Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Everyday Family Cookbook: Favorite Classic Chili


  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 - 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground oregano
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (or regular table salt)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 - 1 1/2 cups water (we use about 1 - 1 1/2 cups of water), as desired
  • 1/4 cup masa harina (corn flour, found in the Mexican food or flour/ baking section of many supermarkets)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 - 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 - 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 - 2 cups frozen sweet corn - rinsed under hot water to remove ice - optional (but we love this)
  • Shredded cheddar, Monterey jack, or Colby jack cheese, for serving
  • Tortilla chips, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving 


In a large pot coated with non-stick cooking spray, brown ground beef until crumbled and no longer pink.  Drain excess liquid and add garlic.  Cook about a minute longer until garlic is fragrant.  Pour in tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and cayenne.  Stir together until well combined. Cover, and then reduce heat to medium low to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. During simmering time, add water 1/2 cup at a time as needed so mixture does not become overly dry.

After an hour, place the masa harina in a small bowl.  Add a 1/2 cup water and stir together with a fork.  Dump the masa mixture into the chili.  Stir together well.  Taste chili and adjust seasonings as desired.  Add more masa paste and/or water to get chili to your preferred consistency, or to add more corn flavor.  Add the beans and corn (if using) and simmer chili for an additional 10 minutes.  Serve with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and lime wedges.

Recipe Source:  Slightly adapted from Ree Drummond/ The Pioneer Woman at foodnetwork.com.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Special Occasions Family Cookbook: Hello Dolly Cookies

Had to post this recipe today since today is our daughter's birthday
and this is one of her all-time favorite cookies ever!

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 2 - 3.6 oz. packages graham crackers (not an entire box)
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped - optional
  • 1 - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet or milk chocolate or butterscotch baking chips (or a combo of both)


Mix melted butter and graham crackers together in a bowl.  Press into a 9 x 13" baking pan. Sprinkle nuts over graham cracker crust, if using.  Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over nuts and crust. Top with baking chips and coconut.  Bake cookie bars at 350° F for approximately 25-30 minutes or until very lightly golden brown - do burn or overcook (baking chips will not look melted when done cooking).  Cool and cut into bars.

Recipe Source:  Unknown (We've had this recipe for many, many years.  It is quite an old well-known recipe that many people have their own variation of - also known as "Magic Bars" or "7 Layer Bars". Just wanted to record it for our kids, as it is one of their all-time favorites!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Everyday Family Cookbook: Breakfast Pizza


  • 1 lb. bulk pork or turkey sausage (preferably all-natural - and reduced fat works fine) 
  • 1 - 8 oz. tube refrigerated crescent rolls (reduced fat okay)
  • 5 eggs (or equivalent of egg substitute)
  • 2 Tbsp. low fat milk
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar, Colby Jack or other favorite cheese (reduced fat okay)

In a large skillet, crumble sausage and cook over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.  Unroll crescent dough onto the bottom of a lightly greased (with non-stick cooking spray) 9 x 13" pan and press gently to seal seams, also pressing dough about 1/2" up the sides of the pan.  Sprinkle dough with cooked sausage.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, milk and pepper; pour over sausage.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Bake pizza, uncovered, at 400° F for 15 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Yield  8 servings.

Recipe Source:  Slightly adapted from tasteofhome.com/ my mom Donna H./ and sister Debra T.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Special Occasions Family Cookbook: Pumpkin Pie Squares with Real Whipped Cream (2 Recipes)

*Recipe Note:  This recipe is best prepared about 24 hours ahead of time so the dessert is well chilled and the flavors have had time to meld together. However the whipped cream should be prepared just before serving.  Also, to see another pic of this delicious family recipe, my sister Amy posted this family favorite recipe here.  Check out their other amazing fall dessert recipes as well.



  • 1 - 15.25 oz. box yellow or spice cake mix (reserve 1 cup of dry cake mix to use for topping)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg


  • 1 large can 100% pure pumpkin (NOT the can with pumpkin pie seasonings already mixed in) 
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) canned evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves


  • 1 cup reserved dry cake mix
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup cold butter

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Lightly spray a 9 x 13" baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

For the crust:  In a mixing bowl, mix together crust ingredients (be sure to reserve the 1 cup of dry cake mix for topping). Spread and press gently into prepared baking pan.

For the filling:  Mix all filling ingredients in a bowl until well blended and pour over the crust mixture in baking pan.

For the topping:  Place all topping ingredients in a small mixing bowl and using a pastry cutter or 2 knives (criss-cross cutting for the same effect), mix ingredients until crumbly.  Sprinkle topping mixture over filling mixture in pan.

Bake uncovered 1 hour or until the mixture is set and a the tip of a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve with real whipped cream (we use and double our favorite real whipped cream recipe to serve with this dessert - see below).

Recipe Source:  My mother-in-law Shirleen P.  Thanks for the past 20 years of yumminess this recipe has given us!

Recipe for Real Whipped Cream


  • 8 oz. real whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. white granulated sugar (or slightly more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. real vanilla extract

Freeze the mixing bowl and whisk attachments to an electric mixer for about 10-15 minutes prior to making this recipe (freezing helps the cream to whip up so much better).  Then add everything in frozen mixing bowl.  Whip the cream mixture with cold whisk attachments until soft peaks form. Be careful not to over-whisk or mixture will start to turn to butter. Serve as desired. Immediately cover and refrigerate any leftovers.  *Note:  This recipe can be whisked by hand with a wire whisk, the process of whisking will just take much longer.

Recipe Source:  Slightly adapted from dad:), Ken H.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Everyday Family Cookbook: Grandma's Classic Fall Apart Pot Roast


  • 1 - 3-6 lb. chuck or other beef roast (inexpensive-moderately priced is okay, because it will be tender once cooked for several hours/ also, select a pot roast with a little fat marbling for better flavor)
  • Beef Broth (low sodium works fine)
  • Kosher Salt, to season (regular table salt works fine as well)
  • Ground Black Pepper, to season
  • Favorite Potatoes, as much as desired and will fit neatly around the roast and still allow you to put the lid on with ease (only use half the amount if adding carrots as well) - sliced into large chunks - optional (we prefer Yukon Gold or Red)
  • Carrots, peeled and sliced into 1-2" chunks - optional (this is a must in our family!)


If roast is frozen, thaw in refrigerator for a day or so or defrost in microwave.

Season meat on both sides with salt and pepper.  Sear meat, in a little canola oil over high heat in a large heavy bottomed pan or dutch oven-style pan, just until meat is browned on each side (this is a fast process and only takes a few minutes - do not burn).

Leave roast in the same large pan to cook in the oven or move roast to a large slow cooker, if preferred.  Add prepared potatoes and/or carrots around the roast, if using.  Cover meat with beef broth until the broth is only about half way up the side of the roast (do not completely cover roast).  

If cooking roast in the oven, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook roast 1 hour per lb. at 275° F.  Do not overcook or roast will be dried out.

If cooking in a slow cooker, cover with lid and cook roast on low for 8-10 hours.

To serve, remove excess fat and shred into larger chunks.  If desired, use leftover drippings/ broth to create a pan gravy (see recipe for Salisbury Steak with Pan Gravy for a good recipe).

Recipe Source:  Slightly adapted from Grandma Virgie P. and Shirleen P.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Everyday Family Cookbook: Brunch Casserole


  • 3 cups milk (low fat or skim works fine)
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp. salt (I use Kosher)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Bisquick Pancake & Baking Mix (I use the Heart Smart version)
  • 1 - 1 lb. bag frozen broccoli (or 1 stalk fresh broccoli, chopped and finely diced) - cooked to al dente
  • 2 cups chopped smoked ham
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced (or 1/2 Tbsp. onion powder)
  • 3 cups grated favorite cheese

In a large bowl, blend milk, eggs, salt, pepper, and Bisquick with a wire whip.  Add rest of ingredients, except 1 cup of the cheese; stir together until mixed well.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13" glass baking pan.  Bake 45-50 minutes at 400 degrees F, until eggs are set.  Before the last few minutes of baking, top casserole with remaining 1 cup of cheese and finish baking until casserole is set and cheese is melted.

Recipe Source:  My mother:) Donna H.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Everyday Family Cookbook: Hot Dogs & Potatoes

A quick kid fav for Dad & Mom date night!

*Recipe Note:  This really isn't a recipe, just a quick throw together in a grill or frying pan.


  • 1 package of hot dogs (we like a good quality all-beef brand) or favorite sausage such as bratwurst
  • 3 cans sliced New Potatoes, drained and sliced in halves as desired
  • Salt-free seasoning such as Mrs. Dash or Trader Joe's "21 Seasoning Salute", etc.

Slice hot dogs, brats, or sausage on the diagonal into about 1/2-1" pieces (smaller for little children so they are not a choking hazard).  Grill hot dogs over medium heat in a grill or frying pan until heated through and slightly crispy and caramelized on the outside.  Add potatoes to the pan and sprinkle hot dog potato mixture with a salt-free seasoning as desired.  Serve with favorite mustard and ketchup or barbecue sauce.

Recipe Source:  My main man Bart P.
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