What I’ve Been Making

I’ve been pretty busy lately.  Since the hubby started his new job in August, we’ve been carpooling to work together.  I love the extra time we get to spend together, but that means leaving for work about 45 minutes earlier than I was and not getting home until about 6.  I’ve also been taking a course to learn to prepare personal income tax returns Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-9pm.  This doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for being too creative with meals during the week, so I’ve been taking a lot of help from Pinterest and using lots of easy recipes I can find.  Also been doing some baking, of course.  I just thought I’d share some of what I’ve been making and let you know what did (and didn’t) work for me.

The name of each dish links to the recipe.

Devil’s Food Cake with Oreo Deliciousness

It’s not really frosting because it’s light and fluffy and delicious and I think if you put it in an Oreo pie crust, you could totally pull it off as a no-bake pie.  Anywho, the important thing is that it was DELICIOUS.  Like really delicious.  I had some of the frosting stuff left over after frosting my cake and I literally ate it out of the bowl with a spoon.  That good.  Make it.  Eat the whole bowl.  Die happy.

The actual recipe calls for the Oreo Deliciousness to be a filling, but I used it as a frosting instead and it was delicious like that.  This is so sweet that I really don’t think you need frosting on top of a cake that has this as the filling.

Not the best picture but I was trying to get one in before it was devoured.

Scalloped Potato and Ham Casserole

Absolutely wonderful.  If you have to hand-slice the potatoes thinly, it’s a bit time consuming, but worth it.  It’s creamy and wonderful.  I’d definitely recommend making this but maybe prep the potatoes on Sunday (or when you have some free time).  Other than that, it’s pretty easy to throw together.  Just keep in mind that it does have to bake for an hour to an hour and twenty minutes.

The recipe calls for nondairy creamer mixed with water instead of using actual milk so that the milk doesn’t curdle.  I used milk anyway and didn’t have any issues with curdling.

Waffle Iron Hash Browns

These were good, but a pain in the butt.  I did them somewhere between medium and high and they took about 30 minutes to cook.  I was thinking that this was going to be something that was quick if you didn’t want to actually take the time to do them in a pan.  I guess it’s easier if you have other things to do because it is a “set it and forget it” kind of thing, but overall, I wasn’t too impressed by this method.  Maybe if I did them on high, but I didn’t want to cook the outside too quickly without cooking the inside. (I linked to my pin because the pin just takes you to a picture so you have to kind of wing it.)

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Oh my gosh yum.  I could literally eat this as my meal, directly out of the dish, every day of the week.  That’s how good they are.  To make them extra creamy and delicious, there’s a good amount of butter… mmm… butter… and cream cheese!  Genius!  These have become a staple.  I make a half batch since it’s just the hubby and I, but they are so wonderfully delicious I think we could eat an entire batch if we really wanted to.

You do throw them in the oven for a bit after they are all put together to melt some butter that you throw over the top, but I think this step could be skipped in a time crunch.

Chicken Fried Steak

It might not be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made but… Can you say delicious?!  I got a “value pack” of bottom round steaks at the grocery store and they were PERFECT for this.  I needed to have a little more batter on mine but they were super easy and absolutely delicious.  I didn’t make the gravy because, blasphemous, I know, I don’t like white gravy.  My hubby likes it but he doesn’t make me make it just for him.  How sweet, I know.  And sorry for the terrible picture.  I forgot to take one until I was almost done.  It was that good.

Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars

If you haven’t made these yet, you are missing out.  So very easy and so good you could eat the whole batch yourself in one sitting.  I guarantee it.  I made this and took them to work and had several people ask for the recipe.  Even if you aren’t a baker, you really can’t screw these up.  Simple ingredients, simple instructions.  Impress your friends and family with this wonderful recipe!

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Yum.  Have I ever made a Pioneer Woman dish that wasn’t delicious?  I don’t think so.  I switched out ricotta for the cottage cheese but this was amazing.  Definitely something that will be going in the recipe box and will become a standard meal.

Healthier Banana Bread

No thanks.  This recipe is supposed to make beloved banana bread healthier.  Okay, I’m game for that.  Except really all it did was make it dense and not very flavorful.  You use whole wheat flour, applesauce instead of oil and honey instead of sugar.  Sounds like it would still be good.  It wasn’t.  I added nuts to the recipe because, well, I’m not so concerned about cooking healthier to leave out the nuts.  I only ate a couple of piece and have to be honest, wasted a good portion of it because I just couldn’t bring myself to eat the rest of it.  It was a great idea, but I just wasn’t a fan.

Crock Pot Beef with Broccoli

Yum.  I do have one suggestion though: use low-sodium soy sauce and/or beef broth/consumme.  It does turn out a little salty when you use the regular stuff (even for my hubby who likes plenty of salt on everything).

This was another meal that I used my value pack steaks for and it was perfect.  The original recipe uses boneless beef roast cut into thin strips and several commenters said that their meat fell apart.  Since this is made in the crock pot, my meat still turned out tender but kept it’s strip shape.

I also didn’t have sesame oil so I used half jalapeno oil and half olive oil, then threw in some sesame seeds and it turned out just fine.

Crock pot meals are generally weekend meals for us since we are gone for over 11 hours during the week but this will definitely be one we make quite often.

Honey Beer Bread

Make it now.  My mother in law gave us a Pampered Chef honey beer bread mix last year that was absolutely wonderful.  This recipe tasted just like it.  I screwed up and forgot that I had salted butter, not unsalted, so it was a little too salty for me.  But the hubby loved it, salt and all.  We love to do a Macaroni Grill kind of thing and make a seasoned olive oil dipping sauce for our beer bread and this was just perfect for it.  I’d highly recommend making this recipe.  If you’ve never made beer bread before and you are worried about it being too “beery”, don’t worry, it’s not.  I’m not a fan of beer unless it’s super dark.  I always make beer bread with some sort of ale, IPA, etc. and I love it.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Made this on the first cool day of fall.  It really hits the spot.  Last time I made the full batch, this time I did half and it was much more manageable   Still had leftovers I could take to work but didn’t have so much left over that we didn’t know what to do with it all.

Cinnamon French Toast Bake

If you are looking for a healthy breakfast, this is not it.  However, if you are looking for a delicious breakfast that can be quickly thrown together and will feed a crowd: this is exactly what you’re looking for.  I made a half batch for the hubby and I and wow.  Absolutely amazing.  If you’re feeding a crowd who doesn’t do much sweet, it might not be the best thing to serve but if you are doing a brunch thing, do it.  It’s also easy to throw together.  My parents are having the whole family up to their house for Christmas this year and I suggested that my mom make this for Christmas morning because it’s so easy to put together and doesn’t take that long to bake.  Definitely a good thing to keep on standby.

Plus it’s something that you can always have the ingredients for.  Buy a couple rolls of cinnamon rolls the next time you go to the store, and everything else you should already have on hand.   That’s another thing I love about this recipe: it doesn’t have a bunch of weird ingredients.  In fact, it doesn’t really have many ingredients at all.

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Don’t waste your time and ingredients.  I made this for a co-worker and unfortunately, it did not turn out great.  The chocolate cake was dry and didn’t have much flavor.  The frosting.. oh the frosting.  It was a disaster.  I was thinking that you would mix in peanut butter and it would be just like any other frosting, just with a peanut butter flavor.  Boy was I wrong.  It was like I was spreading sweetened peanut butter all over the cake.  And not spreading easily.  It was a sticky mess.  I even tried adding a lot more powdered sugar than the recipe calls for, but just couldn’t get the right consistency.  Looked kinda pretty, but I’d find another recipe.

Overnight No-Cook Refrigerator Oatmeal

Now, I only made two of these: the raspberry vanilla and the peanut butter banana so I can’t speak for the rest of the flavors.  The two that I made were delicious.  I easily threw them together on a Sunday night after going to the grocery store, then had a delicious, healthy breakfast for every day that week.

I must admit, I made the mistake of doubling the recipe, thinking that the portions the recipe gave were not going to fill me up.  Boy was I wrong!  This is incredibly filling and is probably something I’ll make when the hubby and I go hiking or camping.  It’s easy because you just eat it out of the jar, but it’s also got a lot of great nutrition.  I also think it would be great if you’re leaving early in the morning for a road trip.  Everyone is probably going to want to eat at different times and this way, there’s no stopping because everyone can eat in the car, and because there are already individual servings, everyone can just eat whenever they get hungry.

I also didn’t add the chia seeds.  For one, I haven’t jumped on that bandwagon and I think it’s kind of weird and two, I had everything else I needed except that I wasn’t going to not make them just because I was lacking that ingredient.

Chicken, Potatoes and Green Beans

That’s all the name I have for this because it was just a picture on Pinterest with instructions listed underneath.  (The link is to my pin.)

I will make this A LOT!  I even got my parents hooked on it now.  It is so easy that you can throw it together in about 5 minutes, stick it in the oven and relax until it’s done.  The hardest part of this meal is washing and cutting the potatoes if that tells you anything.

Since there wasn’t actually a link to a recipe or anything, I’ll list it here, but I am not taking credit for making this up, just sharing because you need to have this recipe up your sleeve for those days that you just really don’t feel like/don’t have time to put something fancy together.  You could even throw this together in the morning before heading out, then just throw it in the oven when you get home.  That’s kind of a lot of throwing.  Anywho, on to the recipe:

Uncooked chicken breasts (says 4-6, I did 3 since it’s just the hubby and me)
Red potatoes (we used 4 or 5, but really however many you want)
Fresh or canned green beans (please do fresh if you can, they are so much better!)
Packet of Italian dressing mix
1 stick of butter (my parents only did a half stick and said it worked great)

Preheat your oven to 350°.  Place the first 3 ingredients in a 9×13 pan (I did rows, green beans on one side, chicken in the middle, potatoes on the other side).  Sprinkle the Italian dressing mix over everything.  Drizzle butter over everything.  Bake for one hour.  Enjoy.  See how easy?!  Plus you can customize it for your crowd.  Next time I think I might make it in a 9×9 pan and do less potatoes.

I added a little minced garlic on top of my chicken as well but it doesn’t really need it.  It was good with it but I’m sure it would be just as good without it.

Baked Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Casserole

Skip this one.  It had so much potential!  A quick, easy, throw together meal that sounded so delicious.  It was bland and my rice wasn’t fully cooked through even though the chicken was done.  I might play with this recipe and tweak it some to make it better but as it: don’t waste the chicken on it.  Plus the hubby wouldn’t eat it.  Who puts onions in Cream of Broccoli soup?! Campbell’s does, that’s who.  Stupid.

Beef & Bean Taquitos

These were super easy and tasty.  My hubby had been craving tacos for weeks but they never sounded good to me so I decided to try these.  I made ours with large tortillas and they were really filling.  I could only get through 1.5 before I was full and the hubby only got through 2.  This is another easy meal if you don’t have a lot of time.  You can get this meal on the table in under 30 minutes, which is great during the week.

I did change the recipe up a bit though.  I used refried beans instead of black beans.  Instead of using her mass of seasoning, I just used some of the homemade taco seasoning that I keep around.  I don’t measure cheese.  I use what looks good.  Which means I probably used significantly more than I should have.  And I’m okay with that.  I also don’t use onions in anything so I just added a little extra onion powder.

Cream Cheese Danishes

Go to the store, buy the ingredients and make these immediately.  I try to make a nice breakfast at least one weekend morning.  These are made with crescent rolls so you don’t have to worry about making some kind of complicated dough.  I will admit that next time, I don’t know that I’ll roll up the crescent rolls with the brown sugar in them.  I think I may just ball it up and work the brown sugar into the dough.  I don’t know, just an idea.  I made a half batch, which made 4 danishes and 2 was plenty for me but it left the hubby a little hungry so keep that in mind when deciding how many you need to make.  I’m definitely thinking that these will be a great entertaining breakfast when our families come to visit because they are so easy, plus they are made with ingredients I normally have on hand.

Pink Zebra Cake

I made this for a coworkers birthday and love the way it turned out.  The inside of the cake looked so great.  (I had to link just to my pin again because it takes you to a private blogger site but there’s where the idea came from.)  I just used a regular white cake mix and tinted it pink and a chocolate cake mix.  I alternated placing 1 cup of batter into the center of an 8 inch cake pan.

The outside wasn’t bad… my first try using fondant and I think I bit of a little more than I could chew for my first try.  Trying to cut out the crown was not very easy.  I’ll definitely try using fondant again, but maybe something a little more simple next time.

Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole

Another one that you should go buy the ingredients and make it for dinner tonight.  So simple and so easy!  She uses the “Real Bacon Bits”, I used real bacon and just cut it into little bits and that was the hardest part of this recipe.  A really quick throw together and absolutely delicious.

This is actually a slow cooker recipe, but I did mine in the oven and it turned out just fine.  There are directions at the bottom of the recipe for if you want to do it in the oven.

I added a little bit of garlic powder to my chicken in addition to the salt and pepper and while it was delicious, it really didn’t need it.  I added it thinking that because the salt and pepper you put on the chicken was the only seasoning, it might be a little bland.  I was wrong.  It’s like she was sitting at Sonic eating her cheesy tater tots going, “Hmm… what would make this better?  Well, bacon makes everything better.  Then, if I add chicken, I can pull this off as a main course!”  In my head, that’s how this was created.  Bottom line though: it’s easy and amazing.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

I’ve made this recipe twice now.  I made some tweaks the second time and I’ll make some tweaks the third time.  The actual recipe calls for green chiles in the sauce, but I wanted to do jalapeno instead.  The first time I made it, I just diced the jalapeno and threw it into the sauce.  The second time I made it, I pureed the jalapenos with the sour cream, then added it to the sauce.  This way was AMAZING.  Except that I used 2 whole jalapenos, seeds and ribs and everything, and it was a little too spicy.  However, we were eating the sauce as a dip.  The flavor was amazing.  If you added cheese or ranch or something to the sauce, you could totally pull it off as a dip.  The next time I make this, I’ll still puree the jalapeno but only use 1 with the seeds and ribs to knock back the heat a little.  And I know what some of you are thinking: but I really like spicy.  So does my husband and it was too spicy for him.  Feel free to make it with 2 whole jalapenos, but fair warning about the heat.

The recipe actually calls for you to fry up your chicken.  I don’t.  I poach it and shred it.  I also don’t use onion, but just season my chicken with onion powder and some fajita seasoning.

The first time, I used large, flour tortillas.  You can see the chunks of jalapeno in there.  My husband is weird and thought the chunks were too big.  Hence the decision to puree the jalapenos the second time.

It’s hard to tell in the picture below, but the second time I made them, the sauce was a bit green since I pureed the jalapenos.  I also used smaller, corn tortillas the second time.  These enchiladas are good whether you use corn or flour tortillas, so it’s really whatever your personal preference is.

Macaroni and Cheese with Ham

Except really it was Penne and Cheese with ham because macaroni just isn’t something I keep around and this was kind of a “use up” meal for leftover ham.  But again, delicious and easy.  Although consensus in our house was that it needed a  little more cheese.  But everything in our house needs a little more cheese.

I’ve also been doing a few “special order” cakes.  I made this anniversary cake for a co-worker’s in-laws:

Hope everyone is having a wonderful fall!


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