A Grandma's spin on crafts, games, recipes & lifestyle

Tag: yummy (Page 1 of 2)

Mini Mint Chocolate Cheesecakes

 

At this very moment I don’t know if I am more excited about these little delicious bites of heaven OR the fun new pan that I have discovered to make them in!  Eeek!  Too much fun….and the ideas are swirling in this old head!  For now, we will focus on this amazing little recipe of Mini Mint Chocolate Cheesecakes!

Not only were these the perfect little St. Patrick’s Day treat, but they would also be delightful any time of the year!  The yummy mix of chocolate graham cracker crust with minty flavored cheesecake filling topped with chocolate….WOW!   Do I have your mouth watering yet?  (Mine is, I’m thinking I’m going to need to make them again today! 😊)

Mini Mint Chocolate Cheesecakes Ingredients:

  • Non-stick Baking Spray
  • Chocolate Graham Crackers
  • Cream Cheese
  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Egg
  • Mint Extract
  • Green Food Coloring
  • Andes Mints
  • Chocolate Syrup (or ingredients for homemade chocolate sauce included below)

Mini Cheesecake Pans:

Let’s talk for a minute about that fun little pan I mentioned earlier.  Seriously, this is a game changer for those who love to bake!  Use this link to get your own Mini Cheesecake Pans….I guarantee you that they will quickly become one of your favorite baking items ➡️➡️Click Here to Get Your OWN Mini Cheesecake Pans

Seriously, how fun are these???  Place the discs in the bottom of each pocket before assembling, bake, cool, then pop those discs out for a perfect finish!  No more trying to dig your baked items out and cursing as you crumble one or two along the way!  What’s even better is you can use these for sweet OR savory bite size goodies!

Are These Easy to Make?

Yes, Indeed!  You basically have four steps:

  1. Make the chocolate graham crust.
  2. Blend ingredients for the minty cheesecake filling.
  3. Pop them in the oven to bake.
  4. Once cooled, top them with your favorite toppings!

I would like to take a minute to discuss fear of making cheesecake…and it turning out!  I’ve been involved in many discussions over the years where everyone talks about the “fear” of the springform pan….me included!  While that dreaded springform pan really isn’t as bad as it seems, let me reassure you that this mini cheesecake pan is incredibly easy!

Tips on Making and Forming Crust:

It is very easy and mess-free to use a large zip lock baggie when making the crust.  Place your graham crackers in the bag, seal, then use rolling pin to obtain a crumbly consistency.  *This is a very good job to let the kiddos hep with!

When forming crust in the cheesecake cups, I like to use a pastry tamper.  I got mine from Pampered Chef years ago (another one of my all time favorite tools), but you can also get them at most stores or on Amazon.  A lot of my kitchen gadgets, baking stones, cookware, bakeware and small appliances are from Pampered Chef…they are such good quality!  Check out Rose Berg’s Pampered Chef page for all the latest fun items!

Pastry Tamper      

I also use a pastry brush to help brush the crumbs back into the cups, as you will certainly find you get some crumbs on the top of the cheesecake pan as you are forming your crusts…and you don’t want to be a messy cook! 😉

Topping Ideas:

    • Andes mints (these just look super cute and classy!)
    • Thin mint cookies (who doesn’t have an extra box of Girl Scout cookies in their freezer?)
    • Oreo mint cookies
    • Chocolate syrup
    • Chocolate Sauce …  I have used Lemon Tree Dwelling recipe and love it…Check out this AMAZING homemade chocolate sauce by Lemon Tree Dwelling…yum!
    • Chocolate sprinkles
    • Chocolate chips
    • Cookie crumbles
    • Mint sprigs (oooh…fancy!)
    • Easter is around the corner….try Hershey’s Egg Shaped White Chocolate Baking Chips 
    • (I included the link above to Amazon for easy access, but I find a lot of fun baking products at WalMart…so be sure to check them out!  They usually carry pastel colored baking chips which would be fun!
    • M & M’s (holiday colored or plain)

Basically, the options are endless for how you can top off these mini mint chocolate cheesecakes…just be creative and have fun!

I promise you the WOW factor of this little recipe far outweighs the work you have to put into making them.  I guarantee you that your guests will be coming back for seconds…or maybe even thirds!

Added Bonus:

How often are you looking for a recipe that you can make ahead and pull out when the guests are on their way?  Well, here is that recipe you have been looking for!  Keep these babies in the refrigerator and place on your serving platter.  Top them with your favorite toppings just a bit before your company arrives!  No last minute mess or fuss!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!  Happy Baking!

Mimi

French Onion Smothered Chicken

Nothing says “cozy meal” more than a warm baked dish of chicken covered in caramelized onions and ooey gooey cheese….lots of ooey gooey cheese.  This French Onion Smothered Chicken recipe pairs well with a dollop of buttery mashed potatoes.  Yum!  Read on for this amazing family recipe that even the kids can’t get enough of!

Caramelized onions are such a wonderful addition to so many meals.  In fact, I have posted other recipes on my blog in the past.  Recipes such as Grilled Caramelized Onion, Apple and Canadian Bacon Flatbread, (which can be prepared on grill or stove top) and Caramelized Onions and Provolone Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts, are both delicious recipes!

Steps for French Onion Smothered Chicken ~

Preheat oven to 350°.

Brown chicken breasts in olive oil.  If your chicken breasts are large, cut through them lengthwise to make thinner cutlets.  Season liberally with salt, pepper and McCormick’s Montreal Chicken Seasoning.

We prefer crispy edges, so I brown chicken longer to achieve this bit of crunchiness.  The amount of time needed to brown your chicken will, therefore, depend upon the amount of crispiness your guests prefer.

While the chicken is browning, melt butter in a separate skillet.  Slice 4 medium onions.  Place sliced onions in butter and cook until browned and soft, stirring occasionally.  This will take 10-15 minutes.

As the onions are cooking and once the chicken is cooked through, place browned chicken in bottom of a prepared baking dish.

Sprinkle one packet of Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Recipe Soup & Dip Mix all over browned chicken.

Once onions are cooked through, add beef broth and balsamic vinegar.  Cook this mixture on medium until it is slightly thickened.  This gives you that wonderful caramelized onion taste.

Pour the caramelized onion mixture over the chicken.  I added some extra beef broth to ensure there would be ample “onion gravy” to pour over the mashed potatoes as well.

Completely cover with shredded mozarella cheese and bake for about 30 minutes or until cheese has a nice browned texture.  You can mix shredded parmesan cheese in to for a slightly different flavor.

Serve warm over a dollop of buttery mashed potatoes.  I love to make homemade mashed potatoes, but if you are in a pinch for time, you can’t go wrong with Bob Evans Refrigerated Mashed Potatoes.  Have you tried these yet?  Wow!  They are delcious and so very much like homemade!

Other Side Dish Options ~

As stated earlier, the french onion smothered chicken pairs very well with mashed potatoes.  However, there are many other sides that would complement this yummy dish as well.

Garlic Butter Rice by Hinz Cooking is a delicious option.  This is a simple side dish that is loaded with flavor.  Another easy, yet flavorful side dish option is garlic parmesan roasted broccoli  by Easy Family Recipes.  These are just a couple of delicious side ideas, however, the beauty of this meal is that so many sides would pair nicely with it!

Whatever you decide to serve alongside this recipe, your family is sure to love this savory dish!

 

Happy cooking~

Mimi

Christmas Cookie Party

Can you smell that?  The cozy scent of warm cookies filling the whole house?  One of my favorite holiday activities is making and decorating Christmas cookies.  When my kids were younger, they would each invite a friend over for a day filled with creating Christmas cookie masterpieces as well as playing fun Christmas games.  Fast forward to 2021, these kids are now adults and yet we still get together every year for a Christmas Cookie Party!

Roll Out Cookie Recipe ~

Click Here to Print Recipe of Roll Out Cookies

In the early days I had a fun-filled day planned for all of the kiddos.  Memories of all of the kids rushing in after school all excited about the day’s events are still crystal clear in my mind!  The cookies would already be baked and placed all around the table.  Bowls of brightly colored icing  scattered all around within reach of their little hands.  Next come the paint brushes…you know the ones?  The inexpensive pack of multi-colored kid’s paintbrushes.  These served as the main decorating tool.

The Paintbrush Rule ~

If you ask any of those little bakers today, you will know the golden rule of cookie decorating.  The purple paintbrush goes in the purple icing bowl, the green paintbrush goes in the green icing bowl, the yellow paintbrush goes in the yellow icing bowl….you get the picture!  This keeps our colors fresh.    I guarantee you that when these said kids (now adults) read this they are laughing, as I am a stickler for this rule!

The small multi-colored paint brushes just like these work perfectly!

   

While I have included an easy link for you, I honestly try to gather the paintbrushes whenever I see them at the local Dollar Store or department store.  It is sometimes hard to find all of the colors you need, but collecting them over time usually proves to be successful…as long as you remember where you have stored them! 😉

Small ramekins like these are used for the many icing colors that they insist we have…ok, I insist too! 😉

 

The four primary colors are definitely not enough for this festive day!  You will need a lot of small bowls to make all of the icing colors requested.  It is much more fun if you let them create just the perfect shade of each color.  Once again those memories come rushing in, “Do you think this red is bright enough?”  “Should we do dark purple or light purple…or both?”  “Did someone make black…we need lots of black!”  “Ooooh, what about gray?”

 

The icing recipe itself is simple.  We have tried different recipes but have finally all decided this simple recipe is our favorite.  Printable version of the simple, but oh so good, icing recipe can be reached right here!

Cookie Cutters ~

We all have our favorite cookie cutter.  I continue to add new ones to the mix, but nothing melts my heart more than when I hear, “Wait a minute, did you make any snowglobe cookies?”  “Does anyone have a Christmas tree cookie they can share?” “What was this one??  A penguin, oh yea!”

Yes, sometimes the cookie shape is hard to tell what it is until you bring it to life with some color!  Other times they get broken and still get turned into a major work of art…thanks to Ali!  No, we do not have a Starbucks cookie cutter, but somehow she made the perfect latte cookie!

If I had to choose, I would say the snowglobe is one of everyone’s favorites…

It has been so much fun to watch their artistic ability change over the years.  However, no matter how beautiful they are, the taste is always the same…..delicious!  We are always careful to make an abundance so that everyone has plenty to take home and share….and to sample along the way.

When this tradition first began, the kids would start the afternoon out icing the cookies.  We would then move on to Christmas scavenger hunts and Christmas Bingo.  These activities ended with lots of festive prizes, of course.  I would send the kids home hyped up on sugar but exhausted from a fun-filled day!

The tradition has now moved to evenings as we have to schedule our Christmas Cookie Party around work schedules (that damn adulting thing always interferes!  😜).   We have a Cookie Crew text group that gets busy at the end of November working on the current year’s date.  The phone goes ping, ping, ping and voila…we have a date!  Now they all roll into the house with bottles of wine and fun Christmas gifts to share before we get to decorating!  Oh, did I mention the food?  Yes, we now have lots of savory appetizers as well.  Now instead of me sending them off exhausted and with full bellies the exact opposite happens….oh how the times have changed!

New Decorating Tools ~

We have recently upped our decorating game.  As Ali put it best, “Oh Shel, this is a game changer!”  The addition of squeeze bottles brought a whole new way of decorating to our Christmas Cookie Party fun!  Wow, these are so much fun and allow for more precise decorating.

Addi demonstrates for us…

As the years go by, we add new little ones to the crew and continue making wonderful memories.  Had I known years ago how special this tradition was going to be, I would have urged others to do the same!

One thing I know for sure is that these girls will continue this tradition and that makes me a very happy Mimi!

Photo Gallery of More Recent Years ~

(Some year I will go back to my old files to add pictures from the younger years!)

   

   

 

Now everyone get out there and get to baking…..enjoy your Christmas season!  And to you, my precious Christmas Cookie Party crew…I love you…thank you for all of the wonderful memories…and cheers to many more!

Much love~

Mimi

 

P.S.  Check out a similar post I wrote about this last year (with less details), however there are some of the fun cookie cutter links included in this one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hearty Personal Breakfast Skillet

If you are anything like me, you are always searching for new and exciting recipes.  Sometimes, those recipes can be similar to ones you have already made, but you need only to change up the method in which you serve them!  Through the years I have heard people say, “Why do you worry about so many small details?”  My response is always…”Presentation is Key!”

This very topic is what helped me to discover personal-sized cast iron skillets.  I love cooking with the small skillets both for presentation and to have the ability to cater to each individual’s personal preferences in foods.  These Hearty Personal Breakfast Skillets are a big hit on Sunday mornings in our family.

Which Skillets to Use ~

There are so many wonderful skillets out there, however, we tend to lean toward the Lodge brand.  The benefits of this brand are as follows:

  • Retain heat well
  • Preseasoned
  • Can be used on stovetop, in oven, on grill or over an open fire
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Long-standing history of quality products
  • Can be used for everything from frying to sauteing, to broiling and everything in between
  • Have a large variety of sizes and different series
  • Easy to find locally and on-line

Size to Use for Hearty Personal Breakfast Skillet ~

We use the Lodge Pre-Seasoned 6-1/2 Inch Skillet for the breakfast skillet as well as many other individualized recipes.  It is a good idea to have 6 to 8 if you are planning on serving several people.  I use them many times for just Brad and I as well, so if you are empty nesters, it is fun to get 2 and have fun creating!  *Pay close attention to the size because many brands have an even smaller size that is not big enough for this savory dish!

What is even better about these is that you can create savory or sweet recipes in them.  Who doesn’t like digging into a steaming hot personal pan brownie or cookie topped with ice cream?  Yum!  These have quickly become known as pizookies!

Recipe ~

Ingredients for 6 Personal Skillets:
  • 14 Red potatoes, cubed small
  • 10 Sausage patties, crumbled
  • 6 Ham slices, cut into small squares
  • 1 Small Onion, diced
  • 2 Bell peppers, color(s) of choice, cubed
  • 2 Anaheim peppers, diced
  • 12 – 14 Eggs
  • 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

*Please note, you can customize these ingredients to your liking.  Other topping ideas:

  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Mozzarella, Swiss, Gruyere, Fontina, Gouda or your favorite cheese of choice
  • Tomatoes
  • Bacon
  • Avocado
  • Black Olives
  • Jalapenos
  • Hash Browns
Directions for 6 Hearty Personal Breakfast Skillets ~
  1. Brown sausage.  I used patties because that is what I had on hand.  (You can, of course, use any type as you will be crumbling it after cooked.)
  2. While sausage is cooking, continue chopping the rest of the veggies and ham.
  3. Cook chopped potatoes, onions, and peppers until browned in a separate small skillet.                   
  4. Layer sausage and ham in prepared 6 1/2″ skillets.                                                                                         
  5. Follow with cooked potatoes and veggies.                                                                                               
  6. Season liberally with Montreal Steak Seasoning and then salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Beat eggs with milk until completely combined.
  8. Pour egg mixture over meat and veggies in each skillet.                                                               
  9. Top with desired amount of cheese.  (We love cheese so I completely cover the skillet.) 
  10. I placed each skillet on foil lined baking sheets to protect oven from spillage.
  11. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until browned.

*You can exclude necessary ingredients to create a Keto version.

Want To Top It With Gravy? ~

Let’s take it a step further and add gravy.  You can go the traditional route and make gravy from scratch or you can make it from a mix.  I use Pioneer Country Sausage Gravy Packets when not making gravy from scratch.  Season it up with salt and pepper and it becomes the perfect final topping for this delicious recipe!

Make Ahead ~

Holiday season is upon us.  Chop up all of your ingredients ahead of time for prep and put together early Christmas morning.  Put your coffee on and assemble these before the Christmas present frenzy begins.  While you are all opening presents, this delicious breakfast can be cooking and filling the room with scents of a cozy Christmas morning!

If you are in a pinch for time, put it all in one large skillet to scoop out individual servings when ready!

Serving Choices ~

As you can imagine, the skillets are extremely hot when taking out of oven. I love to serve these yummy dishes with quilted handle covers for functionality and to keep the presentation fun!  Basic Black Set of 3 Skillet Handle Covers are a good place to start for your collection!

Of course, these fun bandana ones are adorable for many occasions as well!  Are these not the cutest???

Bandana Hot Handle Holders by Lodge

Crafty Hands Primitive has a large assortment of colors to choose from to match any season/holiday/theme you wish.  Be sure to look at the beautiful patterns by CraftyHandsPrimitive on Etsy by clicking here!

Primitive Skillet Handle Pot Holder choose fabric image 2

Care of Iron Skillets ~

I had never cooked with an iron skillet until I got married.  Brad quickly taught me the beauty of using them, but even then I shied away from them because I was unsure how to care for them.   I soon realized that they truly are very easy to clean.  This is all you need to clean your cast iron skillet:

Stainless Steel Scrubber Set

What’s even better is that this fun idea has come to you just in time for Christmas.  Whether adding them to your Christmas wish list or surprising someone special, a set of single-serving sized iron skillets will be sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face!  Soon I will bringing you a cookbook featuring a variety of iron skillet recipes just like this delicious hearty breakfast skillet!

Happy Cooking ~

Mimi

 

 

 

 

 

Blackberry Festival Family Date Night

Are you trying to squeeze the last bit of family fun into the remaining days of summer?  Why not plan a family date night?  Our family headed out to Wild Blackberry Farms for the inaugural Blackberry Festival.   While it can be difficult (but oh so worth it!) to find a night that works in everyone’s schedule, this was so worth the planning of our Blackberry Festival family date night!

I’ve had many people ask me how we knew about this particular festival.  I agree that it is hard to know about every fun event around you, but it led me to look into festival informational sites.  Each state has many local resources, but I also found a couple of sites that you can search all 50 states….

Blackberry Festival Family Date Night Activities ~

U-Pick Blackberries ~

This particular festival was a smaller fare, but not short on fun family activities.  We started out with the U-pick blackberries.  I wasn’t sure how much the younger ones would enjoy this part, but they loved it!  We had a quick lesson on which berries were ready to pick and everyone headed out with their buckets.  They had so much fun searching the rows for the ripest berries!  Also important here is that it kept them entertained for quite a long time!

What was even better was they could pick down low on their own while also enjoying a little help up from the family members.

Face Painting ~

This is the part of the festival that the littles were looking forward to the most.  In fact, it was so much fun that kids AND adults got in on the fun.  Aunt Karleigh and Pappy had their faces painted to match the kids, which made them so happy!

Food Trucks, Family Games, Petting Zoo, Photo Opps ~

Whether you are on a diet or not, you HAVE to eat the festival food!  Am I right?   So many yummy choices from lemon shakeups to bbq sandwiches of all kinds!  Of course, if you look closely at this picture you will see that some blackberries were definitely enjoyed along the way as well!

Other Family Date Night Ideas ~

While I definitely recommend festivals for a fun family date night, don’t let that keep you from planning other fun activities.  Plan a family date night once a month.  This a routine that will defnitely help to forge strong family bonds.  **On these special nights, be sure to put those phones out of place and concentrate on the family unit!

Family Date Night Ideas ~
  • Park Hopping – take a bit of time to map out local parks and go to several of them in one day.  It’s so much fun to see what equipment each park has to offer and discover which is each child’s favorite.
  • Splash Party – Put those bathing suits on…you too parents…and have some good old water fun.  Have plenty of squirt guns, water balloons, maybe a slip and slide and a small kids pool (for both swimming and refilling those water guns) on hand.
  • Bowling – Have you done this in a while?  For some reason we had ventured away from bowling and recently got back to it….the kids LOVE to bowl!
  • Scavenger Hunt – You can plan a scavenger hunt in your own house or yard or better yet, break off into teams and run around the neighborhood looking for items.
  • Glow in the Dark Fun – Purchase some glow sticks and glow jewelry (they almost always have them at the Dollar Store) and turn out all the lights for some fun family glow in the dark fun!  Add in some dancing or hide and seek!
  • Backyard Movies – There is a large assortment of video projectors available.  I do suggest going ahead and purchasing one with a screen as well.  I tried the cheaper route at first and tried to use a white sheet…the image wasn’t sharp enough with that.  Check out this video projector with screen for outdoor family fun!

  • Family Cooking – Plan, Cook and Eat the meal together.  Be sure to let the little ones help with the cooking…they will love it.  For extra fun, add some fun candles and pick some flowers from the yard for a beautifully set table.
  • Dance Party – You guys, this is a win-win here!  Not only will there be lots of giggles, but it’s a good workout too!
  • Family Puzzle – My all-time favorite puzzles are the ones that have different size pieces so everyone can take part in the puzzle.  Check out this fun family puzzle with small, medium, and large sized pieces! 

  •  Family Room Sleepover – Gather ALL of the blankets and pillows and make a big living room fort…but you also ALL have to sleep in it!  Have fun!

These are just a few fun ideas to create family fun.  The most important part of all of it is that everyone engages, you add in some good munchies and put down those phones.  Have some laugh until your belly aches fun with those kids!

Back To Those Yummy Blackberries ~

The fun continues as we decide what yummy recipes we are going to make with our buckets of blackberries.  Of course, we head straight to Pinterest!  Wow!  Seriously, do a quick search on blackberry recipes!  How do you decide on what you want to make?  I think I may have to figure out how to succesfully plant our own blackberry patch because I want to make SO MANY of these recipes!

This time around we are going with the Old Fashioned Blackberry Cobbler.  I prefer the cobblers where you cook the berries like this recipe from Saving Room for Dessert…Old Fasioned Blackberry Cobbler by Saving Room for Dessert.  I will be sure to let you know how it turns out!

Cheeres to each of you enjoying the rest of your summer and some good family fun!

From Our Family to Yours ~

~Mimi

 

 

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes that are Ahhh…mazing!

You may already have a scalloped potato recipe that you love.  However, do yourself and your family a favor and give this recipe a try!  Then once you try it, please come back and let me know if it is the new family favorite.  This recipe has been handed down through my family for years, and I decided to be very nice and share.  These, my friends, are cheesy scalloped potatoes that are ahhh…mazing!

It’s been a family debate over whether we should share special recipes.  One common belief is that if you keep the recipe secret everyone looks forward to you  bringing that special dish to family gatherings, right?  While this is indeed true, I am here to attest that your are still thought of when someone else makes your recipes.  I can’t tell you how many times I have made a special dish and stated to everyone, “Now you guys are going to love this because it is so and so’s famous recipe!”

Helpful Tips ~

There are a couple of different secrets I am going to share with you.  Mainly, just because I’m a nice gal! 😏

  1. This recipe is best if you cut the potato slices thicker.  You may be asking yourself, “If I make them thick, how can I ensure they will get done all the way when baking?”  There, my friend, is the first secret.  You need to parboil your slices.  Parboiling can be tricky because if you overcook them they will get too soft.  I truly can’t give you a specific amount of time needed because it depends on how many potatoes you are using.  I use the old fashioned fork test.  After about 5 minutes of boiling, I consistently and gently poke one of the potatoes with the fork to see if it is slightly soft.
  2. You are going to cook the sauce over the stove and then pour it over the potatoes in 2 layers.  Many people just layer cold cheese, however, by making a sauce you are creating a much more flavorful and saucy potato dish.
  3. Timing everything while cooking is one of the hardest things to learn for new cooks.  Once you put your potatoes on to parboil, you should start your cheese sauce.

How to Make Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes ~

Ingredients ~
  • 10-15 Medium Sized Russet Potatoes – sliced thick
  • 32 Ounce Block (2 lb) Colby Cheese -cubed
  • 2 Cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 2 Cans Milk (using cream of mushroom soup can)
  • Salt & Pepper – to taste
Directions ~
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Peel and slice potatoes.                                                                                                                                                   
  3. Parboil sliced potatoes for 10-15 minutes.  Check for softness with fork starting at about 5 minutes.  The time needed will vary according to thickness of potatoes.  You want them to be slightly soft.
  4. While potatoes are boiling cut cheese into cubes.                                                                   
  5. Mix cheese cubes, soup and milk in pan.  Cook over medium heat until completely melted, stirring occasionally so mixture doesn’t burn.                                                                                                                                                   
  6. Spray a 9 X 13 casserole dish with cooking spray.
  7. Drain potatoes.  Place half of cooked potatoes in casserole dish.
  8. Top with half of cheese mixture and salt and pepper to taste.                                                                 
  9. Layer remaining potatoes on top of cheese mixture and then top with remaining cheese.  Sprinkle again with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.  We like ours with the cheese browned quite a bit so I bake it for the longer amount of time.
More Tips for those Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes that are Ahhh…mazing ~
  • If your casserole dish is filled to the top, place it on a foil lined baking sheet to catch spillage of cheese as it melts.
  • Since parboiling potatoes can be tricky to get the perfect consistency, I always insert a fork into my casserole when done to ensure they are completely cooked through.  If they still seem a bit hard but your top is browned, put foil over them and bake for 15 minutes or so longer.
  • Since you are parboiling the potatoes, there is no reason to cover with foil when first baking.  However, see bullet above for example of when you may need foil.

I get requests to make this recipe ALL THE TIME.  I sometimes feel like I should stop making them for awhile because I don’t want people to get bored with the side dishes.  However, they just keep requesting them.  This alone tells you how awesome they really are!

Also, if you are thinking that your family may not like them because it is Cream of Mushroom soup, stop thinking that right now.  If it is that big of an issue just don’t let them know what is in it.  I promise you that once you make that cheese sauce, they will have NO idea!

What’s even better is that these potatoes can be paired with so many different meat items.  In fact, they would go awesome with the Smoked Poor Man Burnt Ends that I wrote about…see that by clicking here!  Heck, there are times we warm them up the next day (that is IF there are any leftovers) and have just potatoes for dinner!

As always, good food keeps people coming back….so be sure to give this one a try!

Printable Version of Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes that are Ahhh…mazing ~

These cheesy scalloped potatoes are a family recipe that has been handed down for years.  It has a special ingredient that you don't see in most cheesy potato recipes.  This will quickly become your family's favorite go to for scalloped potatoes!

Happy Cooking ~

Mimi

Chipotle Cheesesteak Sandwich

The addition of the new griddle grill has been VERY fun so far!  Brad is having so much fun creating…and we are having so much fun indulging!  Our family loves cheesesteak sandwiches so of course he got to work on this new family favorite.   I hated to have him cook on Father’s Day, but it’s what he loves.  His chipotle cheesesteak sandwich has been added to the growing list of family favorites!

Ingredients for Sandwich ~

  • Beef shaved steak
  • Onion
  • Bell pepper
  • Provolone cheese
  • McCormick’s steak seasoning
  • Sub buns

Pretty simple ingredients for such an awesome sandwich.   I sometimes feel if it is that delicious, it has to be difficult to make…right?  (Kind of like rice krispie treats🤣)   These of course can be done on in indoor griddle as well, but I’m telling you, you HAVE to consider getting an outdoor griddle grill.  They are simply so much fun!

Prepping for the Chipotle Cheesesteak Sandwich ~

The amounts of the ingredients are obviously going to depend on the number of people you are serving.  We were cooking for 8 for this occasion.  I bought the beef shaved steak at Kroger in the packaged meat section.  Sometimes I can find it at the meat counter of other groceries and get the exact amount I want.  However, it is often hard to find (at least where we live).  You can also sometimes find it frozen.

(Four of these packages were used for our party of 8.)

We used red, green and yellow bell peppers.  You can certainly use just green, but we prefer the beauty of all the colors.  Five bell peppers were sliced and placed in a bowl for cooking time.  Slice 1-2 onions depending on the size and the flavoring you wish.  There is a package of sliced peppers and onions in the frozen section that you can use as well to save on prep time.  It is usually called the 3 Pepper Blend (depending on brand).

Griddle Time ~

The steak was liberally seasoned with McCormick’s Steak Seasoning.  For those of you who have been following me for a while, you already know Brad is what we would consider a “heavy seasoner.”  Believe me, it always tastes amazing!  After placing the meat on the grill, he chopped it while grilling.  His preferred method was cooking the meat in one sandwich proportion at a time.  It was then smothered with peppers and onions and topped with provolone cheese.

The buns were placed on the grill right before serving to give them a crispness.  You can choose to skip this step if you prefer, but I would highly recommend it crispy.  It keeps the bread from getting soggy and just tastes better!  There are many types of sub buns in the bread aisle at the grocery store, but we prefer the ones found in the deli.

The above pictue is Italian Beef (which will be coming soon!).  I have included this picture for you to see the bun.  As you can tell, we love these buns for so many different recipes….too bad they aren’t Keto-friendly!  Oh well, they are too good to pass up!

Chipotle Mayo Recipe ~

You guys, this sauce is a must to top off these delicious sandwiches.  I made a large bowl of this sauce and poured half of it into a squeezy bottle for easy application.  I was going to use the remaining for refills when needed, however, it ended up being a “dip” for chips and veggies.  Everyone loved it that much!

You can of course scale the sizing down if you do not wish to make as much.  I would go ahead and make more if I were you though.  Seriously, the kids all wanted a small bowl of it to take home with them for lunches the next day.

  • 2 cups Hellman’s Mayonnaise
  • 1 can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
  • 2 tsp. Adobo All Purpose Seasoning

Place all of these ingredients in a small blender and blend until thoroughly mixed.  I have discussed it before, but I LOVE our personal Ninja for blending sauces.  Check out the Ninja Personal Blender…it’s good for sauces as well as smoothies!

Those Squirt Bottles I mentioned ~

I use squirt bottles for so many things in the kitchen, so I love to have several.  They can be used for baking or for cooking reasons.  Squirt bottle set is a MUST in my book for many cooking needs!

This is a set I am getting ready to purchase as I love the labels.  I have a simpler set that I started out with and I tape on labels.  For instance, on Lauren’s birthday, she wanted a hot dog bar.  We made several fun sauces so each one needed to be labeled.

I also have special squirt bottles for cookie decorating.   Who knew there were so many types of squirt bottles out there, right?  These have metal tips for more intricate designs, which we use a lot when decorating cookies.   Squirt bottles for cookie decorating…makes precise decorating so much easier!

It seems crazy to write so much about sqeezy bottles, but I truly find SO many uses for them!  Do you use them in your kitchen?

Back to those YUMMY Chipotle Cheesesteak Sandwiches ~

The chipotle mayo recipe does not have to be used.  The sandwiches are delicious on their own.  Maybe you have a favorite condiment you love to use on sandwiches?  Many places slather plain mayo on the bread, which is good as well.  Also, you may be saying, “I just don’t like spicy!”  I promise you, this recipe is not spicy….it is just really flavorful!

I would love to hear any variations you may have cooked up!  Let me know in the comments below!

Happy grilling –

Mimi

 

 

Frozen Fruit Yogurt Bites

Finding snacks that are just as much fun to make as they are to eat can be challenging.  While our frozen fruit yogurt bites did not turn out exactly as anticipated, Addi, Max and Mimi had lots of fun in the kitchen and still enjoyed the end result.  This post is a tad different as I will fill you in on the right way to make these….and the wrong way! 🤣

I am notorious for just “winging it” in the kitchen.   The kids used to sit and watch at the kitchen island and marvel at how I just added a little of this and a little of that.  They have now learned that as you get more comfortable in the kitchen, it becomes easy to guesstimate while cooking.  However, sometimes one should really follow the directions.

Frozen Fruit Yogurt Bites Ingredients ~

  • 1 Cup Plain Greek yogurt
  • Handful of Frozen fruit of choice
  • 1 tsp. Honey (or more to taste)
  • Spinach (let’s get real sneaky!)

Directions ~

  • Place frozen fruit and honey (and spinach if you choose to add) in blender to puree.  We love our Ninja Personal Smoothie Blender… it makes smoothies so much easier to make.  By using the personal size, each person can choose their own fruit flavors.  Check it out here➡➡➡ Ninja Personal Smoothie blender – we LOVE it!

  • Scoop the puree into a bowl and add 1 cup greek yogurt.  Stir until well mixed.
  • Pour the yogurt mixture into a baggie (or a piping bag if you have one).  I definitely suggest a zip type baggie to alleviate any future messes.

Of course, even with a zip type baggie you can still get leakage out of the top if it isn’t sealed well.  Oh well, at least this is a recipe that is safe to eat even before you freeze!⬇⬇

  • Put in freezer for 3 to 4 hours or until solid.  These will melt fairly fast, so be sure to have them completely frozen before enjoying.

Very Important Tips ~

***Do not add water when making the puree.  This is the first step I messed up on.  I told Addi to add water to her cup to make the puree process easier.  Instead, we should have let the frozen fruit thaw a bit and NOT add water.  By adding water, the mixture came out runnier than it should have been! 

***Puree completely as small chunks will create a hole in your bag later….which you do NOT want!

***Greek yogurt helps with the consistency.  

***Let the kids use a whisk to blend.  They enjoy that so much more than a spoon and it blends better.  We started out with a spoon and switched once we realized it wasn’t mxing well.

***When letting kids help, as I highly recommend that you do, be prepared for the fact that you may not get “dots” as you originally intended.  That is ok!

***Add that spinach….it will make a very fun green color frozen yogurt bite and yet the kids won’t realize it’s coming from spinach.  Unless of course, you let them take part in the puree step as the spinach should be pureed with the fruit and honey.

End Result ~

Ok, so ours did NOT end up in the cute little button style.   I realized very early on that this step was not going as planned.  So, I put on my big girl panties and said to myself, “That’s ok!”  Afterall, isn’t learning in the kitchen part of this whole process?

Seriously, look at that determination in his face.  Who cares that they weren’t perfectly formed.  They still taste the same.  It was time for a little improvision.

We smeared that stuff around and decided to cut little squares instead.   This way, they got to use Addi’s new kid-safe kitchen knife that I talked about for her birthday post.  Did you catch that post?  If not, check it out here as I showed several great kitchen tools for kids….Great ideas for kids in the kitchen!

Does it look like she cared that her yogurt bites weren’t in the button shape?  Who can resist the happiness in that face?

Quick and Easy Version ~

While it is so much fun to create your own flavors, there is an easier version.   Using store bought Go-Gurts , snip off a small corner as mentioned earlier(do not use the precut pull tab they provide).  Proceed to squeeze small dots on wax paper and freeze until solid.  This is quick and easy!

These frozen fruit yogurt bites are a big hit with the kids and adults alike.  Everyone chooses their favorite flavors.  You can get creative and mix different fruits to make new fun flavors.  Have fun and enjoy!

Hugs ~

Mimi

 

 

Hobo Foil Packet Dinners

If you grew up camping like I did, then you are no stranger to hobo foil packet dinners.  The thing I don’t understand though is why they were only considered a camping food back then.  Not only are these dinners simple and delicious, they can be cooked over the open fire, on the grill or in the oven!  How’s that for versatility?

Over the years, we have tried numerous types of packets.  In fact, one of our favorite family meals now is to lay out a variety of ingredients and let everyone make their own.  This ensures that everyone…even the pickiest of eaters…is happy with their own individual meal.  Once they are done eating, wrap that foil up and toss in the trash.

Recap…individual dinners made to each person’s taste, simple to cook various ways and easy to clean up…what are you waiting for?  (*Read on for the special ingredient we use!)

Ingredients ~

Basically, the sky is the limit for the ingredients.  However, I am going to list some ingredients that we have used.

  • hamburger – pattied up or crumbled
  • kielbasa – diced
  • shrimp
  • chicken – chunked
  • shaved beef
  • onions
  • potatoes – quartered
  • carrots
  • asparagus
  • peas
  • mushrooms
  • zucchini
  • squash
  • bell peppers – all colors
  • anaheim peppers
  • jalapenos
  • thick cut green beans
  • corn
  • capers
  • cheese – we use shredded and, of course, different varieties

As stated earlier, one thing that makes the hobo foil packet dinners so much fun is to offer several ingredients.  Choose from the list above or add some of your own favorites.  Put each of the ingredients in small bowls for everyone to choose from.  (*Still looking for that special ingredient?)

*Notice in this one, we used the shaved beef…delicious!

Assembling the Foil Packets ~

Do yourself a favor and invest in heavy duty foil.  This makes the cooking process go much smoother.  If you do not have heavy duty foil, then you will want to double up.  When doubling up, I prefer to cut two pieces of foil the same size and criss cross them (in the shape of a cross) before adding my ingredients.  This allows all sides of the packet to be closed up securely.

Spray the cut foil pieces with non-stick cooking spray before assembling.  NOW….are you ready for that special ingredient I alluded to earlier???  Condensed soup is the ticket to a fantastic hobo foil packet dinner.  The difference you will see with this addition is incredible!  We have used several varieties in our dinners.

  • Cream of Mushroom
  • Cream of Chicken
  • Cream of Celery
  • Cream of Asparagus
  • Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic
  • Cream of Chicken with Herbs
  • Cream of Onion

Obviously, we prefer to use the cream style soups.  I have heard there is also a cream of bacon and cream of shrimp.  We have never used these (I don’t believe I have ever seen them in the stores in our area), but I believe they would be fantastic as well.  Campbell’s Soup is our go to but obviously you can use the brand of your preference.  From all of the soups listed, I would have to say Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken are our top choices.

 Next Step ~

Once you have made your soup choice, slather 1 to 2 tablespoons across the bottom of the prepared foil pieces.  You are now ready to add your favorite ingredients.  Start with your favorite meat and then pile on your choice of  accompaniments.  There is no specific amounts to use, just create your masterpiece with enough room to fold it up securely.

Before closing, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion salt, dry onion soup mix or any seasoning you prefer and another dollop of the soup.

Be sure to completely cover all food when bringing the sides of the foil up and over.  There are several methods of folding the foil, just be sure to wrap it up securely.

*Pro Tip* – Write the names on top of each packet with a sharpie to be sure of which packet belongs to who to extinguish any later arguments!

Cooking the Hobo Foil Packet Dinners ~

Our preference for cooking is on the grill or over the open fire.  I absolutely love when Brad cooks them over the open fire.    These take about an hour, depending on the size of your packets.  (Somehow, ours always end up bigger than we intended!)  You will just need to be sure the meat is cooked completely through.  Grilling will take about 30 to 40 minutes.

Brad uses a cast irong camping tripod for so many different meals.  I’ve included a link to one, but it is a great idea to check out several to meet your individual needs.  As you can see, his also as a grate that attaches to it, which he uses often.  Check out firepit tripods here…Brad uses his for so many campfire recipes!

As stated earlier though, you can also do these in the oven.  With this method, place the packets on a baking sheet (just to catch any spillage that may leak out), and bake at 350℉ for 40 to 60 minutes.  When opening the packets to check if done, be careful as the heat pours out at first opening.

Cajun Style Hobo Foil Packet Dinner ~

This one has quickly become a family favorite.  This is one of the times  we do one large family packet instead of offering choices.  Most of the time we love to make our own spice blends, but we have decided why fix it if it isn’t broken…simply follow the recipe on the back of the McCormick Jazzy Tasty Seasoning packet.  I’m telling you, it is AMAZING!

Click Here to order McCormick Jazzy Tasty Seasoning and make your own Jazzy Shrimp Boil foil packets!

As always, I am including a link to order it for simplicity.  Sometimes I struggle finding this one…maybe everyone has has figured out this little secret too!  😉

Get creative with this fun cooking idea.  We have yet to serve hobo foil packet dinners where anyone was unhappy.  In fact, most people usually call us later to get the finer details so they can make them at home for their family and friends.

Happy Cooking~

Mimi

 

 

 

 

 

Pita Bread Stuffed Grilled Cheese

Scoop it, dip it, stuff it…yep, I’m talking pita bread here!  What a fun and versatile bread.  My personal favorite is stuffing it with lots of goodies, so what could be better than some hot oozy cheese!  Pita bread stuffed grilled cheese…BLT (actually BST (spinach) and/or Caprese Style.  You have got to read on for this delightful recipe that can be made for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

BLT or Caprese Style? ~

We took it a step further and offered options.  I prepared all of the ingredients ahead of time and displayed on cutting boards and in bowls.  With this method, each person got to personalize their pita bread stuffed grilled cheese.  Of course, you do not have to always do it this way, but it is definitely a fun option.

BLT (BLS for Spinach) ~

Ingredients ~
  • Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Cheese – mozzarella, pepper jack, provolone – shredded
  • Spinach – chopped
  • Onions – diced
  • Tomatoes – chopped
  • Seasonings
    • Garlic powder/salt
    • Everything But the Bagel
    • Onion Powder
    • Italian Seasoning
  • Butter or Olive Oil
Directions ~
  1. Brown bacon and crumble once cooled.
  2. Chop spinach
  3. Dice onion
  4. Place all ingredients in separate dish or lay out on cutting board
  5. Have each person choose their ingredients and put in medium size bowl.  Stir until well blended.
  6. Slice pita bread so that it opens to a pocket.  *It is better to have ones that are NOT already split in the middle for easier grilling.
  7. Stuff pita bread filling to the back and moving forward until stuffed plump.
  8. Cover both sides of pita with butter or olive oil. *I buttered one side, added preferred spice and then placed on griddle.  I then buttered the other side while it was on the griddle.
  9. Cook until desired doneness and serve!
*Notice the small bowl to the right.  This is the bowl we used to mix the individual ingredient choices.

You can offer choices of condiments for dipping as well.  Options such as ranch dressing or sour cream pair well with the BLT pita bread stuffed grilled cheese.

Most of the family chose this style but DEFINITELY used different ingredients.  Max had bacon and mozzarella only with no spices. Uncle Eli stuffed his with bacon, onion, spinach, mozzarella balls and pepper jack cheese.  He then seasoned the outside with the Everything But The Bagel seasoning.    Lauren chose bacon, spinach, tomatoes, mozarella and pepper jack cheese and then seasoned with garlic.

As you can see, each person’s individual tastes took a big part in making these a success!

Caprese Style ~

Ingredients ~
  • Spinach – chopped
  • Mozarella balls
  • Mozarella – shredded
  • Fresh Basil – chopped
  • Tomatoes – chopped
  • Balsamic reduction
Directions ~
  1. Chop spinach.
  2. Chop fresh basil.
  3. Chop tomatoes.
  4. Slice pita bread so that it opens to a pocket.  *It is better to have ones that are NOT already split in the middle for easier grilling.
  5. Stuff pita bread filling to the back and moving forward until stuffed plump.
  6. Cover both sides of pita with butter or olive oil. *I buttered one side, added preferred spice and then placed on griddle.  I then buttered the other side while it was on the griddle.
  7. Cook until desired doneness and serve!

As you can see, the steps are the same.  Only the ingredients are different.  I drizzled mine with a balsamic reduction and it was FAB!  *I actually keep the Alessi brand of Balsamic Reduction on hand for many different recipes – delish!

I’m going to be honest here, we made these for dinner just last night!  The funny part is I made one again for brunch this morning!  I kid you not…I am obsessed!  They just add a different element from the traditional grilled cheese.

Now, I’m including links to some of the ingredients I mentioned.  You, of course, can get them at the store.  I am including these more for you to have a visual.

I seriously LOVE this sxxx…Alessi Balsamic Reduction! I have it in the fridge at all times.  In the summer, I love to throw together a quick spinach, mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil salad.  I also use it in a lot of appetizers!

If you have not yet tried Anything But the Bagel Seasoning, do yourself a favor and do so!  Try this test…pull up Pinterest, type in Anything But the Bagel Seasoning and look at the results.  One would think you would get a lot of results with just the seasoning…but NOOO…you get all kinds of recipes using the seasoning.  I’m telling you, this seasoning is awesome for so many things!

Did you love the cutting board in the pics as much as I do? Check out the link here for own charcuterie cutting/serving board!   This board is so versatile and fun!

 

 

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