Monday, June 17, 2013

Makeover Monday: Skinny Strawberry Poke Cake

I have another yummy, lightened up treat for you today!  Much like my blueberry cheesecake bars from last week, this strawberry poke cake features tempting seasonal fruit, and is great eaten out of the refrigerator for a refreshing hot-weather treat.  And I made a few changes to make it less of a guilty pleasure.  Let's just call it a pleasure.

When I say that this cake features strawberries, I really mean that it is bursting with strawberries.  I started with a strawberry cake mix, added strawberry gelatin, and even topped it with strawberries.  Strawberry lovers, rejoice!  This great cake is easy, delicious, and low cal!  If you have never had poke cake, you need to make this.  To make it, you poke holes in a baked cake, pour prepared gelatin over it, and top it with pudding and whipped cream.  It is super moist and refreshing, and very easy!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Honey BBQ Meatloaf

 Have you ever met a man who didn't like meatloaf?  I haven't.  I'm pretty sure such a specimen doesn't exist.  Stay tuned for a great recipe that will get you major brownie points with that special man in your life!  

Meatloaf is also one of the first dishes I made for my husband back when we were dating and I had my first apartment.  I was delighted at how great he thought such a simple meal was.  It made me feel like I was some kind of kitchen hero.  But at the same time, I felt guilty taking so much credit for something that took about 5 minutes to put together.  You see, for almost all of my life, I have made meatloaf from a seasoning packet.  And it has been good.  I have seen other recipes for meatloaf from scratch, but I figured that if it wasn't broken, there was no need to fix it.  

Then I came across this recipe for honey BBQ meatloaf.  It sounded delicious and didn't look like it would take much more time than my dirty-little-secret meatloaf.  My meatloaf wasn't broken, but it was about to get a whole lot better.  It kind of reminds me of the people with straight teeth on the Invisalign commercials.  What's that about??

Thursday, June 13, 2013


If you have never had scotcheroos before, boy, I have a treat for you!  I was first introduced to these tasty bars back in the summer of 2008.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  My husband, who had only made it to fiance status at the time, was working for a law firm in beautiful Manhattan, Kansas and one of his coworkers made a batch to share.  I'm a little fuzzy on the details of how I actually got some.  But to be honest, yesterday is a little fuzzy as well.

Details aside, I remember that I was in love at first bite.  Scotcheroos are incredible.  It's kind of like a Rice Krispie treat on steroids.  Serious steroids.  There's a hefty dose of peanut butter thrown in the bars, and it is topped with a mixture of melted chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.  It's heavenly.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pecan Crusted French Toast

For years and years, I used the same French toast recipe.  It was always good, but nothing to write home, or online, about.  Recently I have tried a few different French toast varieties.  And each time, I have thought that my latest recipe was the best ever.  Until my next variety.  First it was strawberry cream cheese stuffed French toast, then pancake coated French toast, and finally cinnamon bread French toast casserole.  Today, I am happy to introduce my latest best-ever French toast--pecan crusted French toast.

This great breakfast creation has, as the name implies, a crusty exterior with a soft, moist interior.  And it's better than my standard French toast for the following reasons:  1.  It has pecans.  I put maple syrup on it.  Maple and pecans together are like peanut butter and chocolate.  2.  It uses only egg yolk.  No egg whites allowed.  This gives it the richness of eggs without the egg-y taste that egg whites can cause.  3.  It has a heavy dose of vanilla extract and a bit of bourbon to give it over-the-top flavor.  4.  The brown sugar coating caramelizes as it cooks.  It's a little bit like eating candy for breakfast.  Yum!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cheesy Tator Tot Casserole

Some things never get old.  Like Dolly Parton and tator tot casserole.  Who didn't get excited as a kid to find out that  tator tot casserole was on the dinner menu?  It's just a classic.  I bought a bag of tator tots a while ago because they were on sale, and I can't resist a good sale.  I decided that it would be way more awesome to make tator tot casserole than to just have plain old tator tots.

Unfortunately, I hadn't made tator tot casserole in years.  And by years, I mean not since my college days with my old roomie Stefanie.  Stefanie made a mean tator tot casserole (and her and her husband just had their first baby two days ago, so congratulations!!!).  I remembered the basics of tator tot casserole.  It is pretty simple, after all.  But I wasn't feeling overly confident in my ability to recreate Stefanie's yummy version which I had loved so much.  

So I went to my old-school cookbooks thinking that somewhere in those pages of good old comfort food and casserole recipes I was bound to find at least one tried-and-true tator tot casserole recipe.  I was wrong.  In all my cookbooks, I didn't have one tator tot casserole recipe.  I guess all those church ladies and farmer's wives assumed that anyone with a brain in their skull and an oven in their kitchen just knew how to make tator tot casserole.  The good news is that thanks to a little invention called the internet, I knew I could scrounge up a tasty recipe in no time.  So I got to searching.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Makeover Monday: Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

I am officially on summer break today!  So hopefully you will get to hear more from me for a while.  I know you are excited!  I think that the recipe I am going to share with you today is a great way to kick off summer.    It's time to put away the rich, heavy food that got us through the dreary winter (and what turned out to be a largely dreary spring) and turn to some lighter, cooler recipes.  Take, for instance, blueberry cheesecake bars.  They have a delicious, pecan-spiked crust, a creamy cheesecake layer, and they are topped with sweet blueberries.  Yum!

These are perfect for the time of the year when it's not so hot out that you don't mind turning on the oven for a while, but it's warm enough that you also don't mind eating a dessert out of the refrigerator.  Add the facts that it includes seasonal fruit, is totally delectable, and is lightened up to help you fit into that swimsuit you just pulled out of storage, and you have yourself a pretty fantastic dessert!