Friday, October 26, 2012

Low Fat Chocolate Mocha Cream Cake

I promised I would blog this cake today but I have found myself at the end of the day and running out of time.  Sooooo.....I am going to give you the recipe and blog the step by step pictures and directions later.

It is really so easy and really, really yummy!  So, here is the recipe!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees!

2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup hot strong brewed coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
Cooking spray

Mocha Cream:
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1 - 7 ounce marshmallow creme
1 - 8 ounce container of fat free or sugar free whipped topping, thawed
1/3 cup light chocolate syrup (such as Hershey's Lite Syrup)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.  To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cup, level with a knife.  Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl.  Add mayonnaise and oil, beat with a mixer at low speed until well blended.  Slowly add brewed coffee and vanilla, beat with a mixer at low speed 1 minute or until well blended.  Stir in chocolate, pour batter into a 13 X 9 inch baking pan (I used a stoneware dish) coated with cooking spray.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

3.   To prepare mocha cream (my favorite), combine water and coffee granules in a large bowl, stir until granules dissolve.  Add marshmallow creme, beat with a mixer at low speed until smooth.  Fold in whipped topping.   Spread mocha cream over top of cake, drizzle with chocolate syrup.  Chill until ready to serve.  Yield 16 servings

Calories: 315
Fat: 8.1 g
Carbs: 60 g

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


 I had high hopes of cooking something really special for debate night.  Well, the day got away from me and before I knew it, it was 4:00, I was still in Beaumont at my Moms and had not even been to the grocery store.  What to do, what to do?????

I decided to cheat!  Ha!  

My very favorite spaghetti sauce is Rao's Homemade (pictured above.  I buy it at HEB and it is literally so much like homemade.  I have a great homemade spaghetti sauce recipe but it takes several hours from beginning to end.  So, last night I decided that I needed another plan.  I love combining barbeque sauces so I decided to do the same thing with my spaghetti sauces and do a little tweaking!

This was what I came up with.

First, I made my meatballs using my recipe.  When you click the "recipe" link or the meatball picture, scroll down until you get to the meatball recipe.

Second, I melted 2 tablespoons of butter in my large dutch oven and added a carton of pre-diced white onions with green bell peppers along with another small container of just diced onions. I think it was either 7 or 8 ounces.  I sauteed them along with about 8-10 cloves of minced garlic until tender.

I poured in all three of the above spaghetti sauces and stirred well.  I then added 2-3 tablespoons of garlic powder.  

Thirdly, add the meatballs to the spaghetti sauce and continue to simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Serve over angel hair pasta that has been cooked al dente.  Serve with freshly, grated parmesan cheese.

Okay, forget the limes!  I am including this picture from a previous post because it is what I use to grate my parmesan cheese.  It is so quick and easy!  It will take the chore out of grating cheese!

In my opinion, unless you just want the satisfaction of knowing you have made the spaghetti sauce from scratch, then this recipe is as close as it gets to homemade. 

And, if you need to shave more time off...then make a meat sauce instead of meatballs.  Just combine all of the meat and fresh onion, bell pepper, garlic, garlic salt and garlic powder.  Pan fry the meat until crumbly and thoroughly cooked.  Pour off grease and pour in the spaghetti sauces. 

Try it and let me know how you like it!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I think the last time I made Sloppy Joes, my kids were in elementary school and I used Manwich! Those were so wonderful that I have not made them again!

I decided to attempt them again but, this time I decided to find a Manwich!  I googled a few and then I saw a recipe by Pioneer Woman.  I absolutely love her recipes.  I have one of her cookbooks and she cooks the way I like to cook and the things I like to cook.  So, that helped me make up my mind which recipe to try.  Now, I did change up a few things.  First of all, I used a combination of half ground turkey breast and half ground sirloin.  Holly requested that I not make them too sweet so I didn't put all of the brown sugar that it called for.  I also left out the chili pepper flakes because it hax too much kick for some sensitive stomachs and that is an ingredient you can add post-cooking no biggie!

I served the Sloppy Joes with Roasted Potatoes and Homemade Apple Pie.  Truly a down home american meal!  I, once again, did not take the picture immediately and had to do it later.  I am usually cooking right up to the point that I have told everyone that supper will be ready so I have some hungry eyes staring at me and no time to stop and take a picture.

I was not expecting big things from these Sloppy Joes.  BUT....these were sooooo gooooood that I have literally eaten them 3 days in a row!  I had one Thursday for supper, 1/2 a Joe on Friday for lunch and another 1/2 on Saturday for lunch!  These will definitely be a regular at our house from now on.

I started out taking pictures and then got sidetracked and just forgot I was supposed to be taking pictures for this this recipe will be without a lot of pictures!   I apologize for my brain...these days it is on overload and is apparently checking out!


1-1/4 pounds Ground Sirloin
1-1/4 pounds Ground Turkey Breast
Garlic Powder and Garlic Salt
1 - 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 large Onion, diced
1 large Green Bell Pepper, diced
5 cloves Garlic, minced (I, of course, use 8 or 9 ha!)
1-1/4 cup Ketchup
1 cup Water
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar (I only used 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
1/2 teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
Salt to taste
Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
Tabasco Sauce (optional; to taste)
Hamburger Buns

1. In a large non-stick skillet, combine the sirloin and turkey breast and cook over medium-high to high heat.

2. Cover the meat generously with garlic powder and sprinkle garlic salt lightly over the meat

3.  Sprinkle the worcestershire sauce over the meat and stir well
4.  Continue cooking and add the onion, bell pepper and garlic until the meat is cooked
5.   If there is any cooking grease in the pan, drain and discard
6.  Add the ketchup, water, and brown sugar to the meat, stirring to incorporate
7.  Sprinkle dry mustard, chili powder and chili flakes (if desired) over the meat and stir well
8.  Add salt and pepper to taste
9.  Serve on warm hamburger buns...these can be toasted if you like
10. You can serve with onion, pickles, jalapenos and/or cheese



I bought my apples at Market Basket in Nederland...aren't they pretty?

Homemade Apple Pie has America written all over it!  I mean who hasn't heard the phrase "As American as Apple Pie!"  So with the election in full swing, I decided we needed an apple pie in the house.  I have made lots of apple pies over the years but I have never found one that I really and truly like...until this one!

I like my pie to be sweet.  I don't want it barely sweet...I want it really sweet!  I want my apples to taste good and the juices to be flavorful and all of it layered between a golden flaky, crust.  Is that too much to ask? Ha!  Well, I think I have found the perfect recipe.  I truly do not remember where I found this recipe but I immediately wrote it down in my trusty little recipe book so I wouldn't have to search anymore!

 I served it warm and topped with Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream.  Can you believe James and my son-in-law Daniel do not like Apple Pie...they must not be American! Haha!  I bought Magic Shell and they ate ice cream with magic shell...that made their little hearts happy so...oh well, more for me!

I feel like I say this all the time, but this recipe is really easy.  It is about as easy as it gets besides just pouring  canned apples out of a can!

This recipe is worth the extra effort and I bet you will keep this recipe close by, just like me!

Wish I would have had a picture with the scoop of ice cream on was so yummy!


Preheat oven to 425 degrees

1 box of Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts for 9" pie
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons apple pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7-8 Red Delicious Apples, small to medium in size, peeled, cored, and sliced

Peel, core and slice apples.  Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Melt butter over medium heat and add flour.  Stir to blend well.

Add sugars and water

Stir well to blend with butter/flour mixture

Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to low

Simmer while it thickens slightly. Add vanilla when taken off heat.

Grease 9" Pie Pan/Plate

Sprinkle the apples with the apple pie spice
Note:  I couldn't find apple pie spice so I made my own:
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice

Stir to coat

Place pie crust in pan/plate and fill with apple mixture

Pour sauce over apples

Place top crust over apples and crimp edges.  You want the sauce and juices to stay in the pan and not bubble over.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees
Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 35 minutes

Brush top with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar when it comes out of oven. (I didn't get a chance to do this and is not just looks nice!)


Friday, October 12, 2012


I love all the parties around Christmastime, when you get to sample the different recipes that people bring to them.  I have been a part of a bunco group for about 16-17 years.  These ladies are awesome cooks and every year at our Christmas bunco game, we all bake and share a recipe.  Last year I received my 2011 Southern Living Annual Recipes cookbook just in time for that game!  I was thumbing through and found this Squash Casserole recipe.  I think what made me want to try it was the french fried onion topping.  It did not disappoint!!  So yummy!  

I made it for my family this week but I cut the recipe in half.  Now, of course, I changed the original recipe just a tiny bit...I sauteed the onions and I left out the basil.  I think adding a little bit of bell pepper to the recipe would be good, as well as a bit of heat like cayenne pepper!  Hope you like it and hope you try it!

Oh one more note...I forgot to take a picture of the casserole coming out of the oven.  The picture I have of the finished product is pictured last and is one with a few scoops gone...sorry : )


4 lbs. yellow squash, sliced
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1 cup freshly shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs, divided
1-1/4 cups freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup French fried onions


Slice squash and cook in boiling water for 8 minutes or just until veggies are tender. Drain squash thoroughly and place in a large bowl.

Dice the onion and saute in 2 tablespoons of butter until onions are tender.

Combine squash and onion

Add Cheddar cheese

Add Mayonnaise

Add garlic salt, Eggs (I forgot to take a pic) and half of the breadcrumbs. Stir to combine

Add pepper and now would be the time to add cayenne, if you like

Add half of the parmesan cheese, stir and pour into a lightly greased, 13X9 casserole dish (I halved this recipe so the picture below will show a much smaller dish)

Stir together the melted butter, French fried onions, and remaining half of the breadcrumbs and remaining half of the parmesan cheese.
I used the same pan but no heat

Sprinkle the french fried onion mixture over the squash casserole and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 - 40 minutes or until set.
I know the picture above looks like I sauteed the topping but, make sure there is no heat or your cheese will melt before it goes on the casserole!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


 When I was growing up, one of my very favorite meals was Roast, Rice and Gravy!  It still is!!  My mom and grandmother's roasts were just mouth-watering!  Most people cook their roast in the oven but they cooked theirs in a pressure cooker.  Once the roast is browned really well, I put it in the pressure cooker for 45 minutes and it literally falls apart.  We didn't even need knives last night!

A lot of people are nervous about using a pressure cooker.  I still use the one my mom gave me so it is older but there are new and improved pressure cookers on the market now.   I use my pressure cooker to cook potatoes for mashed potatoes, roasts, beans, chicken and anything I want to cook fast!  Potatoes cook in about 5-10 minutes.  I can't remember, with accuracy, how long beans and chicken take but I cooked 6 pounds of roast last night in 45 minutes...awesome (in a singing opera voice)!  My friend, Deena Wilson, wrote me on my Facebook page and said she uses her pressure cooker to cook peas.  In Trisha Yearwood's cookbook, "Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen", she writes, "..I would encourage everyone who doesn't have a pressure cooker to get one.  They are safe and they save a ton of time in the kitchen."  So, when you get a chance, invest in a pressure cooker, I think you will be glad you did.  

If you do not have or do not want to use a pressure cooker....
I would place the browned roast in a roasting pan.  Pour water into the pan.  Although, there is not an exact amount of water to use here, I would add enough to come up on the roast about 1/3 of the way.  This water will turn into broth that you will use to make your gravy in the end.  I would first add water to the pan you browned the roast in and use a spoon to lift the bits from the bottom of the pan and then pour this over the roast in the pan.  Then if you feel like you need more water, add it.  I would bake the roast, covered,  in a 350 degree oven for at least 3 hours.  Try not to want the steam to stay in and make the roast tender and moist! funny note...I was in a hurry last night, (what else is new), so I was literally chopping carrots and throwing them in the oven.  Didn't look at them again until it was time to take them out of the oven and serve them.  My son-in-law, Daniel, called them "Pepper Sticks"!  I had doused them with sooo much pepper that that is exactly what they looked like...haha!  Wish I would have taken a picture!!

Here we go.....


 2 - 3 lb. Chuck Roasts
Fresh Garlic cloves
Garlic Salt
Garlic Powder
Canola Oil (or your oil of preference to brown roast)

Make slits in the roast with a sharp knife

 Sprinkle roast with pepper.  I like the taste of pepper on my roast and remember some will stay on the roast and some will cook off and into the drippings.  

Next, sprinkle liberally with garlic salt and garlic powder.  Again, let me remind you that not all of the the seasonings will stay on the roast but will fall off during the cooking process.  I completely cover the roast with both!

 Rub the spices into the roast

I had two chuck roasts so I browned one in a cast iron skillet and the other one in the pressure cooker.  Put enough oil to cover the cooking surface.  You want the oil very hot so that it will sear the roast immediately.

Now, the darker the roast is cooked the richer your gravy will be.  I like mine almost burnt.  You have to watch it very closely. If it is a little just don't want it completely black..ha!  Turn the roast and cook it the same on the other side!
Sorry it's blurry...didn't know until I uploaded it!

 Remove the roast from the the pan/pot and pour off the grease

Place both roasts into the pressure cooker and add water.  Cover with the lid and cook for 45 minutes.  (Please remember to follow directions for the pressure cooker)  If you are cooking the roast in a roasting pan, then place the roasts in the pan, add water to the pot/pan that you cooked the roast in and cook on low heat.  Use a spoon to lift the cooked bits from the bottom of the pan.  Those drippings will add all the rich flavor you want for the gravy.  Pour that over the roasts in the pan, cover with foil/lid, and bake for at least 3 hours at 350 degrees.  Resist the urge to peek. 

After 45 minutes, turn off the heat from the pressure cooker, and allow to rest, still covered, until safe to remove the lid.

This roast will literally fall apart.  

Now to make gravy.  Put about 1/2 cup flour in a jar or cup and add enough water to make the consistency of thick gravy.  If you cooked your roast in a roasting pan, pour that into a medium to large sauce pot, place on stove over medium heat.  Pour the flour mixture in slowly, whisking to avoid lumps.  You may have to make and add more if you have a lot of juice.  Continue cooking until you have the consistency that you desire for your gravy.  To speed up the process, sometimes I will take about 1/4 cup of cornstarch, put it in a cup and add enough water to make a gravy like consistency and add that at the end. It will instantly thicken to 
a gravy consistency.  

Here is the final product!

You can see a little clove of garlic peeking out on the bottom right hand corner of this picture!