February 27, 2011

Buttery Soft Pretzels

One of the best things about going to the mall for me is the pretzels that are usually sold there.  The smell just creeps up your nose, enticing you, the closer to the little stand that you get.  How can you possibly walk by without getting one?  I have such a hard time resisting!  They are just that good.

I have wanted to make them at home for a long time, but just never have actually put forth the effort to do so.  

I have had a recipe I found online bookmarked on my computer for the longest time, and today - I decided it was long overdue to finally make them.  

I really don't know what I was afraid of.  They aren't very hard, and your effort is truly rewarded at the end of bake time.  Now I can shop from home online - and bake these myself!  

When the baking was done, I brushed them all with melted butter & sprinkled salt on half of them - and cinnamon n' sugar on the other half.  YUM!  

February 24, 2011

Vanilla Beans for an Amazing Price!!

Premium Bourbon-Madagascar Vanilla Beans - 1/2 lb. - Approx. 54 beans

Currently, you can get 1/2 Pound of Vanilla Beans (about 54 beans) for just $22.29 (and free shipping!).  Anyone that buys vanilla beans regularly knows what an amazing deal this is!  

I bought a bag of them to make some homemade vanilla extract (1/2 gallons worth to be exact!), which I will show you how to do once my beans get here.  If you would like to make some along with me, now is the time to grab those vanilla beans since the price is so cheap right now.  

Making your own vanilla extract not only tastes better than the conventional stuff you buy in the supermarkets (which if you look at the label, you will see that it is usually watered down & other ingredients are also sometimes added) but it is also more economical.  With the current deal, it works out to just $0.66 an ounce!

At such a good price, this is one that is hard to pass up for us cooking/baking enthusiasts!

February 21, 2011

Sausage Omelets

So, they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day - but it seems that is the one meal that we spend the least amount of time preparing.  Most of the time, it's a bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee, or the dreaded cold Pop-Tart.  

Well, put those cold pop-tarts back down, & whip some of these awesome Sausage Omelets up for your family.  They don't require much time or effort, but they sure are good.

Saute up 1/2 pound of sausage, & 1 large onion.

I am making 4 nice sized omelets, so I am using about 10 eggs.  

Pour in a splash of milk, 4 tablespoons of sour cream, 1 teaspoon of ground mustard, and salt & pepper to taste.

Scramble them up well with a whisk, & pour enough in a hot, buttered omelet pan to cover the bottom.

Cook on medium heat, & flip after a couple of minutes.  If you are a pro, you can just toss it & flip.  However, if you are like me, you will use a large spatula to avoid egg splatters on the ceiling & the television in the other room.

Place a couple slices of good ol' American cheese down the middle of the omelet...

Then some sauteed onion...

Followed by the cooked sausage.

Now, time to carefully roll it up!  

I like to drizzle on a little bit of hot sauce & a good sprinkling of shredded cheese.

Sausage Omelets

***Makes 4 nicely sized omelets

  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 pound sausage
  • 1 large onion, sliced - and sauteed
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • splash of milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 slices of American cheese
  • a pat of butter
  • a few drizzles of hot sauce (optional)
  • shredded cheese to taste (optional)


With a whisk, beat the eggs, sour cream, ground mustard, milk, and salt & pepper. 

Preheat an omelet pan on medium heat & melt the butter.  Pour enough egg to 
cover thebottom of the pan.  Cook for a couple of minutes, then flip.  Cover with 
cheese, onions, & sausage.  Roll up - then sprinkle a little hot sauce & 
shredded cheese on top if you wish.

February 19, 2011

Mini Oreo Cheesecakes

The idea of these mini Oreo cheesecakes came to me several years ago when reading a recipe that called for a vanilla wafer as the base of the cheesecakes.  I thought, 'Wow, I bet an OREO would be awesome in a recipe like this'.  And so this recipe was born.  No lie - I have actually had neighbors (plural, as in from different households) show up at my front door - tin foil in hand - waiting for me to load them up on these delicious treats. 

This is all that you need:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the eggs, sugar, cream cheese, & vanilla extract using an electric mixer. 

Lightly grease a muffin pan.  Put one oreo in each one of the 12 cups.  Fill to the top with the cream cheese mixture.

Bake for about 20 minutes.  Set on a wire cooling rack until cooled completely.

Now, you can just be done here, and they are wonderful!  Or, you can take a step further & add some chocolate to it.  Now, I am a chocla-holic, so this step is mandatory for me.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips by cooking on 15 second intervels, stirring each time, until completely melted. 

Dip the bottoms of the mini cheesecakes into the chocolate, & using a small spoon, cover the tops of them with chocolate too.  Don't worry if they aren't perfectly covered...gives it character!  Carefully place them on a baking sheet covered with wax paper - or use a silicone baking board as I do. 

To make for a prettier presentation, you can also just dip the bottoms of them into the melted chocolate, & after removing - drizzle more on the tops for that 'ooh la la' effect. 

I really prefer the 'covered with oodles of chocolate approach' regardless of the presentation.  :)

Mini Oreo Cheesecakes


  • half a package of Oreos
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 (8oz) packages of room temp. cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips (optional)

  • Instructions:

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
    Using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, & vanilla extract. 
    Lightly grease a muffin pan.  Put an Oreo cookie in each one of the 12 muffin cups.  Fill to the top with the cream cheese mixture.  Bake for about 20 minutes. 
    Cool completely on a wire cooling rack. 
    If desired, melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in 15 second intervals, stirring each time, until melted.  Dip the bottoms of the mini cheesecakes in the melted chocolate, & cover the tops using a spoon.  You can also just dip the bottoms, and drizzle the chocolate on top for a prettier presentation. 
    Set the chocolate covered cheesecakes on wax paper, or another non stick surface until set.  Store in the refrigerator.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream on top if desired.

    February 14, 2011

    Simple, Last Minute Valentines Cupcakes

    Are you in need of a simple Valentines treat that you can whip up really fast?  Look no further!  This isn't even a recipe - but is sure to put a smile on some faces!  

    Make any cupcake you want.  It can be homemade, it can be from a box - really doesn't matter!  After they cool - get your frosting ready.  Again, it doesn't matter if it's homemade or not (although I prefer homemade icing - cream cheese is my favorite!)  Use a little red, pink, or purple food coloring to tint your icing to whatever shade you wish.  Frost your cupcakes, dust with sprinkles, & put a candy message heart in the middle.  


    Simple, & Spectacular!

    February 11, 2011

    Meatball 'Lasagna'

    Meatballs.  I love meatballs!  I always make a large batch them when I do my Once a Month Cooking Days.  I use this recipe, & it's excellent.  I freeze them cooked, thaw them in the refrigerator, & use them in different dishes.  One of our favorite ways of eating the meatballs is in what my family & I refer to as Meatball Lasagna.  It comes together really fast, but tastes like you have been in the kitchen all day making it.

    Start by simmering your cooked meatballs in 2 jars of spaghetti sauce.  Sometimes I make my own sauce, but in a hurry, the jarred stuff works great.  You can add in diced tomatoes or garlic if you wish - totally up to you.

    While the meatballs are simmering - combine 1 pint of ricotta cheese, 2 eggs, & 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning.

    Skim some of the sauce off of the simmering meatballs, & spread it in a 9x13 pan.

    Layer 1/2 of your noodles (I used leftover penne noodles & the noodles from the boxed mac & cheese that I knew we'd never eat as it was) - then half of the ricotta mixture, followed by 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella & half of the meatballs.

    Repeat - ending with meatballs on top - and finished off with the remaining mozzarella cheese, & a sprinking of Parmesan cheese & Italian Seasoning.

    Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  I like to cook mine on top of a baking sheet just in case there is any spillovers.

    Serve, & enjoy.  The leftovers are even better!!

    Meatball Lasagna


    • 1/3 of the meatballs in the linked recipe (or of your own choosing)
    • 2 large jars spaghetti sauce
    • 6 cups cooked noodles (penne, elbow, mix of whatever you have - doesn't really matter)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 pint ricotta cheese
    • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
    • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
    • Parmesan Cheese

    Simmer the meatballs in the spaghetti sauce.  Meanwhile, combine the ricotta cheese, eggs, & 2 tbsp of Italian seasoning.  Skim some of the sauce off of the simmering meatballs, & spread it in a 9x13 pan - covering the bottom.  Layer half of the noodles, ricotta mixture, 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese, & half of the meatballs.  Repeat.  Top with the last 1/3 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese & Italian seasoning. 

    Place the pan of lasagna on a baking sheet to prevent oven spillovers.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

    February 1, 2011

    Clean Out the Cupboards Challenge - The End. (til next year!)

    Clean Out the Cupboards Challenge

    Welcome to the Clean Out the Cupboards Challenge, co-hosted by me (Crystal) here at Mrs Happy Homemaker,  Laura at Frugal Follies, Denise at Shopper Strategy, Robbie at Going Green Mama, and Rebecca Jean over at Midnight Maniac.

    Well, we have finished the final week - and even though I have enjoyed the challenge, I am so very glad that it's over!  I am ready to replenish my stockpile as it has dwindled extremely low! 

    I have not done as well as previous weeks this week.  I started off well, but then I was out of ideas of what to make from the few things left in my pantry.  I still spent less than $50 on groceries for the week, so I guess I didn't do too bad though.  But, that total does not include the eating out we did this week.  We spent about $35 on that throughout the weekend.  Friday night I ordered in pizza because my daughters were having a sleepover.  On Sunday night we stopped by CookOut for burgers as my oldest daughter had been in the Emergency Room with an ear infection (somehow they missed that she had the flu, but that's a whole other rant story) and I just didn't have the time or the energy to cook anything.

    My whole family has learned that there is food to eat, even when we think that there isn't - and we have found lots of new recipes that we really enjoy that we would have never found if it wasn't for the pantry challenge.  Especially the Tuna Noodle Casserole with Rice Krispies!  We all love it, and I certainly would have snubbed my nose at it any other time.  It really made using up all that tuna & mac n' cheese in my cupboards a breeze!

    This post was going to be longer, but I now have 2 little girls with the flu, & I am starting to not feel so well myself - so I am going to end it now & I hope that everyone had a great month on the challenge.  I will be doing this again next year, and I hope that you will join me! 


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