Sloppy Joe’s

Happy 8th Blogoversary to me!

Sloppy Joe’s are one of the first things I remember cooking for my family when I was still living at home. It is so easy yet so comforting and delicious. Whenever my aunt had a garage sale, you could count on her making Sloppy Joe’s. There are many ways to make them and each person has their own version. I remember in high school I had friends who were shocked my mom made them from “scratch” using the seasoning packets because they would bust open a can of Manwich. I remember the Manwich commercials and the slogan, but until today I thought it was the entire meal in a can! I realized it is just seasoned tomato sauce that is added to cooked ground beef.

When my kids were young I wanted to get away from seasoning packets and make my own. I couldn’t find a good Sloppy Joe recipe until I discovered the Pioneer Woman. I started following her blog before she aired on the Food Network. She posted her Sloppy Joe’s recipe in 2010 and I’ve been making them ever since much to the delight of my family.

Sloppy Joe’s
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2 Tablespoons Butter
2-1/2 pounds Ground Beef
1/2 whole Large Onion, Diced
1 whole Large Green Bell Pepper, Diced
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
1-1/2 cup Ketchup
1 cup Water
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Chili Powder (more To Taste)
1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (more To Taste)
Worcestershire Sauce, To Taste
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste (optional)
Tabasco Sauce (optional; To Taste)
Salt To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Kaiser Rolls or Hamburger Buns

Add butter to a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Drain most of the fat and discard.

Add onions, green pepper and garlic. Cook for a few minutes or until vegetables begin to get soft.

Add ketchup, brown sugar, chili pepper, dry mustard and water. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Also add tomato paste, Worcestershire and Tabasco if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Spread roll with butter and brown on the griddle or skillet. Spoon meat mixture over the rolls.

Serves 8

Receipe from: Pioneer Woman

Fantasy Fudge

Fudge…this candy has such an unusual name, yet makes me smile as I think about it’s smooth, creamy and chocolatey texture. Sometimes it’s hard to get the right consistency, if you don’t boil it enough it will be crystalized sugar; boil it too long and it can become a hard candy. While I do love making candy (Chocolate Almond Brickle), I would make a super easy Rocky Road just to skip the hassle of the fudge making. About 2 1/2 years ago, I started asking everyone I knew if they had a really good fudge recipe. My mom’s high school friend, Debbie, who we would go to tea with, gave me two fudge recipes she makes. Debbie makes the decades old fudge recipe originally on the back of the Kraft Marshmallow Crème jar. Kraft changed the recipe many years ago and people were not happy. It is hard to find the original. And since I love marshmallow and chocolate together, it has quickly become a family favorite! It’s definitely worth the effort. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Fantasy Fudge
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1 jar marshmallow crème (5 oz. to 10 oz.)
1 ½ cups sugar
⅔ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup butter
¼ tsp salt
12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate morsels or
6 oz. milk chocolate and 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
½ cup chopped nuts, optional
1 tsp vanilla

Combine marshmallow crème, sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and 1/4 tsp salt.
Bring to full boil, stirring constantly. Boil 5 minutes over moderate heat, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat. Add 12 oz. chocolate morsels and stir until melted.
Stir in 1/2 cup chopped nuts, and 1 tsp vanilla.
Pour into greased 8″ square pan. Chill until firm.
Makes 2 ¼ lbs.

Adapted from: Kraft

Pumpkin Scones

I love eating bread…in any form really…but especially when it’s hot out of the oven. Oh, and the smell of fresh warm bread…simply delicious. When my mom and I started going to tea so many years ago, I looked forward to what flavor scone they would bring out. Back in the day I would go to Starbucks not just for the coffee but for the scones. They had large scrumptious flavored scones. No more. Over the years I have tried making scones with not much luck. The dough was either too dry or too wet. Then one day the light bulb went off…what if I shredded the butter in the food processor and mixed…genius! I was so proud of myself. I was working the food processor so much, it finally gave out. While I was on the hunt for something just as good as the old one, I used the Kitchen Aid mixer to make my scones. Brilliant again. So now we make all sorts of flavors. I found this recipe on Pinterest and ironically it is called Starbucks Clone Pumpkin Scone!

Starbucks Clone Pumpkin Scones
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2 cups flour
7 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 Tablespoons half & half
1 egg
6 Tablespoons cold butter, cubed

For the plain glaze:
1 cup + 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons half & half

For the spiced drizzle:
1 cup + 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons half & half
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch ground ground ginger
pinch ground ground cloves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees then line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a large food processor (or in a large bowl) combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Pulse or whisk to combine. Add cold butter and pulse until well incorporated and mixture is the texture of cornmeal. Alternatively, use your fingertips or a pastry butter to blend butter in.

In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, half & half, and egg. Add to flour mixture and pulse until just combined. Alternatively, stir until the dough comes together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead 4 or 5 times to bring the dough together, then flatten into a circle 1″ thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough in half, then cut each half into thirds.

Place the wedges onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

When scones are cool, whisk together the plain glaze ingredients, then spoon on top and spread slightly. Let harden for 10 minutes, then whisk together the spiced drizzle ingredients and drizzle on top. Let harden completely, about 1 hour, before serving.

Store in an airtight container for 1 day.

Cooks Notes: I only add the spiced glaze to the scones. I also only use about ½ of the recipe.

Recipe from: Iowa Girl Eats

Chocolate Scotcheroos

There are about 8 different chocolate days “observed” each year. I’m not sure any other food gets so many days celebrated. I’m in! Chocolate is my all time favorite thing to eat. Oh, except for white chocolate which really isn’t chocolate at all. It will satisfy my craving in very rare instances. When my hubby and I were dating, we worked together. One day we went to the cafeteria for lunch and I grabbed a slice of chocolate cake covered in chocolate ganache and chocolate chips with some raspberry coulis. Dylan happens to mention he’s not really a dessert or chocolate fan. I gasped! I actually said, “Yeah, I don’t know if this relationship will continue much longer.” Luckily for Dylan, my office partner was sitting with us that day and she said, “Kelly, just think, you won’t have to share…EVER!” Flash forward 20 years…Dylan not only eats all desserts and chocolate, I am a good wife and share 50/50!

I first tasted this recipe at a family reunion. Dylan and I went to Arizona and met a lot of family on my maternal grandma’s side. It was a potluck and someone made these Chocolate Scotcheroos. I’m not sure where the name comes from but they are direct from the Kellogg’s website. If you like Rice Krispie Treats but they leave a little to be desired, these are for you. I love the chocolate and peanut butter combo and the addition of the butterscotch chips gives it that extra sweetness.

Happy World Chocolate Day!

Chocolate Scotcheroos
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1 cup light corn syrup 1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® cereal
1 package (6 oz., 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup butterscotch chips

Place corn syrup and sugar into 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Mix well. Add KELLOGG’S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated. Press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.

Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Let stand until firm. Cut into 2 x 1-inch bars when cool.

Note: Before measuring the corn syrup, coat your measuring cup with cooking spray–the syrup will pour easily out of the cup.

Recipe from: Kelloggs

Shepherd’s Pie

Happy 7th Blogoversary to me! Last year (2016) I made a pie for Pi Day. This year is a different kind of pie, a meat pie aka Shepherd’s Pie. I love a good Shepherd’s Pie. A Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb but a Cottage Pie is made with ground beef. Ok, so I guess I love a good Cottage Pie! They both include ground meat, cooked in gravy with vegetables and topped with mashed potatoes.

Last year I decided to switch up our usual St. Patrick’s Day dinner. I saw this Shepherd’s Pie recipe from Alton Brown on the Food Network and I had to make it…into a Cottage Pie! It was an instant hit with my family. Recipes that are basically a one pot dish are so easy. Plus, I love the convenience of this classic comforting dish.

Shepherd’s Pie
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For the potatoes:
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk

For the meat filling:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

Kelly’s note: If short on time, it’s ok to use frozen carrots. Just add them with the peas and corn.

Adapted from: Alton Brown

Peanut Brittle

When I was growing up my maternal grandma made a plethora of goodies each Christmas; there was gumdrop bread, peanut butter cups, divinity, fudge and there was always peanut brittle. One year when I was in college, my cousin Michelle and I went for a lesson on how to make peanut brittle. My grandma used her pressure cooker pot because it was thick and heavy enough not to burn the candy while it got to the right temperature. Fast forward to my wedding. I had to register for a pressure cooker just so I could continue making the brittle! 15 years went by and my husband figured out how to use the pressure cooker for it’s intended purpose. One day I might too. Merry Christmas!

Peanut Brittle
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1 cup sugar
½ cup corn syrup
⅔ cup water

Grease a large cookie sheet. Set aside.
In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, over medium heat, boil above ingredients to 270 degrees.

Remove from heat and add:
1 ½ cups salted peanuts
2 T. butter

Stir well. Cook to 300 degrees. Stir slowly. Remove from heat and add:
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda

Stir well until light and foamy and pour onto cookie sheet. Quickly spread out on sheet.
Cool at least 1 hour. Break into bite sized pieces.

Cooks notes:
It is best to have everything measured out before you start.
My grandma used Spanish peanuts (the ones with red skins), but I prefer regular.
My grandma also used dark corn syrup but I prefer light because I like the end result better.

Caramel Apple Cake

Fall! I love when the weather turns cool and crisp. And I love all the flavors of fall. I’ve never been a huge fan of pie, unless it’s chocolate…with a chocolate crust (French Silk Pie). In the fall, lots of people love Apple Pie or Pumpkin Pie. Yeah, they’re ok. I prefer my grandpa’s Apple Betty or this Caramel Apple Cake recipe my mom found in the Taste of Home magazine back in 1996. This is an apple cake with a caramel icing, yep…I love the fall flavors in this cake.

Caramel Apple Cake
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1 ½ cups vegetable oil
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Baking soda
½ tsp. Salt
3 ½ cups diced peeled apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp. Vanilla extract

Caramel Icing:
½ cup packed brown sugar
⅓ cup light cream
¼ cup butter
Dash of salt
1 cup powdered sugar
Chopped walnuts, optional

In a mixing bowl, combine oil and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine dry ingredients; add to batter and stir well. Fold in apples, walnuts and vanilla. Pour into a greased and floured 10 inch tube pan or bundt pan.

Bake at 325 for 1 ½ hours or until cake tests done. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, heat brown sugar, cream butter and salt until sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth; drizzle over cake. Sprinkle with nuts if desired.

Yield: 12-16 servings

Recipe from: Taste of Home

Broccoli Salad

I love a good “salad” or a hearty side dish. This happens to be both. My mom got this recipe from Taste of Home magazine many years ago. Oddly enough, you can’t find it on their website now. It is the perfect compliment to most BBQ’s and always a crowd pleaser. Over the years I have seen variations of this salad at Soup Plantation (aka Sweet Tomatoes) and more recently at Costco. I guarantee homemade will always taste so much better. The dressing is tangy but sweet and paired with the crunchy broccoli, the salty crispy bacon, the sweet raisins and mandarin oranges is simply delicious!

Broccoli Salad
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1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sugar
2 T. vinegar

8 cups broccoli florets, raw
1 can (11 oz) mandarin oranges, drained
½ cup red onion, diced fine
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
½ cup raisins

In a small bowl, whisk mayo, sugar and vinegar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
In a large bowl, combine broccoli, oranges, onion, bacon and raisins. Add dressing and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Serves 12

Gianduja-Stracciatella Gelato

July is National Ice Cream Month! President Ronald Reagan designated it back in 1984. But did you know ice cream can be traced back before 500 BC? In the 13th century, Marco Polo brought “water ice” to Europe from the Far East. In 1686, Italian Francesco Procopio Del Coletti opened a Paris café and debuts frozen ices, custards and creams, marking the beginning of the gelateria. We honeymooned in Italy for 17 glorious days and we ate gelato every single day! Ice cream is probably my favorite treat of all time…with chocolate of course.

When I came across this recipe for Gianduja-Stracciatella Gelato, which roughly translates to Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, I had to try it immediately. As an Italian, I do use hazelnuts in my desserts (Chocolate Zucchini Cake), but not too often since removing the skins can be a little tricky. This gelato is well worth the time and effort.

As Reagan said at his 1984 proclamation, “Ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food. It enjoys a reputation as the perfect dessert and snack food.” I couldn’t agree more…especially when it is homemade. Trust me, there is a difference.

Gianduja-Stracciatella Gelato
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1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
¼ tsp coarse salt
4 oz. milk chocolate, finely chopped
5 large egg yolks
⅛ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Spread the nuts in an even layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring them once or twice while baking. Let the nuts cool completely before using them.

Rub the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel to remove as much of the papery skins as possible, then finely chop them in a food processor or blender.

Warm the milk with 1 cup of the cream, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Once warm, remove from the heat and add the chopped hazelnuts. Cover and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Put the milk chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat the remaining 1 cup cream in a medium saucepan until it just begins to boil. Pour it over the milk chocolate pieces and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set a mesh strainer over the top.

Pour the hazelnut-infused milk through a strainer into a medium saucepan, squeezing the nuts firmly with your hands to extract as much of the flavorful liquid as possible. Discard the hazelnuts.

Rewarm the hazelnut-infused mixture. In a separate medium bowl., whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm hazelnut mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the milk chocolate mixture. Add the vanilla and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a clean, absolutely dry bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring until it’s completely smooth.

Mixing it in: Drizzle a very thin stream of the warm chocolate into 1 quart of ice cream during the last possible moment of churning.

Recipe from: The Perfect Scoop

French Silk Pie

Happy 6th Blogoversary to me (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016)! I guess I hadn’t realized this day falls on 3/14…Pi Day. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, pie as a dessert is just ok for me. I could leave it really. Shocking if you know how much I LOVE desserts. One time many years back on a visit to Marie Callender’s I saw this dark satin-y chocolate pie with a chocolate cookie crust called French Silk Pie. To Die For…really, it’s that good. I searched and searched for a recipe so I could make it on my own. Most recipes I found were for a more chocolate cream pie, definitely not the same thing. Then, Pioneer Woman entered my life and she made this on her show in season 6! It has been life changing! I have made it several times since I first saw the airing of this show and I’ve made a few changes, I thought regular sugar made the pie taste too grainy/gritty so I use powdered sugar. Instead of unsweetened chocolate, I use semi-sweet. And, I only make it with the chocolate cookie crust. French Silk Pie is so creamy and silky good it will literally melt in your mouth.

French Silk Pie
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4 ounces, weight semi-sweet Baking Chocolate
1 cup Salted Butter, Softened
1-1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
4 whole Eggs
pie shell/crust

In small microwave safe bowl melt 4 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate until stirrable (about 45 seconds on high). Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer and paddle attachment beat 1 cup (2 sticks) of regular (salted) butter and 1 ½ cups of white sugar until fluffy (about 1 to 2 minutes). When melted chocolate is cooled, drizzle it over the butter/sugar mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat the mixture thoroughly until combined.

On a Kitchen Aid mixer, you will be using the whisk attachment. Turn your mixer to a medium speed and over a period of 15 to 20 minutes add in the four eggs, one at a time, leaving about 5 minutes between each egg addition. Once the pie filling is well mixed, pour it into the baked pie shell, scraping every last speck of it out of the bowl. Smooth out the pie filling and place pie in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours (preferably longer).

Cook’s Notes:
• This recipe contains raw eggs; some stores sell pasteurized-in-the-shell eggs which would work well in this recipe. It is recommended that pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and the infirm do not consume raw eggs.

Chocolate Cookie Crust

25 Chocolate Wafer Cookies
5 Tablespoons Butter, Melted

Finely crush the cookies in a food processor; mix with butter. Press firmly onto bottom and up side of 9-inch pie plate.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Whipped Cream

⅓ cup Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Powdered Sugar

In a deep mixing bowl, beat 1 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 1 powdered sugar over cream; beat until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat.

Adapted from: Pioneer Woman