#CookieSwap Recipes!!

Do you miss the incredible #CookieSwap that Katie from Practical Parenting & Ashley from My Front Porch Swing put together?

Well, no need to worry because you can now get all the great recipes and a few blogging tips in one great ebook! And best of all it’s FREE! It’s just in time for all that holiday baking that we’ll all be doing!

To get your very own recipe book click the cookbook below!

And a huge thank you to Katie & Ashley for putting this entire thing together! It’s been a lot of fun. Now, for next year you need to figure out how to get us all together so we can do this in person.

Monday Menu ~ Collard Greens from a girl north of the Mason-Dixon

I am so happy today because I have a special guest post for you! Today my sister has joined the ranks of blogging and this is her first ever post anywhere in the blogosphere! How exciting is that!! 

My sister, like myself, loves to cook and find all sorts of new recipes and then sometimes make them her ownjust like the one she is sharing with everyone today.

So please give her a warm welcome an enjoy the recipe!

Well, I was born in raised in the beautiful state of Michigan so needless to say, collards did not make an appearance on the family table at holidays, nor any other day of the year.

I went 35 long years without collard greens and even had the audacity to scrunch my nose up when offered ( I was a picky eater as a child and only have come to like green leafy things later in life a.k.a  “late foodie bloomer”).

Young collard plants growing in a container

Image via Wikipedia

I tried collard greens for the first time last year and was head over heels for them.  I inquired as to how to make these things and was advised to use certain things.  Well, being headstrong amongst other adjectives to describe myself, I made a few adaptations.   Here is what I make.  Just a note, my even pickier husband loves these.  He DOES NOT do green and leafy and is my work in progress, folks.

These measurements are approximate as I really don’t feel it necessary to measure because it is not baking (YEAH).  My beautiful sister measures because she is an awesome baker, I am not….

One package of cut and cleaned collard greens (What, you thought I cut them up??? NOPE).  Feel free to give them a good rinse in a colander ….  (I do that at minimum).

1-2 cartons of Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock (Make sure it is not the Unsalted version).  One carton is generally enough, unless you like a lot of juice.

7-10 cloves of garlic, minced (approximately) (Did I mention how much I love, love, love garlic?)  Please feel free to adjust to your taste.  NOTE: I have never had an encounter with a vampire, he he he

1 large onion, chopped

1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes

1 pkg of smoked turkey wings (Yes, they have to be smoked)

2 Trappeys hot peppers (minced), plus a few shakes of the vinegar from the bottle (For the love of all that is holy, do not add more unless you like HOT stuff),.

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Ok. This is a layered event.  Here is the order in which it goes:

Pour some chicken stock in HUGH-ASS stock pot.


Salt and Pepper




1 Trappeys pepper, plus 1-2 shakes of the vinegar in the bottle of Trappeys

Cut off some meat of the turkey wing and throw on top of all that.  And then add the smoked turkey wing with the bone in.

REPEAT until everything is gone.  Cook on low for about 3 hours with the lid on. The greens will cook down and the meat will fall off the bones, but make sure you remove the bones before serving (unless you don’t like the person… KIDDING… Remove the bones, seriously).

I serve this with cornbread.  Now don’t get all excited, I use Jiffy.  I suck at making homemade cornbread and I’ve made several attempts.  Jiffy turns out so much better… But I do add a tablespoon of sugar to the cornbread mix.  See… its homemade!!!!

Do you eat collards? How do you prepare them?

Monday Menu ~ Roasted Chicken with Pinot Noir Sauce and Rosemary Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Welcome back to another episode of the Monday Menu! One of these days I will get to making a cute button for this feature and make it all official like.

Today I have a special guest for you and I was so happy when she agreed to guest post for me! Please give a warm & magical welcome to Gigi from Kludgy Mom! She has a great recipe that I know you’ll all want to make for dinner this week.

Thank God for Jackie Cross, because she asked me to guest post for her Menu Mondays eons ago and the guilt of not doing that in a timely fashion inspired me to head back into the kitchen after a long hiatus!

As one of the founders of #winebuzz, I find myself with a lot of wine around my house all the time. If I drank every last drop of every last bottle we sample, I’d be on Intervention, so I started looking around for some great recipes that use wine as an ingredient.

This recipe is from Cooking Light. I like cooking chicken breasts because they’re easy and fast, and this recipe delivered both. The Pinot Noir sauce is super flavorful, but not overly heavy like most red wine reductions. You can prep the potatoes and pop them in the oven while you cook the chicken and the sauce, and be done in less than 45 minutes. I don’t eat a ton of fingerling potatoes (they are a little pricey) but these were delicious. And the biggest bonus? One breast with sauce + some potatoes is a measly 500 calories. More room for fudge!!
Roasted Breast of Chicken with Pinot Noir Sauce (recipe courtesy Cooking Light Magazine, Oct 2010 issue)

• 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
• 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
• 8 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
• Cooking spray
• 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
• 2 cups pinot noir
• 1 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
• 3/4 teaspoon sugar
• 3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Sprinkle thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and rosemary evenly over chicken. Dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess flour. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 chicken breast halves to pan; cook 2 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute. Remove chicken from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining chicken. Arrange chicken in a single layer on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray; place rack in pan. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160°. Remove from oven. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.
3. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots to saucepan; sauté 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Stir in wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until wine is reduced to 1 cup. Add broth; cook 16 minutes or until broth mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and sugar. Gradually add butter, stirring constantly with a whisk until smooth. Serve sauce with chicken.

Rosemary Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

• 2 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Place potatoes on a jelly-roll pan. Drizzle potatoes with oil; sprinkle with salt, rosemary, and pepper. Toss to combine; spread into a single layer on pan. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and tender.

Chicken with Pinot Noir Sauce

Monday Menu ~ Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had this great plan for today’s post but it didn’t work out at all. This weekend was my daughter’s 16th birthday and we went to Detroit for the day and ate dinner in Greektown at the Pegasus Tavernas and I was going to write about how great our meal was and write an incredible review full of beautiful pictures. But I can’t…. our meal wasn’t all that great, the service was less than stellar, and half way home we started to not feel so well.

Because of that I didn’t have anything for today. So I started thinking and with the holidays coming up and all the baking everyone will be doing I thought that I would bring back one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes. This recipe is based on the cookies made at Levian Bakery in NYC and if you’ve ever had one of their cookies you’ll know how amazing they are and that the recipe isn’t readily available.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup cold butter – cubed *
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup light brown sugar **
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips – I used Ghiradelli Semi-Sweet

* I used salted butter. You can also use unsalted just add 1/4 tsp of salt.
** I was out of light brown sugar too. I used 1 cup white & 1 cup dark sugar.

Preheat oven to 350 and make sure the rack is in the middle. If it’s to close to the bottom of the oven the cookies will be way to dark on the bottom.

  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then add eggs one at a time, then vanilla and mix until well incorporated.
  •  Add dry ingredients and mix till combined. Add chocolate chips.
  • I used the medium scoop from Pampered Chef which is about 2oz twice to make about a 4oz cookie.
  • Bake 10 – 15 min (up to 20 depending on how big your cookies are) and are lightly brown on the bottom.

Place on a rack to cool.

Mock Levain Chocolate Chip Cookies

This picture doesn’t do the cookies justice… they’re thick, crisp on the outside, and warm & gooey on the inside. You can change these up by adding in walnuts, pecan, peanut butter chips, or any other combination you can come up with.

Do you have a favorite mock recipe?

Monday Menu ~ Pumpkin Pecan Bars

The holiday baking season is fast approaching and this weekend I splurged and made a special treat for everyone here at my house. At first I was going to make pumpkin cookies with a cream cheese frosting and then I thought about pumpkin whoopie pies and then I finally decided to combine a couple of our favorite things. Pumpkin and pecans and then to make things even easier Pillsbury was a great help with the recipe on the side of the box!

Pillsbury pumpkin cookie mix

My husband loves pecan pie so I thought that this would be the perfect treat for him! And he wasn’t disappointed with them and neither was anyone else in my family. This one is a new favorite!

Think of this bar like a delightful combination of pumpkin pie and pecan pie…. the perfect marriage of two perfect holiday desserts.

Pumpkin Pecan Bars

I doubled the recipe so it would fit in a 13×9 pan. You can easily half it to fit in an 8×8 pan.


2 boxes of Pillsbury Pumpkin Cookie Mix

1 cup butter – melted


2 eggs

2/3 cup corn syrup – light or dark (I used light)

4 tbsp melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13×9 pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix the melted butter and cookie mix until it’s incorporated and press into the the pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

While the crust is in the oven mix together the rest of the ingredients. Pour over top of the crust and make sure that it’s even.

Bake for 25 minutes, let cool, cut & enjoy!

Pumpkin Pecan Bars

Mmmm.... this one is mine!

I promise that you will love these! I know that my kids didn’t take long to finish off the pan in less than 24 hours! What you see below is all that was left Sunday afternoon…. they were gone well before dinner time!

Pumpkin pecan bars

Do you have a favorite cookie or bar that you make around the holidays? If not, are you going to try this one?

Monday Menu ~ Sweet Potato Casserole

With the holidays fast upon us and the stores full of sweet potatoes and great deals on them too…. Mine were $0.25 a pound the other day at my local Meijer store! I thought that it only seemed fitting that I share one of my favorite recipes involving sweet potatoes.

It’s a side dish or a dessert or even a breakfast snack (yea, that’s pushing it I know) that tastes simply amazing and it pretty easy to make.


Potato Mixture

  • 4 cups sweet potato, cubed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar or brown (whichever you prefer.. I’ve used both or half & half)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put the sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover them. Cook over medium high heat until tender; drain and mash.

sweet potatoes ready to cooksweet potatoes ready to mash

    • In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Sweet potatoes - ready for the topping

    • In medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour. Cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse. Stir in the pecans. Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture.

Sweet potatoes - with topping

  • Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.

This is by no means low calorie but I can guarantee you that it is really tasty! This is the only way that I can get most of my family to even eat sweet potatoes.

What is your favorite holiday side dish?

Monday Menu ~ Comfort Food

With fall upon us the grill has been put away and I’m back in the kitchen making breads, pies, casseroles, and all of my favorite comfort foods. This has to be my favorite season partially because I get to bake…. yes, it’s my favorite past time.

Chicken and noodles is one of my favorites as well as my families. It’s one of the few dinners that I can make and have very little leftovers! Now there are a couple ways to go about making this… the easy way or the full out homemade version. I’ve made both and they’re equally delicious and I’ll give the ingredients for both. How much time you want to take will depend on which recipe you make and I’ll tell you that I’ve been able to make the quick & easy version on a weeknight.

Comfort food - chicken & noodles

Quick & Easy

  • 1 – 2 rotisserie chickens pulled off the bone & cut up
  • 32 oz container of chicken broth
  • Medium Onion chopped
  • 2 -3 stalks of celery chopped
  • 2 -3 carrots chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 bag of frozen peas
  • Reames Egg Noodles (1 -2 packages) – or some other thick noodles
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of heavy cream or half & half
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour

Saute all the vegetables other than the peas in a bit olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add in the chicken, bay leaf, and the broth, bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer until the veggies are tender. Stir in the noodles and cook until they’re done. When the noodles are done turn down the heat and stir in the peas.

In a separate pan melt the butter and stir in the flour, cook for 1 minute. Stir in the flour mixture into the soup until thick and finish off with the cream.

Season with salt, pepper, and any other herbs that you like.

Homemade Version

This doesn’t vary much from the quick & easy recipe.

  • 1 whole roaster chicken
  • 32 oz container of chicken broth (may need 2 for this version)
  • Medium Onion chopped
  • 2 -3 stalks of celery chopped
  • 2 -3 carrots chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 bag of frozen peas
  • Reames Egg Noodles (1 -2 packages) – or some other thick noodles
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of heavy cream or half & half
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour

Boil the chicken in one of the containers of chicken broth until cooked through and almost falling off the bone. Remove from the broth and let cool until you can handle it and then pull the chicken off and cut it up.

In another pot, saute all the vegetables other than the peas in a bit olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add in the chicken, bay leaf, and the broth from the first pot, bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer until the veggies are tender. Stir in the noodles and cook until they’re done. When the noodles are done turn down the heat and stir in the peas.

In a separate pan melt the butter and stir in the flour, cook for 1 minute. Stir in the flour mixture into the soup until thick and finish off with the cream.

Both are thick, delicious, and warm you heart, soul and stomach.

What is one of your favorite comfort foods?


Don’t forget about the Doodle Roll giveaway! It’s a great stocking stuffer idea!


Monday Menu ~ Melt Buttery Spread Review & Recipe

Not that long ago I was asked if I would be interested in trying out Melt Buttery Spread and after checking it out and pondering it for a while I finally said yes.

The reason that I was so hesitant was because I am a big fan of butter. I love the rich creamy taste of it and there is nothing that compares. Nothing. I can’t stand margarine…. at all. The taste is horrible and very much similar to vegetable oil. I was concerned that this was going to have the same taste, but when I tried the Melt Spread I was very impressed. Not only did it taste really good but it had that same creaminess that I like about butter. I’d consider it one of the better butter substitutes out there.

Melt Buttery Spread

My kids loved it and my husband even kind of liked it too!

So what is Melt Buttery Spread? It’s an organic butter alternative that is made from virgin coconut oil, flax seed oil, palm fruit oil, and canola oil with no artificial colors or additives. It is the perfect blend of healthy fats that can be used just the same as regular butter, whether you bake or cook with it or even spread it on your toast it really is one of the more healthy oils that you can use.

Melt Buttery Spread - opened

We used the Melt on zucchini bread, crescent rolls, bread, in oatmeal, and of course I had to bake with it.

With the fall season upon us I made a wonderful pumpkin crunch cake that if I must say rivals all others. It was amazing!

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

2 cups of Flour
½ tsp. of Salt
1½ tsp. of Baking Soda
1 can (15 or 16oz.) of Pumpkin
2 tsps. of Baking Powder
1 cup of Melt Buttery Spread
4 Large Eggs

1/2 cup Melt Buttery Spread
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup Oatmeal
1 tsp Cinnamon
Mix everything together in a bowl. I doubled this so the cake would have lots of crunch topping.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake - batter in pan Crunch topping Pumpkin Crunch Cake - with topping
This pumpkin cake recipe is intended for either a tube pan, a bundt pan, or a 13″x9″ pan.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease and flour your baking pan.
Combine all of the above ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix together thoroughly until entirely moistened and well-blended.
Pour your cake batter into the prepared pan.
Place the topping on the cake all over the place.
Bake for one hour or until you can insert a toothpick and pull it out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Then, remove it from the pan and allow it to cool on a cooling rack for one more hour.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

I created the topping because I didn’t have the ingredients to make frosting and wanted something more for it. If you don’t want to use the topping then leave it off and you can frost it with a cream cheese frosting or a simple dusting of powdered sugar. No matter which way you serve this cake it’s delicious! It’s moist, flavorful, and lasts this way on the counter for a few day.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

The only issue with the Melt Spread is that I’m having trouble finding it around me and I only have a little bit left.

Have you tried Melt Buttery Spread?

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Monday Menu ~ Layers of Love Brownies

It’s Monday and that means it’s time again for the Monday Menu! This week I have another blogger from Michigan! Angela from Tiaras and Trucks is here sharing an amazing recipe that is full of chocolate! I think that everyone should drop what they’re doing and make this one!

Years ago, my mom had family members send her their favorite
recipes and put together a cookbook for me. 
All the way from Texas, courtesy of my cousin Jenny, these brownies
immediately became one of my favorite recipes.

I bring them to barbeques and potlucks and anywhere I think
someone might need to gain a few pounds. 
These aren’t low-fat or low-carb or low-anything.  The only way I can imagine making them
healthier is to cut them into smaller pieces!
Abbey and Dylan love helping in the kitchen, but I generally
make these after bedtime.  It’s not that
they’re difficult, but there are a few different steps.  It’s a recipe that deserves a read-through
before dumping all of the ingredients together and turning on your mixer.
Wait?  Not everyone
bakes like that?
Dry Ingredients
¾ c flour * ¾ c baking cocoa * ¼ tsp salt * ½ c. white sugar
* ½ c. brown sugar
Wet Ingredients
½ c butter * 3 large eggs * 2 tsp vanilla
Super Delicious Additional Ingredients
¾ c white chocolate chips * ½ c caramel topping * ¾ c
chocolate chips
A little helper

A little helper

Act One
Preheat oven to 350 degrees & grease/spray an 8 x 8
square pan
Combine cocoa, flour, salt
Beat butter, white & brown sugar, 2 (not all 3) eggs,
Add in flour mixture gradually
Act Two
Set aside ¾ c mixed batter
Act Three
Pour remaining batter into pan
Sprinkle white chocolate chips over batter
Drizzle caramel topping over batter & chips
Act Four
Beat the ¾ c batter with remaining egg & chocolate chips
Spread over caramel topping
Bake for 30-35 minutes
Let cool before cutting into squares and ignoring the
calories in each amazing bite.

You can find Angela over at her place, Tiaras and Trucks, every day as well as on Twitter.

The best fall treat ever ~ pumpkin s’more bars

I am doing something that I don’t normally do…. posting on a Sunday and mid day. I always take the weekends off and make sure that when I do post that it’s ready to go at 6am.

But today I am sharing a recipe that I shared in Instagram yesterday. And there was an outcry for the recipe…people falling over to get it…… drooling on their phones and computers when they saw it. Alright, so maybe that’s an exaggeration.


  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree (150z)
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (the small one)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of Graham cracker crumbs (about 12 squares
  • 45 graham crackers (approximately)
  • 9 cups of mini-marshmallows (entire bag)
  • 2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (add more if you want!)


  1. Preheat over to 450F.
  2. In a small saucepan on medium heat, combine the butter, pumpkin mix, milk, cinnamon and bring to a boil.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in Graham cracker crumbs. Place aside.
  4. Spray a 13×9 baking pan with cooking spray or  line with waxed paper.
  5. Line the pan with graham crackers – I had to cut a couple for the last row.
  6. Pour 1/3 of the pumpkin mix over crackers and spread.
  7. Top the pumpkin mix with approximately 2 – 3 cups of marshmallows.
  8. Sprinkle evenly 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips.
  9. Repeat steps 5,6,7, 8 twice giving you 3 layers.
  10. Bake for 4 minutes.
  11. Let it cool and set for 3-4 hours to firm up otherwise it will not cut well into squares. I placed mine in the fridge for a little bit.
Pumpkin S'mores fresh out of the oven

Pumpkin S'mores fresh out of the oven

Having the graham crackers in squares really helped with the cutting since I didn’t have to cut through them.

These were a lot better than I had expected them to be. They were rich, airy, and very delicious!

Pumpkin S'more

I ate this one!

Because this recipe is so awesome I am going to link up with Kludgy Mom for her Fall Food linky so I can share it with everyone!

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