Archive for the ‘Make Ahead of Time’ Category

posted by Nina on Jan 12

I love making my own homemade granola. It’s great to eat like cereal and it’s a great addition to yogurt as well.

3 cups oatmeal (uncooked)
1 cup chopped or slivered almonds
1 cup raisins
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup pure maple syrup

Mix ingredients together in a large bowl. Transfer onto a large baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.

Bake at 325°F for 35 minutes (stirring once halfway through cooking time). Allow to cool completely on tray.

Store in airtight jars or containers.

What did the family think? I am the only granola eater in the family. I liked it. It was a lot crunchier than other granolas I have made.

Where did this recipe come from? Cooking on the Side

photo from

posted by Nina on Dec 22

This is the first brisket I have ever made and it turned out perfect! It was moist and flavorful and it was SO easy! The only trick is remembering to put it in your CrockPot in the morning because it has to cook for at least 9 hours. This would be perfect for a Christmas or New Year’s dinner, too. Happy eating!

5 1/2 pounds beef brisket
1 3/4 cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoons garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Combine all ingredients, coating the brisket well. Marinate overnight.

Place brisket and marinade in in crock-pot on low for 9 to 10 hours.

Slice into thin strips, across the grain and serve on rolls or buns.

We had this with applesauce, creamed corn and 7-Up biscuits. We also had some extra BBQ sauce on the side for dipping.

Did I change anything? Well, I forgot to marinate it overnight. Oops. It still turned out perfect. We also didn’t have ours on rolls.

What did the family think? Husband and I thought it was FABULOUS. The kids were less impressed.

Where did this recipe come from?

posted by Nina on Dec 19

This is the only recipe on this whole blog that I have not personally tasted, but it didn’t make a ton of cookies and I was making them for the teachers at the kids’ school. So I just crossed my fingers and hoped they were good. They must have been because my cookie tray was returned to me with a post-it on it that said “Delicious!”. Not only are they delicious, but they are also very festive since they’re red.

For the cookies:
1 box red velvet cake mix
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cheesecake filling:
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the white chocolate drizzle:
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, melted

To make cookies, in a large bowl combine cake mix and flour. Whisk until clumps disappear. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake mix, flour, eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. The dough will be oily. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

While the dough is in the frig, make the cheesecake filling since it needs to hang out in the freezer for a while. To make the cheesecake filling, using a mixer, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Using a teaspoon, scoop out cheesecake filling and place on a plate. Continue scooping out cheesecake filling into teaspoon balls until you have 10. Place plate in the freezer and freeze for at least two hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. To assemble the cookies, take about 1/4 cup of red velvet cookie dough and flatten in your hands. Place a teaspoon of cheesecake filling in the center and wrap the cookie dough around the filling. Gently roll into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Scoop onto lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheets. Only bake 3 cookies at a time. The cookies are large and will spread. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until the cookies begin to crackle. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Melt the white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl or over a double-boiler. Drizzle the white chocolate over the cooled cookies. Let the cookies set until the chocolate hardens. Serve and enjoy!

Did I change anything? No, but take note that these cookies take a while to make. If I had read the whole recipe ahead of time I would have noticed that they have to sit for two hours before you can actually bake them.

What did the family think? No one here got to eat any, but the teachers thought they were great. :)

Where did this recipe come from? Two Peas and their Pod

posted by Nina on Nov 28

We are back from our trip to Kansas for Thanksgiving and started today with a trip to the doctor’s office for a cast for our youngest who broke his arm while practicing tae kwon do with his older brother…never a dull moment. Before we went to the doctor, however, I sat down and ate a tasty bowl of this very yummy granola cereal.

3 cups Rolled Oats
1 cup Slivered Almonds
1 cup Shredded Coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seed
1/4 cups Butter
1/4 cups Honey
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
1 pinch Salt
1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
1 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon


Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Pour oats, coconut, almonds, wheat germs and flax seed into a large bowl.

In small bowl, mix butter, honey and brown sugar together. Microwave on high for about 1 minute or until sugar is mostly dissolved. Pour ingredients from small bowl into the large bowl of dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and stir.

Spread granola mixture evenly on tray and bake 40 minutes stirring every 20 minutes.

Cool on sheet tray and store in air tight containers.

Did I change anything? I added the wheat germ and flax seed. If you don’t have those just use four cups of oats instead.

What did the family think? This is for me only. :) They did comment on how good it smelled though.

Where did this recipe come from? adapted from a recipe at Lauren’s Latest

posted by Nina on Nov 18

Go ahead and read this recipe, write down the ingredients and then go to the store. This is your dinner for tonight. This is seriously SO good! I can’t wait to eat the leftovers for lunch today. Yum!

1 Pork Tender Roast (appx 4-5 lbs)
1 can crushed pineapple (in 100% juice)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/2 onion sauteed then added to the crock pot
Jarred jalepeno slices (I only used five, I wish I would have used more.)
Hamburger buns (I used Hawaiian bread sandwich buns…potato buns would be good too)
Mozzarella cheese slices

Cook everything but the buns and the cheese in crock pot on high 4-6 hours.

Serve on buns with mozzarella slices.

We had this with fresh pineapple and kettle chips.

Did I change anything? I reduced the amount of sugar and onions from the original recipe. The recipe above is how I made it.

What did the family think? 3/4 of us thought it was deeelish.

Where did this recipe come from? Nicole Arnold at CrockPot Girls

posted by Nina on Nov 16

Even my kids weren’t quite sure why we needed to cook pasta in a CrockPot, but they are always up for anything that involves pasta, so we gave it a shot. It turned out great, but be forewarned, this recipe makes a LOT of food.

1 1/2 lbs. Italian sausage, crumbled
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
5 oz. frozen spinach, thawed
16 oz. bowtie pasta, cooked
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded, divided

Brown Italian sausage with onion and garlic. Put in crock-pot and add sauce, tomatoes and seasonings. Cook 6-7 hours on low.

Add the last 4 ingredients during the last 30 minutes of cooking, stir well and turn crock-pot to high. Add the last 1/2 cup of mozzarella to melt on the top, replace lid.

Did I change anything? The original recipe called for hamburger instead of Italian sausage and it called for more onion and more spinach. The above recipe is how I made it.

What did the family think? I am glad they liked it because it made so much we’ve been having it for lunch for two days now.

Where did this recipe come from? Becoming Betty

photo from Becoming Betty

posted by Nina on Nov 10

This looks like it’s hard to make. It’s not, but let your family think you worked for hours in the kitchen whipping up this fancy looking dinner that tastes great and will make your house smell fantastic.

1 Loaf Rhodesâ„¢ Bread Dough or 12 Rhodesâ„¢ Dinner Rolls, thawed to room temperature
6 ounces spaghetti, cooked
1 cup thick spaghetti sauce
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
Melted Butter
Garlic Powder
Parmesan cheese
Parsley flakes
Parchment paper (not necessary, but will make things a lot easier)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray counter lightly with non-stick cooking spray or use parchment paper (I highly recommend using parchment paper for when you have to transfer this to the baking sheet). Roll loaf or combined dinner rolls into a 12×16-inch rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 10-15 minutes.

Cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain and let cool slightly.

Remove wrap from dough. Place spaghetti lengthwise in a 4-inch strip down center of dough. Top with sauce and cheese.

Make cuts 1 1/2-inches apart on long sides of dough to within 1/2-inch of filling. Begin braid by folding top and bottom strips toward filling. Then braid strips left over right, right over left. Finish by pulling last strip over and tucking under braid. Lift braid with both hands and place on a large, sprayed baking sheet. (If you used parchment paper just transfer everything onto the backing sheet.)

Brush with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and parsley.

Bake at 350°F 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly and slice to serve.

Did I change anything? I added garlic powder and brushed it with butter since a friend of mine had made this earlier in the week and thought it would taste better that way.

What did the family think? Yum! Everyone had seconds.

Where did this recipe come from? Rhodes Bread

photo from Rhodes Bread

posted by Nina on Sep 22

This recipe saved us last night. We had violin and tae kwon do testing and this yummy recipe was cooking away while we were out doing all of that and was ready to go when we got home.

3 lb. beef chuck roast, trimmed of most fat
2 garlic cloves, sliced
16 oz jar pepperoncini peppers (remove stems after cooking)
6 slices provolone cheese
Hamburger buns

Make small cuts in roast and insert garlic slices in cuts.

Place roast in the slow cooker, and pour the entire contents of the jar of pepperoncini, including liquid, over meat.

Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.

Shred meat and serve on buns with pepperoncinis and provolone cheese.

Did I change anything? The original recipe didn’t say anything about the provolone. Everything is better with provolone, in my opinion, so I added that in.

What did the family think? Hubby and I really liked it…a lot. Our oldest ate his, but it wasn’t his favorite. Our youngest ate the cheese and the bun and one bite of meat.

Where did this recipe come from?

photo from Serious Eats

posted by Nina on Sep 19

If this doesn’t say fall, then I don’t know what does. It’s like having a pumpkin pie cheesecake and spreading it on graham crackers, bagels and waffles. Yum!

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese, pumpkin and sugar until smooth. (You could also use an immersion blender or wooden spoon.)

Add the pumpkin pie spice and vanilla.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

What did the family think? Only two of us have tried it so far and we LOVED it.

Where did this recipe come from? Ezra Pound Cake

photo from Pinch My Salt

posted by Nina on Aug 30

The boys have been asking me to make this for a while, so last night was the night. They lapped it up and asked for more…I love dinners like that. Another thing I love about this recipe is that you can make it ahead of time, stick it in the frig and then pop it in the oven when you are ready to bake it.


1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed completely & squeezed dry
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
15 ounces ricotta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 box (12 to 14 shells) manicotti noodles
3 to 4 cups marinara sauce (1 jar + a little more)
1/2 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix spinach, cheeses, eggs, salt and pepper. Stir together until well blended.

Place about 1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce in a 9×13-inch pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom.

Place the mixed filling into a plastic bag. You can use either a frosting piping bag or a gallon zip bag. Snip the corner, gather the top and squeeze the filling into the corner. Hold an uncooked manicotti shell in your hand and squeeze the filling inside the shell. Let it overflow on both sides. (Or you can use a spoon. Spoon it in with the spoon part of the spoon and stuff it in there with the handle…very messy…but it worked.) Place the filled shell into the sauce-lined pan. Repeat with remaining manicotti and fill the pan with the stuffed shells, until you run out of shells and filling. You should be able to fill 12 to 14 shells- if you run out of room in your pan, use a separate smaller pan to accommodate the extra.

Cover the pasta with marinara sauce, using about 2 1/2 cups of sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup Romano/Parmesan on top. At this point, you can cover with foil and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake, or you can cover with foil and place it in the oven immediately.

Bake, covered with foil, 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

What did the family think? Yum, yum and more yum.

Where did this recipe come from? Recipe Girl

photo from Recipe Girl

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