Over The Top Chocolate Cake

This unbelievably moist cake is a chocolate lover’s dream.  Bonus?  Since it starts with a cake mix, it is as easy as it is scrumptious.  ENJOY!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Devil’s Food cake mix
  • 1 (small) box of instant chocolate pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray, set aside.  Mix all ingredients together in an electric mixer until blended.  Pour batter into bundt pan.  Bake for 55-60 minutes.

Cool completely and dust with powdered sugar.  This cake holds its own, but a little vanilla ice cream is a delicious complement.

Great Afternoon Snacks

Many of you have asked what we give our kids for afternoon snacks.  Ask and you shall receive!  BTW – these are perfect snacks for adults, too.Snacks are given to bridge the gap between two meals as opposed to filling a child’s belly.  You can guarantee that if the snack is too big there won’t be much room in that belly for a healthy dinner.

  • Banana Medallions dipped in Sunflower Seeds
  • Cheez Its, Craisins, and Chocolate Animal Crackers
  • Granola Bar or Granola Thin and Small Glass of Milk
  • Frosted Mini Wheats and M&Ms

Sometimes a snack needs to have a little more “oomph” in order to provide enough nutrition and staying power for after school sports or other high energy activities before dinner.

  • Apple Slices with Peanut Butter
  • Mini Pretzels with a Cheese Stick
  • Greek Yogurt

S’mores Salad

If you thought this recipe had anything green in it, think again.  Periodically I have my kids come up with their own recipes for dinner and dessert.  When my son Grant asked if he could prepare dessert one evening, the S’mores Salad was born.  It was such a hit at our house I used it at Girl Scout camp.  The kids loved it and the adults raved about it.S'mores Salad 3

Ingredients:

  • Golden Grahams Cereal
  • Milk Chocolate Chips
  • Mini Marshmallows

Dining In – Assemble the ingredients in individual oven safe (or microwave safe) bowls and heat until the chips start to melt a little.

Dining Out – At camp, the campers layered the ingredients in plastic cups and let them rest in the sun.  After lunch each cup had transformed into its own gooey-goodness.S'mores Salad 1

S'mores Salad  2S'mores Salad 5

Easy Spaghetti Squash Bake

This delicious dish has lots of reasons to be raved about.  It is full of nutrients, gluten free, freezes well, can be made ahead, and with only two ingredients is as easy as can be.

Oh, I almost forgot – IT IS DELICIOUS!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large (or 2 small) spaghetti squash
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning

 

 

 

 

 

Directions:

Heat oven to 350.  Using a large knife, cut the squash lengthwise.  Place the squash open side down into a 9×13 baking dish (you can also use a cookie sheet that has an edge).  Pour enough water into the baking dish or cookie sheet to touch the edges of the squash.  Place in the oven and bake for 60 minutes.

Once the squash is done, carefully scrape out the seeds.  Once the seeds are out, use a fork to scrape and shred the inside of the squash.  It will have a noodle-like appearance.  Place all of the scraped squash back into the 9×13 casserole dish.  Add canned tomatoes and mix together.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Enjoy as a side dish, or see suggestions below for turning this into a meal.

Variations:

  • Add shredded mozzarella or grated Parmesan cheese for the last 15 minutes of baking
  • Add andouille sausage to turn this side dish into a full meal.
  • Serve with your usual spaghetti sauce and use the cooked squash instead of noodles.

Delicious Creamsicle minus the stick

Tied with Butter Pecan, my mom LOVED a yummy creamsicle.  In honor of National Creamsicle Day (August 14), we bring you a wonderful recipe for Delicious Creamsicle – minus the stick.Creamscicle 1

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups of orange sherbert, softened
  • 1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 8 oz Cool Whip

Make it:

Line a 9×5 loaf pan with foil and spread the soft sherbert into the bottom of the pan.  Freeze for 10 minutes.

While your sherbert is freezing, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Add milk and juice until blended.  Stir in the softened Cool Whip.  Pour over the sherbert layer and freeze for 4 hours.

Creamscicle 2When you are ready to enjoy, simply lift the dessert out using the foil and invert.   Slice and serve.  YUM!!

 

 

Kale and Sweet Potato Salad

During a visit with my college roommate and dear friend, Mandy, I discovered this recipe.  It was so delicious I nearly licked my plate clean!  Then, Holly encountered a similar dish while out to dinner with her hubby and friends.  Here is what we have for you – Kale and Sweet Potato Salad.Kale and Sweet Potato SaladIngredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1/4 cup champagne dressing
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel sweet potato and cut into cubes.  Toss with olive oil, thyme and salt and pepper.  Spread on a cookie sheet and roast for 30 minutes or until just golden brown on the edges.  While your potato is cooking, wash, dry and chop the kale into small pieces.  Toss the chopped kale with dressing.  Once the kale and dressing are mixed, add the roasted sweet potatoes.  Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and cranberries.  So healthy and soooo good.Kale and Sweet Potato Salad 2

Simple Summer Margarita

This Margarita is a delicious twist that is so easy.  By using only 3 ingredients that you can easily keep on hand, you can whip up this refreshing summer favorite in no time at all. Check out our Cinco de Mayo Taco Bar and use this margarita recipe to quench your thirst.Ingredients:

  • 12 oz tequila
  • 12 oz frozen limeade from concentrate
  • 12 oz light beer (weird we know, but trust us, it is yummy!)
  • Ice – to serve on the rocks

Mix in a pitcher (we doubled the recipe to fill the pitcher in the photo) and serve on the rocks.  We do not recommend making this too far in advance.  For super easy measuring, add the limeade first and use the limeade container to measure the tequila.

Muy delicioso!!

 

 

Couscous Salad

Thanks to Grandma Susie, this is my new favorite dish.  Serve it as a side, or add grilled chicken, beef or shrimp to make it a meal.  The fresh ingredients are worth the time and the bottled dressing makes finishing the dish a snap.Couscous Salad 1Greek-Style Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes of dry couscous (I used plain)
  • 1 red pepper – diced
  • 1 yellow pepper – diced
  • 1 orange pepper – diced
  • 1 seedless cucumber – diced
  • Calamata olives (cut in half lengthwise)
  • feta cheese
  • Grape Tomatoes (cut in half lengthwise)
  • parsley
  • Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing

Cook  the couscous and let sit covered. Stir with fork after
5-10 minutes to break apart, if you wait till it is thoroughly cooled it is
more difficult.  Dice all veggies to your liking.

Add ingredients together once couscous has cooled.  Sprinkle with feta and parsley.  Add Gazebo dressing once all other ingredients have been tossed together.  Avoid adding too much dressing.  Add only enough dressing so that the couscous sticks.  The dish can be served chilled or at room temperature.Couscous Salad 3

Lemon Vodka Crush

Thanks to our friends John and Katie, my husband fell in love with the fresh taste and fun prep of this drink.  We shared it with our family over the July 4th holiday and EVERYONE loved it.Lemon Vodka Crush jarUsing a large glass jar (make sure it can be sealed), combine the following ingredients:Lemon Vodka Crush inside

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 lemons, cut in half and squeezed
  • LOTS of ice
  • 5th of vodka
  • MORE ice

Seal and shake consistently for 15 minutes.  This is the hard part, but boy is it worth it!!!Lemon Vodka Crush single  Open and enjoy!!

 

 

Tequila Lime Tart

This creamy dessert is a deliciously tart treat with a to-die-for crust.

Tequila Lime Tart

Crust:
1 box (12 oz) Nilla wafer cookies
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Filling:
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 large limes)
1/4 cup tequila
Preheat oven to 350*.  For crust, combine 10 oz of the Nilla wafers (there will be about 8 leftover cookies from the 12 oz box) and the pine nuts in a food processor to make fine crumbs.  In a bowl, stir together the crumbs and melted butter until all the crumbs are moistened.  Set aside 3 tbsp crumbs for topping.  Press remaining crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-ince tart pan with removeable bottom.
For filling, beat egg whites and sugar on high speed in a medium-sized bowl until soft peaks are formed.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and tequila until thoroughly combined.  Fold in beaten egg whites.  Pour filling into crust and bake for 25 minutes or until set.  Cool tart completely.  Remove from pan before serving. Garnish with reserved crumbs and fresh whipped cream.