Layered Black Bean Taco Dip!

This is a really easy "Layered Black Bean Taco Dip" that's great to serve during the big game or for your card party or even for the kid's sleepovers or parties.  I like that this can be made the night before also and then brought out about 30 minutes before the party.  Here is what you will need;
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10 oz.) Rotel tomatoes and green chilies, drained
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese or Monterrey Jack/cheddar blend
3-4 green onions, chopped
Beat the cream cheese and sour together with the taco seasoning mix until well blended.  Spread into a shallow dish like a pie plate or a 9"x9" baking dish.  Top with the black beans, Rotel, and then sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top.  Sprinkle the green onions on last.   You can also add sliced black olive and jalapeno slices if you like for additional flavor.  I left those off because some don't like them at my house, but I think it's good with them.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours just so the flavors blend.   I like to take this out about 30 minutes before serving so that it's a little softer and dips out easily. 
Serve with tortilla chips, Frito scoops, or various crackers!  

Slow Cooker Nacho Cheese Chicken!

This recipe is so easy that I almost didn't even post it.  Then I got to thinking that everybody needs some easy recipes for those days when you don't have time to stand in the kitchen for several hours.  I have had a couple of days like that this week.  This time of year, there is too much to do outside also, rather than being in the kitchen, so I like to do some easy meals.  I use my slow cooker for this and I hear people say they use their slow cooker more in the winter,  but I actually think I use mine more in the summer, just because it keeps me from having to turn on the oven during the hottest part of the day.   Here is all you will need for this:

6-8 boneless chicken breasts ( I used a 3 lb. bag of frozen breasts, you can use less chicken and it will just have a lot of extra sauce)
1 can condensed nacho cheese soup
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 pkg. taco mix
1 8 oz. block of cream cheese, cubed
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
dash of Tabasco sauce

I just put the chicken breast in the slow cooker frozen.  You can use thawed chicken also, makes no difference.  Spray your slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray first for easier cleanup. Sprinkle them with the pepper and the garlic powder.  I don't add any salt to this because the soup and the taco mix  have enough salt to season.  Frozen chicken does not photograph well, sorry about the visual, but it is good when it's
Pour the canned soups over the chicken.  There is no need to mix them before you put them in. It all mixes up as it cooks. Sprinkle the soups with the taco mix and cube the cream cheese and place it on top. If you like really spicy, puts some dashes of Tabasco on top to your taste.  Cook on low for 8 - 10 hours or overnight.  At the end of the cooking time stir in 1 cup of sour cream and break the chicken up into pieces.  I just like to break mine up in big chunks, not really a lot.  If you started with chicken that was already defrosted, you won't have to break it up much.
I served this over some yellow rice, but my husband doesn't care for rice so I served his over egg noodles and it worked great also.  I think even mashed potatoes would work.  I garnished each serving with green onions and cilantro, but you could also garnish with salsa, sliced ripe olives, or a little shredded cheddar cheese.  It's very versatile in what you add to it.  This makes quite a bit and with a salad and bread you can serve 5 - 6 people easily.

Rum Raisin Apple Cobbler!

It's apple picking time in southern Kentucky so I am always looking for new and different recipes to use them.   We use a apple quite a bit in southern cooking, both for desserts and as a side item.  This is a little different spin on the apple cobbler and it is so tasty!  The combination of the apples with the raisins, butter and rum is just perfect.  Here is what you will need for this delicious cobbler:
1 cup butter, divided (2 sticks)
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup dark rum
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup raisins
pinch of salt
6 large cooking apples (Granny Smith or Rome work well)
1 box yellow or butter cake mix
1/3 cup half and half cream (can use whole milk)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) of the butter.  Mix in the cornstarch, light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, rum, vanilla and raisins.   Peel, core and slice the apples.  Add them to the butter mixture and toss until coated. 
Spray an 11"x 9" baking dish with nonstick spray and pour the apple and raisin mixture in.  Melt the other stick of butter and mix it with the cake mix.  Spread evenly over the apple mixture. This mixture will be thick so it's best to drop in on top by the spoonful and then spread it evenly.  Place in the 350 degree oven for 1 hour. 
It should be nice and brown when done!  Remove from oven and allow to cool just slightly!
 Serve while slightly warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream! 


Taco Frito Pie!

This is just a fun little recipe that sort of takes tacos and nachos and combines them in a pie or casserole!   Try this on your usual taco night or serve it up for a snack for the big game!  Teenagers love this also, so this is great for sleepovers or those church youth group events!  Her is what you need:
1 lb. ground chuck or beef, browned drained
1 pk. taco mix
3/4 cup water
1 (9 3/4 oz.) bag of Fritos (I used the Frito Scoops)
1  (10.5 oz.) Campbell's  Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce, sliced green onions, diced tomatoes, jalapeno rings, olives, sour cream ( anything you like on tacos)
Brown the ground beef and drain excess grease.  Add the taco mix and water, bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for about 10 minutes. 
Place the corn chips in a deep pie plate or in a 9"x9" baking dish.
Layer the taco meat over the chips!
Place the soup and the milk in a saucepan and heat until smooth or place it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.  Pour over the taco meat!
Sprinkle the cheese on top.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 15 - 20 minutes.
The cheese will be melted and bubbly!  Don't over bake it! 
This is good served on a bed of shredded lettuce with whatever taco toppings you prefer.  Just set out garnishes and let everyone garnish their own as they like! 

Beefy Minestrone!

Classic Minestrone is a thick Italian soup that is sort of a vegetable, bean and pasta soup with Italian seasonings.  It can be made meatless or with meat.  I like this recipe, because it does include ground chuck or beef so it's a bit heartier.   I feed men and men in my house  do not think they have eaten without some form of meat involved, but this only uses 1 pound of ground chuck so it stretches a pound of meat pretty far!  This minestrone comes together fairly quickly and is ready in an hour, but the leftovers are even better the next day for some reason.  Here is what you will need for this soup:
1 lb. ground chuck
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, sliced thin
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 cup carrots, cut in matchsticks
1  (10 oz.) pkg. frozen mixed vegetables
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans or great northern beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups of beef broth
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning (I used Red Gold)
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tsp. Greek seasoning (could substitute seasoned salt)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. sugar
1 cup small pasta, cooked al dente and drained (I used ditalini, but elbows would work also)
shredded Parmesan cheese
Brown the ground chuck in a large Dutch oven or soup pot.  Add the diced onion, celery and garlic and saute them as the meat browns.  Drain any excess grease if your beef was rather fat.  Leave a little fat though because it lends flavor to your soup.
Add the carrots, mixed vegetables (still frozen), cannellini or great northern beans, beef broth,  tomatoes, tomato sauce, water and all of the seasonings and sugar.  I add a bit of sugar to almost all tomato based soups, because it helps balance the acid and my family likes the flavor better.
If you substitute seasoned salt for the Greek seasoning, you might want to add a bit more basil and oregano, because Greek seasoning contains some Italian seasoning in it.  Just taste it and see if you think it needs more. 
Bring this to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.  If it becomes too thick, add a cup of water.
Add the cooked pasta just right before serving and after you have removed the soup from the heat or place some pasta in each soup bowl and ladle the soup over it.  You do not want the pasta to cook more after added to the soup, because it becomes overcooked and to soft and will absorb the liquid in the soup.    Sprinkle each bowl with Parmesan cheese, if desired or let each person garnish their own.  This is really good served with these Homemade Breadsticks  or Buttery Garlic Knots!

Nelda's Cabbage Casserole!

This "Cabbage Casserole" is just a good old country recipe.  It transforms cabbage into something that even some who are not so crazy about cabbage will eat!  Every time I make this casserole, I think about a sweet friend of mine I grew up with in church, who passed away a few years ago.  She was not well most of her adult life, and when she would not be feeling well or would seem down, I would ask her what I could do to help her out.  She sometimes would ask if I would cut her hair and fix it for her, but  most of the time, she would ask if I would just make her this cabbage casserole.  Of course, I would say yes and even if I offered to cook her something I thought was more filling or more of a meal, she would say no, she just wanted the cabbage casserole.   I decided it only fitting to name this, "Nelda's Cabbage Casserole" in honor of  her!
Here is what you will need for this casserole:
1/2 head of a large green cabbage or 1 whole small cabbage, chopped in bite size pieces (not too fine)
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 (10.5 oz.) can of cream of celery soup (can substitute cream of chicken)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, divided (1 stick)
6 slices Velveeta Cheese or 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
Layer the shredded cabbage in a 2 quart casserole dish.  Sprinkle the top with the diced onion.  Sprinkle with the seasoned salt and the black pepper.  In a separate bowl, combine the soup, sour cream and 1/2 of the butter that has been melted. 
 Spread this mixture over the top of the cabbage and onion covering it all to the edges of the dish.
Lay the slices of Velveeta over the soup layer.  If you are one of those people that thinks Velveeta is the devil or it's 'disgusting', use shredded cheddar cheese instead.  However, I will tell you that the Velveeta makes this better, because when it melts it's so creamy! 
Sprinkle the top with the crushed Ritz crackers over the top and dot with the rest of the butter.
Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.   The top will be brown.  If it starts to brown too much just lay a piece of foil on top toward the end. 
This is really good with pork chops, pinto beans and cornbread!  Are you hungry yet?

No Peek Chicken!

This is a variation on a recipe that has been around for a while now.  It's such an easy dinner to put together  and even though it needs some time to bake, once it's in the oven you can sort of just set your timer and forget about it.   Add a salad or vegetable and rolls and dinner is finished. This is a recipe that kids really love also and it's very budget friendly. 

I have adapted this recipe from the first version I originally posted, because a few who tried it said their rice didn't get tender enough.  The first version called for Rice a Roni.  I never had that problem myself, but anytime I get more than a few comments about a recipe not turning out just right, I like to go back and see if I can make it better.  This time I used Uncle Ben's Chicken flavored Long Grain and Wild Rice and it was perfect.  I don't think anyone will have a problem at all.

Here is what you will need:

4 boneless chicken breasts cut into thirds or 12 chicken tenders
2 (6 oz.) boxes Uncle Ben's chicken flavored wild rice, uncooked and use the entire contents (seasoning packets)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 (12 oz.) can of evaporated milk
1  1/2 cups water
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. curry powder (optional)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 Tbs. butter

Place rice mixes in a 9"x13" baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. You DO NOT cook the rice mixes beforehand and you do use the seasoning packets.  In another bowl combine the soups, milk, water, celery, green pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder, and black pepper. 

Lay the chicken pieces over the rice.  Pour the soup mixture evenly over all.  Dot the top with the butter cut in pats. 

Cover tightly with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours (depending on your oven).  DO NOT PEEK for the first hour and 30 minutes, then check it to see if the rice is tender.  If not, recover and cook for about 30 more minutes.

  At the end of the time, remove foil and sprinkle with a little paprika or seasoned salt for color and place back in oven for about 10 minutes. 

Serve with a vegetable and salad and dinner is served!

Buttery Garlic Knots with Alfredo Dipping Sauce!

You are not going to believe how easy this is to put together!  These are great with soups or pasta dishes or to serve as a fun appetizer!   The Alfredo sauce is very comparable the one served at Olive Garden and it's a recipe I have experimented for some time to get just right!  It's great to use for pasta also if you thin it down a little.  I just like it thicker for the dip.  
Here is what  you will need for both of these recipes:
Buttery Garlic Knots
1 (12 oz.) can of refrigerated biscuits
4 Tbs. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. dried basil
2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Cut each biscuit in half and then roll into about a 3 inch piece like a snake.  Tie it in a knot and tuck the ends under.  In a bowl, mix the butter with the other ingredients.  Dip each roll in the butter and roll around to cover all of it. 
Place on a cookie sheet.  Place in the oven and bake for 9-11 minutes or until slightly brown.
Alfredo Sauce
4 Tbs. butter, divided
4 Tbs. flour
1 (15 oz.) can of chicken broth
3 cups milk (you can use half and half cream  for an even richer sauce)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt 
pinch of black pepper
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook just until it's mixed with the butter and starts to bubble a little.  You just want to get rid of the flour taste.  Add the chicken broth and the milk.  Whisk  and cook on medium low until the flour is incorporated and it is smooth.  Bring this up to just a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer just until it starts to thicken.   Add the cream cheese and 1 cup Parmesan cheese and whisk until smooth and thick on low heat.  Don't let this boil after adding the cream cheese.  Add in the salt, black pepper, parsley and garlic powder. 
 If you want to use this for a pasta sauce, just thin it a little with about 1/4 more milk or cream.  It is so much better than any Alfredo sauce you buy in a jar.

Ooey Gooey Caramel Monkey Bread!

There are many recipes and versions of the 'Monkey Bread' thing, but this is probably the one I like best!   However, I never pass up any of them if!   I really like this one, because you do all of the prep the night before and then all you have to do is pop it in the oven the next morning to bake!  It's perfect for holiday breakfasts, overnight guests, or the kid's sleepovers!   Some monkey bread recipes use canned biscuits and the are good, but this one uses frozen roll dough and to me it's even better!  Here is what you will need for this delicious treat:
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
24 frozen rolls ( I used Rhode's)
1 cup brown sugar
1 (3.5 oz.) box cook and serve butter scotch pudding mix (do not use instant)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla
The night before you intend to serve these or early in the day if you are serving in the evening, spray a 10 cup Bundt pan liberally with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle the nuts in the bottom of the pan if you are using them.   Place the frozen rolls even on top of the nuts.  No need to thaw the rolls.
Mix the brown sugar and pudding mix an sprinkle evenly over the rolls.  Mix the white sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the pudding mixture.  Stir the vanilla into the melted butter.  Pour the butter evenly over the sugar, trying to cover all of the sugar.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave out on the counter for the night.  The roll will thaw and rise while you sleep. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the Bundt pan on a cookie sheet and place in the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes.  
Carefully place a large plate over the Bundt pan and invert so the rolls turn out onto the plate.  Serve warm! 

Bubble Up Pizza!

This recipe has been around for years.  I am not sure where it got started, but maybe it was Pillsbury since you use canned biscuits in it.   It is also considered a Pampered Chef recipe.  Whoever came up with it, it's a good one!  As I have told you before, I am not a big fan of the canned biscuits, but in a few things, they work.  This is one of those few things!  They work perfectly!    This is so easy and it would be a great recipe to get the kiddos involved in making.  Let them cut the biscuits up and sprinkle the cheese and pepperoni.   If you have teens, this is a dish they can make themselves, start to finish!  I always find that kids will eat what they have a hand in cooking with much more enthusiasm and pride, than if they are just called to dinner when it's all done!   Let them get creative with this and add their own choice of toppings.  I used the basics, but you can add mushroom slices, chopped olives. chopped onion, ham, bacon...whatever you like on your pizza!   Here is what you will need for this recipe:
1 lb. ground sausage or ground beef, browned (could use Italian sausage also)
1 (16.3 oz.) can of Pillsbury Grand's Biscuits (can use 2 cans regular size canned biscuits)
1 (15 oz.) can of pizza sauce
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. pepperoni slices
1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Brown the sausage or ground beef in a skillet.  Drain any excess grease.  Cut the biscuits in 6 pieces by cutting them in half and then in 3 wedges each.  If you use the smaller canned biscuits, just cut each on in fourths.  Turn the heat off under the browned sausage or beef.  Add the canned biscuits to the skillet.
Add the can of pizza sauce and lightly toss to coat all of biscuit pieces and mix the meat.
Spray a 9"x13" baking dish with nonstick spray.  Spread the biscuit mixture evenly.  Top with the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.   If you prefer, you can use all mozzarella cheese.  Sprinkle the top with the pepperoni slices. 
Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese.  Place in the 375 degree oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
It will be nice and brown on top!  Remove and serve immediately!
Add a tossed salad and dinner is served!  It doesn't get much easier!

Orange Juice Cake!

This "Orange Juice Cake" is a deliciously moist pound cake that has just a hint of citrus flavor.  If you want a more definitely orange flavor, add the orange flavoring to it!  This cake is great for a breakfast or brunch cake, a dessert served with fresh fruit or a scoop of ice cream or an afternoon snack!  The flavor actually improves as it sits!  Here is what you will need:

1 (18.5 oz.) box butter or yellow cake mix
1 (3.5 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. orange flavoring (optional for a more distinct orange flavor)

1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Spray a large Bundt pan or tube pan with nonstick baking spray (like Baker's Joy).  

In a large mixing bowl, mix the cake mix, dry pudding mix, orange juice, oil, eggs, vanilla and orange flavoring.  Beat for about 3 minutes with an electric mixer.   Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove cake and allow to cool in pan while you prepare the glaze.

Combine the butter, sugar and orange juice in a sauce pan and boil while stirring for 2 minutes or you can microwave the mixture in a glass bowl for about 3-4 minutes. 

With a skewer poke holes in the cake while still in the pan.  Pour the warm glaze over all and let this sit for about 30 minutes to cool, then turn out onto a cake plate. 
 When completely cool, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar!
This is good served plain or with fresh fruit or a scoop of ice cream! 


Oven Fried Zucchini Chips!

This is great way to use the zucchini some of us are still getting in the garden.  I hate to see it end.  This is a healthy alternative to frying zucchini and it's actually really good.  For the recipe, click here: 
2 medium zucchini, unpeeled and sliced in 1/8" slices
1/2 cups buttermilk
2/4 cups Panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning (for less spicy use seasoned salt)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place the zucchini slices in a shallow dish and pour the buttermilk overall making sure to coat each piece on both sides.
In another shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and seasonings.
Cover a cookie sheet with, preferably Reynolds Wrap nonstick foil.  If you have not tried this product, you really need to.  There is nothing like it for oven frying foods.  It just does a wonderful job!  Can you tell I really like it?  And they don't even pay me or send me any!   I will still sing it's praise though, cause it's just that good.    Spray the foil with a nonstick cooking spray. 
Dredge the zucchini slices in the bread crumb mixture, making sure each side is coated.  Place them evenly on the cookie sheet.  Do not let them touch.  You need room to turn them.  Cook for 15 minutes and then turn each one and cook for 10-15 minutes.   Just don't let them burn.
Remove from cookie sheet and place on a serving plate.  Serve immediately!


Easy Peasy Peach Dumplings!

These "Easy Peasy Peach Dumplings" are made easy by using canned crescent rolls.  This is a recipe that made it's way all around Pinterest and then Facebook and while these recipes look interesting and usually very good, I like to test them out before I post them for you all to try.   It has been my experience that some are good and some are not so good.  Then there are some that just need some adaptation.  This one was very good and it did need a few changes, but overall it works well.  Here is what you will need:
4 medium size peaches, peeled, pitted and cut in 4 slices each or an equal amount of canned peach slices, drained
2 (8 oz.) cans crescent rolls (I used Pillsbury butter flake ones)
2 stick butter (1 cup), melted
1  1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 can lemon lime flavored soda (I used Sprite)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Separate the crescent rolls into triangles.  Roll one peach slice in each crescent roll and place in a 9"x`3" baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray.  This recipe called for using two peaches and if you had huge peaches, maybe that will work, but with just regular size peaches, you need at least 4.  I like some peach actually in this and just two would not be enough.  Melt the butter and mix in the sugar and vanilla.  Pour evenly over the crescent bundles.
Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon.  Pour the soda around the edges of the crescent rolls, not over the tops so the cinnamon remains on top.  Place in the oven and bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes!
The top should just be browning when they are done!
These are best served warm with ice cream or whipped cream!  Delicious!  You can also do this with apples!