Our Simple Pleasures

celebrating life one moment at a time

My cousin, Megan is compiling the Hill recipes we’ve always used over the course of our lifetimes.  Since I often go to my blog for recipes, I thought I’d also post an array of them here, too!

Table of Contents (Click on the title of each section, and it’ll bring you to those recipes)





Side Dishes

Main Entrees

Slow Cooker Recipes



Ameretto Punch

My mom always makes this on Christmas Day when the Murawski family celebrates their Christmas.  To me, it tastes like Christmas!

16 oz orange juice


1 qt cream soda

½ Ameretto bottle

Float Vanilla ice cream and Orange Sherbet.   Enjoy!


Dill Dip

My mom always made this at our family parties when we were young.  It’s still my favorite dill dip recipe!

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 T dill weed

1 T minced onion

1 t parsley flakes

1 t salt

Serve with cut up raw veggies.

Crab Dip

This is a new recipe I have come across.  I made it when my mom and dad came to visit.  It quickly became a favorite!

1 large tub of Kemps’ Top-The-Tater

1 package of imitation crab

1 8-oz brick cream cheese

Blend the Top-The-Tater and the cream cheese.  Chop the crab (I use my Pampered Chef Food Chopper) into small pieces.  Mix well.   Chill for 2 hours.  Enjoy with crackers.

Cucumber Dill Slices

Mom made these for so many family parties.  Always a favorite!

1 loaf cocktail bread

1 8-oz cream cheese

1 envelope Italian Dressing

Cucumbers, sliced thin


Mix the cream cheese/dressing together.  Spread on each piece of bread.  Place one slice of cucumber onto each piece of bread.  Sprinkle with Dill.

Cheese Ball

This was my all time favorite dip Mom made for our family parties.  I remember Great Grandma and I eating it together at a party.  Mom always made it and served it with Ritz Crackers.  Yum.

1 8-oz cream cheese

1 small jar Kraft Old ELnglish cheese

1 small jar Kraft Bleu Cheese

Splash of lemon juice

2 green onions, sliced

splash of Wocesthershire sauce

garlic powder

 Mix all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.  Chill for a few hours.   Enjoy.

Black Bean Salsa (as served at Hill picnics)

1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained, rinsed

1 can (10 oz) Ro-Tel Tomatos (diced with green chiles), drained

1/2 cup whole kernel corn, frozen or canned

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 Tablespoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon cumin

Mix all ingredients together in medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Serve with tortilla chips, on chicken, or burritos. Enjoy!

Asparagus Rolls

Mom made these for parties and for special dinners (Like New Years Eve).

½ cup butter

3 oz bleu cheese, crumbled

1 oz cream cheese

2 T sour cream

20 slices white bread, crusts removed

1 19-oz can asparagus spears, drained, and on paper towels to dry out a bit

3 T melted buter

Parmesan Cheese

Cream butter with bleu cheese, cream cheese and sour cream.  Roll each slice of bread with a rolling pin until flat.  Spread cheese mixture lightly over each slice of flattened bread.  Place one asparagus spear on each bread slice and roll it up around the asparagus spear.  If the end of the asparagus spear hangs over the edge of the bread, just trim it off.  Cut in half.  Place on greased cookie sheet, seam side down.  Drizzle butter over the tops of all the rolls.  Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese over the rolls.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until browned.  Yield: 40 asparagus rolls.


Breakfast Casserole

(Or as they say in Minnesota, HOTDISH)

3 cups herb croutons

2 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 ½ lbs link pork sausages, links cut in thirds

4 eggs

2 ½ cups milk

¾ t dry mustard

1 can cream of mushroom soup

½ can milk (in soup can)

 Place croutons in bottom of greased 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle cheese over croutons.  Brown sausage, drain.  Put sausage on top of cheese.  Beat eggs with milk and dry mustard.  Pour milk/egg mixture over all ingredient is the pan.  Cover and refrigerate over night.  The next morning, mix the soup with ½ can of milk and pour over the casserole.  Bake uncovered at 300 degrees for  1 ½ hours.

Great Grandma’s Bran Muffins

Grandma made these muffins and brought them for everyone at any family function.  They were delicious!  Make sure you make the dough at least a day before the muffins.  The muffin dough stays good in the fridge in a covered bowl up to six weeks!

4 eggs, beaten

3 cups sugar

1 cup Mazola oil

5 cups flour

5 t baking soda

2 t salt

1 qt buttermilk

1 – 15 oz box of raisin bran cereal (Grandma always used Post Raisin Bran and always added an extra handful or two of raisins) They don’t sell this size box anymore, but anything close works!

 Beat eggs.  Add sugar, oil, beating together.  Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk.  Lastly, mix in the raisin bran.  Store in fridge as bake as needed.   Bake at 400 degrees 15-20 minutes.

Soups and Salads

Aunt Nancy’s Macaroni Salad

I have always called this Aunt Nancy’s Salad, as she always made it for Hill family parties.  Someone told me it was originally Grandma’s recipe, but I will always call it Aunt Nancy’s!

½ lb shell macaroni, cooked

1 can small peas

2-3 pimentos cut fine

6-8 T mayonnaise

2 t Worchestershire suce

1 jar green stuffed olives, sliced

 Mix all ingredients.  Chill.  Tastes best after sitting in the fridge for awhile!

Aunt Debbie’s Pistachio Salad

Again, this will always be “Aunt Debbie’s Salad” as we begged her to bring it to parties when we were growing up!

1 large can crushed pineapple, DO NOT DRAIN

1 instant pistachio pudding

8 oz Cool Whip

1 bag crushed pecans (add part to the salad and sprinkle the rest on top)

 Mix all ingredients.  Chill overnight.

Tomato-Stuffed Avocados

2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion, quartered
1 teaspoon fresh basil leaves, julienned
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 medium ripe avocados, halved and pitted
2 teaspoons lime juice

In a large bowl, gently toss the tomatoes, onion, basil, salt and pepper. Spoon into avocado halves; drizzle with lime juice. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings

Kidney Bean Salad

I HATED this salad as a kid, and I swear it was at every huge family party.  Now, I don’t mind it as an adult.  It’s pretty good.

2 cans Kidney beans, drained

2 hard boiled eggs, diced

½ cups diced celery

2 T chopped sweet pickles

1 t minced onion


mayonnaise to moisten

 Mix all ingredients (up to the mayo).  Add mayonnaise to moisten and hold everything together.

Punky’s Salad

This is a favorite in our house.  Punky would eat this everyday if I made it for him.  I can’t complain—-it’s pretty healthy!   I just can’t wait for summer when our tomatoes are growing in the garden.  It’s pretty tough to find yummy tomatoes in the grocery store now.  Give his favorite a try……

5-6 Fresh tomatoes, diced

Olive oil – drizzle

fresh pressed garlic – 1-2 cloves depending on the number of tomatos……I’ve also been known to totally forget the garlic, and it’s still a hit!

Kosher salt – 1 teaspoon

Sugar – 1 Tablespoon

Fresh pepper

Italian Seasoning  (I used my favorite Penzey’s Spice called “Tuscan Sunset”)

Red Onion, chopped (a little goes a LONG way!)

Green Pepper, chopped

I chop up the tomatoes, red onion , green pepper, and place in a medium size bowl.   Add garlic and stir gently.  Sprinkle kosher salt, sugar, pepper, and italian seasoning over the top and gently mix.  Drizzle olive oil over the top.  Let stand 10-15 minutes for flavors to combine.  Serve.

Punky eats in out of the bowl….and one “batch” is never enough.  We also serve it over toasted french bread, chicken breasts, etc……it’s pretty versatile and super tasty!

Hearts of romaine salad with apple, red onion, and cider vinaigrette

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 cup thinly sliced red onion

2 Gala apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 pound)

5 hearts of romaine lettuce, halved lengthwise
3/4 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped

Whisk first 8 ingredients in small bowl for dressing. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate. Rewhisk before using.) Place sliced onion in medium bowl. Cover with cold water; let stand 30 minutes. Drain well. Place 1/3 cup dressing in another medium bowl. Add apples; toss to coat.

Trim off tips of romaine halves, leaving 5-inch lengths. Cut each romaine half lengthwise into 3 wedges. Fan wedges on large platter. Top with red onion slices. Drizzle salad with dressing, then sprinkle with apples and pecans.

Cucumber Salad

Grandma made this at every Hill party held at her house back in the day.  She would even bring it to other Hill parties around town.   I only have a general outline of the recipe.

10 large cucumbers, very thinly sliced

4 large onions, very thinly sliced

parsley flakes

2 large sour creams

little vinegar

 That’s all I have, but you get the idea.  Mix together, chill before serving, and Enjoy!

Side Dishes

Boiled Cabbage

Aunt Margie made this for us one day when we were over at  her house in Chicago visiting.  We liked it, so Mom made it for us often at home.

1 head of cabbage

¼ cup white vinegar

1 stick of butter, sliced

3 T cornstarch

 Chop cabbage (in squares).  Add about 1 ½ “ water to the pot. Add sliced butter and the vinegar.  Boil until tender.  Then mix  3 T cornstarch with cold water and add to the cabbage to thicken.

Grandma’s Corn Casserole

Grandma made this on Thanksgiving for years.  I make it now when I host the Schad family for holidays.

1 small box of cornbread mix (like Jiffy)

1 pint sour cream

2 cans whole kernel corn (drained)

1 can cream corn

 Spray casserole dish with PAM.  Mix everything together in a bowl.   Pout into prepared casserole dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for an hour or so.

Great Grandma Hill’s Dumplings

My mom made these whenever she made sauerbraten.  I hate sauerbraten so this was all I ate those nights, and I love them!  I have made them a few times as an adult, and they are tasty….especially leftover!   Mom always fried the leftover dumplings in a pan for us.  Yum.

1 loaf of bread (Diced, crust and all)

1 T chopped onion

1 tablespoon chopped FRESH parsley (Yes, use fresh…it makes a HUGE difference!)

½ cup butter

1 ½ -2 cups milk

2 eggs

2 cups flour


 Mix all ingredients.  Form into balls.  Roll the balls in flour.  Boil in boiling salt water for 10-15 minutes.

Irish Soda Bread

Mom made this every St. Patrick’s Day.  I have also carried on the tradition with my family now.

2 cups flour

1 T sugar

½ t salt

½ t baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

raisins (golden and regular), optional

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray cookie sheet with PAM.  Mix flour, salt, sugar, baking soda together, gradually adding the buttermilk.  Stir with large spoon until mixture forms a soft dough.  Add a few handfuls of raisins.  Mix.   Put dough on cookie sheet and pat into a round flat circular shape.  With a knife, cut a large “X” on top.  Bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown on top – about 45 minutes.

When doubling the recipe, double all ingredients plus add one egg to the dough as well.

Serve with your St. Patrick’s Day meal. We always smeared green butter on top of the slices before we ate them.  Enjoy!

Twice-Baked Deviled Potatoes

4 small baking potatoes
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup real bacon bits
2 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
dash paprika

Scrub and pierce potatoes; place on microwave-safe plate. Microwave uncovered, on high for 7-10 minutes or until tender, turning once. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut a thin slice off the top of each potato and discard. Scoot out pulp, leaving thin shells.

In a large bowl, mash the pulp with butter and milk. Stir in cheese, bacon, onions, mustard and paprika. Spoon into potato shells. Return to the microwave-safe plate. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Yield: 4 servings.


Homemade Pub Burgers

8 oz sirloin

8 oz chuck

1 T each of freshly chopped thyme and shallot  (I ditched the thyme as I don’t like it, but hey, feel free!)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

salt & pepper

a good knob of butter

First, cube and chill the meat. Next, working in small batches, pulse the meat in an ordinary food processor until it resembles ground beef—about eight to 10 pulses depending on the strength of your machine. You’ll notice a clean, meaty aroma emanating from the bowl, altogether unlike the often funky, bloody scent of pre-ground beef.

Add your seasonings, including the butter.

Form patties—about six ounces each—and let them rest to room temperature.

You’re ready to fry. *** The best advice I have ever received about cooking meat to the proper temperature is trust your gut. If it seems like you haven’t let things cook long enough, you probably haven’t. If it feels like it’s gone too long, it probably has. Touch is also a great way to gauge if you’re meat is ready (see below) Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high. Throw your patties on without overcrowding the pan, and leave them alone for about four minutes.

When the edges begin to look done but the insides are still pink to raw, turn them over. Cook four minutes more. Gently poke the middle of the patty with your index finger. There should be some give, but it shouldn’t feel as soft as raw meat. Somewhere just the other side of that should tell you it’s just about done.

*** Note, we make ours on the grill……5 minutes on each side, and then we put crumbled Bleu Cheese on them.   WOW!

Hungarian Spaghetti

Grandma always made this for dinner at her house.  On Tuesdays, I would always walk from school to Grandma & Grandpa’s house while my mom bowled on her weekly league. I loved when she was making this, I would always get to be her “Taste Tester.”

¾ – 1 lb ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

1 large can tomato paste

2 cans water

Salt & Pepper

1 T cinnamon

½ t ground cloves

1 lb box of elbow macaroni, cooked

 Brown the beef and the onion.  Drain off fat.  Add the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, cloves and cinnamon.  Simmer for 45 minutes.  Mix into cooked pasta.

**Grandma had written in her recipe that you can always add more spices, but keep the same ratio of cinnamon to cloves when you are adding them.

Wrapped Hot Dogs

I loved these when Mom made them.  I still make them for our family now.

All Beef Vienna hot dogs

Poppy seed buns


Boil hot dogs.  Put in the bun.  Add mustard, chopped onion, pickle relish, tomato slices, pickle spear, and celery salt.  Wrap each hot dog in wax paper.  Line a baking dish with a kitchen towel.  Cover the hot dogs with the towel.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Yum!


1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped
1/2 jalapeno (seeded) diced
2  zucchini, chopped
1 cup cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
2 small (or 1 large) red bell pepper chopped
1 med sized eggplant, peeled and chopped
2 cups sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 jar marina sauce (I used about 20oz of a 24 oz organic tomato basil marinara sauce)
1/2 cup vegetable broth  (I didn’t measure, just eyeballed it)
4 oz low fat mozzarella cheese
Salt and Pepper
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil in large pan over medium high heat
  2. Add Onion and garlic — cook, stirring 5 minutes or until onion is tender
  3. Add all the chopped veggies (I added as I chopped) and cook, stirring for another 5 or so minutes. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.
  4. Add Vegetable broth and Marinara and mix well.
  5. Transfer to a baking dish, sprayed with Pam
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes
  7. sprinkle top with 4-6 oz low-fat mozzarella cheese
  8. bake another 15 minutes

Mom’s Sweet and Sour Meat Loaf

Just learned in the past few years that this recipe was actually from my Grandma Murawski, but Mom always made it.  I won’t make meatloaf any other way.  Jack loves the “special sauce” so I always make extra of that!

1 small onion, minced
1/4 cup crushed crackers
1- 8 oz can of tomato sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard (prepared)
1 egg
2 lbs ground beef
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

In a mixing bowl, mix tomato sauce with sugar, vinegar, ad mustard until sugar dissolves.  Set aside.  In another bowl, slightly beat the egg with a fork, add onion, crackers, ground beef, 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce mixture, salt and pepper.  Combine lightly.   Shape meat into shallow baking dish. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce mixture over the top of the meat loaf.

Bake, basting occasionally.  350 degrees for 1 hour.  Tasty, tasty, tasty!  I usually double the tomato sauce mixture and keep 1/2 of it to serve over the meatloaf (heated).  It’s delicious!

Surprise Sandwiches  (Individually wrapped in Aluminum foil)

Spread for small hamburger buns (12)

¼ cup soft margarine

1 medium inion, chopped

1 T yellow mustard

1 T poppy seeds

Spread both sides of the open bun with the mixture.  Add one slice of Canadian bacon and 1 slice of swiss cheese.  Wrap each sandwich in foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  You can freeze these after making them.  If frozen, bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Chicken/Stuffing Casserole (or Hotdish if you live up in Minnesota!)

A colleague of mine made this for our family and brought it over when Jack was born.  It is still a family favorite 8 years later!

6 chicken breasts

shredded cheese (cheddar) or american cheese slices (I like cheddar slices)

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 cup milk

1 stick of butter, melted

1 box of stuffing mix

 In a greased casserole dish (13×9) place chicken breasts on bottom.  Mix can of soup with the milk and pour over the chicken breasts.  Layer shredded cheese on top of the soup mixture.  Combine the butter with the dry stuffing mix; then place the mixture on top of the casserole.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (covered).  Then, remove cover and bake another 15 minutes.

Shrimp Scampi

I made Shrimp Scampi, a green salad, and garlic/sun-dried tomato bread sticks. It was all so delicious!
Here’s the shrimp scampi recipe. I served it over angel hair pasta, and I added in a bag of scallops too. It was so good! 😀

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cup of dry white wine (e.g., Sauvignon Blanc)
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 pinch crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp. capers
Juice of one lemon
4 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. precooked frozen shrimp, thawed
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

  • Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet
  • Sauté garlic and onions over high heat till onions start to turn clear
  • Add the wine, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, capers, and lemon juice, lower heat to medium, and reduce for about five minutes. The sauce will thicken up.
  • Add butter and stir until it is melted into the sauce.
  • Add shrimp and turn heat to medium-low. Heat through
  • Salt and pepper to taste. Top with Parmesan cheese.


Sloppy Joes

Hubby decided to make sloppy joes this past weekend.   He was going to make his mom’s recipe, which is great, but we didn’t have some of the ingredients.   I pulled out a recipe I have used in the past – easy, peasy, and oh so yummy! Enjoy!

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion, and green pepper; drain off liquids.
  2. Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Chicken Pot Pie

Delicious Chicken Pot Pie recipe from a special edition Southern Living magazine.  Yum.

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1-1/2 cups chicken  broth

1-1/2 cups half-and-half

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

2 T butter, divided

1 (8 oz) package sliced mushrooms

1 small onion, chopped

1 cup frozen green peas

3-1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 (15 oz) package refrigerated pie crusts

1 T whipping cream (I used half-and-half here too!)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

  1. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in flour, whisking until smooth.  Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute.  Gradually add chicken broth and half-and-half; cook over medium-heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly.  Stir in salt and pepper.
  2. Melt 1 T butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add mushrooms, season lightly with salt and pepper to taste; saute 10 minutes or until nicely browned. (Do not over stir!)  Add mushrooms to white sauce.
  3. Melt remaining 1 T butter in skillet.  Add onion; saute until tender.  Stir in peas.  Add vegetable mixture, chicken, and chopped eggs to white sauce.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Fit 1 pie crust into a 9 inch deep dish pie plate according to package directions.  Spoon filling into crust; top with remaining pie crust.  Trim off excess pastry.  Fold edges under, and crimp.  Cut slits in top of pie crust.  Combine cream and egg; brush egg wash over pie crust.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

Cheesy Hash Brown Bake

1 (30 ounce) package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed

2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of potato soup, undiluted

2 cups sour cream

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a bowl, combine the potatoes, soup, sour cream, 1-3/4 cups of cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese. Transfer to a greased 3-qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.   This also makes a great meal when you add diced ham with it.  So yummy!  Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Recipes

I couldn’t survive working full time and making dinner each week without my trusty crock pot!   These are my go-to favorites for dinner!  

40 cloves of Garlic Chicken

1 large broiler/fryer whole chicken (as big as your crock will fit)
thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley
fresh ground pepper
40 cloves UNPEELED garlic
2 stalks celery, washed and cut into 3 inch pieces
baguette or french bread slices, toasted

Place the celery slices on the bottom of the crock. Season the chicken in and out with salt, pepper, and generously with the herbs. Place on top of the celery. Place the cloves all around and on top of the chicken. Cover and cook on low 8 hours.

Remove chicken and celery to serving platter. Remove garlic to small bowl.

1/4 cup cream
2 – 3 tablespoons cornstarch
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Skim the fat off the liquid in the crock-pot. Turn to high. Add the cream. Mix cornstarch with a small amount of water until smooth and add to liquid. Stir, cover and heat until thickened. You can pour some on the chicken and put the rest in a gravy boat.

The roasted garlic can be squished out of it’s skins onto the toasted bread. We had enough left over to make yummy roasted garlic mashed potatoes the next day.
Ok, I have never made the gravy.  As it is, it just falls right off the bone!  I’ve NEVER had chicken so tender!  I served it with brown rice or mashed potatoes,  a vegetable medley of green beans, wax beans and carrots, toasted bread and an herb salad.  Yum! 

Crockpot Cheeseburgers

I make this for church potlucks and for an easy Saturday lunch or dinner… A family fave.

2 lbs lean ground beef

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 ounces Velveeta cheese; cubed

2 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons diced Claussen Dill Pickle Spears

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

3 tablespoons ketchup

1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, put through press

8 hamburger buns

lettuce (optional)

tomato (optional)

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef with onion and black pepper until beef is cooked through.  Drain off excess fat and transfer beef to a 3 1/2 to 5-quart crock pot.  Add all other ingredients except Hamburger buns, Lettuce and tomato.  Cover and cook on LOW for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Serve the beef on toasted sandwich buns with an assortment of condiments.

 Polish Kraut ‘N Apples

1 lb. fresh or canned sauerkraut
1 lb. lean smoked Polish sausage
3 tart cooking apples, thickly sliced, peel if desired
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds; optional
3/4 c. apple juice or cider

1. Rinse sauerkraut and squeeze dry. Place half of the sauerkraut in a slow cooker.

2. Cut sausage into 2 inch lengths. Place in slow cooker.

3. Continue to layer in slow cooker, in order, apples, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and if desired, caraway seeds. Top with remaining sauerkraut. Add apple juice. DO NOT STIR.

4. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or on low for 6-7 hours or until apples are tender.

5. Stir before serving.


Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

6 chicken breasts or thighs

an envelope of Ranch Dressing

A bottle of Frank’s Buffalo sauce

3-4 T butter, melted

 Put 6 chicken breasts at the bottom of a crock pot.  (I used thighs usually…they work  fabulously!)  Sprinkle a Ranch Dressing envelope over the top of the chicken.  (I like to use my Penzey’s Ranch or Green Goddess dry mixes.)   Pour a bottle of Frank’s Buffalo sauce over everything, and cook on low for 6 hours.   Using 2 forks, shred the chicken.  Melt 3-4 tablespoons of butter and mix that throughout the chicken before serving.   Go ahead, and heap some of that yumminess on a bun.  Drizzle Ranch or Bleu Cheese dressing over the top and you are good to go!   Pure Awesomeness.  (It’s even yummy for Buffalo Chicken Wraps, too!  Leftovers work really well for Buffalo Chicken Pizza too!)

Lemon Chicken                  

1 stick of butter,

chicken (I prefer thighs when cooking in the crockpot)

1 pkg. Italian Seasonings Salad Dressing Mix,

juice from 2 lemons (or 3-4 oz of lemon juice)

I took 12 chicken thighs out of the freezer and plunked them in a crock pot.  Threw in the stick of butter along with the lemon juice.  Covered the top of the chicken with the dry italian seasoning packet.  Covered the crockpot.  I put mine on low for 10 hours and went off to work.

The house smelled awesome when we got home.   Made homemade mashed potatoes (I so despise instant potatoes!) along with some green beans, and we were set!

The recipe read:  When finished cooking, take out, shred chicken with 2 forks, and ladle on the juices.  But the chicken thighs were so pretty looking, I left them whole and we cut them up on our plates.

Go dig out your crock pot!   This one is a must!

Slow Cooker BBQ Pork

1 (3-to 4- lb) pork shoulder roast

1 (18 0z) bottle barbecue sauce

1 (12 oz) can cola soft-drink (I used Coca-Cola Classic – my fave)

Place pork roast in a 6-qt slow cooker; pour barbecue sauce and cola over roast.  Cover and cook on HIGH 6-7 hours (Being as though I was going to work, I cooked it on LOW for 10 hours) or until meat is tender and shreds easily. Serve pork on buns with cole slaw or over hot toasted cornbread.   (I also made sweet potato fries with it…delicious!)  😛

This recipe delivers big flavor.  (Keith likes to put additional BBQ sauce on it when it’s on the bun…I like it just the way it is.)  You could totally reduce the fat but not the flavor in this recipe by making it a day ahead.  Cool the barbecue by refrigerating it overnight.  Remove and discard the solidified fat before reheating.

Shredded Roast Beef Sandwiches

A Beef Round roast (the best are from Costco)

a can of beef broth,

an envelope of au jus,

an envelope of Lipton onion soup mix,

an envelope of the Lipton garlic/herb seasoning

 Put all ingredients in your crock pot and cook on low in the crock pot for 8-10 hours.   When it’s done, shred it with two forks.  Cut open hoagie buns from the bakery section, pile high with beef, a slice of provolone and broil it for a few minutes. YUMMY!!!!


Great Grandma Kenealy’s Bread Pudding & Hard Sauce

This was one of my favorite desserts growing up.  Mom would make it and we loved it! I can even picture the deep Pyrex  dish with the bright blue and avocado green flower on it that Mom made it in.  Delicious!

Butter casserole dish, break bread into cubes and fill bowl 1/3 full.  Spread a layer of raisins over the bread.  Repeat until 1 ½ inches are left at the top of the bowl.

Mixture to pour over the bread:

3 eggs

½ cup sugar

1 t vanilla

¼ t cinnamon

Enough milk to cover the bread layers in the bowl.

Bake 45 minutes – one hour at 325 degrees.  (Cover for the first 40 minutes then uncover for the remaining time).

Hard Sauce for Bread Pudding

2 cups milk

2 T sugar

1 level t cornstarch

1 egg, beaten

Mix all together and heat over a low flame until it thickens.  Add 2 or 3 T whiskey.  Drizzle over bread pudding.

Melissa’s Microwave Caramels

1 cup butter – melted

2 ½ cups brown sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 t vanilla (optional)

 Melt butter in heavy glass bowl (2 qts or larger). Mix in remaining ingredients. Microwave on high 15-17 minutes stirring every 3 minutes (Stop every 1 minute as it gets near the end). Stir in 1 tsp vanilla (optional). Pour into buttered 9×9 glass pan or dip 12-16 apples. Cool and Enjoy! (I cut them and wrap them individually in waxed paper.)

Big Chocolate Birthday Cake

I saw this recipe online from The Pioneer Woman (I love her blog, her cooking show and her cookbooks).  I have yet to find a mediocre recipe from her— they are always OUT OF THIS WORLD!  Anyway, I decided to make this for Henry’s 1st Birthday Party up here with the Minnesota relatives.  It takes a bit of time, but holy cow it is worth every second!!!

4 sticks butter, plus more for greasing
8 heaping tablespoons cocoa, plus more for dusting
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling water
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 whole eggs, beaten

3 cups heavy cream
24 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heavily grease and dust with cocoa four 9-inch round cake pans.  In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt.   In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the cocoa. Stir together. Add the boiling water, allow the mixture to boil for 30 seconds and then turn off the heat. Pour over the flour mixture and stir lightly to cool.  Combine the buttermilk, baking soda, vanilla and beaten eggs. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the  butter/chocolate mixture.  Divide the batter among the prepared cake pans and bake for 20 minutes.  Cool completely before icing. Refrigerate the layers after cooling for best results.
For the frosting: Heat the cream until very hot, and then pour over the chocolate pieces. Stir to completely melt, and then pour into the bowl of an electric mixer. Refrigerate to cool.
Once completely cooled, add the vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until light and airy.
Frost the cake in between each layer, on the top and around the sides.

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