a bit with getting them to photograph well and she came to my rescue :) I have previously posted a meatball recipe and within that post, I'm fairly certain I made reference to these meatballs. Yet again, this recipe comes from one of my bridal shower cookbooks (put together with recipes from my family and friends). This recipe is from one of my Mom's friends, who she has known since college. I made these a couple of years ago as an appetizer for my son's birthday party and they were a huge hit! I kept asking my sister what I could bring on the 4th and since she refused to tell me, I decided that I was going to make these to snack on before dinner. (My family LOVES appetizers...we tend to make way too many and fill up on them before we even eat dinner!) These meatballs are equally as good reheated...I've even served them leftover as a "meal" with mashed potatoes. The nicest part is that you can make them ahead of time and then just bake them right before serving--I'd think you could even bake them the day before and heat them up in the crockpot, if you wanted.

"77" Meatballs

2 pounds ground lean sirloin or turkey (I just used ground chuck)
1 cup cornflakes
1/3 cup fresh, chopped parsley
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons minced onions
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 can jellied cranberry sauce
(1) 12 ounce bottle chili sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all meatball ingredients and roll into balls (about 3/4 inch diameter). Place in rows in a 9x13 inch pan. Combine all sauce ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Pour sauce over meatballs and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Source: Tricia Smith

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Birthday to Sarah...and a Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake!

We have always celebrated my sister's birthday on the 4th of July, for as long as I can remember!!! She was born on the 3rd, but my family always tends to gather on the 4th, giving us two reasons to celebrate :) My sister prepared a beautiful dinner (as usual) and I "attempted" to make her cake. I was trying to think of a little something different, so I decided to be daring and try a cheesecake...this time with a springform pan! This recipe comes from Taste of Home's Award Winning Recipes Cookbook, so I was assuming that meant it was going to be good ;) I definitely think it tasted better than it looked, although it was VERY rich! If you're a chocolate lover, this would be the perfect cake for you, but as I've mentioned a million times, I'm not a huge "dessert person". Everyone said they enjoyed it and I would certainly make it again. I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday and that you enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

1-1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (about 27 wafers)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups (9 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream and miniature chocolate kisses, optional


In a small bowl, combine wafer crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom and 1-1/2 in up the sides of a greased 9-in. springform pan. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Reduce heat to 325°.

For filling, melt chocolate chips in a small heavy saucepan or microwave; stir until smooth. Remove from the heat; add cream and mix well. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add cocoa and beat well. Add eggs; beat on low just until combined. Stir in vanilla and reserved chocolate mixture just until blended. Pour over crust. Return pan to baking sheet.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until center is almost set. For topping, melt chocolate chips in a heavy saucepan or microwave, stir until smooth. Stir in cream and vanilla; mix well. Spread over filling. Cool pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.

Remove sides of pan. Just before serving, garnish with whipped cream and miniature chocolate kisses if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

(Sarah, her husband and their little Hannah, right before cake time!)

Source: Taste of Home Award Winning Recipes

Friday, July 3, 2009

Oven Ribs

I really wish I had this smell permeating through my home everyday!!! It's almost as good as brownies baking :) Kroger had pork spareribs on sale for $.97/lb and there was no way I could pass up such a deal! I've always made them the same way (aside from a time or two when I got daring and tried a new recipe)...I put them on a rack with a little water, cook them for several hours on a 275 degree oven (covered) and then remove the cover for the last 30 minutes and add BBQ sauce. NEVER AGAIN!!!! I loved boiling them first--they were so tender before I even put them in the oven! I look forward to trying this sauce again, maybe even on baby back ribs :)

Oven Ribs
8 pounds pork spareribs
2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce (of course I used Sweet Baby Rays!)
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons steak sauce
1 dash hot pepper sauce, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced (I'm pretty sure I added a *bit* more!)


Place the ribs in a large stock pot with enough water to cover. Bring the water to a boil and cook over medium-high heat for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In medium saucepan, combine ketchup, barbeque sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, steak sauce and garlic; blend well. Cook the sauce over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes.

Cut the ribs between the bones and place in a baking pan. Pour sauce over ribs, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue cooking for an additional 30 minutes.

***I'd also like to wish my sister, Sarah, (Delectable Dining) a very Happy Birthday!!!!!***

Adapted from Allrecipes