Shepherd's Baked Potatoes


   This is my new favorite dinner. It was so good! I love a healthy meal that doesnt taste healthy. You know what I mean? This is pure comfort food without the fat ( if you minus the cheese). This dish is a new twist on the usual Shepherds's Pie casserole. You dont need to fuss over making a batch of mashed potatoes. All you do is bake some potatoes for an hour and in the meantime make this simple meat sauce on your stovetop. It is really easy to do, and when it's done you will have one fabulous meal!

Shepherd's Baked Potatoes

6 medium Russet Potatoes
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 pound Lean Ground Beef
1 (10 3/4 oz) can Tomato Soup
1 (8 oz) can Tomato Sauce
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 teaspoons Onion flakes
1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/4 cup Milk
1 cup cut Green Beans ( from a frozen bag or can )
1 cup Corn ( from a frozen bag or can)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash potatoes with water. Dry with paper towels. Drizzle potatoes with vegetable oil and then sprinkle evenly with kosher salt. Poke a couple holes at the tops of potatoes with a fork and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour or until fork tender.

When potatoes have about 20 minutes left to bake, start on sauce.

In a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium-high heat. Drain any grease. Pour in tomato sauce and soup and then sprinkle in garlic powder, onion flakes and chili powder. Stir well. Pour in milk, green beans and corn. Continue to stir and cook until mixture boils. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until potatoes are ready.

Once potatoes are finished baking, carefully remove from oven and let rest a couple minutes. Cut a slit on top of each potato and then squeeze sides to open. Top each with desired amount of meat sauce. You can also add shredded cheese, sour cream and chives, but if your watching calories and fat then dont! :)  Enjoy!


Orange Creamsicle Cookies

   These are some of the greatest cookies I've ever tasted. The combo of orange and white chocolate were meant to be. I was so pleasantly surprised at how much they tasted like a real creamsicle too. Mmmmm! We loved them right out of the oven, and after they had cooled down. They practically melt in your mouth. This recipe is going in my 'amazing cookie' file!

Orange Creamsicle Cookies
Recipe adapted from: Baked Perfection

2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Butter
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
1 large Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract (or Orange Extract for enhanced flavor)
2 Tablespoons Orange Zest
1 1/2 cups White Chocolate Chips

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until well mixed. Gradually add in the flour mixture until combined. Stir in orange zest and white chocolate chips.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto a large cookie sheet. Bake for 10-11 minutes. Makes about 30 cookies.


Menu Plan Monday #4

   Its crazy to think that Christmas has come and gone. It always seems to fly by too fast. I hope you all had a great one. Hopefully you spent time with your loved ones and had lots of yummy food! Well, I'll keep this intro short and sweet, so here is Menu Plan Monday Week #4! 

Baked Potato Soup*


Baked Chicken Taquitos
warm bean dip*

Turkey Sandwiches

Baked Ziti*
french baguettes*
green salad

~Kitchen's Closed~
(We'll be partying like Rock Stars!)


Happy New Year!


Snickers Fudge

   This fudge rocked my socks. I wanted to eat it all but thought my husband wouldnt appreciate the 100 pounds I'd gain from doing that, so I handed out the rest to my neighbors and family. If you love Snickers candy bar, then you will love this fudge. It tastes just like the real thing. It is really simple to make, it just takes a lot of time. Each layer needs to set up for atleast an hour. So be a little patient. It is worth the wait!

Snickers Fudge

First layer:
1 1/4 cups Milk Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup creamy Peanut Butter

Second layer:
4 Tablespoons Butter
1 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Evaporated Milk
1 1/2 cups Marshmallow Creme
1/4 cup creamy Peanut Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3/4 cup chopped salted Peanuts

Third layer:
11 oz bag of Caramel bits
2 Tablespoons Milk

Fourth layer:
1 1/4 cups Milk Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup creamy Peanut Butter

DIRECTIONS:   Spray a 9x13 glass baking dish with non-stick spray. For the first layer, place the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwavable bowl. Heat in microwave until melted. ( I did it in 30 second intervals until melted)  Stir until blended and then pour into baking dish. Spread out evenly. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour or until set.

Second layer: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Mix in sugar and evaporated milk. Bring to a boil and let cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and quickly stir in marshmallow creme, peanut butter and vanilla. Stir in peanuts. Pour over the chocolate layer, and spread out evenly. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour or until set.

Third layer: Pour caramels and milk in a microwavable bowl. Heat in microwave until melted. ( I did this in 30 second intervals) Stir together until blended and then pour evenly over nougat layer. Place in refrigerator for one hour.

Fourth layer: Place chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwavable bowl. Heat in microwave until melted. Stir together until blended and then pour over caramel layer. Place in refrigerator until set. Atleast 2 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy!  *NOTE: I think this fudge is best stored in the fridge and served cold! That way it doesnt melt all over your hands! :)


Saltine Toffee Squares

   My Mom called me last week and raved about some really good toffee one of her co-workers made. I did a little internet search, and found the recipe. It was so easy to make, and very delicious! My Mom also suggested I add some crushed candy cane and sprinkles to make it extra cute and Christmas-ee. Well, it worked. The candy canes gave it a nice extra little flavor, and they turned out pretty darn cute. I made a ton and passed it out to my neighbors  :)

Saltine Toffee Squares
Adapted from: allrecipes.com

40 Saltine Crackers
1 cup Unsalted Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 cups Milk Chocolate Chips
2 Candy Canes, crushed (optional)
Christmas colored sprinkles (optional)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large, rimmed cookie sheet with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. Line crackers in a single layer.

In a medium saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour evenly over the crackers. (Make sure to cover each cracker) 

Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let stand a couple minutes, and then spread melted chocolate evenly over the toffee. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes and/or sprinkles.

Let cool completely and then cut into squares. Enjoy!


Menu Plan Monday #3

   Ummm...  Can anyone else believe that Christmas is less than a week away?!!  Ahhhhhhh!!!!  I still have not wrapped ONE present. It's terrible, but true. I have been a busy bee shopping and baking up some Christmas goodies for my neighbors, but still havent found the time ( or desire ) to wrap anything yet. I better get on the ball, but before I do I want to share with you our menu for the week. So without further adieu... here is Menu Plan Week #3:



Ranch Chicken
baked potatoes
steamed broccoli

Baked Onion Rings

~Kitchen's Closed~
(I will finally be wrapping presents)

~Kitchen's Closed~
(BUT I will be baking some Red Velvet Cake 
to take to my family's Christmas Eve party! )




Taco Pasta

   It's no surprise that we love pasta and mexican food at our house, so when I saw this Taco Pasta recipe, I was very much intrigued. We gave it a try, and the results were divine! We all really loved it. The taco seasoning gives it a little kick, and the cream cheese gave it a creaminess that was simply delish! My kids gobbled this stuff up! Oh, and it made for some awesome leftovers too! This is one of those meals that will grace our table more than once.

Taco Pasta
Recipe from: Fake Ginger

1 pound Lean Ground Beef
8-12 ounces small Pasta shells ( I used Elbow)
1 small  Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 (14 oz) can Diced Tomatoes, drained
4 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
3 ounces Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper

DIRECTIONS:  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook ground beef and chopped onion over medium-high heat. Cook until beef is no longer pink. (Drain any grease) Then add minced garlic, cook and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in can of diced tomatoes and taco seasoning. Let simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Stir in cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and 1/2 cup pasta water. Cook and stir until cream cheese has melted and sauce is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over low heat for another 5 minutes, or until sauce has reduced a bit. Serve!


World's Best Dinner Rolls

   I know the title is pretty bold, but it could not be any more true. These were the softest, most delicious rolls I've ever had the pleasure of eating. There are so many reasons why I love them, and not just because they taste so good. They were SUPER EASY to make. No kneading required! I also love how you dont have to 'shape' them before they bake. You only need to roll them in balls and then place them in a 9x13 glass pan. As they bake they puff up into these beautiful, uniform mounds of deliciousness. These are now going to be my 'go-to' dinner rolls, and I am pretty confident they will be yours too!

World's Best Dinner Rolls
Recipe from: Our Best Bites

2 cups Whole Milk (you could also use 2%, but whole is best)
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon Sugar, divided
1/3 cup (5 1/3 Tablespoons) Butter
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
2 packages Active Dry Yeast (or 4 1/2 teaspoons)
2/3 cup Warm Water (105-115 degrees)
8 cups All-Purpose Flour
3 Eggs, beaten

DIRECTIONS:   Combine milk, 1/2 cup sugar, butter and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts. Remove from heat and allow to cool until lukewarm. (This step is important because if the mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast.)

While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar in the warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes. (after the 10 minutes, the yeast should be very bubbly and foamy)

In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups flour and milk mixture. Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl. Add yeast mixture and beat on high for 3 minutes. Add in beaten eggs. Then stir in remaining 5 cups of flour to make a soft dough. *NOTE- The dough will be very soft and coming away from the sides of the bowl, but it will still be sticky. Dont worry about this. It will firm up a little during the rising process) 

Place the bowl in a warm place and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise for 1 hour.

Punch down dough, and turn dough onto a lightly floured clean surface. Divide in half. Spray 2 9x13 glass pans with cooking spray.

Roll first portion of dough into a rectangle and then cut into 12 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and then place in prepared pans. Repeat with remaining dough in the second pan. Cover pans with clean kitchen towels, and let rise 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden-brown.

When done baking, remove rolls from oven and then rub a stick of cold butter all over the tops!


Menu Plan Monday #2

   Menu Plan Monday #2 is here! I have some great meals I'm whippin' up this week! This week in particular is special for my family. It's the first time my husband and I will officially be on the same work schedule. We have worked opposite shifts for 6 years. I work a day shift, and Kale has worked nights. He's now been transferred to days, so we will finally have him home at night! I'm so excited! This will be a whole new world for us. There have been so many nights over the years, that I have wished he was home. Especially at dinner time. There really is something special about gathering around the table, enjoying a meal as a family. It also gets lonely (and a little scary) being home alone with my kids. Now that he will be here with us, I am really looking forward to it!

garlic bread

Kitchen's Closed
(girls' dance practice)



BBQ Chicken
crack potatoes*

Kitchen's Closed
(going to a Christmas party)

green salad
Oreo Cake*


Pizza Panini

   This is one of those recipes I find and then ask myself, 'Why didnt I think of that!?' These pizza panini's are So delicious and one of the reasons why, is because their made from garlic Texas toast! I ♥ it! It's pure genius! They are so versatile. You can make these with any pizza fixins' you like. We made ours pretty simple. Just added some cheese, pepperonis and sauce. As I devoured ate mine, I dreamed of all the other ways I want to try them. Veggie, Chicken Alfredo, Hawaiian style!  Mmmmm.. The options are endless!   

Pizza Panini
Recipe from: Cassie Craves

1 box frozen Texas Toast Garlic bread
Pizza Sauce (jarred or homemade)
Mozzarella cheese, shredded

DIRECTIONS:   Place the frozen garlic bread on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil, and bake according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat your panini press, or skillet to medium-high heat.

Take one piece of cooked garlic bread and top with favorite pizza toppings. (Sauce, Cheese, etc)
Top with another piece of garlic bread and place on panini press. Close lid and cook until cheese melts and sandwich is hot. About 2-3 minutes.

Repeat with remaining pieces of garlic bread and pizza toppings. Serve immediately!

Linked at: Mandy's Recipe Box


Lasagna Roll Ups

   We love these Lasagna Roll Ups! My hubby requests them often. I've made them a few different ways, like these ones, but this versions our favorite. They are easy peasy to make, and taste delicious. It is another one of those meals that you can change to satisfy your own tastebuds. Use your favorite brand and flavor of spaghetti sauce. You could also try these with sausage, shredded chicken, or just make them meatless. There are lots of yummy options!

Lasagna Roll Ups
Recipe By: Holly Lofthouse

1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 (15 oz) container Ricotta Cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Parsley
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder

1 (24 oz) jar Spaghetti Sauce
1/2  lb lean Ground Beef

9 Lasagna Noodles
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge while preparing noodles and sauce.

In a large pot of water, boil lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain water, and gently lay out noodles onto a large cookie sheet covered with wax paper. (Dont let noodles touch because they might stick together)

Meanwhile, cook hamburger meat in a large skillet until brown. Drain grease. Pour in spaghetti sauce and cook until mixture is thoroughly heated. 5-10 minutes.  Pour 1/3 of the meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Set aside.

Get the cheese mixture from fridge. Spread 1/4 cup of cheese mixture onto one lasagna noodle. (you'll want to eyeball this so you have enough mixture for all 9 noodles)  Roll up and place seam side down into the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Pour remaining meat sauce over all the roll ups and then sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Serve immediately.  


Menu Plan Monday!

   I am so excited to be starting Menu Plan Monday! Every Monday I will be sharing with you what meals I am cookin' up that week. Meal planning is so important to me. I have been doing it for a few years now. There are so many positives to it, especially with time, money and stress!

  I have a pretty good system that works for us. I do my grocery shopping on the weekends, so before I go, I will sit down to plan our menu for the week. I'll consider what is on our families schedule and choose meals to make on the nights we'll be home. When making my list I go through my pantry and fridge to see if I already have specific ingredients. This prevents buying double, and of course, saves money. I only do weekly meal planning because I usually have to go back to the store once a week for milk and fresh produce anyway. Plus, it's just what works for us.

  My goal with this new weekly post is to help you get started in your own meal planning and to also give you new dinner ideas! Under each day, I will post what I'm cooking that night. The recipes that are already on my blog, will have a link to them. The new ones I try will have an asterisk (*) next to them, and will be posted soon!  

green salad

 ~Kitchen's Closed~
(my girls have dance practice Tues. nights)

Beef Enchiladas*
beans, rice


~Kitchen's Closed~ because it's my B-day :)
Plans to eat at my favorite restaurant 
and a movie date with my hubby!

~Kitchen's Closed~
Kelsey and Emma's Dance Recital!

Marinated Roast*
mashed potatoes, vegetable
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake*


Shredded Apple Pie

   I received special permission to post this recipe on my blog, so you all should feel pretty special right now! This is literally thee BEST APPLE PIE you will ever eat. Period. This pie was served at the best restaurant in the town I live in. Rococo's Steakhouse. I'm sure you've heard me talk about it before. I worked there throughout high school and my families long-time friends were the owners. The Sullivan's. I shouldn't say friends. They are more like family, and some of the kindest, most generous people I know.

   This pie was one of the most requested desserts up there. I say 'up' because Rococo sat on top of the black hill, overlooking our beautiful city. The view was amazing. Especially at night, when all the city lights were on. Customers would always request window tables, so they could enjoy the view while they ate. There are so many reasons I miss that place, and am still so sad it closed it's doors.

   For that reason, I am so happy I wrote down this recipe one night at work. I made this at home the first Thanksgiving Kale and I were married, and have made it every year since. It's become a tradition. This is the kind of recipe I will pass on to my kids, and hope that they'll pass it on to their children. It is that good!

Shredded Apple Pie

1 1/2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Butter (1 stick)
2 Tablespoons Flour
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 Eggs
3 medium Red Delicious Apples, peeled and grated ( grated with a cheese grater)
1 Unbaked deep-dish pie shell

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, butter, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and eggs with a hand mixer on medium speed. Beat until combined.
Fold in the shredded apples. Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 55-60 minutes. Let cool 1 hour before serving.

*We always serve this with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce!

Linked at: Totally Tasty Tuesdays