Posted by: meriambull | March 25, 2009

What to have? What to have?

So, Ron has informed me that I am in a recipe rut and we have been eating the same thing over and over. In an effort to revamp our meal time repetition I have been trying out some new things and going through my old cookbooks and recipe files. I just threw away probably two hundred recipes from my file. No lie. Some of them I looked at and wondered what on earth I was thinking and others I just realized I would never make because either no one in the family would eat them or I would never make them because they were too hard. Actually making up my own recipes has been more appealing to me lately.

Anyway yesterday as I was trying to come up with something that would not require a trip to the grocery store I came up with a new chicken recipe that was pretty good. I had a package of three chicken breasts and wanted to do something that did not involve cream of chicken soup or stuffing. (Remember, I’m in a rut.) I found an old recipe for parmesan breaded chicken and was all set for it when inspiration struck. The instructions required to roll the chicken in a mustard mix before rolling in the bread crumbs. I was toasting some old Italian bread to make crumbs (a job I meant to do a few weeks ago) when I noticed the gigantic half empty barrel of pretzels on the fridge. Hmm, that might be interesting. Anyway, this is what I came up with: (BTW, I did make the bread crumbs.)

Pretzel Chicken Strips

2 cups crushed pretzels
3 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
1/2 cup honey mustard
1/2 cup margarine, melted

Combine honey mustard and margarine in a large bowl. Add chicken strips and combine until they are well coated. Let sit in the refrigerator for a while to marinate. Roll chicken strips in pretzels and place on baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 25 – 30 minutes, or until done. Serve with honey mustard on the side for dipping.

Hope you all like this! I used honey wheat braided pretzels, but I think it will work with any kind. Also, if you aren’t a fan of honey mustard, I’m sure a spicy brown will work if that is more to your liking.


Posted by: meriambull | January 29, 2009

Peachy Keen Cake

I had to make a dessert tonight for church and had one of those moments where I really wasn’t in the mood.  In fact, I almost stopped and bought something.  But it was that or go to Sonic tomorrow for happy hour, so I went home and made something.  I didn’t really feel like looking for a recipe but I knew I had a French vanilla cake mix (my favorite) and a can of peach pie filling so I thought maybe I could figure something out.  Because the peach pie filling is pretty wet I did have to mess with the ingredients a bit.  Well, anyway it was a big hit and a lot of people want the recipe.  So, here it is:

Peachy Keen Cake

1 box French vanilla cake mix

1 can peach pie filling

1/3 cup oil

3 eggs

1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine all ingredients well.  Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.  Spread cake batter evenly in pan and bake 35 – 40 minutes or until cake is golden brown and pulling away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from oven.


2 cups powdered sugar

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla

Combine with a whisk and pour over warm cake.

This cake is wonderful served warm.  Hope you like it.

Posted by: meriambull | January 23, 2009

Peanut Butter Cheese Ball

Hold it! I know when you first read that you thought, “Eeeew!” But I promise it is delicious. I made it for the Green Room at the Tennessee Christian Teen Convention and it was a big hit.

I will add this one caveat. Due to the peanut butter salmonila situation I would not use the Nestle Tollhouse Swirled Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Morsels called for in the recipe until the recall blows over. I’d add a link for more info about it, but it’s late and I’m tired. If you are concerned do a Google search for “contaminated peanut butter” and I’m sure you will get lots of info. The recall only involves institutional peanut butter such as pre-packaged and factory use, like Little Debbie Peanut Butter cracker sandwiches, stuff like that. This means your favorite brand of peanut butter you by in a jar off the shelf is safe. So therefore, you should so make this cheese ball!

1 8 oz package cream cheese, at room temp.
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter (not all natural)
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
Graham cracker sticks or honey wheat pretzel braids

Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, peanut butter, and brown sugar in a large mixer bowl until blended. Spoon onto a large piece of plastic wrap and bring up all four corners and twist tightly so that it makes a ball.

Freeze for 1 hour 30 minutes or until firm enough to keep its shape. Place chocolate chips in flat dish. Remove the plastic wrap from the ball and roll until completely covered.

Cover well and freeze for two more hours or until time to serve. (After two hours, of course.) Thaw at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes and serve with graham cracker sticks and pretzel braids.

I hope you all enjoy this. It’s a great one to make with the kids, too!

Posted by: meriambull | January 20, 2009

Snowy Day Alphabet Soup

We here in Knoxville are enjoying the first snowy day we have had in about five years. A whole 3/4 of an inch. They even canceled school. I’m making Emily do school anyway because of the inauguration. She is not thrilled. I made this soup for my family last week when we had a very cold day. You can start with the base and then season as desired. You also can use any pasta or even leave it out. I use the alphabet pasta because Aiden loves it.

Alphabet Soup

1 pound hamburger or ground trukey
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used frozen)
1 minced garlic clove
1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1 family size can tomato soup
1 bottle tomato juice
1/2 box alphabet pasta (about two cups)
1 tbsp each of the following:
Worcestershire sauce
Italian seasoning
dried basil
dill weed
2 tsp of the following
garlic powder

Brown hamburger with onion and minced garlic. Drain well. Add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT pasta. Simmer for about thirty minutes, stirring often. Add pasta and simmer for 10 more minutes until the noodles are soft. If soup seems too thick you can add a little bit of water.

Serve with sour cream and paremsan or shredded cheddar cheese, crackers, and breads.

You can season it any way you like, what I listed is what I used. If I were not serving kids I might have added a dash of tobasco or some chili powder. The vegetables can be varied also. I even threw in some leftover green beans from the night before. This is also a great “keep on hand soup” because it’s all stuff you can just keep in the freezer and pantry.


Posted by: meriambull | December 31, 2008

One Good Easy Supper

I love pork chops. They have long been one of my favorites but they can be ruined just as easily as perfect. Dry pork chops aren’t too good. My friend, Mandy, said she found a perfect pork chop recipe. I hope she will post it in a response (hint, hint) so you can have it, too. In the mean time this is the tasty version I made tonight.

Cola Pork Chops

1 cup cola, any flavor (I used Coke, I don’t know if diet will work)
1 cup ketchup
6-8 pork chops (not too thick)
brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Layer pork chops in a 9 x 13 pan. Combine cola and ketchup and pour over pork chops. Sprinkle brown sugar over all. Bake uncovered 45 – 60 minutes.

This was very yummy. Great with corn pudding and broccoli. Hope you all like it!

Posted by: meriambull | November 24, 2008

Some Great Tips and Recipes from Mom and a Turkey Tip

My family loves gravy.  Whenever we have anything with gravy I can never make enough.  The problem is I have never really been able to make very good gravy from scratch.  Of course I had high standards because my grandmother made the best gravy ever.  My mom has it perfected, too, so that was a lot to live up to.  Mom has often showed me how to make it and told me how to make it, but I could never remember.  A few weeks ago she sent me the instructions on how to make it and I tried it and thought I made enough for two or three meals.  But, no, we ate almost all of it because it was so good!

Here are Mom’s instructions:

The secret to making good gravy is to add flour before liquid in skillet boils.  I’m following my mom’s example here, and seldom have trouble with lumps!

Brown meat (chicken, pork chops, cubed steak) in skillet.  Remove meat to platter and keep warm.

Stir small amount of water into 1/3 cup regular flour to make a thick paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remember that if you seasoned the meat as you cooked it, you won’t have to add much more salt at this point.

Set skillet to medium high heat.  If there isn’t much fat left in the skillet after browning, add about 2 teaspoons oil.  Pour in 2 cups milk and approx. 2 cups water.  Stir to get all the nice little brown bits into the liquid.  Add flour paste quickly, continuing to stir bottom of pan to remove brown bits. (If liquid is boiling, let it cool first!) Stir constantly until it begins to bubble and thicken.  Taste test to see if you need a little more salt… it is easier to put some in at this point than to take it out!!

If gravy isn’t thick enough, let cool slightly and add another bit of flour (1 Tablespoon) mixed in water to make paste.  Put back on burner and bring to boil again, stirring constantly.  That should do it!

When I made the gravy I had made a porkroast in the crockpot.  I skipped the browning part at the beginning since that happened in the morning.  I just took my skillet and put the broth from the roast in it to make the gravy.  For Thanksgiving you can take the broth from your turkey pan.

Another recipe from my mom is her homemade microwave popcorn.  I was worried when she told me about it because I really like the buttery store bought microwave popcorn and was never a big fan of the old fashioned air pop popcorn machine we used to use.  (Unless it was to make caramel corn.)  But we grew up making stove top homemade popcorn and that is what her microwave popcorn tasted like, only not as greasy.

Items to purchase:  Brown lunch bags, bag of regular popcorn (I like white kernels best), butter flavored spray (Pam or your favorite brand).

Put level tablespoon of popcorn kernels in bag.  Fold down from top – two folds,  approx size of fold ¾ inch.

Put bag (long side down) in microwave and pop as you would regular “store bought” popcorn.

CAUTION:  Stay with it .. when kernels stop popping, remove immediately.  It burns quickly!

Put popped kernels into bowl.  Spray with butter spray, sprinkle salt; shake and repeat (2-3 more times).  Enjoy your healthier and much cheaper treat.

It really is good!  But do be aware that it may not work with the popcorn button on your microwave.

My friend Jason gave me this recipe for turkey that he got from our friend Greg.  If you only want to do a turkey breast instead of a full turkey I highly recommend this.  HOWEVER only try this if you have a large crock pot.  I have a seven quart crock pot and it barely fit.  Jason said he had to cut some chunks off his turkey to make it fit in his.  So if you have a crock pot that is smaller than 6 quarts, you might want to invest in a larger one or borrow a larger one from a friend.

1 bone in turkey breast (MUST be bone in)

1 can whole berry cranberry sauce

1/2 cup orange juice

Place thawed turkey breast in crock pot.  Combine cranberry sauce and orange juice. Pour over top of turkey and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.  Even if you are not a big cranberry fan you will like this.  You would not even know the cranberry flavor is there!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by: meriambull | October 31, 2008

Just for You, Dan!

My brother is writing annoying messages on my facebook page, so I’m going to post something to get him off my back.  I’ve just been too busy to post anything.  I homeschool three kids, for Pete’s sake.  So, that means not only do I not have time to post anything, I also don’t have time to cook.  My mom is supposed to send me a few recipes anyway so we’ll have a “Guest poster” of some really good stuff.

A few months ago our Women’s Ministry had it’s fall kickoff.  We have an evening of coffee and desserts and I am often in charge of the desserts.  As a special gift we give the ladies recipe cards or a booklet with the desserts’ recipes in them.  We usually do cakes.  I pick out the recipes and several ladies bake the cakes.  It’s a lot of fun.  I’ve been meaning to post them, but, well, you know. This year we did all Bundt cakes, mostly from The Cake Mix Doctor.  They all have a cake mix base and then special add-ins that make the cake spectacular.  This one was my favorite.  My friend Pat made it and she had a crazy day and was running late to the event.  It turned out to be a good thing because she basically pulled the cake out of the oven and hopped in the car so the cake was still warm by the time we put it on the table.  I’m sure it’s good cold, but it is spectacular warm. We didn’t have any, but I bet it would be great with a scoop of ice cream.

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Mint Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake

1 package fudge cake mix

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

½ cup water

½ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 ¼ cups (about 28) Andes Chocolate mint candies, broken in half

1 tbsp powdered sugar for garnish

½ cup fresh mint sprigs, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray Bundt pan with cooking spray.

Place cake mix, cream cheese, water, oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Blend for two more minutes at medium. Fold in the candy pieces until well blended. Pour into the Bundt pan.

Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and is just starting to pull away from the sides, 58 to 62 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 20 minutes. Remove from pan onto a cake plate and let cool another 20 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with mint sprigs.

Store this cake tightly covered up to 1 week.

Hope you like it as much as I do.  It’s going to be my birthday cake!

There, Dan, quit whining!

Posted by: meriambull | September 27, 2008

A Two-fer and a Cake

My friend Mandy put this recipe on a comment and it sounded so good I thought I’d put it here so you will be sure to notice it. I haven’t tried it yet, but Mandy’s never made anything that I’ve had that wasn’t good.  She also has gotten me to try some new things I normally wouldn’t, but then I’m amazed at how  much I like them. Such as an amazing spinach and apple salad.  This one is on my list to try.

“I have been making a Mexican concotion in our crockpot that is super easy and doesn’t require me to cook anything beforehand. In your crockpot combine:
1/2 jar of salsa
2 cans of black beans
1 can cream of mushroom
1 can corn and peppers
chicken cut into chunks
then season with whatever you like, the original recipe called for taco seasoning, but i am not a big fan of the huge amount of cumin in it.

Anyway, cook on low until the chicken is done. it is really good b/c the chicken is super tender. You can serve it with chips, cheese and sour cream or spoon it into a tortilla.”

Here is another my friend Jason put on his blog:

“Place a bone-in turkey breast in a crock-pot.  (Make sure it is bone-in, not boneless.  You might have to cut chunks off to make it fit.  Just throw those chunks in the crockpot to make it work.)  Mix together 1 can of whole-berry cranberry sauce, 1/2 cup orange juice, and 1 packet of onion soup mix. Pour mixture in crock pot with turkey. Cook on low all day. Scrumptious.”

My dad can’t have beef or anything with MSG so we are always looking for new ways with poultry, pork, and fish.  I can’t wait to try this one out for him.  I think he’ll love it.

I made this cake for church the other night and it was a big hit.  Keep the three topping ingredients on hand because I’m positive they can be used on almost any cake when ever you don’t have time for a frosting.  I can’t wait to try it on a yellow cake.

Chocolate Potluck Cake


1 package of your favorite chocolate cake mix (I used triple chocolate fudge)

1 cup sour cream or vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup oil

3 large eggs


1/3 cup finely chopped pecans

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan with baking spray and set aside.

In a small bowl combine topping ingredients and set aside.  In a mixer bowl combine cake mix, water, oil, sour cream or yogurt, and eggs.  Mix on low speed one minute until combined and then on medium speed for 2 more minutes.  Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out flat.

Sprinkle topping mixture over the top of the cake batter.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool twenty minutes.  Serve slightly warm.  Great with whipped topping or ice cream.

Feel free to substitute the chocolate cake mix with a yellow, French vanilla, or even a banana cake mix.  The topping can go on almost any cake.

Happy cooking!

Posted by: meriambull | September 19, 2008

A Super Simple Breakfast

Emily’s favorite breakfast when ever we went out was always the Cinna-minis at Burger King.  (When Chick-fil-a came out with the chicken minis, she changed her mind, but still…)  Anyway, I figured out the secret recioe for the Cinna-minis and thought I’d share it with all of you.  I made them last week and instantly had orders for more.  So this morning I made them again with Ron home, it will now be a regular now.

Teeny Tiny Cinnamon Rolls

1 can crescent dough

1 bottle of sugar cinnamon sprinkle (see tip below)

1 tub margarine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using one small rectangle of dough at a time (two triangles, not seperated) seal the perferated edges on both sides.  Spread dough with butter and sprinkle on sugar cinnamon mix.  Starting on the longest edge, roll the dough into a tight log.  Slice the dough into 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch pieces.  (I don’t measure, just cut them how I think they should be. I usually get six or seven out of a log.)  Place each piece on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Repeat with the remaining 3 rectangles of dough.

Bake for 11-14 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes while you prepare the glaze.


1 cup powdered sugar (no need to sift)

1-2 tsp. milk

Combine powdered sugar and milk with a wire whisk until smooth and to the consistency you like.  For thicker add more powdered sugar, for thinner add more milk, a little at a time.

Either spread glaze on top OR if you like to dip them like at Burger King a medicine measuring

When Ron is home I have to double this recipe.  Well, I may have to double it when he isn’t home and triple it when he is because we ran out both times with someone wanting more.  It’s still cheaper than taking everyone to Burger King.

For the sugar and cinnamon mix I use an old spice bottle (with the holes in the top).  Just fill the bottle with sugar and then add cinnamon until it is the blend you like.  (Some people like a lot of cinnamon, some just a little.)  We keep this on hand and ready to go because the kids love cinnamon toast and it is super yummy on a baked sweet potato.

Posted by: meriambull | September 16, 2008

Oven Hamburger Stew

My friend Kathy and I were talking about what Pampered Chef stoneware pieces we have and how much she uses them.  I have aquired quite a few and some I use almost every day and some I pull out once in a blue moon.  This recipe is one for one of the blue moon pieces. (Two pieces, actually.)  It can also be done in a crockpot and I do this sometimes, too.  But, as the days get cooler it is definitely a nice one dish casserole that will warm you up inside and out.

I make this in the Pampered Chef lid/bowl covered with the deep dish baker that has been discontinued.  If you have the Cranberry colored casserole with a lid you can use that, or double it and make it in the rectangle lid/bowl and 9 x 13 baker.  If you don’t have Pampered Chef stoneware, just use a covered deep casserole dish or make it in your crock pot.  This recipe was actually originally a crock pot recipe anyway.  I just was trying to come up with ways to use my lid/bowl and liked it a lot.  I still do it in the crock pot for Sunday lunches and such.

Oven Hamburger Stew

1 lb. hamburger, browned (2 1/2 cups browned hamburger)

4 potatoes

1 bag frozen mixed vegetables

1 can tomato soup

2 tsp. each – italian seasoning, garlic powder, pepper, dried onion

Or  – 1 package onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lower middle rack so there is room for the lid/bowl

Rub inside of lid bowl with olive oil.  Thinly slice potatoes (peeling is optional).  Layer potatoes in bowl taking some up the sides.  Top with frozen mixed vegetables.  Spread cooked hamburger on top of vegetables.

In a seperate bowl combine tomato soup and seasonings of choice.  Pour over top of hamburger.  Cover with deep dish baker and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and a half, until potatoes are tender.

For the crockpot assemble the same way and heat on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

I hope your family likes it!  You can be adventurous and play around with the seasoning of it if you want.  A dash of Worcestershire sauce is good or there may be some other dried soup flavors you would like to try.  Try some chili powder for a more southwester flair.

I’ll be working on some more crock pot ideas now that the weather is getting cooler, finally.  I like using my crock pot in the winter more for some reason.  If you have any good ideas, send them my way so I can share them with everyone!

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