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Kitchen Tip

My kitchen tip for this week is a substitute for unsweetened baking chocolate. You can use 3 tablespoons of cocoa and 1 tablespoon of oil in place of 1 ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate. I do not keep unsweetened baking chocolate on hand. I do not use it often enough to have it as a staple in my pantry. I always have cocoa though. This weekend I wanted to make Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies. The recipe called for unsweetened baking chocolate squares. I did not have any so I used the cocoa and oil substitute. It is really easy. You just mix the oil and cocoa together and add to recipe like you would the chocolate.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

This weekend I tried another recipe from my Martha Stewart Cookies cookbook. I think if I keep making things from this book I will gain 10 lbs. These brownies were good. My husband and kids really liked them. I thought they were a lot of work for what they were. But my kids and husband quickly told me that they are very good and I should make them again. My tip about the recipe is to follow it. The only thing I did differently is I did not use the parchment paper like they suggested. If I was going to take them somewhere and wanted to remove them from the pan to have a nice looking cut I would use the parchment paper.

Honey Bunches Of Oats Chocolate Clusters

Thanks to Crystal’s tips at moneysavingmom I have ended up with a lot of Chocolate Honey Bunches of Oats. I had bought several boxes, for 28 cents each, a couple of weeks ago.Then this week one of the stores in our area ran it for 6 for $10. I had several $2 coupon left plus I had a couple $1 coupons from the paper a couple of weeks ago. Well, I could not pass the deal up, so I now have 6 more boxes.
Although this cereal is good, it is a bit sweet for us to eat on a regular basis for breakfast. I knew I was going to have to get creative on using it up. I decided to try making rice crispy style treats out of it. It worked great. My whole family thought they were great. I think my husband liked them better than the rice crispy ones. I know this is still not healthy, but it will help use them up, and is a quick and easy dessert.

image of honey bunches of oats chocolate clusters

I followed the basic recipe for rice crispy treats but I added extra cereal. I used 5 1/2 cups marshmallows, 1/4 cup butter, and 7 cups of cereal. Melt the butter over low heat, stir in marshmallows until melted, remove from heat, stir in cereal until well mixed. Press evenly in 9×13 pan.
This actually works with other cereals. I have done it with fruit loops, fruity pebbles and golden grams.

Freezing Meals

My tip today is about freezer cooking. I do my freezer cooking a little different than most I know. I have read quite a few freezer cookbooks. Most talk about freezing 30 meals in one day or something to that extent. I did do that at one time, but have adapted my freezer cooking to fit our need now.

I do usually have a pan or two of baked spaghetti or lasagna in the freezer, but most of my freezer meals are not really meals but the meat part of the meal. When I freeze something, I try to freeze things that are versatile. I want some variety in my meals, and I find most freezer meals are very similar, mostly pasta and soups. I like to have things in the freezer for the days I do not have time to make dinner. The meat part of the meal is usually what takes the longest to cook. Having that step out of the way is a big time saver.

My recommendation is to look at what you can do with what you are freezing. I almost always have cooked chicken in the freezer. It is one of the most versatile things I freeze. I fill up my crock pot with chicken, usually boneless, skinless breast, but any chicken works fine. Cover with water and let cook until done. The time will vary depending on the cut of chicken. When done cut up and cool. I then wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in a Ziploc bag and freeze. I then can use it in soups, enchiladas, chicken tacos, chicken sandwiches, chicken pot pie, and more.

Meatballs are another example. I have several different meatball recipes, but the idea works the same. Cook the meat balls, place on a cookie sheet, freeze until solid, remove from sheet, and place in a Ziploc bag. You can then remove as many as you need each time. I use them several different ways. I add them to a jar of spaghetti sauce and serve over pasta. You can use them with a white sauce and serve over rice, or you can make meatball subs with them.

Cooked roast beef can also be used different ways. I cook it up in the crock pot and then freeze it in some of its own juices. It works for french dips, for roast beef sandwiches, with gravy over rice, as a topping for baked potatoes, or serve it plain with any side dish.

Chili works great. I make up a double or triple batch. I freeze it, and then use it as chili, as a topping for baked potatoes, or I place it in a casserole dish and pour cornbread batter over top to make a casserole we call Chili Pot Pie.

Last week I talked about freezing taco meat. That is another one I almost always have in my freezer. It can be used for taco salad, tacos, enchiladas, or as a topping for baked potatoes.

This week I am serving freezer chili over potatoes. I am also making tacos, so I will cook up 5 lbs of meat and freeze the majority of it.

I hope this helps you look at your freezer cooking a little different.

Peach Cobbler

Adapted from Paula Deen

Big Beautiful Muffins








We really like muffins in our house and I like variety in my recipes. What I like about this recipe is you can use the basic muffin recipes and add whatever extras you want to it. Frozen blueberries or raspberries, chocolate chips or my favorite cinnamon chips. I think the yogurt gives them a very good texture.




Oatmeal Cookies

We have been making these oatmeal cookies for years.

They are a simple and yummy cookie.

Martha Stewart’s Cookies Cookbook Update

Yesterday I made my first recipe from my new cookie cookbook. It is my first recipe to try out of it so I can’t give a full review of the book yet. But if the other recipes are anything like this one I am going to enjoy this book.

We loved these cookies. I love chocolate and my husband loves peanut butter and peanuts so this recipe satisfied both of us. The one thing I changed was leaving the cinnamon out. I thought that would be too many flavors going on.

The cookbook says this cookie dough freezes well. I think I will definitely double it and try that next time. I will keep you updated on the cookbook.

Making Birthday Cakes

This week was my son’s birthday, and he wanted a Lego cake. I do not really enjoy decorating cakes. I would much rather spend my time making the cake taste good then making the cake look cute. My kids however, love to have a neat cake on their birthdays.

I am too cheap to spend a lot of money on a bakery cake, and I also do not really like the taste of most bakery cakes. I always figure I can make something taste at least that good, so I usually try to come up with something I can make for them. I try to ask them what they want and see what I can do.

It really is not my talent and you can tell by looking at them, but I have found that my kids do not care. It really does not take much to impress them. Even if I am unhappy with the cake, they are usually thrilled with it.

I have found if you look around the internet, you can find some really good ideas. Most do not take anything special to make. The Lego cake used a 9×13 pan, frosting, and marshmallows. The sunflower cake below was very easy. Just a round cake and some Twinkies. I have also done a caterpillar cake out of a bundt pan.

If I need an idea or help, I just look around the internet. Taste of Home, Betty Crocker, and Martha Stewart all have great ideas for cakes and cupcakes. I doubt I will be spending money on a bakery cake anytime soon.

My Son’s Birthday

My sons birthday was this week. We let our kids pick their menu on their birthdays. My son choose pancakes for breakfast, waffles for lunch, and mom’s pizza (homemade) for dinner. He also wanted a Lego cake. (I hope to post pictures of that later this week) Only a child would pick a menu like that.

I have to include this even though it is non food related. I was in the kitchen working and my son walked in and said, I am not any bigger now that I am six. I said what do you mean, he again said I am not any bigger. I tried to explain that you do not grow overnight it is a slow process that you do not even realize is happening. He still did not quite understand. I guess he thought six was the magic number to growing up. Then this morning he informed me that he thought his voice was changing now that he was six. He really does think six makes him officially a grown up. Where do they get these things.

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