Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

Cookie Dough:
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 c. mini chocolate chips

1 c. creamy peanut butter
2/3 c. milk chocolate chips


In a large bowl, mix together butter and light brown sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.
With the mixer on low speed, alternate mixing in flour and sweetened condensed milk and mix until combined.  Gently fold in mini chocolate chips with spatula.
Line 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper.  Press the cookie dough into the pan (the cookie dough may be sticky, so lightly flour your hands).
Cover the bars with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight until firm.  
For topping, combine the peanut butter and milk chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until smooth.  Spread the mixture over the cookie dough bars.  Chill the bars for 1 hour or until topping is firm.  
Yield: 16 large bars

Pecan Bars

1 can (8 oz) refrigerated crescent rolls
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg, beaten

How to make it

Heat oven to 350°F.

Unroll dough and press in bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of a 9x13-inch pan.  Firmly press perforations to seal.  Bake 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Pour filling over partially baked crust.

Bake 18 to 22 minutes longer or until golden brown.

Cool completely, about 1 hour, and cut into bars.

A Christmas Lasagna

For the meat sauce:
1 pound Italian sausage
1 1/2 pound lean ground beef
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 cups marinara sauce
1/2 cup water
Note: depending on the seasoning of your sausage, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of an Italian dried herb blend.
For the cheese filling:
2 egg, beaten
2 lbs ricotta cheese
8 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed
2/3 cup freshly grated Reggiano-Parmigiano
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
big pinch of cayenne
The rest:
1 lb lasagna noodles
8 oz mozzarella cheese, torn in small pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese to top

How to make it

Place sausage and ground beef into a large saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until meat is browned and crumbly, about 10 minutes. Break the meat apart as it cooks. Stir in mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, Italian herb seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Turn heat to medium-high and cook until mushrooms have given off their juices and bottom of pan is almost dry.
Pour prepared marinara sauce into meat mixture. Pour water into marinara sauce jar and shake to get all the sauce out of the jar; add to mixture. Reduce heat to low and simmer until meat is extremely tender, about 2 hours. Add a little more water if sauce becomes too thick. Skim excess fat from surface of the sauce and season with more salt and black pepper, if needed. Turn off heat.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Beat eggs in a large bowl and stir in ricotta cheese, 8 ounces diced mozzarella cheese, and 2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Season cheese mixture with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and cayenne pepper; mix in parsley.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse noodles and set aside in a bowl of cold water.
Spread 1/4 the sauce into the bottom of a 10x15-inch baking pan. Top with 1/3 the noodles and spread 1/2 the ricotta cheese mixture over noodles. Spread 1/4 the meat sauce over the cheese, top with 1/3 the noodles, and spread remaining 1/2 the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Spread 1/4 the meat sauce over the cheese filling. Tap the casserole dish lightly on a sturdy work surface to settle the layers. Arrange last 1/3 the noodles over sauce and spread remaining 1/4 the sauce over the noodles. Dot top of the casserole with 4 ounces diced fresh mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Cover casserole with aluminum foil, being sure not to touch the top of the casserole with the foil. Place casserole onto a baking sheet to catch spills.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook until lasagna is golden brown and bubbling, 30 to 35 more minutes. Let set for 20 minutes before cutting into squares.

Prep 20 m
Cook 2 h 45 m
Ready In 3 h 25 m

Lemony mini cake loaves with a delicious lemon glaze!

3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon extract
⅓ cup lemon juice
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup powdered sugar (for the glaze)
2 tablespoons half and half
½ teaspoon lemon extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray bottoms only of 4 mini loaf pans with Bakers Joy.
In a KitchenAid or a food processor combine 3 large eggs, 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon lemon extract, and ⅓ cup lemon juice. Blend until well mixed.
Add 1½ cups flour to the ingredients and mix until just combined. Add ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt and mix until just combined. Add ½ cup vegetable oil and mix until combined.
Spread into prepared pans.
Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick test is clean
Cool on wire rack while you make the glaze.
Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons half and half and ½ teaspoon of lemon extract. Add more sugar if you prefer a thicker, sweeter icing.
Glaze the cake, slice and enjoy!

PREP TIME 20 mins
COOK TIME 30 mins
TOTAL TIME 50 mins

Orange Coconut Cake - Aroma Espresso Bar Style

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup wheat semolina
1 cup coconut (shredded)
2 tsp (flat) baking powder
4 eggs (divided into egg whites and yolks)
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup orange juice
¾ cup vegetable oil
Coconut for sprinkling
Cinnamon for sprinkling
For the Syrup:
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
Squeezed juice form ½ lemon


Preheat oven to 300F (150C)
Brush cake pan with butter/oil and spread flour on it or cover with parchment paper.
In a bowl, mix dry ingredients (flour, wheat semolina, coconut, baking powder)
In a mixer bowl beat egg whites and sugar until they form stiff white foam with peaks.
In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients (egg yolks, vanilla extract, orange juice, oil)
Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients and mix well until combined
Add egg foam into cake mix and using a wooden spoon fold gently into the mix until fully combined.
Pour the mix into the cake pan, sprinkle with cinnamon and place in the pre-heated oven for about 30-40 minutes or until cake is golden brown and a toothpick you test it with, comes out dry. Let the cake cool.
While it’s cooling, poke a few holes using a skewer. This will allow the syrup to be absorbed better and faster.
To prepare the syrup, boil the syrup ingredients over medium heat while stirring until sugar melts.
Pour hot syrup over cool (room temperature) cake using a ladle or a big salad spoon. Make sure you pour the syrup evenly all over the cake.
To top the cake, generously sprinkle with finely shredded coconut.

 *This cake is baked using an 8.5 inch round springform cake pan
 **Optional - you can top the cake by sprinkling icing sugar instead of the shredded coconut

Quick Blueberry Biscuits

2 1/4 cups Bisquick (I used HeartSmart)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup wild blueberries (can use regular)
3/4 - 1 cup buttermilk (I used fat-free)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 450.

How to make it

Stir together bisquick, sugar and buttermilk until soft dough forms. Fold in blueberries. Scoop dough with large cookie scoop or ice cream scoop (3 tablespoons) onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 9-12 minutes or until golden brown. 

Combine powdered sugar and milk. Drizzle over biscuits.

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

1 cupbrown sugar
1 cupvegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cupsself raising flour
1 tspground cinnamon
1 tspground nutmeg
1/2 tspbicarbonate of soda
2 cupscarrot, grated
1/2 cupwalnuts, finely chopped, plus extra to serve

250 gsoftened cream cheese
50 gsoftened butter
2 cupssifted icing sugar

How to make it

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease and line a 22cm round cake pan with baking paper.
In a large bowl, whisk sugar and oil together until thick. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking between each addition to combine.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in sifted combined flour, spices and soda. Fold in carrot and walnuts. Pour into pan. Smooth top.
Bake 55-60 minutes until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool in pan 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter together until pale. Add icing sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy.
Split cooled cake in half horizontally. Place base of cake on serving platter. Spread with half frosting. Top with remaining half of cake. Spread with remaining frosting. Sprinkle with extra nuts.

You will need about 4 carrots for this cake.

To make cupcakes, use 12 paper patty cases and bake 15-20 minutes.

Soft and Moist Banana Cake

Ingredients: ( for one 8" x 3.5" x 3" & one 9" x 4" x 3")
250g salted butter
1 1/2 cups castor sugar (I will reduce the sugar depending on what type of banana that I used and how ripe the bananas are, normally 180g to 200g)
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (about 3 del monte bananas, sometimes I put more)
2 cups plain flour (220g sift together with 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1 tsp baking powder)


1. Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
2. Add in eggs, vanilla essence and milk and mix well.
3. Add mashed banana into the mixture and mix well.
4. Finally add in sifted flour and mix well and pour into a cake tin.
5. Bake in preheated oven at 160 deg C for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the top layer turns brown after 15 minutes, cover it with a piece of aluminium foil.
6. Cool cakes in the pan then remove. Use a sharp knife to slice and serve

The cake is still as delicious as what my memory can recalled, soft, moist and full of the fragrant of banana. Yummy Yummy!


1/2 cup butter, soft (margarine works very well)
3 teaspoons sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

8 ounces cream cheese, soft
1 cup icing sugar
2 cups whipped cream
1 (106 g) package chocolate instant pudding, 4 serving size
1 (106 g) package instant vanilla pudding, 4 serving size
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups whipped cream
1 chocolate bar, grated


Beat together the butter and sugar. Blend in flour, then stir in the chopped pecans.
Press mixture into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 25 minutes at 350*. Cool.
Combine cream cheese, and icing sugar. Add 2 cups whipped cream.
Pour this mixture over the crust.
Combine both pudding mixes with the milk. Pour over cheese mixture.
Ice with 1-1/2 cups whipped cream and sprinkle with grated chocolate.
Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.


2-1/2 cups flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring (see KITCHEN TIPS)
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/14 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 pound carrots, peeled and trimmed

1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil (or canola or safflower)

How to make it

Preheat oven to 350F. For 9x13, spray pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment, then spray the parchment. (This seems to be able to lift the entire cake out of the pan. To just cut pieces right in the pan, I think you could safely skip this step.) For cupcakes, grease muffin tins well. (I used vegetable oil and the cupcakes were quite sticky. Next time I'll use Baker's Joy or use cupcake papers.)

Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

With a food processor (see KITCHEN TIPS), grate the carrots, transfer to another dish. Add the sugars and eggs to the food processor and process for 20 seconds. With the food processor running, pour the oil into the food processor in a slow stream, then process for another 20 seconds. Stir this mixture and the carrots into the dry ingredients until no flour streaks remain.

Pour into prepared 9x13 or muffin tins. For 9x13, bake for 35-40 minutes (rotate half-way through) or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. For cupcakes, bake for about 30 minutes. For 9x13, let cool to room temperature. For cupcakes, let cool about 10 minutes, then remove from tins. For 9x13, Cook's Illustrated suggests inverting the cake onto a wire rack, peeling off the parchment, then inverting onto a serving plate.

Spread icing over top.

8 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool (I used Neufchatel, the reduced-fat cream cheese)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool (see KITCHEN TIPS)
1 tablespoon sour cream (loved this addition!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/4 cups powdered sugar (also called icing sugar, confectioner's sugar, it's the white powdery stuff)

In the food processor (washed), mix the cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla til smooth, wiping down the sides as needed. Add the powdered sugar and process til smooth, just a few seconds. NOTE: Half the icing was more than enough for a dozen cupcakes.

Cook's Illustrated's inspiring recipe fills a 9x13 pan. To make a dozen cupcakes, I cut this recipe in half. Half would also work for 9x9 pan. 

Hands-on time: 65 minutes (for cupcakes, less time for 9x13)
Time to table: about 2 hours
Makes a 9x13 cake or (halving the ingredients below) 12 cupcakes 

Snowball Cookies

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
additional powdered sugar

How to make it

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until fully mixed. Add flour with salt to creamed mixture, blend thoroughly. Add nuts and mix well.
Chill dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400F. Shape into 1-inch balls and bake 8-10 minutes. Do not brown. Cool completely, then roll in powdered sugar. Make about 40 cookies.

Warm Lemon Cake

an adaptation from Kraft Food and Family
1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake or lemon mix
2 cups cold milk
1-1/4 cups water
2 pkg. (4-serv. ) JELL-O Vanilla or Lemon Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

How to make it

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Prepare cake batter as directed on package. Pour into greased 13x9-inch baking dish; set aside.

POUR milk and water into large bowl. Add dry pudding mixes and granulated sugar. Beat with wire whisk 2 min. or until well blended. Pour over batter. Place baking dish on baking sheet to catch any sauce that might bubble over sides of dish as dessert bakes.
BAKE 55 min. to 1 hour or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool 20 min. (Sauce will thicken slightly as it cools.) Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Spoon into serving dishes to serve warm. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Sally’s Carrot Cake

2 C sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 c finely shredded pared carrots
1-8 ½ oz. can crushed pineapple
1-3 ½ oz. can flaked coconut
2 cup sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 ½ c salad oil
4 eggs

How to make it

Sift together first dry ingredients then add sugar, oil and eggs. Beat at medium speed one minute. Stir in carrots, walnuts, pineapple, and coconut. Turn into 3 greased and floured 9” round cake pans. Bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and finish cooling. Fill and frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
½ cup butter
1-8 oz package cream cheese (softened)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. powdered sugar.

Mix all ingredients in order given. Fill and frost completely cooled cake. I double the recipe, as we like more frosting.

Banana Cream Cheesecake

1 (18 1/4 ounce) package white cake mix, divided
4 eggs, divided
3 tablespoons oil
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed, divided
2 bananas, sliced
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, Philadelphia, Softened
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups whipped topping, Cool Whip, thawed


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Reserve 1 cup of the dry cake mix. Mix remaining cake mix with 1 egg, oil and 1/3 cup sugar with mixer (mixture will be crumbly). Press onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of a greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan; top with bananas.
Beat cream cheese and remaining sugar with mixer. Add reserved cake mix, remaining eggs and lemon juice; beat 1 minute. Blend in milk (batter will be thin). Pour into crust.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 4 hours. Top with whipped topping, Refrigerate leftovers.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 c. milk
1/3 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 ½ c. blueberries (I used frozen; thawed slightly)

How to make it

Beat all ingredients, except blueberries, in a large bowl on a low speed for 30 seconds. Then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes scraping the bowl occasionally.
Grease a 13x9 pan. Spread half the batter in the pan. Sprinkle blueberries over batter; then, top with remaining batter. Add Streusel Topping and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Can be inverted onto a serving plate or left in pan. Drizzle with Glaze. Makes 16 servings.

Streusel Topping:
½ c. chopped walnuts or pecans
1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
¼ c. flour
½ t. cinnamon
1 T. butter, softened
Mix all ingredients together until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of cake.

1 c. powdered sugar
2 T. milk
¼ t. vanilla
Combine all ingredients; drizzle over top of cake.

Dr. Pepper Cake

1 box German Chocolate Cake Mix
1- 3.4 oz box of vanilla instant pudding
¾ c. oil
4 eggs
1 ½ cups Dr. Pepper
Mix and bake in 3 layers for 15-18 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and frost cake.

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
3 T. cocoa
1 box (3 /12 cups) powdered sugar

How to make it

Sift cocoa and sugar together. Add softened butter and cream cheese. Beat until smooth and frost cooled cake.
(May be baked in 9 x 13 pan. Half the frosting recipe for this size of cake. Freezes well!)

Mandarin Orange Pineapple Cake

1 pkg.yellow cake mix
1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges with juice
3/4 c. oil
4 eggs
1 (13 1/2 oz. or 16) Cool Whip
1 (3 oz.) pkg. vanilla instant pudding
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple

How to make it

Mix cake mix with mandarin orange with juice and oil. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Grease and flour 3 (8 inch) cake pans. Divide batter evenly into 3 pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes minutes. Cool thoroughly. 
Mix Cool Whip, pudding and crushed pineapple with some juice. Return to refrigerator for 10 minutes. Frost cake and keep in refrigerator.

5 Super Easy Crock Pot Dinners

1. BBQ Chicken
3-4 Chicken breasts (boneless,skinless)
16 oz bottle of BBQ Sauce (we like Sweet Baby Rays)
1/2 cup Zesty Italian Dressing
1/4 cup brown sugar

Mix together ingredients. Put in crock pot. Cook low: 4-5 hours or on High 2-3 hours
Shred with a fork and serve on buns for yummy BBQ chicken sammies. Or leave them whole and serve with some garlic mashed potatoes and veggies.

2. Orange Chicken
3-4 Chicken breasts
1 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup Orange Marmalade
1-2 tsp soy sauce (optional)

Cut up chicken into cubes and put in crock pot. Mix together ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook low:4-5 hours or on High 2-3 hours.  We love to serve this with a side of homemade fried rice and add a ton of veggies! Way better than takeout!

3. Creamy Ranch Chicken
5 Super Easy Crock Pot Dinners

1. BBQ Chicken
3-4 Chicken breasts (boneless,skinless)
16 oz bottle of BBQ Sauce (we like Sweet Baby Rays)
1/2 cup Zesty Italian Dressing
1/4 cup brown sugar

Mix together ingredients. Put in crock pot. Cook low: 4-5 hours or on High 2-3 hours
Shred with a fork and serve on buns for yummy BBQ chicken sammies. Or leave them whole and serve with some garlic mashed potatoes and veggies.

2. Orange Chicken
3-4 Chicken breasts
1 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup Orange Marmalade
1-2 tsp soy sauce (optional)

Cut up chicken into cubes and put in crock pot. Mix together ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook low:4-5 hours or on High 2-3 hours.  We love to serve this with a side of homemade fried rice and add a ton of veggies! Way better than takeout!

3. Creamy Ranch Chicken
3-4 Chicken breasts
1 can Cream of Chicken
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
1 packet Italian seasoning packet
1/2 package of cream cheese (4 oz)

Mix together cream of chicken, ranch, and Italian seasoning. Place chicken in crock pot and pour mixture over. Cook low: 4-5 hours or on High 2-3 hours.  Once done, shred with a fork and add the cream cheese to add thickness and make it creamy. Serve over egg noodles or rice.

4. Salsa Chicken
3-4 Chicken breasts
1 jar of salsa
1 can black beans
1 can corn

Mix all ingredients together and put in crock pot. Cook low: 4-5 hours or on High 2-3 hours.  Shred with fork. Serve over rice, use as filling for burritos, throw it on top of lettuce for a fun taco salad….

5. Ranch Chicken Tacos
3-4 Chicken breasts
1 can chicken broth
1 packet ranch mix
1 packet taco seasoning

Put everything in the crock pot and let it do it’s magic! Cook low: 4-5 hours or on High 2-3 hours.  Shred with a fork when done and serve in tacos with your favorite toppings! Super fun and easy for Taco Tuesday!

Easy & Healthy Shrimp Scampi


4 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 pounds med raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup + 1 T minced parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 lemon wedges


In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Saute the shrimp until just pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon transfer the shrimp to a platter and keep them warm.
In the skillet, combine the broth, wine, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the parsley, the salt and pepper; and bring it to a boil. Boil uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by half.
Spoon the sauce over the shrimp. Serve garnished with the lemon wedges and sprinkled with the remaining tablespoon of parsley.
Makes 4 servings

Toasted Butter Pecan Cake

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
2-2/3 cups chopped pecans
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

2 packages (one 8 ounces, one 3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup butter, softened
6-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (I felt this was to much, I only used about 5 cups)
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk


In a small heavy skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add pecans; cook over medium heat until toasted, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar and remaining butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Beat just until combined. Fold in 2 cups reserved pecans. Spread evenly into three greased and waxed paper-lined 9-in. round baking pans.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

For frosting, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat in enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with remaining pecans. Store in the refrigerator.



1 large banana, peeled
1 cup ice cubes
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 heaping Tbsp. peanut butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, store-bought or homemade


How to make it

In a blender, combine all ingredients.  Blend until smooth, and serve immediately.

Ali's Tip:
To give this some extra chill, try using frozen bananas! :) Often if I bring home more than I can use (before they ripen), I'll go ahead and peel them, cut them into somewhat small pieces, and pop them in a bag and into the freezer. They're definitely great to have onhand!


Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes

2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup butter
6 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


In a small bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add sweet potatoes, and stir to coat.
Sprinkle sugar mixture over the sweet potatoes, and stir.
Cover skillet, and reduce heat to low.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, or until the sauce is dark and the potatoes are candied.
They should be tender, but a little hard around the edges.
Stir in vanilla, and serve.

Strawberry Punch Bowl Cake


1 pk Yellow cake mix

6 oz Instant vanilla pudding

1 cn Crushed pineapple; drained

20 oz Frozen strawberries

2 Bananas

16 oz Whipped topping.

How to make it

Make 2 layer cake. Cool. Make pudding as directed on package. Set in refrigerator. Cut one layer of cake into small chunks. Put in punch bowl. Spread with half of each of the rest of ingredients. Repeat with other layer of cake and rest of ingredients. Refrigerate overnight. Recipe can easily be halved. Freeze one layer of the cake for future use. 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cake


1 cups all-purpose flour, 125 grams
1 cup granulated sugar, 200 grams
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup milk, 60 ml
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup water, 120 ml
¼ cup butter, 57 grams
¼ cup vegetable oil (I used peanut oil for more peanutty flavor)
¼ cup peanut butter, 64 grams
½ cup your favorite jelly, separated, 160 grams (I used raspberry)
For the Peanut Butter Frosting
5 ounces, 143 grams cream cheese, room temperature
½ stick, 57 grams, 2 ounces or ¼ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2½ cups, 300 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted
⅓ cup, 85 grams smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand
For the Garnish
1 cup peanuts, roughly chopped, 125 grams, optional

Serves: 12
Prep time 10 mins
Cook time 25 mins
Total time 35 mins


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coat two 6 inch cake pans with baking spray or parchment rounds.
In a measuring cup, combine milk, egg and vanilla. Set aside.
In a mixer bowl whisk flour, sugar, and baking soda.
Add milk mixture to the flour mixture and combine on low until smooth.
In a small pot, cook water, butter, peanut oil, and peanut butter together in a saucepan over medium heat until smooth, about 3-5 minutes (Don't worry if it starts to separate when you take if off the heat).
Stir peanut butter-mixture into flour-mixture until batter is combined well; evenly pour batter into prepared cake pans.
Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
Let cool in pan for 15 minutes them remove and finish cooling on a rack.
For the Peanut Butter Frosting
Place the butter and cream cheese into a mixing bowl and beat until creamy, about 1 minute.
Add the powdered sugar in three parts, fully combining after each addition.
Finally, add the peanut butter and beat for about 3 minutes or until the frosting is perfectly creamy.
When the cakes have cooled smear some frosting on a cake round and place the first layer on top of the frosting and press down (you may also do this directly on your cake plate).
Frost bottom layer with ⅓ cup of frosting.
Spread ¼ cup jelly on top of the frosting. Do not spread it all the way to the edge. Leave a ¼ inch border.
Place the second cake layer on top and spread with ¼ cup jelly. Do not spread it all the way to the edge. Leave a ¼ inch border.
Place cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes (we want the jelly solid enough to be easily covered with the peanut butter frosting).
Remove cake from freezer and spread ½ cup frosting over the jelly.
Frost the side of the cake. There will be frosting leftover unless you don't want there to be.
There's no need for a crumb coat, as the sides will be covered with chopped peanuts.
Place cake on a sheet pan and coat the side of the cake with the chopped peanuts. Gather the fallen peanuts and repeat until the side is fully coated.
Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.

mexican cornbread casserole

2 boxes jiffy cornbread mix
1 can cream style corn
2 chopped jalapenos
6 oz Mexican cheese or more
1 1/2 hamburger
small onion chopped
can rotel tomatoes
clove garlic

How to make it

Mix 1 cornbread mix according to instructions and add 1/2 can of corn. Pour in greased 9x13 baking dish ,
Saute hamburger onion tomatoes and garlic. Drain if needed then pour over cornbread mixture.
Mix 2nd box of jiffy mix and corn together and pour over meat mixture. Top with cheese and chopped jalapenos.
Use box cooking time and temp: may take a little longer test with tooth pick.



2 cup dry elbow macaroni
4 cup shredded Triple Cheddar Cheese blend, divided [*see cook's note]
2 cups whole milk
1 [10¾ oz] can cheddar cheese soup
⅔ cup soft easy melting cheese [such as Velveeta or Cheez Whiz]
½ cup sour cream
4 Tbsp melted butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp ground mustard
½ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper


Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
In a medium size pot, boil the elbow macaroni in salted water until al dente Drain well.
In a blender, blend together the milk, sour cream, cheddar cheese soup, cheez whiz, eggs, melted butter, white pepper, ground mustard, and salt. You can also do this by hand with a whisk.
Layer one half of the cooked macaroni in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with 2½ cups of shredded cheddar cheese.
Spread the last of the cooked elbow macaroni over the cheese layer.
Pour the creamy sauce evenly over the macaroni. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Dot the top with butter just before baking.
Bake for 40 minutes until golden and bubbly. Serve hot.
The cheese I used is a blend of mild, medium and sharp cheddar cheese. Any combination of cheese will work in the same amount.

Chicken and Biscuit Bake

Serves 4 - 6.


1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth (low sodium is best)
1 chicken bouillon cube (use 2 if using unsalted butter AND low-sodium stock/broth)
Non-stick spray
1/4 cup (half of a stick) butter, melted
2 - 3 cups of cooked shredded or cubed chicken
2 cups Bisquick
1 1/2 cups milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (allow to thaw for 30 minutes before using)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Warm chicken stock in a small sauce pan and add in the bouillon cube to dissolve.  Keep warm until ready to use.

Lightly coat with non-stick spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish or a 12" round casserole dish.  Pour in the melted butter.

Layer the shredded chicken on top of the butter. Sprinkle on the vegetables. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the Bisquick and milk.  (It's okay if there are a few lumps remaining.)
Pour over the chicken and vegetables.  DO NOT MIX! Sprinkle on some black pepper. Set aside.
Combine the cream of chicken soup with the warmed stock.

Once blended, slowly pour over the Bisquick layer.  Again, DO NOT MIX!

(It'll looks like a big, soupy mess. This is normal.)
If using a 9 x 13 pan, bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until casserole is set and top is lightly browned.  If using a large, round dish, bake for 50 - 55 minutes or until casserole is set and lightly browned.  

Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Serve.

Chocolate Italian Love Cake

1 package chocolate cake mix (I recommend using Betty Crocker brand), and the ingredients needed to make the cake according to the package
2 lbs. ricotta cheese
4 eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 (5.1 oz.) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup cold milk
8 oz. Cool Whip


Preheat your oven to 350*F and spray a 9x13 inch pan with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, mix together your cake mix according to the directions on the box. Set aside.
In another bow, using a hand mixer, beat together the ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
*The following directions are correct. The layers switch during the baking time!
Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking dish. Spread to fill the pan evenly. Once the cake batter is in place, carefully pour the cheese mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter. Spread to cover the cake batter as best as you can.
Bake the cake at 350* for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Once the cake is cool, stir the pudding mix and milk together with a whisk until combined. Carefully, fold the Cool Whip into the pudding until combined.
Spread the pudding mixture over the top of the cooled cake. Cover the cake and refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving. It tastes even better the next day.

Prep time:  10 mins Cook time:  1 hour Total time:  1 hour 10 mins
Serves: 15