Homemade Turtles or Homemade Rolo Treats

You may have eaten some version of this.  I think these are a GREAT treat for involving kids.  They can do all the unwrapping :)  I also love how easy it is to make these fit any holiday by changing the M&M colors, add a candy corn etc.  The ones piecture above are obviously for Christmas.

1 bag Snyders waffle Pretzels
2 bags rolos (this will fill up one 11x17 cookie sheet packed tight edge to edge with pretzels)
M&M's (any kind!), toasted pecans or almonds, candycorn, etc.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place pretzels on a 11x17 baking pan.
  3. Top each pretzel with one Rolo, larger side faced-down.
  4. Put in oven for 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and place one M&M (or desired topping) on top of each Rolo and push down slightly.
  6. Let cool. **I put them in the fridge/freezer to speed up the cooling process.  I actually then keep them in the fridge because I just like to eat them cold as well.


Maple Whipped Cream

This will give your usual whipped cream topping a little flare to go with that delicious pumpkin pie!

1 c. heavy cream
1/4 tsp maple flavoring
3-4 TBS powdered sugar
dash of cinnamon (optional)
-Beat all ingredients until soft-stiff peaks form.  Serve with pumpkin pie.


My Life in France by Julia Child

I recently read the book My Life in France by Julia Child.  She is even more obsessed with food and cooking than I am!  I loved getting to know her through her writing.  She was an adventurous, glass is ALL full type of person.  

I made my first Julia Child recipe (Garlic Soup) yesterday using her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking lent to me by a friend.  The recipe was mentioned in the My Life in France book, so I made it and it was delicious!  It was unlike any soup I have ever had.  My five year old downed several bowls of the brothy liquid too.  

One of my favorite quotes from the book was:
"Learn how to cook-
try new recipes, 
learn from your mistakes, 
be fearless, 
and above all have fun!"


Mini Dutch Apple Tartlets (Pies)

Ooooo these are good! They are like little mini sour cream apple pies! If you like apple pie, these are a must make for you! 

1 pkg (15 ounces) refrigerated pie crusts

Apple Filling
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 TBS all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, sliced and grated

3 TBS firmly packed light brown sugar
3 TBS all-purpose flour
2 TBS butter
-Preheat oven to 375°F. On lightly floured surface, roll one pie crust out until a bit thinner. Cut 12 circles from dough using cookie cutter or glass. 
-Press into greased mini-muffin pan. (FOR EASY PIE REMOVAL, Place small strips of parchment approx 1"x5" in tin first then press dough on top.  After cooking pies, you can just pull parchment pieces tabs sticking out and the little pie POPS right out!!!  See picture below) Repeat cutting of 12 circles with second pie crust.
-For apple filling ingredients all together until smooth. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin cups. 
-Mix topping ingredients together. Sprinkle topping over apple filling. 
-Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 24 tarts.


Amazing Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie

This is a delicious pumpkin pie variation that has a "lighter" taste than traditional pumpkin pie...and the pecan topping makes it extra tasty!  Think cheesecake, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie all in one!

Pie Crust for 2 9" pies *(my favorite recipe here)


2, 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
6 eggs
2 ½ c canned pumpkin
1 12oz can evaporated milk
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, beat all of the above with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon mixture into the bottom of the two prepared crusts.
- Bake in preheated oven 40 min

2 c chopped pecans
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
6 Tbsp cold butter
-While the pie is baking, combine flour, butter and brown sugar for topping. Cut with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle over the pie. Bake for 15-20 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
-Cool pie for 1-2 hrs. Refrigerate within 2 hrs. Serve cold topped with whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg.


Mini Pecan Pies

These are so cute!  They are also the perfect serving size since pecan pie is SOOOO rich!

Pecan Tartlet Filling:
Melt in Saucepan until sugar dissolves:
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 extra large egg
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 c. chopped pecans
-Using 1 pkg of prepared pie crusts (pillsbury (or Trader Joes) is the best premade crust), cut out circles and press into a mini muffin pan. Divide filling into cups. Bake 350 22-25minutes.
-For a WHOLE pie, double filling recipe, use just one crust, and bake 350 40-45 minutes.


Sesame Thai Noodles with Vegetables

  • This is a great quick vegetarian dinner ready to go from start to finish in 20 minutes.  Pre-cut all your vegetables, then while you cook the pasta mix sauce.  My family loved this.  For those that like extra heat, you can garnish with red pepper.

  • Cook pasta according to directions:
  • 12-14 ounces spaghetti, linguine, or angel hair pasta

  • Sauce (Make while pasta is cooking)
  • 2 TBS cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press
  • 1 TBS minced fresh ginger (don't settle for dried!  This is a critical ingredient!)
  • 5 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or Tabasco)
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 TBS toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp salt

While pasta drains, toss the following into pasta pan and stir fry for 3 minutes on high:
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin on diagonal
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper sliced into strips
  • 1 c. pea pods (whole or cut in half)

  • Add cooked pasta to pan.  Stir in Sauce and add:
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • sesame seeds for garnish
  • chopped peanuts for garnish (optional)


Fall Cooking Class Recipes

Here are the recipes from my most recent cooking class.  I took pictures of everything and then they all got deleted somehow...so I'll just post them anyway so you have something to go from for now!

Latacha’s CHILI

1 pound ground beef
1 medium/large onion, diced
1 29 oz can tomato sauce
1 29 oz can kidney beans, drain liquid
1 29 oz can pinto beans, drain liquid
1 4 oz can mild green chilies
2 stalks celery, diced
3 fresh medium tomatoes, chopped
1 TBS chili powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups water
1. Brown the ground beef with onion in a skillet over medium heat; 
drain off the fat.
2. Using a fork, crumble the cooked beef into pea-size pieces.
3. In a large pot, combine the beef plus all the remaining ingredients,
simmer over low heat.
4. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes, for 2 to 3 hours. 
(Or use crockpot: low for 3 hours)
5. For spicier chili, add ½ teaspoon more black pepper.
For extra spicy chili, add 1 tsp black pepper and a tsp cayenne pepper.
For super hot spicy, add 5 sliced jalapeƱo peppers to the pot.

Laura’s Veggie Chili
1 medium onion, diced
1 can corn, drained
1 zucchini, chopped
2-3 bell peppers (any color), chopped
1 29 ounce can tomato sauce
1 29 ounce can kidney beans, drain fluid
1 29 ounce can pinto beans, drain fluid
1 4 oz. can mild green chilies
2-3 stalks celery, diced
3 medium fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 TBS chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups water
1.     Caramelize onion for 7 minutes (optional)
2.    Combine ALL ingredients in large soup pot (or crockpot).  Stir to combine. 
3.    Simmer over low for 2 hours (or cook on low for 2-3 hours in crockpot)

Crockpot Pork Chops with Apple Chutney (Betty Crocker)
4-8 center-cut bone-in pork loin chops, 1 inch thick (about 2 lb), trimmed of fat
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries
2 medium baking apples, peeled, chopped (2 cups)
1 Spray 3- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper; place in cooker.
2 In small bowl, mix brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, cinnamon,
red pepper and cranberries. Spoon over pork in cooker; top with apples.
3 Cover; cook on Low heat setting 4 hours to 4 hours 30 minutes.

Fresh Blender Cranberry Sauce
 4 c. cranberries
1 whole orange (peel and all!)
1 c. sugar
-Cut off ends of orange, then put cranberries, orange
 and sugar in blender.  
-Blend until smooth. Stir in 1 c. pomegranate seeds (optional).  
-This keeps in fridge for a VERY long time!  It also freezes well,
so well that you cannot tell the difference between a fresh 
or frozen batch!

Mini-Gingerbread Muffins
¼ c. butter, softened
2 1/3 c. flour (can use wheat)
2 tsp baking pwdr.
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cloves
½ tsp salt
¾ c. sugar
1 c. pumpkin
½ c. unsulfured molasses
2 eggs
½ c. buttermilk
1 c. confectioners’ sugar and 2 TBS water (for frosting)

-Combine all ingredients (except conf. sugar/water) in bowl
 and mix until well combined. Spoon into prepared mini cake or muffin pans.
-Bake 350 for 20 minutes. Let sit in pan 5 minutes on cooling rack.
Then shake out of pan. Cool completely. Then dip muffin tops in 
Confectioners’ sugar glaze if desired.
-Yield 36-40 mini muffins.
-For LARGE muffins bake 25 minutes.

Cheesy Southern Biscuits
1 tsp olive oil
2 c flour
1 TBS baking powder
1 TBS dried parsley
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white sugar
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
5 TBS butter
1 c milk (a little bit more if dough too dry)
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
-With a fork, mix together the flour, baking powder, parsley, thyme, salt, sugar, 
and cheese in a bowl. Cut the butter (or grate) into the flour mixture in 
coarse chunks, then use the fork to further]cut the butter into the flour-cheese 
mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Lightly stir in the milk 
just until the dough holds together. Don’t over stir!
-Drop the batter by spoonfuls (or cookie scoop) onto 11x17 the baking sheet, 
and bake in the preheated oven until risen and golden brown, 20-25 min. 
-Makes 12 large (bake 25 minutes) or 18 medium biscuits (bake 20 minutes). 
For mini biscuits (bake 12-15 minutes).

*Pumpkin* or Cream Biscuits
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
2 TBS sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/ 2 c. heavy cream
-Preheat oven to 425.
1. Mix together all dry ingredients.  
Add cream (and pumpkin for pumpkin version) and stir until just combined
(add extra cream if too dry).
2. Using hands, shape dough into a circle or rectangle.  Cut into wedges 
or circles.
3. Place biscuits on parchment lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 
about 15 minutes.  Serve immediately.
***For PUMPKIN version, add ½ c. pumpkin at the same time as the cream. 
Sprinkle top of biscuits with cinnamon and sugar before baking.