Strawberry Refrigerator Cake!

This "Strawberry Refrigerator Cake" couldn't be any easier and it is absolutely delicious!  This is the perfect summer dessert, because it's actually fairly light.    This cake is also pretty enough for a special occasion like a birthday or wedding or baby shower.   We went with a three layer cake using 8 inch pans, but you can make a sheet cake or make two layers and use 9 inch pans.  Here is what you will need:

1  (15.25 oz) strawberry cake mix (plus the ingredients it calls for on the box)
1 quart of fresh strawberries, capped
1 (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
8 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed (we used Cool Whip)

Mix the cake mix as directed on the package, except substitute Sprite or 7-Up for the water it calls for.  This is a trick my mother has used for years and it makes a cake mix cake much lighter and moist.    Spray three 8 inch pan with nonstick baking spray then line with parchment paper and spray again.  If you do this, your cakes will never stick.   If you don't have 8 inch pans, you can use two 9 inch pans.   You can also make a sheet cake, but I prefer the layers so you get more filling between them.   When the layers are done, turn them out and allow them to cool completely.  Once they are totally cool, prepare the frosting. 

Put the strawberries and pudding mix in a blender or food processor and process until the strawberries are completely broken down and the pudding has incorporated.  It will start to thicken.  Pour into a mixing bowl and just lightly fold in the whipped topping until it is all incorporated.   

Place the first layer on a cake plate and top with frosting.  Repeat with the other two layers and then frost the sides.  You can garnish with whole fresh berries on top or around the sides.   Refrigerate until ready to serve!

This makes such a pretty cake and it's so simple!  Hope you enjoy it!

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Potatoes & Carrots!

This "Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Potatoes & Carrots" is just good ole down home comfort food and it could not be any easier.  The pork chops turn out fork tender and it makes a really yummy gravy to cover them in.   I love this type of recipe for busy days when I just don't have a lot of time to cook.  I used boneless pork loin chops in this cut fairly thick, about 1/2 inch.  I think that works best, but if you only have bone in they work also, just be sure to let everyone know they have bones in them and if they cook out during the slow cooking be sure to remove them.   Here is what you will need:

5-6 boneless pork loin chops
2 tbs. oil
seasoned salt
black pepper
1 bag baby carrots (could use 4-5 large carrots, peeled and sliced)
5 -6 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 medium sweet onions, peeled and sliced and separated into rings
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (could substitute cream of chicken or cream of celery soup)

I like to brown the pork chops before assembling the ingredients in the slow cooker.  I use my Ninja slow cooker for this, because it  can be used on a stove top setting to brown and then switch to a slow cooker settting.  It's my favorite slow cooker because of this feature.  If you are going to invest in a new slow cooker, I suggest it highly.    You can also brown the pork chops in the oil in a skillet on the stove top.  You can also skip this step all together and they still turn out great.  I just like the flavor when they are browned a little.   Sprinkle both sides with seasoned salt and pepper.  

Spray your slow cooker with nonstick spray.  Place the baby carrots on the bottom.  Next lay the potatoes over the carrots.  Place the onion rings on top of the potatoes.  Sprinkle the vegetables with a little seasoned salt and black pepper.   Go easy on the salt though, because the soups contain sodium.

Lay the chops on top of the vegetables in a single layer.  Sprinkle the dry onion soup over all.  End by spreading the canned soup evenly over the top.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high 4-5 hours, depending on your slow cooker.  

This turns out so delicious!  I served it with white beans, cornbread and of course sweet tea!  Hope you try it!  

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Cheeseburger Macaroni Skillet!

This "Cheeseburger Macaroni Skillet" is one of those recipes you only have to use one skillet to make, so clean up is a breeze!  This is like a from scratch Hamburger Helper, but it tastes so much better!   If you are feeding big appetites on a budget, this is a winner, because it make a huge amount and it's very filling!   It's just good old comfort food.  Here is what you will need:

1  lb. ground chuck
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
8 oz. elbow macaroni, uncooked
3 cups milk
8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a large oven proof skillet, brown the ground chuck and diced onion.  Season with the seasoned salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.   Stir in the uncooked macaroni, milk, and Velveeta cheese cubes.  Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to simmer, and simmer uncovered for about 10 - 15 minutes or until the macaroni is tender and the cheese has melted.   Turn the heat off and stir in the sour cream until it is all incorporated.  It's a good idea to temper the sour cream by stirring a little of the hot mixture into it until it is warmed up, that way it doesn't break when you add it. 

Sprinkle the top with the 2 cups cheddar cheese.  Place in a 375 degree oven for about 15 -20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.  Serve with a salad and bread and dinner is done!  

Nutty Fudge Pie!

If you are a chocolate lover, like I am, this pie is going to be your new favorite!  It's nutty and fudgy and delicious!   It's also pretty easy to make!  It's so good topped with whipped cream or go all out and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the top!   It's  decadent!  Here is what you will need for this sinfully delicious pie:

1 deep dish pie shell, blind-baked
1  1/2 cups sugar
4 Tbs. cocoa powder
1  (5 oz.) can of evaporated milk
4 Tbs. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

To blind-bake the pie shell, just place it in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until it is just starting to brown a little.  Don't over brown it.  Doing this just keeps this particular pie from having a soggy crust.   Remove when just starting to brown and set aside.  

To make the filling, combine the sugar and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl.  Add in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla and beat well.  Make sure it all very well incorporated.  

Break the eggs in another bowl and with a fork beat them lightly.  Add to the filling and beat until combined.  Fold in the nuts.  

Place the pie shell on a cookie sheet and pour the filling in.  The cookie sheet prevent spill overs and helps the pie bake evenly.

Decrease the oven to 325 degrees.  Place the cookie sheet on the center rack and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until set.  If the edges of the crust are starting to brown too much you might need to place a pie shield on or use foil to cover the edges.  

Remove from oven and cool.   Slice and serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream!  Enjoy!