Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's Getting Cold Outside! Time for Crock Pot Recipes

I love the colder weather. It's time to reorganize the closests and make sure the kids have plenty of warm clothes. It's also the time of year for those yummy warm comfort foods, the good ones from the Crock Pot. This year I found an awesome website, The Crock Pot Girls, full of all sort of recipes exclusively for the Crock Pot. First up, Chicken & Dumplings. My mother in law makes the BEST homemade Chicken & Dumplings, but these are a close second. I don't think I'll ever be able to make Chicken & Dumplings like she can.

Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings

Recipe from: Crock Pot Girls

4 boneless/skinless chicken breast
2 tblsp butter
1 can Cream of Chicken
1 can Cream of Celery
3 1/2c chicken broth
1c celery, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1c carrots, chopped
Salt & Pepper
1 (10oz) package of refrigerated biscuits
Crock Pot Liner

To Make: Put the plastic crock pot liner in your Crock Pot. Excluding the biscuits, put all the ingredients in the Crock Pot and cook on Low for 8 hours.

For the dumplings, roll out the biscuits and cut or tear into small peices. Drop into Crock Pot, turn up to High and cook an additional 20 minutes.

I put everything in my crock pot the night before. Set it in my fridge overnight and then starting cooking it on Low before I left for work. All I had to do when I came home was drop in the dumplings and dinner was ready in less than 30 mins! Clean up was simple too, since I used the plastic crock pot liner! Love those things, especially since I hate doing the dishes.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. As an alteratate: you could use wide egg noodles instead of the dumplings for a good homemade Chicken Noodle Soup! I'll be trying this too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jalapeno Macaroni & Ham Bake

This weekend was our bi-weekly trip to the grocery store, which is a dreadful experience, but it has to be done. I shop by recipes, so I always pick out and put together a bunch of recipes that I want to cook for the two weeks ahead and then make a list of all the ingredients I'll need for these recipes. First up from this adventure is:

Jalapeno Macaroni & Ham Bake

What you'll need: 

2 packages Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
1 package chopped ham
1 small red onion, chopped
2 fresh jalapenos, seeds removed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 eggs beaten
4 slices Kraft BIG Pepperjack cheese, chopped
18 Ritz crackers, crushed

To Make: 

Preheat the oven to 350. 
Prepare the macaroni as directed on packages. Meanwhile, cook the ham, onion, garlic and jalapenos together in a skillet. Add ham mixture together with prepared macaroni, eggs, chopped cheese and 1/2 the crushed crackers. Pour the mixture into a 3qt casserole dish and sprinkle remaining crackers on top. Bake for 30 mins and enjoy.  

It's always nice to have some help in the kitchen. Both my boys are such great helpers. Most nights, Caleb will help me prepare the meal and Ethan will help set the table. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore with Creamy Mashed Potatoes

 Last night's dinner was definitely blog worthy! The mashed potatoes were so yummy! I think I just might make mashed potatoes like this from now on! This tasty dish is low fat, low calorie and a good source of Vitamin A from the veggies! We rounded out the meal with a wheat dinner roll.

Chicken Cacciatore with Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Recipe from: Kraft Foods
What you'll need: 
about 4-6 red potatoes, cut up into chunks
1 bag of Birds Eye Steamfresh Garlic Cauliflower
1 lb package of Chicken breast
1/2c Light Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing  
1 pkg (8oz) fresh, sliced mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, cut up
1 yellow bell pepper, cut up
1 can (14.5oz) Italian style diced tomatoes
1/2c (1/2 of 8oz tub) Chive & Onion Cream Cheese

To Make: 
Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender, about 15mins. Cook the cauliflower as directed on the package.
Meanwhile, cook the chicken. I cut up my chicken and cooked it with sea salt, cracked pepper, minced onion and garlic powder. Cook the chicken in a large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Add dressing, mushroom and peppers and cook about 6 mins. Add tomatoes and simmer 8-10 more mins. 
Drain the potatoes and return to pan. Add the cauliflower and cream cheese and mash mixture until fluffy. Serve topped with chicken and vegetables. 

One serving, 1/4 of the meal, only has 340 calories and 10g of fat. The only negative of this meal is that there wasn't enough! There won't be any leftover for lunch!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall = Pumpkins!

Fall is here! For me this is the perfect season for anything pumpkin! Pumpkin pies, pumpkin decorations, pumpkin costumes, pasta with a pumpkin cream sauce (a sneak of what's to come) and pumpkin cupcakes! This Sunday was a the perfect lazy, rainy day to make these delicious little seasonal treats.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

What you need: 
1 box Spice cake mix
1 cup sour cream
1 can pumpkin
3 eggs
1/4 cup oil

1 (8oz) package Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 (16oz) package powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

To Make the Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350. Mix first 5 ingredients together until well blended; spoon into paper lined muffin cups. Bake 20-22 mins. Cool in pan 10 mins, then remove and allow to cool completely.

To Make the Icing:
Beat cream cheese and butter together, add vanilla. Gradually add in sugar. Blend in cinnamon. Spread over cooled cupcakes.

What's your favorite fall dish?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad & My Very First Contest!

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Recipe from: The Girl Who Ate Everything Blog 

1 box whole wheat penne pasta1/2 cup Frank’s hot sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
2 cups precooked chicken or rotisserie chicken, chopped
1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1. Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente in adequately salted water. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water (If serving hot don't use cold water). 
2. While pasta is cooking, whisk together hot sauce, oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, and celery salt in small bowl until well combined.
3. Place the pasta in large mixing bowl. Stir in chicken, blue cheese, carrots, celery, and onion (optional). Slowly mix in desired amount of dressing. You may not want to use all of the dressing, or you might just go ahead and pour it all in, I did! 
4. Can be served cold or hot. We had it hot for dinner and then cold for lunch the next day. 

Notes: If you would like it to be spicier, use more hot sauce and less olive oil. If the pasta salad seems dry after being in the refrigerator, add a little olive oil or hot sauce. 

Now here's your chance to win something extra special, a homemade treat made especially for you, by me! All you have to do is "Like" my new Facebook page, The Cooking Diary of a Working Mom on Facebook , and have your friends do the same! Make sure your friends leave a comment on my wall with your name on it! The person with the most referrals wins!! YAY! Put your friends to work for you! 


Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's National Cookie Month - 1st Up - Oreo Pudding Cookies

October is National Cookie Month! I'm not sure who came up with that, but any excuse to make some cookies is a good one for me! I will be posting up lots of cookie recipes this month in honor of this occasion. First up is one of my personal favorites:

Oreo Pudding Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (4.2 ounce) package instant Oreo Pudding mix
2 1/4 cups flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package Hershey's Cookies N Cream Drops

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in pudding mix until blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix to combine. Stir in cookies n' cream pieces and chocolate chips. Batter will be thick.

Using a cookie dough scooper, place golf ball sized dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. You do not want to overbake these! Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before moving to a cooking rack. Store in air-tight container. Makes two dozen.

Hope you enjoy this delicious treat and stay tuned for more! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Halloween Party Ideas

Alright friends, we have entered October which means Halloween is coming soon. Not only do we have to decide on the perfect costumes, but we also have to brainstorm for the perfect party foods. Whether it's the Halloween party at your house, the neighborhood party or the party at your kids school, here are some great ideas for you to make this Halloween.

Witches Cauldrons:

These can be made by hollowing out cucumbers and filling them with a puree of peas, garlic, tahini  paste, lemon juice, cumin and salt. Add the pretzel stick to the "brew". Find the full recipe here: Witch Cauldron Recipe

Apple Bites: 

These little bites are simply sliced apples with slivered almonds. A tip for keeping your sliced apples from turning brown: soak them in ginger ale for 10 mins, allow them to dry on a paper towel and then place almonds in as the "teeth".

Worms in Dirt: 

These are one of my all time favorites from when I was a kid! I requested this year round! You layer chocolate pudding (the mud), crushed up Oreos (the dirt), and throw in some gummy worms! Simple and delicious. I made this last year and all the kids loved the look and taste!

Eyeball Cake Pops:

I'm going to attempt these this year! Make cake pops, see my previous post here: Cake Pops Post and then decorate them with decorating gel to look like eyeballs. I'm going to use some blue gel for the Iris, a mini chocolate chip for the center and then the red gel for the blood veins. I'll let you know how these turn out for me. 

Eyeball Deviled Eggs:

Make your favorite deviled egg, or use this tasty recipe: Deviled Egg Recipe then top with a sliced olive and some colored mayo to create a ghoulish bloodshot eye. 

Fish Fingers:

These are so yummy and simple. Bake frozen fish sticks as directed on package, spread a little cream cheese on one side of the baked fish stick and place 1/2 of a black olive in the cream cheese on the end to make the perfect "finger" food! 

Ghost Pretzels:

Another tasty, simple treat. Dip pretzel rods in white Candy Melts chocolate to cover about 1/3 of the rod. Use mini chocolate chips or black decorating gel to make the little ghost face. 

Mummy Dogs:

All you need is some hot dogs and crescent rolls. Use scissors to cut the crescent rolls into long strips, then wrap your dog in "bandages", make sure to leave a small space for his "eyes". Bake as directed on the crescent roll package. And use a little dab of mustard for the eyes. 

Mummy Juice:

Wrap juice boxes up with white electrical tape and add some little googly eyes. Don't forget to leave a small opening for the straw!

Snake-Bite Calzone:

It's a snake, no wait it's pizza, no wait it's a snake pizza! Get the full recipe for this fun snack here: Snake-Bite Calzone

Witch Hat Cookies:

Another cute idea that I will be attempting this Halloween! Keebler Fudge Striped cookies placed upside down, topped with a dab of orange icing and a Hershey's Kiss! 

Ghost Crackers:

Ritz crackers topped with cream cheese and raisins make this scary treat. 

Pumpkin Cookie Balls:

Cream cheese and Oreo Peanut Butter Creme Cookies blended together then dipped in orange Candy Melts chocolate and orange sprinkles, topped with a small pretzel stick. If my eyeball cake pops don't turn out I will be making these! They sound amazing! Get the full recipe here: Pumpkin Cookie Balls 

Well, there you are. I hope I have made your Halloween party planning a little easier, for now you only have to decide which of these bewitching treats to make! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cupcakes for Breakfast too!! YES!!

I have been on the hunt for a lemon blueberry muffin/cupcake recipe and this one I found was not only delicious, but makes for a great breakfast cupcake!! Yes, that's right, I've given you cupcakes for dinner, dessert and now breakfast!!

Lemon Blueberry Cupcake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe from The Food Network's Cupcake Wars!



  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I actually used cake flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • Zest of 1 lemon (I also added 1tsp lemon juice)
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries


  • 2 sticks butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 10 to 12 cups powdered sugar (I only used about 7 cups and it made a nice creamy texture)
  • I also added about 5 drops of blue food coloring to mine


For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with 24 paper liners.
Mix the flour, soda and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and mix thoroughly. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and mix to combine. Add the dry mixture in 3 parts alternating with the sour cream, ending with dry mixture. Stir in the blueberries. Fill the prepared tins two-thirds full and bake 16 to 20 minutes. Cool.
For the frosting: Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and juice and blend until combined. Add the powdered sugar gradually until combined.
Frost the cooled cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting.

Funny, the website I got this recipe from had this caption "This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. The Food Network Kitchens have not tested it for home use, therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results." Well, I have made these for "home use" and can tell you there are AH-MAZING! They are very light and fluffy and the icing is perfectly creamy with just enough of a tart, sweet combination. The kids had fun with the blue icing, they made mustaches, "like Daddy!"