Carmelitas

Over the years, I have worked with a lot of amazing young people. This has included paid and unpaid interns as well as barely paid AmeriCorps members. These bright young minds bring energy to our work force and help us get stuff done that we want to do but just can’t do by ourselves because there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it alone.

Last summer, Maria was one of our interns. She worked in Community Engagement helping my co-workers prepare for a week-long youth leadership academy. This recipe is one of Maria’s favorite recipes her mother makes. I hope you enjoy this tasty but very rich dessert.

Carmelitas by Maria Sanchez
IMG_01041 ½ sticks of butter
¾ c. brown sugar
a pinch of salt
1 T. vanilla
1 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. flour
1 c. chocolate chips
1 jar of caramel topping
3 T. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, butter, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and oats together. Add half to the bottom of a greased 8 x 8 pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Mix caramel and flour together. Pour over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal over caramel and return to oven for 15-18 minutes.

Coffee Cake

My aunt Linda made this tasty dish for my wedding shower as well as for the hospitality suite the weekend of my wedding. It kind of reminds me of a recipe my mom made when I was a kid. I’m not a nut person this recipe can be made with or without them.

I’m making it for my Volunteer Appreciation Celebration this week. I hope they enjoy it as much as I do.

Coffee Cake by Linda Vogel

Cinnamon-Crumb-Coffee-Cake

Photo from Pinterest

Topping
1 ½ c. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. chopped walnuts

Cake
1 c. sugar
1 c. butter
2 eggs
3 c. flour
1 c. milk
½ tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla

Sift dry ingredients. Add milk, ½ c. melted butter, vanilla, and eggs. Mix well. Pour half into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle with half of topping. Pour the rest of the batter on top. Sprinkle with remaining topping. Top with ½ c. melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Punch Bowl

When I was a kid, I remember my Aunt Joyce making this slush for a family holiday. All the kids wanted it but we couldn’t have any because it had alcohol. The next time my aunt made it, she didn’t put any liquor all her nieces could enjoy it as well. Probably ever since then, that’s how my aunts make it.

For those of you who attended my wedding shower, this was served as a punch in the bee hive container. Here’s hoping you have a baby shower, brunch, wedding shower, or summer party you can serve this tasty drink.

beehive

Photo courtsey of Pinterest

Fruit Punch/Slush by Joyce Miller
1 can frozen orange juice
1 can frozen lemonade
46 oz. can pineapple juice
46 oz. can apricot nector
1 – 2 liter bottle Sprite

Mix and serve. Add vodka if desired. Freeze for slush.

Notes:

  • I have a hard time finding a bottle of apricot nector in Kansas City grocery stores. I can usually find it sold in a six pack of cans near the tomato juice.

Goulash

IMG_0076

Look at this adorable card she made for Jeremiah’s birthday. He LOVES Minions and Stuart is his favorite.

My mother-in-law is super creative. She quilts and scrapbooks. Never a holiday goes by that we don’t receive a handmade card. So, I knew Lynn could take an item I found at a craft show and help me replicate it for our wedding favor.

Starbucks

We did our first look just outside the Starbucks in the Kansas City Overland Park Marriott. It was the venue of our wedding. Photo by: Joseph Sands Photography

Jeremiah and I went on our second date to Starbucks. It was after dinner at Bonefish Grill. We often debate if our first kiss was in the parking lot of the restaurant or at Starbucks. But we know we sat on the patio and talked for hours. Since we both love coffee, we go to Starbucks a lot for dates, meetings, or working on projects. Sometimes, it’s even motivation to workout. We also had three Keurig makers at one time. On any given day, we probably have between 100-150 K-cups in our apartment. What can I say, we like variety? That said, we do have our favorite flavors of coffee.Starbucks2

Lynn examined the sample I gave her and listened for my vision of having “Love is Brewing” and “Mr. & Mrs.” on each of our favorite kinds of coffee. Lynn searched the internet for a template and a video tutorial. Then, she made a template. Her scrapbooking friends even sent her some tools to add a little extra to the design. The next step was trips to Jo-Ann’s and Michaels. (Lynn is also price conscious so she helped me find some coupons to save us some money on the purple paper.) She scored all the paper so all we had to do was assemble them. It sounds simple but we spent almost an entire day making 60 of these K-cups. My sister and her friend Susan also joined us late in the day to finish the project.

FullSizeRender (5)

The “Mr.” was Donut Shop Regular. The “Mrs.” was Gloria Jean’s Hazelnut. We also made some without coffee for people like my mom who have a Keurig but don’t drink coffee.

 

This adorable little piece cost us about $1 each to make.

Today’s recipe comes from Lynn. Both our mothers forgot to bring recipe cards to the wedding but we knew what recipes we wanted them to share. Jeremiah was like, “I love my mom’s goulash.” I was like “I hate goulash.” He was like, “You have to try my mom’s recipe, it’s soooo good.” When I think of goulash, I think macaroni noodles with barely any meat and tomato sauce scooped with an ice cream scoop onto a lunch tray. Thank you, school lunch ladies, for making it so bland and gross looking. But I have to admit, Lynn’s recipe is really good. It has cheese. That’s what was missing in the version I had eaten in elementary school.

We don’t know for sure if the recipe is from his Oma (Grandma Martin) but we are guessing that his Oma probably made some sort of goulash as Lynn was growing up. Lynn’s parents meet in Germany as her father was stationed there in the military. In fact, I think Lynn didn’t move to the states until she was six years old. Goulash is typically a Hungarian dish but there are German versions too.

I’m really proud of Jeremiah because he made this dish all by himself. I was running late getting home from work so he started cooking without me. Normally we tag team cooking. I will tell you though to pay attention to the words “cooked macaroni”. Jeremiah didn’t know pasta doubles in size. So, needless to say, we then had some extra noodles cooked for another dish. He thought it was a little cheesier than his mom makes it but I thought it was just perfect.

Hamburger Goulash by Lynn Slater
IMG_01071 lb. ground beef
½ c. chopped onions
½ tsp. salt
3 c. cooked elbow macaroni
1 can (16 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 T. chili powder
½ tsp. pepper
2 c. Velveeta cheese cubed

Brown beef and chopped onion. Add spices and tomatoes. Add cooked macaroni and cheese. Cook until cheese melts.

You Had Me at Potatoes

Valentine’s Day is the one-time Jeremiah and I stay in. We hate the crowds and waiting past your reservation time for a table. We eat out enough so we don’t feel like we need to mess with it on Valentine’s Day. Instead, it’s the one night we prepare an all-out meal and sit down at the dinner table to eat it.

This year, the plan was for spaghetti. In fact, I’ve turned Jeremiah into someone who prefers to eat my Great Grandma Reith’s spaghetti sauce over anything you can get from a jar or at a restaurant. That was the plan.

On our way home, we stopped at Sprouts to grab some bread. Unfortunately, finding bakery bread has turned into a nightmare because everything in that area seems to have barley. Since I’m allergic, it’s getting way harder to make garlic bread ourselves.

While in the store, Jeremiah spotted some lobster tails on sale for $4.90 each. That’s crazy ridiculously cheap! We know from our trip to Maine why they are so expensive. A change of dinner plans occurred. “Why don’t we have lobster tails?” said Jeremiah. I said, “We’ve never made them. Do you know how to cook them?” Jeremiah used his phone to research a recipe. It looked simple and quick enough. Then, the next question was what we would eat with them? That’s when I throughout this recipe from our wedding cookbook for cheesy potatoes. Needless to say, what should have taken less than 20 minutes to make for dinner, turned into a late-night Valentine’s Day dinner. We even grabbed something in the McDonald’s drive-thru, which we never eat, to hold us over.

Jeremiah goes way back with the Fox boys (brothers – Kelly and Travis). Kelly and Travis grew up with the Slater clan. From what I understand, I think their dads met through work and became good friends. I also learned that Jeremiah’s mom used to babysit the boys when she did home daycare. The Fox’s grandma told me at our wedding that she considers Jeremiah almost be like a grandson because he spent so much time with her when they were kids.

According to Erin, these potatoes are the reason her husband Kelly married her. Jeremiah says Kelly was smitten on her from the moment he met Erin.

This recipe is similar to my mom’s cheesy potatoes. I like Erin’s recipe through because it feels a little less rich and just the right amount of cheesy to make this side dish a little more often. My biggest pet peeve is when someone says they made cheesy potatoes and you can barely taste the cheese. Not the case with this cheesy potato dish at all.

And on a side note, we probably ate a lobster dinner complete with cheesy potatoes, garlic bread, and monster cookie cheesecake for less than $8 a serving. If you add in a glass of local vineyard wine, it probably came out to $12 a serving. In fact, that’s cheaper than we spent on a fast-casual dinner at Chipotle of nights ago. And it’s definitely cheaper than if we had gone to one of our favorite steakhouses.

fullsizerender-12Cheesy Potatoes by Erin & Kelly Fox
1 stick of butter
1 can of cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
2 c. cheddar cheese
1 – 1lb. package of shredded hash browns
Garlic salt and black pepper to taste

Melt butter. Add cream of chicken and sour cream. Add garlic salt and pepper. In an extra-large bowl, pour mixture over hash browns. Add cheese and combine. Pour into sprayed 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 45 – 60 minutes at 400 degrees.

Tortilla Chicken

72b2b6a5-cc89-4230-bfe7-7021e7fe9d55On our honeymoon in San Antonio, Jeremiah and I took a day trip to Gruene. The locals call it Green because that’s what the German word means. We were surprised to learn about the rich German culture in the area. And without a doubt, Gruene was probably our favorite part excursion. This is little town is filled with wineries, restaurants, music performances, and adorable shops.

Our first stop was the Winery on the Gruene. Jeremiah and I always like to ask the locals where they like to eat. We were told people always go to Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar but we should checkout Gruene River Grill. The woman said the food was just as good (if not better), the wait would be shorter, and they have air conditioning. AC in Texas July – I was sold. Jeremiah ordered the Pan Seared Redfish and loved it. I ordered Queso Chicken. This dish was something I thought I might be able to recreate at home. The recipe below was Jeremiah and my attempt to recreate. I think we got close on the chicken but I can’t come anywhere close to the best black beans and rice I’ve ever eaten. We used Vigo Black Bean and Rice because they are pretty good.

Tortilla Chicken by Amber Bourek
IMG_0169.JPGBoneless skinless chicken breast
Salsa Verde
Crushed tortilla chips
Queso salsa

Marinade the chicken in Salsa Verde. Then, roll in crushed tortilla chips coating both sides. Place in a sprayed baking dish. Cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with queso and return to the oven for 5 additional minutes.

Notes:

  • You can make salsa verde from scratch. We used a jar.
  • The original recipe also had Monterey jack cheese on the chicken and topped with pico de gallo.

Breakfast Sliders

Last Christmas, my mother-in-law made the Hawaiian Ham & Swiss Sliders for Jeremiah and I to take on the road. At the holidays, we alternate between our parents’ homes. That means a 5 ½ hour Christmas afternoon road trip between Kansas City and Wayne. These little sandwiches were definitely tasty snack along the way. She also whipped up a Gluten-free, dairy free version for her grandson. (Just substitute with Gluten-free rolls and dairy-free fake butter.)

Recently, I ran across this slightly sweeter breakfast variation on Pinterest. I cooked up a batch for Jeremiah and I on Tuesday morning. Delicious and filled us up until lunch time. Perhaps you could cook up a batch for your family over the Christmas break.

Breakfast Sliders from Pinterest
img_01671 package of King Hawaiian rolls
1 stick of butter
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. maple syrup
6 slice of ham
6 scrambled eggs
6 slices of cheese
1-2 T. poppy seeds

Cook scrambled eggs and sit to the side. In a pan or microwave dish, melt the butter, Worcestershire sauce, and syrup together. Meanwhile, slice rolls in half. Spray a 11 x 7 pan with non-stick spray. Place the bottom halves of rolls in dish. Top with half of butter mixture. Cover with ham, cooked scrambled eggs, and cheese slice. Top with remaining bun tops and press down into pan. Brush remaining butter on top of buns and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Mini Maple Bacon Rolls

I normally work on Sunday mornings. Recently, it’s been my one day a week off from work. A few weeks ago, I promised Jeremiah that I’d cook us breakfast instead of going out to eat at The Big Biscuit (our go-to breakfast spot) before church. We had some leftover bacon in the fridge so I cooked up this little dish. So good!!!! Even my husband who usually avoids cinnamon to prevent heartburn scarfed them down.

I’d encourage you to use the suggested rolling pin and dental floss tips from the creator. They are very helpful. Plus, bake bacon and avoid grease l over your kitchen. We line a cookie sheet with foil and place a baking rack on top of the foil. This allows for easy bacon grease clean-up. We bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

fullsizerender-9Mini Maple Bacon Rolls from Pinterest
Rolls
2 cans of refrigerated crescent rolls
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 T. maple syrup
¼ c. brown sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

For Glaze
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ c. powdered sugar
1 T. maple syrup
2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbed

Preheat oven 375 degrees. Mix cream cheese, maple syrup, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Unroll crescent rolls and make a rectangle. Use a rolling pin to put seams together. Cover dough with mixture, leaving about ½ inch around the edges. Crumb bacon on top. Roll up the long way. Use dental floss to cut each crescent roll log into 18 pieces. Place into mini muffin cups. Bake for 10 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes. Top with glaze mixture and crumb with bacon.

Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta

A few ago weeks, I was going through my Pinterest account looking for some new recipes. This is a new one we tried and really liked. I hope you like it took.

Smothered Bacon Ranch Chicken Penne Pasta from Laugh with Us Blog
img_1185One package of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 lb. chicken breast
2 garlic cloves
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. penne pasta, cooked and drained
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 package ranch seasoning mix
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. water

In a large bowl, mix garlic, ranch seasoning, cream of chicken, sour cream, pepper, and water. Place chicken in Crockpot and cover in sauce. Cook for 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high. About 30 minutes before it’s done, add cooked pasta and bacon.

Notes:

  • I used reduced sodium cream of chicken soup and light sour cream. 
  • I substituted a spiral pasta. 
  • Instead of mixing in the bacon, I cooked half a package and just sprinkled on top with parsley.

 

Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole

When my husband was out of town a few weeks ago, I was cooking up a storm. This is a recipe I found on Pinterest. The pin generated several re-pins from a few of my friends and family. Jeremiah asked if it was like my mom’s Hamburger Casserole but I said it reminded me more of Crockpot Chicken Casserole.

IMG_1133Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole from Plain Chicken
1 1/2 lb. ground beef, cooked
3 oz. pre-cooked bacon
2 c. cheddar cheese
1 package of tater tots
1 can cheddar cheese
16 oz. sour cream

Mix ingredients in a bowl and pour into a 13 x 9 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Notes:

  • I halfed the recipe and cooked it in a 9 x 9 baking dish. I halfed all the ingredients except I used 1 lb. of ground beef, full serving of bacon, and a full can of soup. I cooked it at the same temp and time.
  • I used light sour cream, 2% cheddar cheese, and real bacon.
  • I think you could cook some onions in the beef and it would be good.