Monday, March 30, 2009

Banana Sour Cream Cake

18 oz. box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup oil
8 oz. pkg. Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
16 oz. pkg. powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
1 cup Planters Walnut pieces, finely chopped

1. Heat oven to 350. Beat cake mix, eggs, bananas, sour cream and oil
with mixer on low until moistened, scraping bottom of bowl often.
Beat on medium 2 minutes. Pour into greased and floured 13x9" pan.

2. Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out
clean. Cool cake completely in pan on wire rack.

3. Beat cream cheese and butter with mixer on medium until blended.
Gradually add sugar, beating well after each addition.

4. Remove cake from pan. Carefully cut cake crosswise in half using
serrated knife. Place 1 cake half, top-side down, on plate; spread
top with frosting. Top with remaining cake half; top side up. Frost
top and sides. Press nuts onto sides.

How to Neatly Frost the Cake:
Freeze cake layers about 20 minutes before frosting. This helps to
set the crumbs on the cut edges of the cake layers so they don't pull
up into the frosting. And don't worry if the frosting does not look
perfect on the sides of the cake - the nuts will cover any

Variation How to Prepare in Round Cake Pans
Prepare as directed. Pour evenly into 2 greased and floured 8- or
9-inch round cake pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick
inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on wire
rack; remove from pans. Fill and frost with Philadelphia Walnut
Frosting. Store in refrigerator.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cheap Meals 101 . . . the Gina way

This is more of a cooking concept and what I try to have in the kitchen pantry than an actual recipe.

In my personal every day cooking, if I'm not following a specific recipe, I literally throw a meal together based on what is in my refrigerator and what I'm hungry for. Even in days when money is not a concern, I still cook "cheap" because I hate to waste anything.

It is said that poor people are fat people . . . such is the case with my style of cooking, which usually includes rice, pasta, potatoes or Campbell's "cream of something soup".

Bisquick is my secret to awesome biscuits and pancakes. I must come up with a recipe for both a Bisquick type of baking mix and a "cream of soup" recipe to make cooking even cheaper.

While it is important to pay attention to the
type of food you are eating, what is equally or more important is to eat in moderation.

There are other "must haves" for my pantry . . .

One of my greatest cooking secrets is using the mind boggling variety of salad dressing on the market. Cheap, expensive, healthy, not healthy, low fat, no fat . . .

My favorite salad dressings for cooking are . . . italian dressing, vinegar and oil combinations and my favorite for an oriental flavor is something called Asian Sesame with Ginger and Soy. Check out the salad dressing section of your grocery store . . . I stock up when they go on "buy one get one free" sales.

An assortment of cheeses . . . mozarella, cheddar and parmesean . . . always have them on hand.

Pasta sauces in a jar . . . red and white . . . they come in an assortment of flavors . . . stock up when they go on "buy one get one free" sales.

Dry or canned beans . . . whatever you love. Different varieties of beans and rice are among my favorite meals.

Veggies . . . I always have potatoes, onion, pepper assortment and LOTS OF GARLIC. Tomato is also great to have on hand, but you can do without it. When I can afford it, fresh mushrooms are a must . . . I love them in almost everything.

Meat is optional . . .

I buy eggs two dozen at a time . . .

Although I am not necessarily a vegetarian, I could easily adapt to that lifestyle. I rarely eat beef. I stock up on frozen chicken tenderloins . . . fast, cheap and easy. When whole chickens are on sale . . . go for it . . . super bargain . . . even cheaper.

An example of a thrown together fast and easy "cheap" meal . . .

Start a pot of white rice or pasta . . .

Saute onions, pepper and garlic until almost caramelized . . . throw in chicken, fish or pork and cook until browned. (If using shrimp . . . wait until the last 4 minutes of cooking to add to the mix)

Add salad dressing of your choice . . . between the juice of the onions, pepper and salad dressing, this is your sauce . . . put in as much salad dressing to make the consistency you like.

Cook around 10 minutes or enough for the flavors to blend . . . you must taste as you cook . . . that is half the fun!

Voila . . . cheap, fast, easy and delicious meal . . . let the stove do the work. I find that the longer you cook a meal, the better it tastes as the flavors blend. Usually I get it started, turn down on a lower heat and let it cook down, sometimes for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.

I don't use anything but stainless steel cookware . . . it works for my style of cooking and it does make a difference.

There are various combinations of type of meat and spices that I use . . . I'll try to come up with specific recipes.

Otherwise . . . don't be afraid to experiment . . . if it turns out bad, either have a salad or peanut butter and jelly sandwich or call for a pizza delivery . . . depending on how your money situation is. :)

If you use ingredients that you naturally enjoy anyway, you can't go wrong.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker oatmeal cookie mix
1/2 cup firm butter or margarine
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. Flour
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 egg
1 can (21 oz) apple pie filling
1/2 tsp. Ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray bottom and sides of 13x9-inch pan with
Cooking spray.

2. Place cookie mix in large bowl. With pastry blender or fork, cut in
Butter until mixture is crumbly and coarse. Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumb
Mixture; press remaining crumbs in bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla and
Egg with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.

4. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over partially baked crust. In medium
Bowl, mix pie filling and cinnamon. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.
Sprinkle reserved crumbs over top. Sprinkle with walnuts.

5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes longer or until light golden brown. Cool about 30
Minutes. Refrigerate to chill, about 2 hours. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4
Rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Caramel Rice Krispies

1 bag caramels
1 stick butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 pound bag marshmallows
1 med. box rice krispies

Mix unwrapped caramels, butter, and milk. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir. Microwave for 3 more minutes.

Stir in marshmallows, stir until melted. Stir in Rice Krispies, mix until coated. Put into a greased 9x13" pan.

Scalloped Potatoes

Yummy, inexpensive and easy . . . the ultimate comfort food :)


4 cups thinly sliced potatoes
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
1 can (10 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper


Layer potatoes and onions in a 1 1/2 quart casserole.

Mix soup, milk, and salt and pepper. Pour over top the potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika.

Cover and bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until potatoes are cooked.

Remove cover for the last 10 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chicken and Stuffing Skillet

I can't wait to try this recipe . . . there hasn't been a Campbell's Kitchen recipe that I did not like. It has ingredients I already love . . . except that I will probably add mushrooms. This is one of those recipes that can be totally different using another flavor of soup, cheese or adding vegetables.


1 tbsp. butter OR margarine
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 box (6 oz.) Pepperidge Farm® One Step Stuffing Chicken Mix
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup OR Campbell's® Condensed 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


HEAT butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 12 to 15 min. or until no longer pink. Remove chicken.

PREPARE stuffing in skillet according to package directions except let stand 2 min.

RETURN chicken to skillet. Mix soup and milk. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and heat through.

Serves 4.

Source: Campbell's Kitchen

Friday, March 6, 2009

German Chocolate Turtle Bars


18 oz. German chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup melted margarine
5 oz. can evaporated milk
14 oz. pkg. caramels (50 candies)
1 cup chopped nuts
6 oz. pkg. chocolate chips


Melt caramels with 1/3 cup (1/2 can) evaporated milk.

Mix together cake mix, margarine, 1/3 cup milk and nuts.

Press 1/2 of the cake mixture into 9x13 pan.

Bake at 350 for 6 minutes.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour on caramel mixture. Dab remaining dough over caramel layer.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Seafood Bisque

2 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) condensed cream
of mushroom soup, undiluted

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of
celery soup, undiluted

2 2/3 cups milk

4 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce

1 1/2 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled
and deveined

1 can (6 ounces) crabmeat, drained, flaked, and
cartilage removed

1 jar (4 1/2 ounces) whole mushrooms, drained

3 tbsp Madeira wine or chicken broth

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Minced fresh parsley

In a dutch oven or soup kettle, combine the first eight ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat.

Add the shrimp, crab, and the mushrooms. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Stir in the wine or broth. Add the salt and the pepper.

Cook for 2-3 minutes longer.

Garnish with parsley.

Makes 10 servings

Source: Taste of Home

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Seasoning mixes

I love making my own mixes . . . in my mixes, I use ground red pepper instead of black pepper . . . here are some general guidelines for several types of seasoning mixes:


2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon sage

1 tablespoon ground bay leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons celery salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
3/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoons red pepper
1/4 teaspoons ground mace (optional)
1/4 teaspoons ground cardamon (optional)

1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons oregano
1 teaspoon red or cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Three Cheese Pasta Bake


1 (16-ounce) package ziti
2 (10-ounce) containers refrigerated Alfredo sauce
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese


Prepare ziti according to package directions; drain and return to pot.

Stir together Alfredo sauce and sour cream; toss with ziti until evenly
coated. Spoon half of mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking

Stir together ricotta cheese and next 3 ingredients; spread evenly over
pasta mixture in baking dish. Spoon remaining pasta mixture evenly over
ricotta cheese layer; sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Makes 8 servings.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ham and Broccoli Bake

TIME: Prep: 15 min. + chilling Bake: 35 min.


1 loaf (8 ounces) day-old French bread, cubed
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Toss bread cubes with butter. Place half in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Top with half of the cheese and broccoli; sprinkle with ham. Top with remaining broccoli, cheese and bread cubes.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and pepper. Pour over casserole. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

Yield: 8 servings.

Taste of Home
October/November 2008 issue

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