food: frozen yogurt dots

Need a fun snack idea for kids that’s more fun than another piece of string cheese? 

Take a tub of yogurt, any flavor. Fill a small plastic baggie, close it and snip off the corner. Squeeze small dots of yogurt onto a cookie sheet covered with foil. Put in the freezer. Wait.  

If your kids are old enough, they can do it themselves and it becomes an activity (aka time killer. What?) too. 

Peel the dots off of the foil and serve in a small cup or bowl and voila! 

Healthy finger food snacks for the kids – we did ours with vanilla this time, which pretty much tastes like vanilla ice cream, so they think they’re getting away with having dessert for snack. Just eat them before they melt! 

Enjoy!  Do you have any easy 1-2 step snacks that are quick to prepare and yummy? 

recipes: freezer meals

Getting ready for baby and knowing I won’t want to cook after he’s born, I posted this picture on Facebook of the freezer meals I made, and had several requests for the recipes that I used.  So, here they are!


Homemade Lasagna (makes one huge family size pan or several small ones)
Meat layer: (mix all)
2 lbs ground beef (browned)
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 T. parsley
1 T. Basil
16oz. diced tomatoes
12oz. tomato paste

Cheese layer: (mix all)
24oz. cottage cheese
2 beaten eggs
2 T. parsley
1/2 c. parmesan cheese

1 pkg. lasagna noodles, pre-cooked
1 pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese

Layer ingredients, starting with meat layer on bottom.  Add a layer of noodles, then cheese layer, then mozzarella, then end with another meat layer. (double the layers if you have a deep pan or like more noodles in yours)

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or cover with plastic wrap and foil and freeze.  To bake after freezing, thaw first (at least half a day), then bake.

cresentCrescent Chicken (great fresh, or make chicken mixture and freeze)
This is one of my favorite recipes from my mom.  It’s similar to this recipe; the photo is from her blog and shows how to pinch the rolls together.

3oz. softened cream cheese
3 T. butter
2 c. cooked chicken, cubed
2 T. milk
1 T. chopped onion
salt & pepper
1 can crescent rolls

Blend cream cheese and 2 T. butter, add chicken, milk, salt, pepper and onion.  Spread 2 crescent rolls into a square, fill with chicken mixture and pinch rolls over to close.  (makes 4 pouches with 1 can of rolls) Spread with melted butter.  Bake 20-25 minutes.  If you want to freeze it, just make the chicken mixture ahead of time and freeze in a ziploc.  Thaw and put chicken mix in rolls when you’re ready to bake. (You could probably assemble the whole thing, with rolls, and freeze that way too – I’ve just never tried it!)

Chicken Stroganoff
6 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
16oz. sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg. onion soup mix (dry)
1 pkg spaghetti noodles, cooked

Mix all but noodles together.  Put cooked noodles in the bottom of a large baking pan (13×9 or large aluminum pan). Spread chicken mixture on top.  Cover with plastic wrap and foil; freeze.  To bake, thaw and bake at 350 degrees for 30-60 minutes.  Top with grated cheddar if desired.  This also works as a Crockpot meal, just put all ingredients (except noodles) in a crockpot for 4-6 hours on low. (do not cook chicken beforehand)  Serve with noodles.

Deep Dish Chicken Pot Pie (adapted from Kraft for freezer type meal)
1 lb. chicken breast, cooked and cubed
1/4 cup Italian dressing
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2c. chicken broth
1 pkg. (10-12oz) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 refrigerated pie crust

Mix all ingredients (except crust) together.  Pour into 8-9″ round pan.  Place crust on top.  Freeze!  Store-bought pie crusts usually come in a box with 2 crusts, so I usually double this recipe and make two pies.

Chili (for chili dogs in summertime)
1 large can Hormel chili (no beans)
1 can chili beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 lb. ground beef, browned

Mix all.  Put in ziploc and freeze!  Thaw and heat to serve over hot dogs.

I also made these and baked in foil cupcake papers, then froze in ziplocs in portions that we would need for one night with our family. I used the recipe on the Bisquick box for their mini-cheeseburgers and adapted to what our kids like.  It’s basically a regular mix with Bisquick, milk and eggs, and you put hamburger meat and cheese in it.  See the box for recipe or see the link here! (photo credit to Betty Crocker)

For other freezer meals, I like to brown ground beef and freeze in ziplocs by 1-pound or 2-pound portions.  Same with shredded chicken or pork.  I love to make a HUGE crockpot of plain chicken and shred it all, then freeze in portions. Great for adding spices later: taco, bbq, throw in a stir-fry skillet, use chicken in a skillet with pasta/tomatoes/spinach and feta for an italian dish, etc.  Having the meat already made saves you that extra 30 minutes!

gingerbread houses

Growing up, we made gingerbread houses in our home.
Back before they had the “buy-in-a-box pre-made, all-supplies-included” kits.

The real deal.  My mom made the gingerbread from scratch.
And the frosting from scratch.
She saved newspaper articles, magazine clippings, stories, and photos of gingerbread houses every time she saw them. 10 years worth of archives.

I probably haven’t made one in over 10 years, probably 15.
It was about time.
I asked her for the recipe.  She gave me a 10-gallon tub of supplies.

This was me back then. Yes, I still made them when I was in high school.
(AND I helped the smaller kids, so it’s justified, right?)
My guess on these pics is 1996.

And this is now…

There’s mom’s recipe that she got from a magazine, and the notebook of paper clippings.

And her original template for the roof of the house – cut out of a manila filing folder and “greased” so it wouldn’t stick.

These will be my original addition: gingerbread girls to live in the houses. 🙂
And the best part…
… today we continued the tradition.  With 3-year olds.

Okay, so I helped her with hers.  I couldn’t resist.  She was more interested in eating the candy anyway.

I was in my element.  I loved it.  I knew the right consistency for the frosting to make it stick together.  I knew how to make gingerbread from scratch.

Thanks, mom.  Thanks for teaching me things.
Useful things and things that are just for fun.
And some that are both.

pumpkin spice cake

Our Fall To-Do List included making this cake, so we finally got around to it.  So yummy, and really easy!  Recipe below…

Pumpkin Spice Cake
1 pkg spice cake mix (Duncan Hines)
2 large eggs
1 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup chopped nuts
1 tub vanilla frosting (I used cream cheese frosting)
Food coloring
1 flat bottom ice cream cone (I used 2 cupcakes from the batter instead, so I wouldn’t have to buy a whole box of cones.  See photo.) 

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour large bundt pan.  Combine cake mix, eggs, water and pumpkin.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Stir in nuts; mix.  Pour into bundt pan.  Bake 40-50 minutes.  Cool in pan 25 minutes.  Invert onto serving plate.  Cool completely.  Save out a little frosting for the green center – tint with green food coloring.  Tint the rest of the frosting orange.  Frost the cake with the orange frosting.  For my recipe: put one cupcake down inside the bundt hole.  Top with a little green frosting.  Place second cupcake on top of first, upside down.  Frost with the green frosting.   You can use the ice cream cone, frost it with green, then place in the fridge to harden a little.  And, save a little frosting (or use chocolate) tinted brown to draw a face on the side of your cake.

Enjoy!  Do you have any favorite fun fall recipes?

autumn sugar cookies

Who says you have to wait until Christmas to make frosted sugar cookies?  My neighbor got a leaf cookie cutter from her mom, so that’s the only excuse we needed to make some cookies.  And, we got to use our new aprons!  (see recipe below)

My little helper…

Sugar Cookies – Leaf or Pumpkin cookie cutter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 c. Crisco
1/2 c. butter
2 eggs, beaten
3 T. milk
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Cream sugar, Crisco and butter. Add eggs, milk, lemon extract and vanilla.  Combine flour, soda and salt and gradually add to wet mixture.  (I found that I needed to add a little extra flour and sugar to make it stiff enough to roll out.)  Roll out about 1/8 inch thick on floured surface, cut out with cookie cutter.  Put on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 7-10 minutes.  (I’d go more on the 7-minute side for the soft cookie.)

Frosting Glaze:
Powdered sugar (2-3 cups)
Almond extract (optional)
Food coloring
Not an exact science on this.  Use a large portion of powdered sugar.  Add milk 1/2 T or 1 T at a time and stir until you get a consistency you like – a little runnier than peanut butter. Add 1 tsp vanilla, and just a few drops of almond extract if desired.  Split into bowls if you want to do different colors – add food coloring.  Spread onto cookies and allow to harden.

Eat and enjoy!

recipe: black forest delight

Second time I’ve made this… this time it was for my mom’s birthday.
It is SO good, so I thought I’d share the recipe.
I think it came from the Kraft magazine – it’s been in my recipe book for so long, I’ve forgotten.


Black Forest Delight
1 pkg. devil’s food cake mix (I’ve used milk chocolate or triple chocolate too)
1 1/4 cups water, divided
1 pkg. (4-serving size) Cherry Jello
2/3 cup Sour Cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tub (8oz.) Cool Whip, thawed
1/3 cup drained maraschino cherries, divided
1 square baking chocolate, melted (I used chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare and bake cake as directed on package in 2 greased and floured 9 inch round cake pans. (I wonder if wax paper in the bottom would have helped…)  Loosen layers from sides of pan with knife or metal spatula. Cool 15 min.  Boil 1 cup of the water; stir in dry gelatin mix until dissolved.  Add remaining 1/4 cup of water. Pierce cake layers with fork and carefully pour half of gelatin mix over each cake. Refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Mix sour cream and powdered sugar; gently stir in whipped topping.  Dip 1 cake pan in warm water until the cake loosens and unmold it onto a serving plate.  Spread with 1 cup of the topping mixture.  Reserve a few cherries for garnish on the top.  Chop the remaining cherries and sprinkle over first cake.  Unmold second cake, stack on top.  Frost top and sides.  Drizzle with melted chocolate; garnish with reserved cherries. (For drizzle, I melted the chips in a bowl in the microwave, then put in a plastic baggie, cut the corner off and drizzled it on top.)

This recipe looks really complicated, but after doing it twice, I think I could do it without the recipe.  It gets easier each time… just an excuse to make it more than once!