Double Choc Chip Cream Cheese Cookies

Seriously? Cream Cheese in a cookie? When I saw this recipe, I knew it would be good!  I was so confident of it's potential goodness that I doubled the recipe!  I'm glad I did!  We now have 60 of these little beauties in our freezer ... ok, maybe not quite 60 as we ate a number of them straight out of the oven ... but many many delicious cookies are packed in little ziplock bags ready for our lunches!
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One of my pet peeves with baking cookies is that they always flatten.  These, they didn't budge, not even a little bit!  AND I LOVE THAT! 

Here's how I made mine ... 

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
115g cream cheese, softened
1&1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup organic (if you like) raw sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 &1/2 cups bakers flour (any flour will do) 
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking soda
a couple pinches of salt
250g white choc chips
250g milk choc chips

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.  

In your mixer, beat butter and cream cheese together.  Add sugars and beat some more.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.  Make sure everything is well combined.

Add remaining ingredients, minus the choc chips.  Mix until just combined.  Don't mix too hard or your cookies will be tough.  Now stir in the choc chips. 

Grab your baking sheets and line with baking paper.  I used a small ice cream scoop and was able to fit 15 cooking on each long rectangular tray.  Next time I think I'll fit more as they don't spread AT ALL! 

Bake for 8-10 minutes.  You want them to start to brown but just a little bit.  Remove to a wire rack.  Make sure you eat a few straight out of the oven ... but not all of them, remember, this makes 60!!

Save some to get you through the week, and freeze the rest, ready for school/work lunches!!

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Blueberry Surprise (Banana Bread with Blueberries)

Blueberry Surprise (Banana Bread with Blueberries)

I found this recipe in a book a friend gave me that had short stories followed by recipes. (Yes, she knows me well!) We almost finished the loaf before I remembered to take a picture. I did not do the step of lining the pan with waxed paper, but the bread stuck to a greased loaf pan. So next time I will do it.

          Recipe in story of the same name by Wanda E. Brunstetter

1/3 c butter, softened
2/3 c honey (I substituted Karo syrup)
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 ¼ c flour
2 t baking powder
½ t salt
¼ t baking soda
1 c blueberries

Cream butter and honey until fluffy. Add eggs, beating well. Add bananas and mix well. Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture, mixing thoroughly. Fold in blueberries.

Line 9x5-inch loaf pan with waxed paper. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at  350˚ for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool, remove from pan, and gently pull away the waxed paper.


Mediterranean Tuna Antipasto Salad - original plus my version

I've been working on using up some free food we were gifted and have stumbled across a few ingredients I don't normally use.  One such ingredient was canned black eyed peas.  Scoured the internet for easy and yummy sounding recipes (cause I don't have time for anything besides easy...and yummy is a must!).  I found this great looking recipe for Mediterranean Tuna Antipasto Salad and decided to try it.  I think the original recipe would be tasty...but there were a few ingredients I didn't want to purchase on this weeks grocery budget - so I modified it...a lot!

If you want to try the original:

- 1 15-19 ounce can beans such as chickpeas, black eyed peas, or kidney beans, rinsed
- 2 5 to 6 ounce cans chunk tuna, drained and flaked
- 1 large red bell pepper, finally diced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 4 teaspoons capers, rinsed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup lemon juice, divided
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 cups mixed salad greens

Combine beans, tuna, bell pepper, onion, parsley, capers, rosemary, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 2 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl. Season with pepper. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oil and salt in a large bowl. Add salad greens; toss to coat. Divide the greens among 4 plates. Top each with the tuna salad.

If you want to try my version:

My version - seems to be a hit!
In one bowl: 
Make tuna salad from 4 cans chunk tuna, drained.   I used mayo, mustard, and dill pickle relish (when I make it again I'll probably do more tuna cause it went quick! and none for seconds)

In another bowl combine: 
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 can of  black eyed peas, rinsed
- 1 large red bell pepper, finally diced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 tomatoes finely diced
- 1/2 cucumber, finely diced
- a couple shakes of dried parsley
-  a couple shakes of dried rosemary
- juice of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

I thought it was a little bland, so added a little bit of green olives diced with some of their juice, a little sprinkle of sugar, and a couple splashes of apple cider vinegar, and the last little splash of balsamic dressing from the fridge...when I make it again I think I'll just go with the balsamic dressing and make it easier!

On each plate, layer mixed salad greens, a generous helping of the veggies (with some of the juice), and top with a scoop of tuna.  

I served garlic/cheese toast beside.

Happy Pantry Cooking!

Easy Baked Custard

If you like creamy, custardy desserts - this is a MUST try.

My mom used to make this pretty frequently when I was a child, but I haven't made it in years.  An excessive amount of eggs sent me hunting for things to make using lots of eggs without having to make a run to the grocery story.  Thus, I rediscovered this gem.

If my aunt hadn't needed her other hand to take the picture, I think this would have gotten two thumbs up!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Cream together:
- 2 tablespoons soften butter
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Add 6 eggs, one at a time, blending well after each egg.

Slowly and briefly stir in:
-2 cups plus 2 tablespoons milk
-1 teaspoon vanilla

I just added all of the milk and vanilla to my two cup wet measuring cup, turned my mixer down to one notch above stir, slowly poured the milk mixture in, and turned the mixer off as soon as I'd finished pouring.

Place one large pan, a couple medium/small pans, or individual custard cups into bigger baking pans (I used my 9x13 pans) and fill with custard mixture.  Add an inch or two of hot water to bigger baking pans.

Bake at 400 for 10 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 325 degrees F (without opening oven) and bake until knife comes out clean - approximately 45 minutes.  I've never tried the individual custard cups, so don't know if that would take less time.

I like to eat it chilled.

Lentil Curry

Lentils. I have to confess that the thought of eating lentils has never filled me with glee. Mostly I find them bland and vaguely repulsive – suitable only for vegans who have already sold their taste buds to the devil in exchange for a sallow, unhealthy appearance. 

But, people argue passionately, they are so high in fiber and protein! And nutrients! 
To which I reply with an emphatic, “whatever.” Because no matter how excruciatingly healthy something is, I’m not going to actually eat it unless it tastes good.

This story has a point (and a recipe) somewhere, I’m pretty sure.

I’ve had a bag of green lentils in my pantry for about six months. My sister gave me a sausage and lentil soup recipe that I’ve been meaning to try but as it is summer here in the US, I’m not in a raging hurry to fix soup for dinner.

Instead, I stumbled upon a lentil curry recipe that I had at least half of the ingredients for. And Oh.My.Gosh you guys. This is amazeballs. You can find the actual recipe here (which I imagine is pretty good). The following recipe is what I actually did.

I guess the moral of this story is, don’t judge a food by its terrible vegans.

And the other moral would be, go easy on the cayenne or you’ll kill your children mouths.

And the final moral goes a little something like: seriously, make this and get it in your face asap!

Serves 8
1 bag (about 2 ½ cups) lentils, rinsed well
1 medium onion, diced
3 T butter (or oil)
1 ½ T garam masala
2 generous T cumin
A few good shakes of cayenne pepper (next time I will do one gentle shake)
1 T minced garlic
1 t sea salt
1 can tomato sauce
1 can coconut milk
Cilantro/coriander leaves for garnishing
Rice for serving

  1. Cook lentils according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant and golden. Add all the spices (garam masala, cumin, cayenne, garlic and salt) and stir fry for 1-2 minutes (add a little vegetable oil if it looks too dry). Add the tomato sauce, stir and simmer until smooth.
  3. Add the lentils and the coconut milk. Stir to combine and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.
As with all curries, it is even better the next day!

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken


In crock pot or ziplock:
- 3lbs boneless skinless chicken
- 1 tablespoon paprika (I just sprinkled in a bit)
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder (I just sprinkled in a bit.  Could use minced cloves)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 bottle favorite BBQ sauce

Day of cooking:
- add 1 cup of beer

Cook time: 6 to 8 hours LOW

Serving suggestion: Shred chicken and serve on kaiser rolls.  Great topped with cole slaw

Optional: If sauce too soupy (mine was), strain sauce into a small pan, add thickener (such as corn starch) and boil till the sauce reaches desired consistency.

Baby approved!

Crock Pot Freezer Meals Part 3

Here are a few more of my favorite crock pot freezer meals (click here for Part 1 and Part 2)


In crock pot or zip lock:
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 can rotel
- 4 (16 oz) cans black beans
- 16 oz frozen corn
- 1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (can use fresh minced)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- OPTIONAL: 2 large chicken breasts

(I eyeball the spices and adjust to the taste buds of my family)

Day of cooking:
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups chicken broth

Cook time: 6 to 8 hours LOW

(if used chicken, shred it before serving)

Serving suggestion: cheese, sour cream, favorite chili toppings.


In crock pot or zip lock:

-  1 lb skinless chicken tenders or breasts
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can rotel
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano

Cook time: 4 to 8 hours LOW

Serving suggestions: Shred chicken and serve with corn taco shells and favorite taco toppings and/or slaw.

For slaw:
- 1 1/3 cups shredded red cabbage
- OPTIONAL: 1 red onion thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste


In crock pot or zip lock:
- 10 cloves garlic, minced
- OPTIONAL: 3 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup + 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3/4 cup rice vinegar (also called rice wine vinegar)
- 4 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

Mix well then add:
- 6 pounds beef

Cook time: 6 to 10 hours LOW  (remove sauce and thicken on stove.  Replace sauce to serve)

Serving suggestion: soft corn or flour tortillas, sour cream, and slaw (also good if you fry the soft corn tortillas)

For slaw:
- 4 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- couple pinches of salt
- - pinch red pepper flakes
-2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- OPTIONAL: 1 handful of cilantro, chopped
- OPTIONAL: 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

To toast sesame seeds, heat a small pan over medium heat.  Add the sesame seeds and stir for about 4 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic.  Remove immediately and set aside.  In a small bowl, mix vinegar, sugar, and salt.  Add onions, mix and let stand about 15 minutes.  Combine remaining ingredients, reserving sesame seeds until just before serving.  Can be made a few hours ahead and kept in fridge, sans sesame seeds.

Crock Pot Freezer Meals Part 2

Here are a few more of my favorite crock pot freezer meals (click here for part 1


In crock pot or zip lock add:
- 2lbs boneless skinless chicken (thighs, breasts, or combo)
- 2 (10.5oz) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1 (10.5oz) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Cook time: 8  to 10 hours LOW

Serving suggestion: over rice or noodles.

Optional variety: add a little spice or frozen broccoli...can garnish with shredded cheese.


- 12 to 14 oz sliced kielbasa sausage
- 1 onion diced
-  3 garlic cloves minced (can use more or less to taste.  Sometimes when I'm in a hurry I just use garlic powder)

Add browned meat mixture to crock pot or zip lock along with:
- 2 cups lentils
- 2 carrots (peeled and diced)
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes

Season with favorite Italian spices (I use parsley, oregano, and basil)

Day of cooking: add 2 quarts of water to crock pot.  (can use less if you want it less soupy)

Cook time: 4 to 5 hours HIGH or 8 to 10 hours LOW

Serving suggestion: fresh bread or rice

Serves: 6


- 1lb sausage (can use ground turkey and season)
- 1 onion diced

Drain meat and add to crock pot or zip lock along with:
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1.5 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 can rotel
- 1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

Cook time: 4 to 8 hours LOW

Serving suggestion: shredded cheese over rice

Serves: 4 to 6

Crock Pot Freezer Meals Part 1

I keep forgetting to take pictures of these - so I haven't been posting the recipes.  Finally decided to just post the recipes and try and remember to upload pictures later!

A few notes:
1. Any of these can be assembled in the crock pot the day of.

2. If you assemble the ingredients ahead of time and put them in the freezer, they can be put in the crock pot frozen or you can thaw them out prior to putting them in the crock pot.  If you want to just throw everything in froze (EASY PEASY!), put the zip lock in some hot water for a few minutes to get the bag unstuck from the ingredients.

3. For easy morning prep, label your zip locks with the name of the recipe, cooking time, and any extra items that need to be added to the crock pot.  This is also super helpful if you forget to start the crock pot in the morning and ask you 16 year old son to do it when he's home from school on his lunch hour...not that I would have ANY experience with that ;-)

4. I've found most of these recipes online, and have modified them to my families tastes.  Feel free to follow to a T or be creative!

5. I've found that when stocking the freezer with meals, it's best to chose a few recipes with lots of chopping and a few that don't involve much chopping that way you can do a bunch without killing yourself.


In crock pot or zip lock add:
- 2 lbs bone-in or boneless chicken (I like thighs, but you can use whatever kind your family prefers)
- 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 4 cloves garlic minced (or more depending on how much you like garlic! If I'm in a hurry, I just use garlic powder)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- OPTIONAL: 1 can pineapple chunks

Day of cooking: Add 1/2 cup chicken broth

Cook time: 8 hours LOW

Serving suggestions: cooked white or brown rice and green veggies (can top with sesame seeds)

Serves: 4 to 6


In crock pot or zip lock add:
- 2 lbs boneless ribs (I've also used bone in and it was yummy!)
- 1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce

Cook time: 8 to 10 hours LOW

Serving suggestions: mashed potatoes, veggies, or favorite BBQ sides

Serves: 4


In crock pot or zip lock add:
- 2.5 to 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken (breast or thighs or combo)
- 16 oz jar of favorite salsa
- OPTIONAL: sprinkle in some cumin and lime juice to kick up the flavor

Cook time: 6 to 8 hours on LOW

Serving suggestions: use as meat for rice bowls, tacos, enchiladas, nachos, or burritos

Serves: 4 to 8 or more, depending on how it's used after cooking

Freezer Lunches

I've been making burritos of various kinds (mainly breakfast and rice and bean) for a while now.  The boys all love how easy they are to pull out for lunches or snacks before/after practices.  Lately, I've made the discovery that leftovers are too difficult to pull out of the fridge to eat, but stick them in a tortilla and BAM lunch!  Here's a little tutorial on how I do it.

What to do with leftover mashed potatoes and peas?  Mix them up...

Top with leftover meat and some shredded cheese...

OR take some sausages out of the freezer (I get manager's special meat, so I often have little bits of various things) and pan fry and top the mash with the sausages and cheese.  Wrap them up and put them in foil or a Ziplock. And freeze!

Another thing I sometimes get cheap with the manager's special meat is ground sausage.  Brown it and add to cooked scrambled eggs (today I did 1lb meat to 12 eggs...but any ratio works).

Place the mixture in tortillas along with salsa, shredded cheese, and sour cream.  Wrap up and place in foil or Ziplocks. And Freeze!!

What to do with leftover beef and cream cheese?  Cut them up.

Add to scrambled eggs and mix up.

Place mixture in tortillas and top with favorite salsa.  Wrap up, foil/Ziplock, and Freeze!!

Leftover sausage and bean mixture?  

Add to tortilla with cheese and sour cream.  Wrap, foil/Ziplock, and Freeze!! 

Today I also pan-fried hot dogs and two hamburger patties, and used up the ends of some lunch meat packages and sliced cheese.  

All said, I completely filled the freezer box with easy, ready-to-grab lunches with just a couple hours of work and I used up leftovers!  That's a successful day!