Monday, September 28, 2009

Cheesecake Cupcakes

The theme for this week is to use up as much of the house warming party leftover food as possible.  It takes some creative repurposing so we'll see what I come up with.  The first item that I made tonight were Cheesecake Cupcakes to get rid of some of those nilla wafers that we had leftover from the chocolate fountain (which, omg was awesome!). 

The recipe comes from a site that I discovered during my engineering days at UC.  If you look at the original recipe, the formatting for the instructions is a little different than a traditional cookbook but makes so much sense and takes up so little room.

Cheesecake Cupcakes
(Source: Cooking for Engineers)
Serves 12

  • 1 lb cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 12 vanilla wafer cookies (such as Nilla Wafers)
  • topping of choice - cherry pie filling, strawberry pie filling, blueberry pie filling, mandarin oranges, chocolate kisses or chips, nuts, etc...choose your poison ;)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a muffin tin with aluminum foil muffin cups.
  3. Place a vanilla wafer cookie in the bottom of each cup.
  4. In a mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and eggs.  Let rest and disperse air bubbles by tapping mixture.  (This will prevent the cake from "falling" after you remove it from the oven.)
  5. Fill cups about 3/4 full with cream cheese mixture.
  6. Top with topping then bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  7. Take out of oven and remove cups from pan.  Place on a cooling rack until completely cooled then transfer to refrigerator.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Grandma B.'s Brownies

I asked Mary Lynn to make this classic family recipe as one of our open house desserts.  Chris' Grandma B. was a fabulous baker.  Her desserts were delectable and the sweet tooth was definitely passed onto Chris.  I used to think that boxed brownie mix was good...until there was this.  It was love at first bite.  Sometimes Mary Lynn will even substitute some peanut butter chips or add peanut butter for that nutty taste that Chris goes gaga for :P. 

Sorry, no pictures at the moment but next time they're made I'll be sure to snap a photo to add to this entry!

Grandma B.'s Brownies
(Source: Helen B., Chris' grandmother)

  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 1 can Hershey syrup (not the stuff in the plastic bottle)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 c chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make brownies, beat together sugar, margarine, and can of hershey syrup.  Then beat eggs.  Once well mixed, add flour.
  3. Pour brownie batter into a greased 13"x9" pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.  If toothpick comes out of center clean, it is done.
  4. While brownies are baking, prepare frosting.  In a saucepan, stir together margarine, sugar, milk.  Bring to a boil for 2 minutes then add chocolate chips.  Beat until smooth then pour over warm brownies.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

This dip was included in our recent open house menu.  Who can argue about something creamy, cheesy, and gooey?!  Oh and yes, there is spinach and artichoke so count that towards your veggie quota for the day ;).  Once you make this dip, you'll be so happy that you can make it home instead of buying it at the restaurant!  It's so easy and so good!  I've found that you can just use the "italian blend" cheese instead of individual cheese and it works great (and it's cheaper to not have to buy 3 types of cheese individually!).  I heat mine up then throw it in the crockpot to make sure it's nice and hot throughout the party :).

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip
(Source: Modified from All Recipes)

15 Min
25 Min
40 Min

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (low fat OK) 
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (low fat OK) 
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese  
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or instead of above 3, just use 3/4 cup Italian Style shredded cheese)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder 
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Dash of hot sauce 
  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheese(s), garlic, basil, garlic salt, onion powder, salt and pepper. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.
  2. Microwave until mixture is hot, stirring occasionally.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a crockpot on "warm" setting.  Turn off occasionally or add water or additional mayo over time if mixture starts to become too dry.  Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips, and/or celery.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cha Cha's White Chicken Chili

It's not often that I find a recipe that is TOO hot for me (I usually have to ADD some heat)!  This one...well, it was too hot as written but with some modifications it would be delicious without burning your mouth up :).  I had made this a few times in the past but it's been awhile so I must have forgotten about this and my tweaks so now I have a spicy batch.  For those coming to the open house, ask me to try a bite if you like it hot!!  I also think it's a bit too thin to be a "chili" as written so I took some steps to make it a bit more hearty.  I figure this is pretty darn healthy because it has no oil or fat other than what's in the broth and chicken meat.  And all those beans must add up to a good amount of fiber.  ("Beans beans they're good for your heart, the more you eat the more you fart, the more you fart the better you feel, so eat some beans with every meal!" Ha!)  Below are my modifications.

Cha Cha's White Chicken Chili
(Source: Modified from All Recipes)

10 Min
45 Min
55 Min

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 ounce canned diced jalapeno peppers, drained 
  • 6 ounce canned chopped green chile peppers, drained 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional - for more heat) 
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can water 
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans white beans, drained 
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  1. In a stockpot on high heat, add chicken broth and can of water.  Heat until boiling then add chicken breast and reduce heat to simmer.
  2. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno, green chiles, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper. 
  3. Cook for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked throughout. 
  4. Remove chicken and let cool on cutting board or plate for several minutes before shredding into bite size pieces.  Return chicken pieces to soup.
  5. While the chicken is cooling, add 2 cans of beans to soup.  Take the third and mash the beans before adding to the soup.  Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occassionally.
  6. Remove the soup from heat.  Slowly stir in the cheese until melted.  Serve warm with tortilla chips and top with a dallop of sour cream, if desired.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Barbeque Chicken Pizza

Lunches on weekends always seems to be a challenge.  You want to throw something together quickly and without much effort.  Generally I like to reheat leftovers :).  Today, I decided to combine bits and pieces of leftovers to create an all new, original meal.  How about that!  Now, you may customize this to your own needs but this is what I ended up using because as I said earlier, it's what we had "leftover".

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Source: A Christine Original
Serves 2

  • 4 Pillsbury Grands biscuits
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Rotisserie chicken, pulled into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thin
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Mozzerella cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350*.  Combine biscuits into a single large dough ball.  Stretch dough and spread thin onto a pizza pan or baking sheet.
  2. Spread a thin layer of BBQ sauce onto the dough.  Top with chicken pieces and onion slices.  Last, sprinkle with the cheddar and some mozzerella, to taste.
  3. Bake pizza in oven about 14 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly. 
  4. Remove from oven.  Cut and serve.  Add some dashes of Tobasco, if desired.  Bon appetite!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sausage, Onion, and Green Pepper Fra Diavolo

This recipe was something I threw together the past evening and based off another recipe that I found.  Everything was onhand and Chris really seemed to enjoy it so guess that makes it a winner :).

Sausage Onion and Green Pepper Penne Arrabiata
(Source: Based off this recipe at All Recipes)

20 Min
40 Min
1 Hr

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 cups whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (16 ounce) package penne pasta
  • 1 (12 ounce) package John Morrell Smoked Sausage, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 green pepper, seeded and sliced  

  1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with the garlic over medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, pour in the tomatoes. Season with salt and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions, or until al dente; drain.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat. Add the sausage and saute until lightly browned. Add peppers and onions and cook until tender. Add sausage, peppers, and onions to the tomato mixture. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce just begins to bubble. Toss with hot pasta and serve.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


On the same (lonely) night as making Finn Misua Bread I also decided to prep dinner for the following night by making my Mom's Lasagna.  There's something ultra comforting about all the oozy cheesy goodness and well, it reminds me of home :).  Nothing like a trusted favorite to complete your day.  It also helped pass the time while I was waiting for that bread to rise!

(Source: Momma L.)
Serves a lot of people...~12 slices

  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked, drained, and cooled
  • 2 cans Hunts spaghetti sauce
  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. On stove, brown ground beef or turkey.  Drain the fat and then add both cans of spaghetti sauce and allow to cool.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together cottage cheese, egg, salt, and a dash of pepper.
  3. In a 9x13 pan, spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom.
  4. Then begin layering: add 3 noodles, about 1/3 of the sauce, dot half the cottage cheese mixture, and sprinkle about half the mozzarella cheese.
  5. Repeat Step 3 to form your second layer.
  6. For the top layer, add 3 noodles and remaining sauce on top.  Make sure to cover the noodles completely so that they do not get crispy during baking.  Note: If you are making this in advance, cover the pan and place in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
  7. Bake at 350* for 1 hour until lasagna is bubbly and cheese is melted. Sprinkle the top with cheese in the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Finn Nisu Bread

Update 11/16/09: So I think there was a translation issue on the recipe card that I got this from...I believe the actual bread goes by "Nisu" or "Nisua" Bread, not Misua as originally posted.  I can understand how this may have happened through the years of passing down a recipe and so I'd like to try to fix it, if I can :).  This change is based on Google search (there's no way my little website could be the #1 hit on Google otherwise!).

Chris had a work dinner so what did I do to occupy my evening?  I made homemade bread.  BUT not just any bread, it was Finn Misua Bread!  As a tribute to my husband's Finnish heritage I asked what a popular dish was.  This bread was what Tom thought of and Mary Lynn had a recipe for it from a co-worker so I thought heck, I'd give it a try.

It made 4 very large loaves.  Our friend JJ came over as it was fresh out of the oven to help taste test and eat some.  The Finns apparently dunk this in coffee.  I'd say that for my first attempt at bread, it was pretty good.  Making bread isn't that difficult but it's time consuming so make sure you set aside a long block of time.  If I were to make it again, I would allow more time to rise (the 2 hrs instead of 1.5 each time) and add more sugar to the top.  The instructions said to "sprinkle" and did not give a set amount of sugar but Chris said it was not sweet enough so I'm changing the directions to "sprinkle liberally" :).

PS: The picture of the bread is the actual bread I made! It looked so pretty!  (Yeah in case you didn't know, I normally cheat and pull photos from the recipe/web!)

Finn Nisu Bread

Makes 4-5 loafs

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2/3 stick margarine
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar + extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large or 3 medium eggs
  • 1 package + 1 tsp yeast (dry)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 8 cups flour
  • 10+ cardamom seeds (peeled and mashed) or ~1 tsp ground cardamom

  1. On stove heat milk, margarine, sugar, and salt.  Don't let the mixture boil but allow it to dissolve and then pour into a large bowl and set aside to cool. 
  2. Add ground cardamom seed to milk mixture.
  3. In a small bowl, beat together eggs, yeast, and water.
  4. Add beaten egg and yeast mixture to cooled milk mixture.
  5. Add ~4-5 cups flour and mix by hand until a stretchy mixture is formed.  Add the rest of the flour 1 cup at a time, kneading with your hands.
  6. Let dough stand in a warm place (a warm oven works well) for 1.5 to 2 hours.
  7. Punch dough down and knead on a floured surface then cut dough into 4-5 pieces.
  8. Cut each of the pieces into 3 pieces and roll then braid the 3 pieces together.  Repeat until all 4-5 larger dough pieces have been rolled and braided.
  9. Grease a cookie sheet and place braids on sheet.
  10. Beat another egg with 2 Tablespoons of water and brush over each loaf.  Sprinkle liberally with sugar.
  11. Let braided bread rise another 1.5 to 2 hours in a warm place.
  12. Bake at 375* for 25 minutes.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Ah the slow cooker.  This is man's gift to the busy working family!  This recipe calls for a tenderloin but you can use much cheaper cuts (such as the shoulder or butt) and it'll yield the same fabulous tasting results.  I've also substituted chicken breast for the pork and it's also very yummy.  Sometimes I'll use diet root beer and I've even used cola before when that's all I had on-hand.  I'm still not sure what the purpose of the pop is but it seems to make it taste good haha!  Give this one a try, it's one of the easiest meals you could possibly make :).

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
(Source: All Recipes)
10 Min
7 Hrs
7 Hrs 10 Min


  • 1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can
  •  or bottle root beer
  • 1 (18 ounce) bottle your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 8 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted

  1. Place the pork tenderloin in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily, 6 to 7 hours. Note: the actual length of time may vary according to individual slow cooker.
  2. Drain well.
  3. Stir in barbecue sauce.
  4. Serve over hamburger buns.