Baked Apple Oatmeal

So my mother-in-law gave us a 5 pound bag of rolled oats that she bought on accident. I am not one to chow down on a bowl of steaming gruel, I mean oatmeal. So I got to work and made of something that we could eat that would be tasty and satisfying.
You will need:

3 cups of oatmeal (you can use instant or regular)

1 cup of brown sugar

4 eggs

1/2 cup of oil (if you like it crispier, you can use a stick of melted butter instead)

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup of craisins

1/2 cup of slivered almonds

1 peeled and chopped apple

Mix everything together in a mixing bowl and then bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes in a greased 13×9 pan.

(I know the pan in the photo is not 13×9, my 13×9 has leftover enchiladas in it. So I made the oatmeal in two 9×9 pans instead.)

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Chicken Salad

The  Cast of characters:

2 cans of chicken (we use the ones from Costco)
3 stalks of celery chopped (love the Trader Joe’s celery. It seems to stay the freshest in my fridge the longest.)
1  sliced green onion (optional)
1 chopped granny smith apple (with the skin still on)
1/4 cup of craisins
1/4-1/2 cup of sliced almonds
1 tsp of poppy seeds
a squirt of honey
mayo to taste

First I mix the mayo, poppy seeds and honey. I usually use 1/2-3/4 a cup of mayo, feel free to use more. (We just don’t like our stuff to be overly mayo-ish)

Then mix everything else together in the mayonnaise. It gets really good if you let the flavors “marry” so feel free to make this ahead of time and let it sit. But you can serve it right away too.

You can serve it on a bed of greens and make a nice big salad; alternatively, you could serve it on whole wheat bread and make a fancy sandwich. My favorite way though is to serve it on the Trader Joe’s three cheese sour dough bread with a slice of provolone cheese and grill it for a chicken salad melt. Yummy!

Shredded BBQ Chicken in a Crock Pot and EASY Twice Baked Potatoes

You take 4 boneless skin less frozen chicken boobs. (Unless you like dark meat, (I don’t) then feel free to mix it up) Throw them in your crock pot on low with about 1/2-3/4 a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce. I use the Trader Joe’s BBQ sauce.

Let it sit there for several hours. Then about 1/2 an hour before you want to serve them take two forks and shred the chicken in the crock pot. Let the shredded chicken sit in there for about 1/2 an hour, then serve on buns. We use the Trader Joe’s Honey Whole Wheat buns. Good times. 🙂

Easy Twice Baked Potatoes

Scrub 2 largish baking potatoes. (Russet) Prick them a few times with a fork and cook them in the microwave. (Shh! Don’t tell people I actually use the microwave… I think they are sacrilege!)

Then cut them in half and scoop out most of the middle. (Leave enough that your potato skin can maintain its structural integrity.)
Throw the scooped out potato in a mixing bowl with some shredded cheddar cheese, a couple of pats of butter (Don’t make me go all Paula Deen on y’all! Use real butter!) 1/4 cup of sour cream, 1/4 cup of cream cheese a couple of slices of crumbled bacon, and a teaspoon or so of seasoning. Blend until creamy. And oh will it be creamy.  (For seasoning, I use Paula Deen’s house seasoning which is a blend of salt, black pepper and garlic powder.)

Scoop the creaminess back into the potato skins and bake at 425 for about 20-30 minutes. You want the top of the potato to brown a little. Serve with meat or BBQ. I have seen a grown man cry over the glorious-ness that are these potatoes. Enjoy!

Recipe Review: The Pioneer Woman’s Chocolate Sheet Cake

First, if you haven’t already, you NEED to go and buy The Pioneer Woman cookbook. It’s okay, I will wait.

Okay now that that’s done, onto the review.

I think that’s all I need to say, isn’ t it?

But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t run on, so here we go.

This cake was ridiculously easy to make. I will not be buying chocolate cake mix anymore. Sorry Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines. It is worth the entire box of butter you need to make it and more. I was not going to put the pecans in the icing, because I just wasn’t. But I was lazy and I did not sift the powdered sugar before making the icing. So there were going to be lumps. So I put the pecans in to hide the lumps and it worked like a charm.

The icing firms up a bit and it is like having a layer of fudge on top of moist buttery cake.  It is soooooooo good. The icing is also easy to make, especially if you are going to put the pecans in. If you feel like omitting the nuts, make sure you sift the sugar. One thing about this though, it tends to get a little messy.

But that’s okay. It is a small price to pay for a large sheet cake of heaven. By the way, it is DIVINE with whipped cream on top. I am normally a purist, but oh my word!!! The whipped cream is just even more heavenly.

Don’t mind my kitchen gnome…

Lucy is just bitter that she did not get any cake.

A Food Review: Disneyland’s Yule Log

So I tried to get a picture of it before it was attacked by four forks, but I was not successful. Alton stuck his fork right in the middle and pulled out the good part immediately.

The cake itself was VERY spongy. But when we watch the Guy Fieri Disneyland Christmas special, (What, you missed it? You don’t have The Food Network on continuous loop at your house like we do? Alton can say Bobby Flay. But I digress.) the pastry chef who showed Guy how they make it says that the cake is very spongy because it is half cornstarch and half flour. Apparently the corn starch allows the cake to roll into the log shape more easily. The butter cream icing (the good part) was awesome. Personally, I loved the chocolate ganache icing on the outside. Travis thought it was too rich, but Alton, Kate and myself had no problem eating it. When they made it on the food network show, I could have sworn they put streaked butter cream on the outside of the cake as well, but since I enjoyed the ganache,  I did not miss it. The inside has enough butter cream  love for everyone.

You can get it at the The Plaza Inn at the end of Main Street. It is $5 a slice, but it fed four of us and we all had plenty. It was fun to share and Alton gave it two very enthusiastic dimpled cheeks. 😉

Gingerbread Eggnog Trifle

Eggnog Gingerberad Trifle Did you know that I don’t like Eggnog? I can’t stand the stuff. My husband loves it and I have to buy him a quart once a week or so during the holiday season. If I bring him home some Eggnog Ice cream, I am wife of the year.

So one day when I had a LOT of egg nog leftover and I had to make dessert for some occasion, I thought, “Well I won’t have to eat it, why not make it with egg nog?” I have never seen my trifle dish empty so fast!!! People were swiping the inside of the trifle bowl with their fingers and licking off the remains when it was empty. I figured I should make it again and I tried it myself. I hate eggnog, but I LOVE this dessert.

Would you like to know how to make it?

I make a semi-homemade version of this. If I knew how to make Gingerbread cake from scratch I might, but boxed Gingerbread cake mixes are highly prevalent this time of year and Trader Joe’s Gingerbread cake mix is perfect. So why mess with perfection?

You will need:

1 box of Gingerbread cake mix by the manufacturer of your choice. (I choose Trader Joe’s)

(the eggs, oil, milk and or water required by your cake mix, TJ’s requires 1 egg, 1/3 of a cup of oil (I use Canola) and 3/4 Cup of water I believe)

1 5.1 ounce box of instant Vanilla Pudding

1 quart of whole fat Eggnog (If you use low fat eggnog, you will have loose pudding, and that just sounds wrong somehow.)

1 quart of heavy whipping cream (yep, we are making our own whipped cream!)

1/4 cup of sugar

2 tsp of the extract of your choice (I use vanilla. You could skip the extract and use brandy if you are feeling saucy. I don’t have brandy, but I did have some Jack Daniels lying around… it made yummy whipped cream too)

First off make your Gingerbread cake according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Let it cool completely, because you don’t want your pudding or whipped creamy to go wonky. There is nothing worse than wonky dairy products! (Now would be a good time to stash your stand mixer bowl (or whatever bowl you are going to whip your cream in) in the freezer for ease in cream whipping later.)

Then, in a bowl with some space to stir, pour in 3 cups of the egg nog. (I use the Pampered Chef 8 cup measuring cup. That thing is the best!) Then pour the packing of pudding mix into the egg nog and whisk for about 2 minutes. I also at this point, sprinkle in some extra nutmeg to make the pudding extra egg-noggy. (That’s a word, right?) Refrigerate until your Gingerbread cake is cool enough to assemble the trifle. (You will have about 1 cup of eggnog leftover. You do with that whatever you want, I am not telling a soul. No one else knows it’s whole fat, right?)

Now that your Gingerbread is cool and your eggnog pudding is set, we make the whipped cream.

Pour the whole two cups of heavy cream into the bowl of your stand mixer (which you have just removed from the freezer), and mix in the sugar and flavoring of your choice. Whip that cream into submission! And by submission we mean until stiff peaks form.

Now we are ready to assemble!

Cut or break your cake in half. Then crumble the gingerbread into bite size pieces. Layer them on the bottom of the trifle bowl. (My favorite trifle bowl is my Pampered Chef one. This recipe is the perfect size to fit in that bowl by the way.)

Next, layer 1/2 of the egg nog pudding on top of the Gingerbread.

Then, spread half of your whipped cream on top of the pudding.

Then repeat with the three layers with your remaining ingredients.  If you are feeling fancy, you can pipe your top layer of whipped cream on the trifle. Since I normally travel with this dessert, and put a lid on it, I just spread a nice thick layer on top and then sprinkle with some chopped craisins and crumbled Gingerbread cookies if I have any laying around.

Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving, but honestly, over night is better. 🙂

I just submitted this to allrecipes for publication, so if you have an account and want to add this recipe to your recipe box there, here is the link. 🙂

Pizza Bagels

I went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for college. Best 2 1/2 years of my life before motherhood began. Anyway, there were several eateries on campus, but the most popular lunch spot was the Sandwich Plant. They had loads of sandwich options, but my favorite and something I ate for days on end was their pizza bagel.

You take a simple bagel and cut it in half.

Top it with pizza sauce. (I believe theirs was out of a can, but it was an institution, so we won’t blame them.)

Top with veggies and cooked meat of your choosing. (In college I had them put on mushrooms, green bell peppers, olives, and bacon. Ummmm. Bacon.)

Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese and broil to your heart’s content.

I will be back later with photos of the updated version. 🙂