Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Loaded Tater Tots

I was excited when I saw this simple recipe posted on Facebook, by Krista Marshall of Everyday Mom's Meals.

I had just purchased some tater tots on sale.  We don't indulge in them often, but am always thrilled when I can 'dress up' a veggie or side dish.

This is a great way to serve these as a simple side dish. I used ONION tater tots and they were fabulous!

I can't imagine any kid not diving into these!

With only a few simple ingredients, they can be on the table tonight! 
And the kids could do most of the 'work' too! 


1 (32 ozs) bag tater tots 
3/4 c. (or more) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
(I used cojack)
1/2 c. real bacon crumbles
2 Tb. sliced green onions
Sour Cream (Or Greek Yogurt)

Bake tater tots according to package directions, adding about 5 minutes to make them extra crispy.  Remove from the oven. Transfer to a 9" X 13" baking pan. (They'll be more than one layer now). Sprinkle with cheese then bacon.   Return to oven for 2 - 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with sour cream and then green onions.  

That's it!  ENJOY!!!  

You may also like these Baker family favorites

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

3-Ingredient (Jello) Cake Mix Cookies

(This is a two-fer one recipe post...keep scrolling=) 

I love using shortcuts!  And 'doctoring' cake mixes.  These yummy cookies couldn't be easier or tastier. 

I know this recipe is all over the net, but I pinned it from Stephanie at Somewhat Simple

Add chocolate or white chips, toffee, or nuts...frost them and add sprinkles...dust with powdered sugar....whatever suits your cookie lovin' fancy. 

The ones here are chocolate cake mix cookies, and for the pink ones...I added a small box of raspberry jello (sugar free works too) to a white cake mix.  We have also enjoyed cherry jello with a chocolate cake mix. 

All very tasty. I love the chewy centers too. 

I've been making jello cake mix cookies for many years, and the 'regular' cake mix cookie recipe simply doesn't add the jello, so you get to choose to add it, or not. 

(Hover over photo to pin) 


1 (16 - 18 ozs) box cake mix, any flavor
2 eggs
1/3 c. oil

Preheat oven to 350. In medium bowl, blend all ingredients until smooth, stirring by hand (no mixer needed).  Roll into balls. Bake about 10 minutes. Cool 1 minute before removing to rack to cool. 


1 (16 - 18 ozs.) (sugar free) box cake mix
2 eggs
1 small box (4-serv. size) (sugar free) any flavored jello 
Just less than 1/2 c. oil

Preheat oven to 350. 

In medium bowl, blend until smooth. (I use a wooden spoon). Roll into balls (roll in powdered sugar before baking if desired). Bake about 10 minutes. Cool 1 minute before removing to rack to cool. 

You might also like these other cake mix creations....

German Chocolate Bars

Double Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Pumpkin Dump Cake & Weekend Potluck #137

We love having you share your awesome dishes with us! 


This amazing dessert is simple to put together. It will be devoured quickly too. 
Addicting! Use a gluten free cake mix for a GF dessert to 'take the cake'!

Before we head to the party, please remember to go to the link before pinning...

We've got some hearty dishes featured this week...

The Recipe With the Most Views Was...
Knock Your Socks Off Soup from Kelli's Kitchen

Some of Our Favorites...

Stewed Beef and Rice from South Your Mouth

Crock Pot Apple Pudding Cake from The Kitchen is My Playground

And a Personal Favorite...

Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie by Pressing In and Pressing on with Starla J.

Your Hostesses:
Frugal Family Favorites~ Tabitha

4 Little Fergusons~ Tonya

The Country Cook~ Brandie

Sunflower Supper Club ~ Kim & Julie

The Better Baker ~ Marsha

Remember that when you link up, it shows on all FIVE blogs.

Linky Guidelines: If you wish to be a featured recipe or for us to promote your recipe either on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, you MUST follow these instructions.

LINK BACK HERE FROM WITHIN YOUR POST so that others can find the fun and you just might be a featured recipe if you do so!  Please link up to your exact post and not a party page.  Also, please only food posts. Thank you!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

1-Minute Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Mug

I was SO excited when I saw this terrific recipe from Melissa at 
Number 2 Pencil.  We've tried a number of the quickie microwave desserts...and loved them...but hadn't made it this far in our explorations.  It was delicious and I love that I didn't have two or three dozen cookies sitting around to tempt me. 

I added 1 Tb. peanut butter to satisfy my cravings even more and used 
a tad less flour, and I used white whole wheat.  

This is AWESOME for an after dinner, or even bedtime, snack. 

And it's FAST! 

Did I mention TASTY?  ;-}


1 Tb. butter
1 Tb. white sugar
1 Tb. firmly packed (dark) brown sugar
splash of vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt
1 egg yolk
3 Tb. white whole wheat flour 
2 heaping Tb. (mini) semi sweet chocolate chips
(or your favorite kind) 

1 Tb. chopped peanuts, optional 

Heat butter and peanut butter in the microwave in the mug you are going to bake in. Add sugars, vanilla and salt; mix well. Add egg yolk to cup; stir until blended. Stir in flour; add chocolate chips and nuts; blend until smooth.
(or sprinkle nuts over the top)

Cook in microwave for 40 - 60 seconds, beginning to check at 40 seconds. Do not cook longer than a minute. It will continue cooking as it cools, so be sure it isn't overdone when you stop cooking. 

Serve warm - with ice cream is best!

Linked to Lou Lou Girls
Weekend Potluck  

You might also like this

1-Minute Healthy Deep Dish Breakfast Cookie 

Mini BBQ Cheesey Meatloaves

Always tickled when I see another recipe from Holly at 
Life as a Lofthouse that I can fall in love with..I dare say we are sisters of the taste buds.

Meatloaf is one of my most favorite dishes...especially with cheese!  And the fact these are little loaves that don't take as long as one large meatloaf to bake, made it a quick evening dinner for the 2 of us...and 2 meals! 

I LOVED the ease of this dish...a few simple ingredients...and Holly used 'freeform' loaves on a piece of foil...which made for awesome! cleanup.  Brilliance at its finest! 

The only thing I did differently was to add some dry minced onions and used  a little more cheese. 


1 lb. lean ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1 Tb. worchestershire
1/2 Tb. dry minced onion 
1/2 c. favorite BBQ sauce, divided
1/4 c. panko crumbs
salt & pepper to taste
3 - 4 ozs. cojack (or cheddar) cheese, cubed into 1/2" 

Preheat oven to 400. Line cookie sheet with (non-stick) foil. 

In large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, worchestershire, 1/4 c. BBQ sauce, bread crumbs, salt & pepper; mix until blended.  Add cheese cubes; mix just until combined. 

Divide mixture into 4 equal pieces and shape into rectangles. Place on prepared baking sheet. Spread remaining BBQ sauce over each loaf.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until center is cooked. 

Serve & enjoy.  Yield: 4 small loaves 

Linked to Weekend Potluck 

You might also like 

Easy Crockpot Meatballs

Ranch Burgers

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

3 Favorite Fall Foods {Blast from the Past}

(If you'd like to pin any of these recipes, click on the link and then hover over photo at the recipe page)

I get so many requests for the recipe for this Fabulous! Butternut Squash Bake.  I won $100 for it in an American Profile publication (it's nationwide) a few years ago and it is in two of the AP cookbooks, plus my own! I've been told it tastes like dessert! *-* Even people who think they don't like squash are fans of this dish.

I can't get too many of these pumpkin muffins with cream cheese(!) filling. They are an impressive addition to any meal. Just look at that cream cheese. MMM!

This Cheesey Chicken Chowder is another delicious and easy thick soup...chowder, if you will...that has also been published in the American Profile.  I've received letters from around the country telling me how tasty this wonderful soup is. If you're in a hurry, feel free to use frozen hash browns and mixed veggies.  Any way you fix it, your family is sure to ask for M-M-M-More! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stovetop Pork Chops & Gravy

This is a simple and tasty way to cook up pork chops and gravy in less than 30 minutes!  Comfort food!!

Every woman needs a quick and easy dish in her recipe 'arsenal' to whip up when you're in a hurry.

(If you want, you could brown some onions along with the chops to dress up the gravy)


1 Tb. vegetable or canola oil
4 bone-in pork chops (1/2" thick, about 1#)
salt & (fresh ground) pepper, to taste
garlic powder, to taste, optional
1 can (10.75) ozs. cream of mushroom or chicken soup 
(mushroom with roasted garlic would be great!)
1/2 c. milk (or water)

Mashed Potatoes, Hot rice or Cooked Noodles

In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season pork chops then brown (don't have to be cooked through); remove; set aside.

In same skillet, combine soup and milk; bring to a boil. Add chops to the skillet; reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for 6 - 8 minutes or until cooked through. 

Serve over potatoes, rice or noodles. 

Linked to Weekend Potluck
Meal Plan Monday

You might also like 
Saucy Apple Pork Chops (Crockpot or Oven)

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Butternut Apple Crisp

I am wild about butternut squash and love any way I can find to fix it. 

This recipe has been in my file for over 15 years and this was the first time I made it!


I hung onto the recipe because it came from a Taste of Home magazine and I KNEW it would be tasty...I am always trying new recipes and now I must apologize to this one for ignoring it for so long. :-(

The combination of apples and winter squash always thrills my taste buds. 

I guess maybe I didn't jump right on this recipe, using butternut because...unlike sooo many
others that I make, and love, this one had to be peeled. 

Normally I poke holes in the squash and cook it in the microwave until tender, then scoop the 'meat' out, already cooked for me.  

This time I choose one of the smaller squash we'd just gotten from a local farm family. I cut it in half, width wise, and then stood it on the flat side and peeled it downward
with a knife. It wasn't nearly as bad I thought it would be. 

After that, it was fairly simple.  It just takes time, so if you plan ahead and get your squash cut up, then the rest of it goes together pretty quickly. 

(I have read you can microwave it for a few minutes {be sure to poke a few holes in it first} and that softens the skin, but I read that AFTER I made this recipe...that's for next time!)

I had a can of no-sugar added apple pie filling that worked great for this dish. 
I think you could probably pass this off as a dessert!

Very tasty...I do hope you'll try it soon. 


3/4 c. packed brown sugar, divided
2 Tb. lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 - 4 c. peeled sliced uncooked butternut squash, about 1-1/2#
1 (20 ozs) can apple pie filling
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. quick-cooking oats
6 Tb. butter or margarine, softened

Preheat oven to 375. Grease 6" X 10" X 2" baking dish. 

Combine 1/2 c. brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, squash and pie filling.  Spoon into prepared baking dish. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. 

Combine remaining 1/4 c. brown sugar, flour, oats, and margarine until crumbly. Sprinkle over squash mixture. Bake, uncovered, about 45 minutes longer or until squash is tender.  Serve warm.

Linked to
              Full Plate Thursday
            Weekend Potluck
            Meal Plan Monday
      Kitchen Thyme

Yield: 8 servings

Just for grins...I wanted to share this BUTT-ernut squash I found on top of a pile at a farmer's market last fall - we've had sooo many giggles over this one and God's amazing sense of humor.  *-*

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You may also enjoy this very popular 

Butternut Squash Bake

Baked Acorn Squash with Cinnamon Apples

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice & Apple Pie Spice

 I haven't purchased pumpkin pie spice in years...this works great and you probably have all the ingredients on hand...


Large batch: 

Combine 1 TB.cinnamon with 1-1/2 tsp. ginger, 3/4 tsp. nutmeg, 3/4 tsp.allspice and 1/4 tsp. cloves. Use as you would store-purchased.

Small batch: (equals 1 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
few dashes of cloves 

I don't use apple pie spice as much, but it's really good.  I love cardamom!!
Use this in any apple recipe, or substitute pumpkin pie spice. 


 1 tsp. cinnamon 
1/2 tsp.nutmeg 
1/4 tsp. cardamom

In a small jar add all ingredients. Place lid on jar and shake to combine. Add or decrease preferred ingredients to suit your personal tastes.

 I have a page at my blog with a longer list of baking substitutions...the tab is named Helpful Ideas..
check it out for simple substitutes like...

DIY Baking Powder
DIY Self-Rising Flour
DIY Powdered Sugar
DIY Sweetened Condensed Milk
DIY Corn Syrup
DIY Mustard

​Substitute for Molasses 

Leader Enterprise - Sept. 17, 2014 - Soups

Fall is falling quickly. My dear hubby and I visited friends in Tennessee two weeks ago and were surprised to see they were already picking corn! Autumn is my favorite season. Be sure to take time to visit an apple orchard or do something fun outdoors before the cold sets in. And while you're outside, how about cooking some soup to warm you up when you go back inside?
Soup is an important mainstay in the everyday diet of most cultures. It was probably one of the earliest cooked preparations because it could be made with just about anything (including leftovers from the day before) and could be extended greatly simply by adding more liquid. Where food is scarce,soup is a staple: The moral of the"Stone Soup" fable is that soup can be made from nothing at all but stones, water, and generosity.

I grew up on soup. It's frugal, yet can be very healthy because it normally has added veggies. Soup often graced our table when growing up on our Kunkle farm. So when I got married, I didn't make soup for years. I was tired of it. Truth is, I didn't even know how. It took my experience of spending a month in a Denver military hospital recovering from 2 surgeries to remove a benign brain tumor, twenty years after our wedding, for me to develop a love for soup once again. Because my body was traumatized, I lost my appetite and lost 19# in that month's stay. My mouth would water watching tv soup commercials, thinking how I couldn't wait to get home and make some soup! Oh the little things that impact our lives in big ways!

I'm very pleased to share with you these favorite tried and true recipes that we enjoy. Trust they'll warm your tummies on these cooler days. 
Dinner doesn’t have to be perfect or elaborate. A simple meal with your family is a weeknight gift. Enjoy it! Something I try to do on a regular basis, is cook chicken and beef for the freezer, so when I need a fast meal, it's ready to be added. I also keep chopped onions, celery and carrots in the freezer. It's a timesaver.


2 Tb. butter
3 Tb. flour
3 - 4 c. (low sodium) chicken broth
(or a 32 ozs. container) 
1 tsp.chicken soup base (or 2 bouillon cubes), optional
(omit salt when adding soup base)
1/2 c.onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled, chopped
2 c. potatoes, peeled,cubed
2-1/2 c. frozen yellow corn
2 c. cooked chicken, diced
6 or 7 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled, divided
1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp. (or more) minced garlic 
salt to taste, optional
1 c. milk
1 c. 1/2 & 1/2
cubed Velveeta, optional

In large Dutch oven, melt butter; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook until mixture is light brown in color. Add broth, onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, corn, chicken, half the bacon, spices and milk. Heat just until ready to boil. 

Reduce temperature and simmer on low for 20-25 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Stir now and then to avoid sticking. When veggies are cooked tender, reduce heat to warm; stir in 1/2 & 1/2; blend well. If adding Velveeta, add now and heat until melted. Serve soup with crumbled bacon and a little shredded cheddar cheese for garnish. Yield: about 8 servings 

This simply delicious simple recipe is in my second cookbook, shared with me by a good friend who often serves this to company. 

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 Tb. minced garlic
1 (10.75 ozs) can tomato soup
1 (soup) can water
2 (14 ozs) cans beef broth
(about 2-1/2 cups)
1 sm. can corn, undrained
1 c. black or pinto beans, optional
1 c. uncooked pasta twists
4 - 6 ozs. Velveeta cheese, chunked, optional

In a large skillet, brown ground beef with the onion and garlic. Season with salt & pepper; drain grease. In dutch oven, combine tomato soup, water, broth and corn (and/or beans). Add ground beef mixture and stir to combine. Heat just until it begins to boil, then add pasta. Cover pot and cook until pasta is just done (or el dente). Add Velveeta and heat on low until melted. Serve with a sandwich or salad, or even crackers and cheese, and you are ready to enjoy a great meal.


3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 (48 ozs) jar great northern beans
2 (16 ozs.each) jars black bean and corn salsa
2 c. (16 ozs) shredded cheddar cheese

Heat first 3 ingredients together until hot, then add cheese. Stir until melted. Serve hot alongside tortilla chips, cornbread, or a grilled cheese sandwich.

If you're looking for more pumpkin, apple, or squash recipes, please check out my blog. Use the search engine at top left corner. www.thebetterbaker.blogspot.com