Armadillo Eggs

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This is one of my favorite meals. It’s a sausage biscuit with a little Texas flare. If you’re not into cooking, this recipe is more about assembly than baking. When you have company, you can do most of the assembly the night before and then do the cooking in the morning. Give it a try. You can thank me later.

  • 16 – small jalapeños or 8 large ones halved
  • 1 – 2 pound tube ground pork sausage, mild or hot
  • 32 – bite-size cubes cheddar or colby jack cheese
  • 2 – 16.3 ounce tubes Grand’s Flaky Layers biscuits

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a large cookie sheet with foil, shiny side down.  Cut the stems off the jalapeños, make a slit lengthwise, and remove the seeds and veins.  Stuff each pepper with 2 chunks of cheese.  Divide the sausage roll into 16 slices and form each slice into a ball around a stuffed jalapeño.  In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage balls on all sides, making sure the meat is cooked thoroughly.  Remove the sausage balls from the skillet onto paper towels and dry off the grease.  Flatten and stretch the biscuits and wrap each sausage ball in a biscuit.  Place the sausage biscuits on the cookie sheet and bake according to the biscuit directions, until the biscuits are golden brown.  You may have to bake the sausage biscuits up to 10 minutes longer than the package suggests.  Allow the sausage biscuits to cool for 3 minutes and serve.  You can make the sausage balls the night before and store them in the fridge.  The next morning brown the sausage balls and finish as directed for a wonderful breakfast.

Smore Torte

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Who doesn’t like smores??? Seriously, chocolate and marshmallows were meant for eachother. So it’s no surprise this dessert is very popular at parties. And very popular in the kitchen. It’s easy to make, no cooking, and you can make it ahead of time and just pull it out of the fridge when it’s time to eat. I have several variations of this recipe in my cookbook. You can substitute your favorite flavors for the perfect dessert.

  • 2 – 3.4 ounce boxes instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
  • 1 – 8 ounce tub Cool Whip, thawed
  • 3 – cups milk, half-n-half, or whipping cream
  • 1 – 14.4 ounce box graham crackers
  • 2 – tablespoons Hershey’s cocoa
  • 2 – cups miniature marshmallows, plus a few for decoration
  • 1 – 16 ounce tub chocolate fudge frosting

In a large mixing bowl with a mixer on low speed, beat the pudding with the milk and cocoa until the pudding starts to thicken.  Stir in the Cool Whip by hand until blended and add the marshmallows.  Line the bottom of a 13x9x2 cake pan with a layer of graham crackers. You will have to break a few into smaller pieces to line the entire bottom of the pan.  Spread half of the pudding mixture evenly over the graham crackers, place another layer of graham crackers on top of the pudding, and spread the last of the pudding over the second layer of crackers.

The family recipe says to place the last layer of graham crackers on top of the pudding and microwave the frosting to spread it over the crackers.  I don’t microwave the frosting; I just frost each graham cracker before I lay it on top of the pudding and then fill in the cracks with the remaining frosting.  Do whatever works best for you. Sprinkle a few marshmallows over the frosting and press down with a spoon.

Refrigerate the torte for at least 3 hours before serving.  Refrigerating overnight works well.  It gives the graham crackers plenty of time to soften so the torte is easy to cut and serve. 

Pecan Pie Bread

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You can make bread that tastes like pie??? Man oh man, yes you can. I didn’t believe it. Suddenly, I was from the Show-Me state because I was not going to believe it until I tasted it. Well holy Micky Dolenz Batman, I’m a believer now. If you love love pecan pie, you will fall head over heels for this bread. Bake this bread and let your taste buds sing.

  • 1 – cup butter
  • 1 – teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 – cups brown sugar
  • 4 – eggs
  • 1 – cup flour
  • 2 – teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ – teaspoon salt
  • 2 – cups chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350.  Generously grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan. This bread is very sticky.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat.  Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.  Stir in the brown sugar, pecans, eggs, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and flour.  Pour the batter into the loaf pan.  Bake the bread for 50–60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge, and remove the bread from the pan.  Wait 10 more minutes to serve the bread warm, or cool to room temperature. No matter what your mouth tells you, it’s not a good idea to eat the entire loaf.

If you really want to take a walk on the Wild Side, add ¼ cup Wild Turkey Honey Bourbon and ¼ cup flour. You might have to bake it a little longer – use the toothpick test to determine when the bread is done.

Taco Casserole

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  • 2 – pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 – cup salsa
  • 1 – onion, chopped
  • 1 – clove garlic, minced
  • 1 – 10.75  ounce can condensed tomato soup
  • ½ – cup beer or milk
  • 1 – jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • 1 – 16 ounce bag shredded cheddar cheese
  • 9 – corn tortillas, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 400. Brown and crumble the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour off the grease and put the pan back over the heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Stir in the soup, salsa, beer, tortilla pieces, and half of the cheese, until the cheese melts a little. Spread the mixture into a 13x9x2 pan. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the casserole and bake 5–10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Toffee Brownies

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These super-moist brownies are a hit at any party. Don’t make them too early because you may eat the entire pan yourself. Then you have to make up a good story to tell the other guests. After all, you don’t want everyone to know you ate an entire pan of brownies.

  • ½ – cup butter
  • 1 – egg
  • ⅔ – cup light cream
  • 1 – 8 ounce bag Heath milk chocolate toffee bits
  • 1 – 8 ounce tub Cool Whip, thawed
  • 1 – 13x9x2 box chocolate fudge cake mix
  • 1 – 12 ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 13x9x2 pan, even if it’s non–stick. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and blend in the cake mix, cream, and egg. Stir in the 1 cup of the Heath bits and spread the batter as evenly as possible across the bottom of the 13x9x2 pan. Sprinkle some of the Heath bits on top and save the rest for the frosting. Bake the brownies for 17–25 minutes, until done in the middle. Cool the brownies to room temperature.

In a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate chips over low heat until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Cool Whip. Spread the frosting over the brownies and sprinkle the rest of the Heath bits on top. Enjoy!

Black Forest Torte

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A new twist on the Chocolate Eclair Torte, also known as the funeral dessert in our family. Why is it called the funeral dessert? Because it’s easy to make, looks elegant, and tastes great. The perfect dish for every wake. If you’re a fan of this dessert, you should check out my first cookbook – Caveman Chemistry, Bringing Science Back into Cooking. I have quite a few variations of the original recipe and they are all wonderful – animal cracker, chocolate chip, banana cream, etc. You should try them all. I apologize for not having a better picture.

  • 2 – 3.4 ounce boxes instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 – 8 ounce tub Cool Whip, thawed
  • 3 – cups milk, half-n-half, or whipping cream
  • 1 – 14.4 ounce box graham crackers
  • 1 – teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 – 20 ounce cans cherry pie filling
  • 1 – 16 ounce tub chocolate fudge frosting

In a large mixing bowl with a mixer on low speed, beat the pudding with the milk and vanilla until the pudding starts to thicken.  Stir in the Cool Whip by hand until blended.  Line the bottom of a 13x9x2 cake pan with a layer of graham crackers. You will have to break a few into smaller pieces to line the entire bottom of the pan.  Spread half of the pudding mixture evenly over the graham crackers, place another layer of graham crackers on top of the pudding, and spread the cherry pie filling over the graham crackers. Carefully, spread the last of the pudding over the pie filling.

The family recipe says to place the last layer of graham crackers on top of the pudding and microwave the frosting to spread it over the crackers.  I don’t microwave the frosting; I just frost each graham cracker before I lay it on top of the pudding and then fill in the cracks with the remaining frosting.  Do whatever works best for you.

Refrigerate the torte for at least 3 hours before serving.  Refrigerating overnight works well.  It gives the graham crackers plenty of time to soften so the torte is easy to cut and serve.

Lemon Glazed Cherry Cake

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If you’re craving something tart, this is the cake for you. This cake has a rich cherry flavor enhanced by a tart lemon glaze. Yet, it’s light; just perfect to finish off a hearty meal. It’s easy to make, too.

Cake:

  • 1 – 13x9x2 box white cake mix
  • 1 – 21 ounce can cherry pie filling
  • 1 – 3 ounce box cherry Jell-O
  • 4 – eggs
  • ¾ – cup vegetable oil

Glaze:

  • 2 – cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ – cup lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 13x9x2 pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix and Jell-O. Stir in the pie filling, oil, and eggs. Pour the batter into the pan and bake the cake 35–40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is still hot, poke holes all over the top of the cake with a toothpick.  Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Slowly drizzle the glaze over the cake and allow it to soak into the holes.  I use a serving tablespoon to drizzle the glaze.

Apricotizers

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I get excited about having a party. And I always overcommit. So, I love when I find a super simple recipe that tastes awesome. After all, the better something tastes, the more effort people think you’ve invested. This recipe is almost as simple as cocktail wienies warmed in BBQ sauce. Similarly, the flavor is rich and sweet and it’s a good way to add another meat dish to your party fare. You must try this recipe for your next open house or holiday party.

  • 1 – 12 ounce jar Heinz chili sauce
  • 1 – 18 ounce jar apricot preserves
  • 2 – 20 ounce bags frozen cooked Italian style meatballs (or more)

Pour the chili sauce and preserves into the crockpot and stir.  Add the frozen meatballs and stir again.  Cook the meatballs on low until party time.  For those of you unfamiliar with chili sauce, it looks like ketchup and is usually found near the ketchup in the grocery store.  This recipe is good with just about any kind of jam or preserves.

What’s the Grossest Place in Your Office?

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The grossest place in your office is probably the microwave. Exploding food, lava flows, and spills line the walls and cake around the carousel. And no one feels compelled to wipe it out. Microwaves are handy, but after a day of penetrating rays that food can adhere to the walls and ceiling of the microwave. Almost like it was bolted on.

Many companies have instituted rules to help guard against a messy microwave, but who has time for that? Lunch times are short and everyone needs a break. The best thing I’ve seen is covering food with paper plates. Some companies provide those super thin, super cheap paper plates and ask that each meal be covered with a clean plate. It works pretty well. Anything to keep the microwave looking inviting for your lunch.

One of the most egregious infringements, and least necessary, is the making of oatmeal. Instant oatmeal is very popular for breakfast in the office, and oh so good for you. When you cook it in the microwave, oatmeal tends to bubble, spit, and flow all over the place. It’s time to stop cooking it in the microwave forever. Here’s what to do instead. Put your oatmeal and sweetener in a coffeecup and add the hot water from the spigot on the coffee machine. The water is super hot and will cook your oatmeal in the cup. You don’t even have to cover the cup. Just stir in the water, wait a few minutes (you don’t want to eat it with the water that hot anyway), and stir again. Tada! Fresh, hot oatmeal. If you don’t have a hot water line on your coffee maker, here’s the next best method. Put your water in an empty coffeecup and microwave using the beverage button. The water gets super hot in the microwave and it doesn’t make a mess. Immediately, stir in the oatmeal and sweetener and wait for the oatmeal to cook. Stir again and eat. It’s still hot when you eat your oatmeal and no mess.

Feel free to share these suggestions with everyone you know. I love making the world a cleaner, easier-to-care-for place. That’s me – Saving the world from gross microwaves one office at a time.

Cherry Sesame Pork

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If you can get past the bright red rice, this is a very good dish. It’s not in my cookbook, but it should be. If you like spicy food, try it.

  • 1 – pork tenderloin
  • 2 – 20 ounce cans cherry pie filling
  • 1 – cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 – tablespoon ginger
  • 1 – tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 – tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 – tablespoon freeze-dried minced garlic
  • 1 – tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 – cups Minute Rice

Cook the pork tenderloin anyway you like. I use a little lemon juice, lemon peel, coriander, cumin, Italian seasoning, and garlic in a 400 oven for about 30 minutes. This ternderloin came apart as I unpackaged it, so I cut up some onion to add moisture and flavor.

In a large saucepan over medium low heat, combine the cherry pie filling, soy sauce, ginger, sesame seeds, sesame oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Use 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes if you want less spice. Stir once in a while. When the pie filling starts to bubble, turn off the heat and stir in the Minute Rice. Cover the pan and let it sit for at least 5 minutes. When the tenderloin is finished cooking, let it sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serve with the cherry sesame rice.