Sunday, December 29, 2013

Brown Sugar and Bacon Green Beans

This side dish was a part of our Christmas dinner.  For Christmas, my family has steak, potatoes, stuffing and a vegetable.  I was in charge of the sides this year.  This recipe looked amazing.  And lets be honest, who doesn't like bacon and a little sugar with their veggies?

The dish was easy to make and was as good as it looks.  It's a perfect side dish for the holidays.  Enjoy! 

Brown Sugar and Bacon Green Beans
Courtesy of Six Sisters' Stuff

1 (16 oz) package frozen green beans
6 pieces bacon, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
garlic salt, to taste
In a large skillet, fry the bacon over medium heat until done (but not quite crisp).
Drain off grease and add butter and brown sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until the brown sugar has dissolved.
Place the green beans in a pot and fill with about 1 inch of water. Bring water to a boil and then place the lid on the pot. Steam the beans over medium heat until cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. Drain the water from the beans, season with garlic salt, and stir in the sugar and bacon mixture. Serve immediately.
If the brown sugar mixture starts to go hard, you can quickly reheat it before pouring it over your beans.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Breakfast Ring

I always try to plan out all of my recipes for Christmas a few weeks in advance.  I like to have a list of the things we're going to make and bake for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  After that, a grocery list is made.  This year, due to traveling I wasn't on top of my lists.  Thankfully, I was able to throw together a menu and list this past Monday thanks to Pinterest.  I went through my Breakfast, Christmas, Appetizer and Drink boards and made my menu.  

I have a handful of tasty recipes to share with you over the next few weeks.  I'm happy to report that all of the recipes I chose for the holiday were a success.  The first one I've decided to share was the Christmas breakfast recipe.  My dad always makes bacon and eggs.  I decided this breakfast ring would be the perfect final touch for the meal.  Who doesn't like something sweet along with their bacon and eggs?!?  

I used a bunt cake pan to make this ring.  I used Pam instead of butter.  I honestly felt the recipe would be just as good with half the butter.  I also didn't use all of the pudding mix.  Those are the only suggested changes I would recommend.  It was easy to make.  My icing was running because I didn't wait long enough for the cake to cool, but it was really good warm.  The entire family gave this recipe two thumbs up.  They even suggested I make it again next year.  This would also be a great recipe for a brunch or coffee date.  Enjoy! 

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Breakfast Ring
Courtesy of Pillsbury 


cup butter, softened
(12.4-oz.) cans Pillsbury® Refrigerated Cinnamon Rolls with Icing
(3.4-oz.) pkg. vanilla pudding and pie filling mix (not instant)
cup firmly packed brown sugar
cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips


1. Heat oven to 375°F. Using 1 tablespoon of the butter, generously butter 12-cup fluted tube cake pan. In small microwavable bowl, microwave remaining butter on High 1 min or until melted when stirred.

2. Separate both cans of dough into 16 rolls. Cut each roll in half crosswise; place half of roll pieces in pan. Sprinkle with half of the dry pudding mix and half of the brown sugar. Drizzle with half of the melted butter. Repeat with remaining roll pieces, pudding mix, brown sugar and melted butter. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

3. Bake 24 to 28 minutes or until rolls are deep golden brown and dough appears done when slightly pulled apart. Cool in pan 2 minutes. Place heatproof serving platter upside down over pan; turn platter and pan over. Remove pan. Cool 15 minutes.

4. Remove lid from icing. Microwave icing on High 10 to 15 seconds or until of drizzling consistency. Drizzle icing over ring. Cut into wedges to serve.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Mexican Meatballs

Looking for a twist on traditional meatballs?!?  If so, you've come to the right place.  
Everyone in our house is a fan of Mexican food, even the little one.  
I make it once a week.  Often I find myself looking for recipes beyond the easy tacos.  

These meatballs took no time to make.  I served them over brown rice, corn and black beans.  I topped them off with fresh mango salsa (from the grocery store).  Enjoy!

Mexican Meatballs
Adapted from Mix and Match Mama

1 pound ground turkey (or beef)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup breadcrumbs 
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 package of taco seasoning 
2 eggs, beaten
2 splashes milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
In a medium bowl, combine ground turkey, garlic, breadcrumbs, cheese, taco seasoning, eggs and milk.   Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and placed on a lightly greased baking pan (I usually use a broiling pan). Roast in the oven about 20 minutes or until brown. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Easy Crockpot Potato Soup

If you're anything like me you use your crockpot at least once a week during the winter.  Heck maybe in the summer as well.  Anyhow, mine doesn't leave my counter during the winter months.  Most weeks I use it twice.  

This past week I made potato soup. 
It was exactly what I was looking for.  
Rich, creamy and filling.  
Perfect for a cold winter night.  

1 30oz. bag of frozen diced hash browns
1 32 oz box of chicken broth
1 can of cream of chicken soup (10 oz)
1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz, not fat free)
3 oz bacon bits 
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
salt and pepper to taste 

Put the hash browns in the crockpot.  Add in the chicken broth, cream of chicken soup and half of the bacon bits.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper.  
Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until potatoes are tender.  
An hour before serving, cut the cream cheese into small cubes.  Place the cubes in the crock pot.  Mix a few times throughout the hour before serving.  
 Once the cream cheese is completely mixed in, it's ready to serve.  
Top with cheddar cheese and some additional bacon bits.  

If you want the printable recipe, go HERE

If you're looking for another delicious recipe, check out one of my newest, corn chowder

Check out my Pinterest board for more of my favorite recipes! 
Follow Leah's board Simply Made with Love on Pinterest.

*affiliate links used in this post*

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Favorite Christmas Cookies

When looking for Christmas cookie recipes this year, I went through all of the recipes I made over the past years.  Some have been a huge hit and others, not so much.  I decided to make a list of all of my favorites to share with you all today.  The best part about these cookies is they are simple and easy.  The only one I would say is more difficult is #5 the White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread.  The reason I included that one is because they are worth the extra time they take to make.  They won best cookie at my cookie exchange two years ago and are  a huge hit on Pinterest! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cookies

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies
They're all over my kitchen.  
Many have been boxed and given to friends. 
But many are still hanging around. 
Which means, hubs and I are eating them. 
These are probably one of my new favorites.  
If you love cinnamon (like me), you'll enjoy these. 
Part of me wanted to add chocolate chips to the recipe, but I'm glad I didn't.  
They were perfect (and EASY) just the way they are! 
If you're looking for a recipe to bring to a cookie exchange, these would be a hit!

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cookies 
Courtesy of Lemons for Lulu 
1 cup butter softened
1 ½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 ¼ cup flour 
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt 
¾ teaspoon cinnamon *I doubled the cinnamon*
1 10 oz bag Cinnamon Chips

1. Preheat oven to 375. In a bowl of a mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat until creamy. Add the egg and mix well. Place the four, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Carefully add flour mixture to butter mixture-scraping bowl as necessary. Continue to mix until well blended. Stir in cinnamon chips.
2. Drop dough by tablespoons onto cookie sheets. Bake just until edges are set, about 8-10 minutes. Let cookies cool for 1 minute on baking sheets before removing to a cooling wrack.
*Makes 48 cookies*

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Christmas is almost here, which means Christmas baking is in full swing around here.  
I'm off to a bit of a late start this year due to a nice long week of sickness in our house.  Thankfully everyone is on the mend, lets hope it stays that way for the rest of the month!

Each year I try to make a bunch of different Christmas cookies. 
I give them to neighbors, friends and send them to work with hubs. 

This year I searched through my Pinterest board for different recipes.  
I came up with a list of 10 new cookies I want to make.  

First up were these peppermint chocolate chip cookies.  I love peppermint with chocolate, especially over the holidays.  These cookies were the perfect mix of the two.  They weren't too pepperminty, nor did they have too much chocolate. Hubs isn't even a peppermint fan and he enjoyed them. They would pair well with a nice hot peppermint mocha from Starbucks!  Enjoy! 

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Adapted from Lil' Luna 


- 1/2 cup butter (softened)
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 2 cups of chocolate chips 
- 1 cup Andes Peppermint Crunch Pieces


1. Cream butter, oil and sugars in your mixer.
2. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Add almond and vanilla extract, mix again.  
3. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt to a separate bowl and mix well. 
Add to wet ingredients and mix well.
4. Add chocolate chips and peppermint crunch pieces.   Mix well.
5. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

*I used a medium cookie scoop for these cookies*

Friday, November 29, 2013

Caramel Apple Baked Donuts

I took the week off work this week, which means I have some time to catch up on my blogging.  I made these donuts back in October.  Back then, we were doing good with making donuts at home on Saturday mornings.  It's a tradition we've been slacking on the past month!

I picked up this cake mix from Target.  I had never seen it before and knew I could put it to good use, not really having an idea what I would make with it.  Since there was an icing that paired with it, I picked it up too.  

While going through my cake mixes to see which one I was going to use for donuts, I decided to give this one a try.  I was hoping they would be the perfect fall donut.  The baked donuts are so simple to make.  This is the recipe I used as my guide for making these donuts.  I was very pleased with how they came out.  Hubs preferred the chocolate ones, but my mom and I enjoyed these.  Definitely perfect for a cool fall morning. Enjoy! 

Caramel Apple Baked Donuts

1 box of caramel apple cake mix 
1 cup of milk 
2 large eggs
1 stick of butter (melted) 
1 can of caramel apple frosting 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease donut pan.  
Mix eggs, butter, milk and cake mix.  
Stir until smooth. 
Pour batter into donut pan (1/3 filled). 
Bake 11-13 minutes.  

Let them cool completely.  
Put about half of the container of frosting in a microwavable bowl. 
Microwave for about 20 seconds and stir.  Repeat until the frosting is melted enough for you to easily dip and coat the donuts.  
I dipped some of the donuts and drizzled frosting over the others. 
 After I was done with the frosting, I let them cool a bit.  

Store in an air tight container for 3 days.  I also froze the leftover donuts in a freezer bag.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodle Bars

I've been meaning to post this recipe for weeks now.  I made it for hubs to bring to work for a recent potluck.  I look forward to his potlucks at work.  Now that I am not teaching or living close to family and friends, I don't have as many people to bake for. I don't like to bake just for hubs and I because we end up eating it and we don't need all the sweets I make!  

I found this recipe on one of my favorite bloggers, The Mix and Match Mama.  
She calls this treat Thanksgiving in a bar, and I couldn't agree more.  It tastes just like pumpkin pie, just in a handy dandy bar.  It received 5 star reviews from hubs coworkers and I enjoyed the piece I kept at home for myself.  I will be making this every year from here on out.  Enjoy!! 

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bars
Adapted from Mix and Match Mama

1 box of spice cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 stick of butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar +1 TBS
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice +1TBS
1 cup flour
1 can of canned pumpkin (about 1.5 cups)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish with Pam.
In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix, veggie oil, and 2 eggs with an electric mixer.  Spread  mixture across the bottom of your pan.
In a second mixing bowl, cream together your butter and sugar.  Slowly beat in your remaining 2 eggs and vanilla.

In a smaller bowl, combine your baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and flour with fork.  Slowly beat this dry mixture into your butter mixture.  Beat in your pumpkin.

Spread the pumpkin mixture down on top of your cake mix layer in the pan. 

Mix the extra TBS of pumpkin pie spice and sugar together.  
Sprinkle mixture over the top of the pumpkin mixture.  

 Bake 38 to 40 minutes.

Let your bars cool at least one hour before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Snickers Caramel Apple Salad

  A few weeks back we went to a friends house for a BBQ.  I volunteered to bring dessert.  After seeing this recipe floating all over Pinterest, I had been wanting to make it.  This BBQ was the perfect opportunity. How can you go wrong with snickers, cook whip and caramel (oh and apples too!) 

One of my favorite Halloween candy is the Caramel Apple Milky Way's.  I thought they would be perfect to add to this recipe.  If you make this any other time of year, you may not be able to find them.  In that case, add another snickers bar to the recipe.  

I wish I had a better picture of the finished product.  I made it at our friends house, so all I had was my phone when it was finished.  This was the perfect dessert for a BBQ.  It was light, refreshing with the chopped apples and sweet.  The candy pieces were of course my favorite.  I'm glad we left the leftovers at the BBQ or else I would have devoured the rest!  

Snickers Caramel Apple Salad
Adapted from The Baking Bride 

4 Regular Snicker Bars chopped 
10 mini Caramel Apple Milky Way bars chopped 
5 Chopped Apples (I didn't peel mine)
1 Pack Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix (dry)
1/2 Cup Milk
16 oz. Whipped Topping
Caramel Ice Cream Topping

Chop apples, milky way and snickers into cubes; set aside. Whisk together pudding mix, milk, and cool whip until creamy and with no clumps. Stir in apples and snickers.  Lastly, drizzle the caramel topping over the entire salad. Chill for an hour in the fridge.  
Serve and Enjoy!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Squash, Zucchini and Onions with Brown Sugar

I find myself making the same side dishes week in and out.  We find one thing we like and make it over and over again.  With zucchini and squash, I usually sauté or bake it with a sprinkle of italian spices, parmesan cheese and a little EVOO.

When I saw this on Pinterest (where else?) I decided to change things up.  This was definitely a sweet side.  It was toddler and hubs approved, but because of the sugar (even though it's not a lot), not something I'll make all the time.  Definitely work making though! 

Squash and Onions with Brown Sugar
Courtesy of The Kitchn
serves 2
1 large yellow squash and 1 large zucchini  (or 2 medium of each)
2 small onions (or one medium)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
Slice the squash into 1/2-inch rounds, cutting large ones in half. You should end up with roughly 2 cups of cut squash. Cut the onions into similar-sized slices.
Add the butter to a wide sauce pan that has a lid and heat over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onions and cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add squash, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Stir, then cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until squash is very soft.
Remove the cover and continue to cook for about 8 minutes, just to give the juices a chance to evaporate slightly. There will be some liquid in the pan, but it should be thicker than water, almost like a glaze. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed, and serve immediately.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mini Caramel Apple Cupcakes

I made these mini cupcakes for a Halloween playdate.  There were a bunch of little ones in attendance along with their moms.  I wanted to make a treat that was festive, tasty and easy to eat.  One that both the kids and adults could enjoy.  These fit the bill and didn't disappoint.  The hardest part of the recipe was the caramel.  It dried really fast, so I had get my husband to help me put the toppings on before it dried.  These would be great for class parties or even Thanksgiving potlucks.  Enjoy!

MIni Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Courtesy of Taste of Home


  • 1 package spice, carrot cake or caramel apple cake mix(regular size)
  • 2 cups chopped peeled tart Apples
  • 20 caramels
  • 3 tablespoons 2% milk
  • toppings (sprinkles, toasted pecans, walnuts, mini chocolate chips)
  • 48 Popsicle sticks


  1. Prepare cake batter according to package directions; fold in apples.
  2. Fill 48 greased or paper-lined mini muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350° for 8-10 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.
  3. In a small saucepan, cook the caramels and milk over low heat until smooth. Spread over cupcakes. Sprinkle IMMEDIATELY with toppings. Insert a wooden or craft stick into the center of each cupcake.                                    

    Yield: 48 mini cupcakes

Monday, October 21, 2013

Orange Glazed Chicken Wings

Hubs and I made these last night for the Sunday Night Football game. 
We've never made wings at home before.  
I found this recipe in a book I have at home and decided it looked easy enough to try.  

Results:  Happy husband.  He raved about them (of course he added a little wing sauce to his).  He kept saying over and over how good they were.  That was followed by, I didn't think wings would be this easy to make...we need to make them more often.  I would say these are a win.  And the fact that they are baked...even better!  Enjoy! 

Orange Glazed Chicken Wings 
Adapted from Taste of Home 

2-3 pounds of chicken wings 
1 cup of soy sauce
1 1/2 cup of orange juice
1 tsp garlic powder 

Cut wings into three sections, discard wing tips.  
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine soy sauce, OJ and garlic powder.  
Seal bag and turn to coat. 
Refrigerate overnight. 

Drain and discard marinade. 
Place wings in a large greased foil lined baking pan.  
Bake at 350 for one hour, until glaze is set, turing twice in between.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

BBQ Chili

I guess I'm on a bit of a BBQ kick lately.  Maybe this Texas living is rubbing off on me...

Chili is a staple in our house during the fall and winter months.  
I make it once a week, usually on Sunday or Monday so that we can enjoy leftovers for lunch throughout the week.  I've been making the same chili recipe lately and was ready for a change.  I pinned this one on Pinterest recently and decided to give it a go. 

Results:  This was exactly what I was looking for.  A recipe that wasn't your typical chili but still hearty enough to fill you up.  It reminded me of a sloppy joe.  Even my one year old ate the beans, meat and corn.  She is super picky so this is definitely a win in our house!  Enjoy! 
BBQ Chili
Adapted from I Heart Eating 

1 lb. lean ground turkey (or beef)
1 onion, finely chopped (optional, we don't use onions)
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained
3 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
1 (16 oz.) bottle of barbecue sauce (sweet baby rays is our go to)
2 tsp. chili powder 
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. cumin
1 T. brown sugar

  1. Brown the ground meat. Drain.
  2. Return the cooked meat to the pot.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

BBQ Joes

I'm always on the hunt for new dinner recipes. 
Especially ones that don't take me a long time to cook. 
When I came across this one on the Mix and Match Mama, I added it to my menu. 
Not only did it seem simple, but it is perfect for the cooler rainy weather we had last week.  

Results:  A meal we will be making again.  Hubs exact comment was "with beef, bread, and cheese you can't go wrong".  I didn't add the cheese to mine and it was still good.  The only thing I would change is draining the beef after it's cooked, before you add in the tomatoes and BBQ sauce.  Enjoy! 

BBQ Joes

2 pieces of  frozen Texas Toast per person, toasted in the oven per package directions
1 pound of ground beef 
1 (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce (your favorite)
1 1/2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
Pickled jalapenos to garnish, optional
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Salt and Pepper

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown your ground beef in a splash of EVOO.  Once brown, sprinkle in a little S&P and reduce heat to low and stir in your tomatoes and BBQ sauce.  Simmer uncovered about 8 to 10 minutes.

Take your toasted Texas toast and spoon your Sloppy Joe mixture down over the top.  Sprinkle a little cheese on top and garnish with your jalapenos.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chocolate Spice Bundt Cake

One of my favorite winter drinks is mexican hot chocolate.  Have you ever had it? 
It's amazing.  Chocolate and cinnamon come together in a warm cup of bliss.   
If it's warm where you are, I recommend the mexican mocha ice storm.  You'll thank me later! My love for the combination of cinnamon and chocolate is the reason I chose to make this cake.  

Results:  Perfection.  It's mexican hot chocolate in a cake.  The only change I made was adding a bag of cinnamon chips to the recipe.  I added half of the bag to the cake batter.  I melted the other half and poured it over the cake (after it had cooled).  Enjoy!

Chocolate Spice Bundt Cake
Courtesy of Mix and Match Mama 

1 box of chocolate cake mix
2 small boxes of instant chocolate pudding
1/2 cup of veggie oil
1 1/4 cups of water
4 eggs
4 tablespoons cinnamon, divided
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
3-4 splashes milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease a 10 inch bundt pan
In mixing bowl, combine cake mix, puddings, oil, water and eggs with electric mixer.  Mix in 2 tablespoons of cinnamon.  Pour into prepared bundt pan.
Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let cake rest on counter in pan 10 minutes. Then, invert cake onto serving plate to finish cooling.
To make the frosting, beat cream cheese with powdered sugar and milk until creamy.  Beat in remaining 2 tablespoons of cinnamon.  Spread on cooled cake.

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