Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Garden Fresh Chicken Zucchini Bake

There are lots of zucchini and other veggies coming from our garden right now, and it's really exciting. It can also be a challenge to find a way to use them in recipes, and to make sure they don't go to waste.

This recipe for Chicken Zucchini Bake uses four cups of chopped zucchini, a box of stuffing mix, and a couple of cups of cooked chicken. It's easy to make, and is super good.

When I made it last night for dinner, I was hoping for leftovers, but no such luck. It was really nice though to see my grandchildren eat this dinner up, and get some of that good zucchini in their bodies.

Of course, if you don't have a garden filled with zucchini, the grocery stores and farmer's markets are filled with them.

This dish is great-tasting, easy to make, and when you have leftovers, reheats beautifully. And even if you are not a zucchini lover, try this recipe and you just might change your mind.

Recipe for Chicken Zucchini Bake

Makes 6 Servings


6 ounce package of boxed stuffing mix (like Stovetop)
1/2 cup melted butter
4 cups zucchini, diced
2 cups of cooked chicken, cubed
1 can Cream of Chicken soup (10.75 ounces)
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the stuffing mix and melted butter. Set aside 1/2 cup of the of the mixture for the topping. Add the zucchini, chicken, soup, onion and sour cream to the remaining stuffing and stir together well.
Place the zucchini mix into a greased 9 x 13 glass baking dish and spread out evenly with a spatula.
Sprinkle reserved 1/2 cup stuffing mix on top and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Recipe For A Plum Galette and Thoughts About My Mother

When I was growing up, most of the moms I knew stayed home with their kids, and were responsible for taking care of the house and doing all the cooking. That's just the way it was back then, and being a good housewife was something that my own mom sometimes struggled with.

My mother was always kind and loving to me, but there were days when I came home from school to find her laying down in her bed, with the room dark, and I could feel a heaviness in her that I didn't understand.

Of course, now I know that she sometimes suffered from depression. Depression wasn't talked about back then, you hid it because it carried shame. She did what she had to do for her family, and I know how hard it must have been to carry on as though she were fine.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with making a galette. Well, I remember my mom always being unhappy with her pies, and she thought they never looked pretty. She felt the crust wasn't right, and I remember watching her frustration as she rolled out the dough and put the pie together.

My own attempts at making a great pie crust weren't all that successful either. So when I learned how to make a galette, where you put the dough and the fruit together in a rather freeform sort of way, I thought about my mother.

I thought how wonderful it would have been for her to be released from her own judgment about presenting her family with a picture perfect pie, and instead something that was beautiful in it's own rustic way.

So now when I make a galette, it's my mother I think about, and know that she would think this was a great idea.

When I saw these gorgeous and delicious black plums at the store, I wanted to make a plum galette, even though I had never used plums before. One nice thing about the plums is that you don't have to take the skin off of them, which is a huge time saver. After you have sliced them, just toss them with some sugar and a little flour, and they are ready to go into the center of your dough.

Leave about a two inch rim of the dough all around the fruit so it can be folded up to keep the fruit inside. It's so amazing how different fruit galettes can look from each other, because they reflect the bakers own hands and how it was folded.

Most apple pies look like an apple pie, but I think the beauty of a galette is in the individual look of each one. There are no mistakes, and that is the most wonderful feeling.

Somehow, this dessert has been deemed 'fancy' by a lot of people. I have seen it in popular cooking magazines, and yes, it can seem that way. I also saw a whole mixed berry galette for sale at an upscale bakery for $36.00. Crazy, right?

But it's so very simple to make, and so satisfying to put this gorgeous dessert on the table to share with family and friends.

I wish my mom were here to have a slice with me. She would have loved the ease and freedom of this dessert, and told me how delicious it was. I miss her everyday.

Recipe for Plum Galette

Ingredients for pastry dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons ice-cold milk

1 egg
1 tablespoon water (to make egg wash)


 Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk together egg yolk and milk, pour into flour mixture, stirring just until dough starts to form a ball.
Press together with lightly floured hands, and form into a flat round. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Ingredients for filling:

2 pounds black or red plums, quartered, pitted, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss together plums, sugar, and flour.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into an approximate
10-inch round. Place on a large, lightly greased baking sheet. Scoop plum mixture into center of round.
Fold about 1 inch of dough all the way around to form a rim. Combine egg and water, brush outside of tart with the egg wash.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on pan 20 minutes, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Can be served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
Serves 6.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Recipe For Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

I seem to be having a little obsession with peanut butter lately. Recently, I've made 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Bites, Chocolate Cupcakes With Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting, and today I made these Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies.

Yes, I do love peanut butter, and it certainly goes together with chocolate to make some of our favorite desserts. These brownies are packed with delicious flavor, and if you are a peanut butter fan like I am, you'll love them.

After making one of my favorite brownie recipes, I simply stirred two tablespoons of peanut butter into the batter, and poured it into the pan. Then I dotted the top with peanut butter, and took a knife to swirl it through the batter. So easy, and so good!!

For extra peanut flavor, you can also add some chopped peanuts to the batter. These are perfect for kids and adults, and I'm taking them to a friend's potluck dinner for everyone to enjoy.

Recipe for Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies


baking spray
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
8 tablespoons melted butter
1-1/4 cups cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with foil, with foil hanging over 2 sides.
Spray foil lightly with baking spray.
In a large bowl, beat eggs at medium speed for 1 minute. Add both sugars. Add remaining ingredients and beat until combined. Add the 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and stir in well. Pour the batter into the pan. Drop small blobs of the remaining 1/3 cup peanut butter evenly on top of the batter. With a table knife, swirl the peanut butter into the brownie batter. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean.
Let cool completely before cutting.

Makes about 12 brownies.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Raspberry Brownie Parfaits, Yummy Snacks For Back To School Fun

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AddCoolWhip #CollectiveBias

September is just around the corner, and that means back to school for my grandchildren. It's an exciting time for them, and they have been busy shopping with their mom and dad for school clothes, new backpacks, and school supplies. I thought it would be fun to surprise them with these delicious kids desserts that I knew they would love.

As I was making them, I couldn't help but feel nostalgic about using Cool Whip and Jell-O Pudding to make desserts for my own kids for so many years. The time seems to have flown by, and now I'm making them for a whole new generation of our family.

I know that life means change, but one thing that hasn't changed is how much kids love pudding and Cool Whip. I decided to get a little fancier that usual, so I made these Raspberry Brownie Parfaits, and it only took a couple of minutes to put them together.

There are so many delicious recipes that you can easily make with Jell-O Pudding and Cool Whip. When I'm buying my weekly groceries at Walmart, I always make sure they are on the shopping list.

These Kraft products have always been very friendly to my budget, and right now you can get $1.00 off when you buy one (1) tub of Cool Whip and two (2) boxes of Jell-O Pudding, while supplies last. Just click HERE for the coupon.

For these Raspberry Brownie Parfaits, you can make them from your favorite brownie recipe, or use a high quality mix.

It's super simple to put these parfaits together, and you could even have the kids make their own. Just start with a layer of chopped up brownies on the bottom, a layer of Cool Whip, some chocolate pudding, and a layer of raspberry jam. Add some more Cool Whip, and top with a few fresh raspberries.

Use medium size dessert dishes for making these parfaits. I used these cute mini Mason jars that I picked up at a flea market, and they were perfect for kid sized desserts.

My grandson Jayden loved his surprise snack. I enjoy making the kids treats, it's a part of being a grandmother that really gives me a lot of pleasure.

He asked me if I could make this as an afterschool treat when they are back in school, and of course I said I would.

You can easily find Cool Whip and Jell-O Pudding at your local Walmart. I think they have the biggest selection of pudding flavors available. You can also find Cool Whip there in various sizes and varieties.

It's been a great summer so far, and I'm glad we have a little while left before the busyness of fall takes over, and the days begin flying by.

I'd love to share my super easy recipe for Raspberry Brownie Parfaits. And the adults love them just as much as the kids, trust me.

Recipe for Raspberry Brownie Parfaits


1 - 3.4 ounce box Chocolate Jell-O Pudding Mix
2 cups cold milk
1 container of Cool Whip Topping
1 cup already-baked, chopped brownies
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
1 cup fresh raspberries


In a medium bowl, combine pudding mix and milk, blend with a wire whisk for 2 minutes.
Place a generous layer of the chopped brownies in the bottom of a dessert dish or glass. Put on a layer of Cool Whip, chocolate pudding, a layer of jam. Finish with a generous layer of Cool Whip.
You may also alternate layers as you please.
Add fresh raspberries on top of Cool Whip.



Friday, August 8, 2014

Recipe For Chocolate Chip Muffins

Having freshly baked muffins to eat in the morning feels like one of life's little luxuries to me. A muffin and a cup of coffee can make all the difference in how I start my day.

This recipe for Chocolate Chip muffins is one of my favorites. I have actually made the batter the night before and refrigerated it overnight, and then it's already to just pop the muffins in the oven.

This recipe makes 12 - 14 generous sized muffins. I prefer having fewer muffins that are larger, that more smaller sized ones.

You can also add chopped walnuts or shredded coconut to the batter. These are so delicious right out of the oven, when the chocolate is still warm and melted.

Recipe for Chocolate Chip Muffins


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package chocolate chips ( 11 1/2 ounces)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder and salt. In an another bowl, stir together milk, eggs, butter and vanilla until blended.
Add milk mixture and stir just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in a muffin comes out clean.
Remove from muffin tin and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Makes 12-14 generously sized muffins.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sharing a Friends Story of a Loved Grandmother

Friendships that are truly great survive not speaking to each other for years and can be picked up where you left off without skipping a beat. I have a friend that I have know since we were in 6th grade together and I moved away when we started our freshman year of high school. We have kept in touch off and on over the years since social media has made that super easy.

Recently we reconnected and I heard about the passing of his 93 year old grandmother Odilia who was an Army widow. The family has created a Indiegogo story to help collect funds to help with funeral cost since the family in the last few years had to bury their own Mother who was Odilia's daughter. I only knew my own Grandmother for a short time and think of her often. My friend and his family were blessed to have her in their lives for so many years. If you can help in any way that would be greatly appreciated.

If you would like to read more of Odilia "Lila" story and to donate you can visit the story on Indiegogo:


Making A Kid Friendly Lunch and Saving Money Using Kraft Printable Coupons

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Saving money on groceries has always been something that was important to me. While I was raising my five kids, you can imagine what the food bills were like. I was always looking for coupon deals to help me stretch my dollars.

Now that I live with my daughter, her husband, and their three children, I see that times haven't changed much. We now use coupons all the time, too. It really does help us save money, and what's so great is that we can easily find and use online coupons.

I made one of my grandchildren's favorite lunches for them the other day, and I used Kraft coupons to save me money. The Walmart website has lots of great coupons for popular Kraft products that we use everyday. The money we save on coupons really adds up, and I know most families like us, love the savings.

The same great tasting Kraft products that I bought for my kids are the same ones my grandchildren love today. I wonder how many boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and packages of Kraft Singles I've bought in my life??

The kids adore macaroni and cheese for lunch, and Pigs In A Blanket, which is beef franks with cheese and dough, and baked in the oven. When I was shopping at Walmart, I used my printable coupons to save money on some of my family's favorite Kraft items.

Back in the day, we had to search through the newspapers to find grocery coupons, and that was really time consuming. I love how the Walmart website lets you print them off quickly and easily.

Yes, times have definitely changed!!

I've been making Pigs In A Blanket (we call it this even if I use beef) for years. They are so simple to make but so tasty. We say they are for the kids, but the adults love them too.

I like how the cheese melts and the biscuit hold in all that yummy goodness. Sometimes I will make a big batch and put them in the refrigerator for the kid's lunches all week long.

I like to be a sneaky Nana and add veggies to my grandchildren's meals whenever I can. For this lunch, I simply added  peas to the cooked Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

Just put a cup of frozen peas with a little water in the microwave for 60 seconds, then add them to the hot macaroni and cheese, then give it a good stir. The kids always eat it up, and I'm happy they ate a veggie, too.

We really go through so many boxes a month, that I used a great coupon for it from the Walmart website.  Just go there and print out a coupon to save $1.00 off Kraft Macaroni & Cheese 5-pack (prints are limited).

Ashley is two now, and loves her lunchtime. Her brothers were still at swim lessons, so it was nice for her and I to have a quiet lunch together. But we knew at any moment the boys would come busting in the door, asking for their own lunches.

Kool-Aid is a family favorite, and the kids love these handy Kool-Aid Jammers to drink with lunch.

You can find all these Kraft food items and many more at your local Walmart. Be sure to use the digital coupons available to save money on your favorite Kraft products.

Kraft's printable coupons are available for a limited time only, so make sure to get yours soon to take advantage of these savings.

If your family is anything like mine, we love saving money on our grocery bill, and using coupons is one of the easiest ways to do that. I bet your grocery budget will be #PackedWithSavings.

And I'd love to share with you my super simple recipe lunch, one that the kids will be sure to love.

Recipe for Easy Pigs In A Blanket

Makes 10

Cooking Spray
1 package Oscar Meyer Beef Franks, use 5 hot dogs
5 slices Kraft Singles cheese slices
1 10-pack of ready-to-bake country style biscuits


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Slice hot dogs evenly in half. Slice cheese in half. Open package of biscuits and lay out each individually and flatten slightly into an oval shape.
Tightly wrap a piece of cheese around the hotdog. Take the slightly flattened biscuit and wrap it around the hot dog, squeezing edges firmly together.
Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and place them 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sausage and Spinach Lasagna Made With Heinz Classico Family Favorites Pasta Sauce

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Whenever I need a dinner recipe that I know will be delicious and enough to feed everyone, I always make one of my family favorites, lasagna.

I like lasagna because you can vary the taste so much by just using different ingredients. The other night I made one of my favorite versions, lasagna made with Italian sausage and spinach.

This time I used Heinz's Classico Family Favorites pasta sauce. This sauce was so good that it reminded me of the homemade sauce my mom had always made. The perfect blend of spices and seasonings, with just a tiny hint of sweetness.

My seven year old grandson, Jayden, has really started to show an interest in cooking. We are all encouraging this because who knows, he could be the next reality show star chef, right?

Jayden helped me cook this dinner. We are practicing with this recipe because he and I are making a birthday dinner for his Mom (my daughter) next week. He's super excited about it, and so am I.

I picked up some jars of Traditional Classico pasta sauce when I was doing my grocery shopping at Walmart.

Unlike some really great tasting sauces, Classico is so reasonably priced that it helps me save money while I make healthy meals for my family. When I make my Italian sausage and spinach lasagna, the kids actually eat it without saying a word about the spinach. Usually they don't like spinach, so I'm really glad they will eat it in this dish.

The first thing you do is brown a pound of Italian sausage and chopped onion. I love Italian sausage and stock up on it when it's on sale. I find I use it in so many recipes, and lots of times I will use it instead of ground beef.

Then you add two bottles of the Classico sauce, bring it to a boil, and then let it simmer for ten minutes. This will really let the flavors of the sauce come out beautifully.

While we were cooking, I was already getting hungry for some of this lasagna, yum!!        

Jayden was in charge of helping me make the ricotta cheese and spinach filling. He's getting good at measuring ingredients, and excellent at stirring things.

I wish I had encouraged my five kids more in the kitchen. Somehow they all miraculously became good cooks all by themselves. There's nothing I love more than a dinner invitation to one of their houses. I love seeing them being creative in the kitchen, and then sitting down to eat what they cooked, with them.

So after we made the sauce and the ricotta cheese and spinach filling, it was time to put together the lasagna.

I had never used the no-cook lasagna noodles before, but a friend of mine told me they were great, so I used them here. I was a little skeptical but she's a fabulous cook, so I tried them in this recipe.

They turned out to be delicious, and really won me over. And it eliminates the big step of cooking the noodles when you make lasagna.

You can find Heinz Classico Family Favorites pasta sauce in the spaghetti sauce section at Walmart.

It also comes in Parmesan & Romano flavor, and with the Meat Sauce variety. You can use these sauces with so many recipes, and I see some great dishes coming out of my kitchen soon using all of these varieties.

I really love cooking with my grandchildren, and Jayden and I were very happy with the way our dinner turned out. Cooking with these delicious Classico sauces lets me make our #FamilyFavorites even easier to make.

Here is my recipe for my lasagna. It feeds 6-8 depending on how you slice it. And I always find it stretches further if you serve it with a green salad and warm garlic bread.

Recipe for Sausage and Spinach Lasagna


1 pound Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 jars (24 ounces each) Heinz Classico Family Favorites pasta sauce, Traditional variety
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
9 no-cook lasagna noodles


In a large skillet, cook sausage and onions over medium heat until meat is no longer pink, drain.
Stir in the sauce, garlic, basil and oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese.
Spread 1 1/2 cups meat sauce into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Top with 3 noodles. Spread
1 1/2 cups sauce to edges of noodles. Top with half of the ricotta mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles, sauce, and mozzarella cheese.

Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover, bake 10-15 minutes longer, or until bubbly.
Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.




Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Peppa Pig The Balloon Ride DVD Giveaway

Everyone in our house adores Peppa Pig. My granddaughter Ashley loves watching this sweet and charming little piggy and all her adventures.

Peppa is a lovable little Piggy who lives with her younger brother George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig. Peppa loves playing games, dressing up, visiting exciting places, and making new friends.

And because she's a little piggy, her very favorite thing to do is jump up and down in muddy puddles!

The Balloon Ride is a brand new Peppa Pig DVD that is perfect fun for the little ones to watch. There are 12 fun packed episodes, including George's Birthday, Ice Skating, and the Baby Piggy.

You can also find Peppa Pig episodes on Nick jr. I enjoy watching Peppa with my grandchildren because it's a sweet show, and I love that Peppa's grandparents, Granddad Pig and Granny Pig are such a big part of her life.

We are giving away one copy of The Balloon Ride to one of our readers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Limited to US residents 18 years old and above. Giveaway starts August 5, 2014 and ends on August 19, 2014 at 12:01 am EST. Winner will be emailed and has 72 hours to respond before another winner is selected. I was not paid for this giveaway or post. The opinions on this item are 100% mine and may vary from others. The sponsor is responsible for providing the prize. I was sent a product to review for this post.


Shot@Life With Back To School Immunazations At Walgreens

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

When my five children were growing up, going back to school was always an exciting time. It meant new clothes and backpacks, seeing friends again, and me making sure they were up-to-date on all their required vaccines.

That meant an individual doctor's appointment for any child that needed a shot. It could be very time consuming and expensive for me and my family.

That's one of the reasons I was excited to learn about Walgreens offering school immunizations to children seven years and older right in many Walgreens stores. How easy is that? And you don't even need an appointment.

When you get a shot at Walgreens, you are also helping to provide a life saving vaccine to a needy child in a developing country through the United Nation Foundation's Shot@Life Program.

My seven year old grandson Jayden isn't thrilled about getting a shot, just like most other kids. But it makes me extremely grateful that the immunizations he needs to stay healthy are so readily available.

Through the Get a Shot, Give a Shot program at Walgreens, we can provide another child a chance at a healthy life, just by getting our school immunizations there.

I love that Jayden is very aware that there are other children in need. He was glad to know that when he gets the shot he needs, he is helping out a child who is not as fortunate as himself.

I've always explained to my kids that, though a shot is no fun, it keeps them from getting very, very sick. Telling them that they are also helping another child to not get sick makes it a little easier, too.

Of course, a reward or treats after getting a shot helps too!!

Just like other Walgreens, our Walgreens in the Seattle area makes getting children an immunization quick and easy.

Besides not needing an appointment, most insurance plans are accepted, too. Walgreens pharmacists will also report back any immunizations to your primary care physician.

It was amazing how much Walgreens is in the spirit of getting our kids back to school, happy and healthy, just like this sign says.

I picked up a few little extras for Jayden to go back to school with, because that's part of the fun of being a grandmother.

How convenient to get your back to school immunizations and school supplies all in one place, right?

Spiderman and super heros are a big deal around our house. So is taking a daily vitamin to keep us healthy.

I picked up a bottle of these Spiderman Multivitamin Gummies because I knew Jayden would love them. Gone are the days when I had a hard time making my kids chew the nasty tasting kind.

So if you have school aged children seven and older who need immunizations,  bring them into Walgreens where they can Get a Shot, Give a Shot.

Every child deserves a healthy life, and you can help make that happen by participating in Walgreens Shot@Life Campaign.

It is so easy to help a child in need when you #GiveaShot. Won't you help?