Category: Recipes

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cake

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If you’re looking for a no-fuss, quick and easy, delicious cake that’s great for pot-lucks, bake sales, or just a yummy dessert for no reason at all, this is it. What I think makes this cake so perfect is that it doesn’t require frosting of any kind. It’s just loaded with oodles of cinnamon and sugar giving it a little bit of sweet, but not enough to make your teeth hurt. The other reason this cake is perfect is that it can be whipped up in about an hour.

Make sure you have an Angel Food Tube Pan for baking this cake. I have only ever made this in a tube pan, so I don’t know how it would turn in any other pan. I know it would not work well in a bundt pan because it would get too crusty on top.

So here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • 1/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons milk (I use 1% and it’s fine.)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 12oz package chocolate chips
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar and cinnamon mixture

You can use a hand-mixer or stand-mixer, whichever you prefer. I love my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, so that’s what I use.

In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking soda together. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar together. Then beat in eggs one at a time. Add sour cream and milk and mix together. Slowly incorporate your flour mixture and mix until well combined. Be sure you cover your mixer or you’ll have flour all over! Add in the vanilla, then add chocolate chips and mix just enough to get the chips in there.

Grease and flour pan. Pour half the batter in the pan and sprinkle half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture generously. Add the remaining batter and add more cinnamon and sugar on top. I love lots of cinnamon and sugar in this cake, so I don’t really measure it out anymore, I just make the mixture in a small bowl and use it all up! ūüôā

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Be sure to use your cake tester to make sure it’s baked all the way through. It should start to crack a little on top when it’s done.

Let cool for a few minutes before removing center of pan. Take center of pan out and let cake cool completely before removing it from the tube. I find it easiest to take a silicone knife around the bottom of the cake and then just lift it off the tube.

Done to perfection!

Transfer to your favorite cake plate or cake carrier and get ready to enjoy with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa!

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14 Meals for the Busy Mom

As I’ve mentioned before, I love to plan my meals for two weeks at a time. It seems like a lot, but it really takes the stress out of thinking about dinner every day. Think about it: I take 2 days every month to plan meals and I’ve got the whole month covered. In addition, I make my grocery list when I make my meal plan. So I’m doing “big” food shopping twice a month. I do still have to run to the store to pick up a few things each week like milk, fruit, and bread, but at least it’s a quick trip – in and out. I bet you’re wondering how long this “meal planning” takes. Since I’ve been doing it for a few years now, it only takes me about 60 minutes.

So how do I plan these meals? Like many of you, I spend time pinning recipes, so I have lots of recipes pinned that are favorites and then there are some that I want to try. I typically go to my boards and pick out what I want to make. I check the recipe for ingredients and start adding items to my grocery list. I write down every ingredient needed and then do a quick pantry check when I’m finished my list to see if there’s anything I don’t need to buy.

What about the recipes? I print them out if I need them. If I’ve already made the meal, I already have the recipe printed. A word of advice: If you find a recipe you LOVE, make sure you SAVE it! Print it and put it in a safe spot or copy and paste it into a document and save it on your computer. Do not think just because it’s on the internet it will stay there. Sometimes recipes disappear. Trust me. I had it happen to me and it took a lot of digging for me to find the original that I loved.

I’m going to share our Meal Plan for 2 Weeks. I’m warning you… we like chicken. We eat a lot of chicken prepared different ways. Each recipe can be found through my Pinterest boards, but I’m going to link to them here to make it easier.

Week 1

Sunday: Alfredo Soup – I like to prep this one the night before or earlier in the day so that it’s less work at dinner time.

Monday: Smothered Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes

Tuesday: Crockpot Lasagna Soup with Garlic and Herb Pull Apart Bread

Wednesday: Chicken Patty Sandwiches with French Fries (Easy Meal: Check your grocer’s freezer!)

Thursday: Ravioli Bake – Super easy “go-to” meal that can be prepared in about 10 minutes and there’s only 1 dish to clean!

Friday: Chicken Taquitos with Chips and Salsa

Saturday: Loaded Potato Soup – I’ve tried a lot of potato soup recipes and this one is thee best in my book.

Week 2

Sunday: Baked Penne with Garlic Bread

Monday: Chicken Fajita Bubble Up Bake with Cilantro Lime Rice – This meal is one of our favorites! I also like to use my Homemade Fajita Seasoning for this . This is another meal I like to prep the night¬† before or earlier in the day. If you prep it ahead of time, just put the seasoned biscuit pieces in a separate bowl until it’s time to bake the dish.

Tuesday: Meatball Sandwiches (Easy Meal: Frozen Meatballs, Rolls, and Cheese – optional)

Wednesday: Chicken Cacciatore – Cook up some red and green peppers in olive oil, pour in a big jar of pasta sauce, fry up 4 boneless chicken breasts and cut into pieces; toss into peppers and sauce. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Add a little garlic powder, a little onion powder. Cook until all is combined. Serve over egg noodles. ūüôā

Thursday: Breakfast or Take-Out! (Mom might need a break!)

Friday: Chicken Tetrazzini – This is one of my husband’s favorites.

Saturday: Homemade Pizza (Frozen Pizza Dough, Sauce, Cheese, and Toppings of your choice)

And there you have it… 14 Meals that are fairly simple to make – especially the Crockpot Recipes. I’m a big fan of throwing everything together in the morning and having a meal at dinner time. Besides, it gives me more free time to whip up a dessert. We all know there’s always room for dessert! ūüėČ

Enjoy!

Denise

 

Homemade Building Block Cake

Hey! Look who’s back! April was¬†crazy busy with¬†birthdays and Easter and I spent most of the month in the kitchen making treats, baking, and cooking. I love to bake and I have¬†been trying¬†to teach myself how to decorate cakes since my son has peanut and tree nut allergies and we steer clear of bakeries. This was his 5th Birthday Cake that took me a few hours to bake and decorate. I have to say, I was pretty happy with the end result. I received lots of messages through social media after I posted a picture of this cake – everyone wanted to know if the blocks were candy and how I made them. I also know that when I was looking for inspiration for a block themed cake, most of the ideas involved shaping cakes or stacking cupcakes on a cake, or something molded from fondant. Well, I’m a pretty good baker, but I need to work on my decorating skills and playing with fondant and shaping cakes really didn’t seem like a challenge I was ready¬†for,¬†so I decided that I needed to come up with something that I could actually MAKE myself and that would make my five year-old happy. I think I managed to do both!

The cake was¬†a chocolate and vanilla layer cake. I bought this awesome Wilton Easy Layers¬†Square Pan to make him his own personal cake and made cupcakes for everyone else. I didn’t want to make a cake so big that it would become overwhelming to decorate, especially since I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do. To be sure that I stuck with his building block theme, I ordered these building block silicone molds¬†and made candy to decorate the cake and cupcakes. This was the perfect way to stick with the theme without making me crazy over how I was going to pull this off!

Since we have the allergy issue here, I had to dye my peanut free white candy with these fantastic powder food colors. None of this was very difficult, but it was very time-consuming. In addition to the candy molds, you just need a Star Tip,  Piping Bags, and your favorite buttercream frosting recipe. Oh, and one of these really makes decorating so much easier!

We are actually excited to use those block and figurine molds again to make gelatin and other fun treats… I think homemade gummy candies are on the list!

So as you can see, this was a busy weekend in April. The following weekend was Easter and dinner and desserts were on my to-do list. And the rest of the month was jam-packed with making orders for my little handmade business. Things are finally starting to return to normal around here and I’m actually looking forward to getting back to writing and sharing with you.

‚ô• Denise

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Homemade Fajita Seasoning Mix with Printable Recipe Card

So what happens when you really want chicken fajitas and rice for dinner and you don’t have Fajita Seasoning Mix in the pantry? You make your own! This isn’t the first time I’ve mixed up my own. Actually, I’ve been mixing up my own for quite some time. It only took one time of making this to realize I’d never go back to the store-bought packets again. Besides knowing exactly what’s in my seasoning, my husband raves about the flavor every time I make this. I just measure out the spices and mix it up fresh each time I make fajitas, but you could make a few of your own packets by mixing it up ahead of time and storing in little zipper snack bags. You’re going to want to check your spices and make sure you have all these on-hand to make your own!

Click here to print recipe.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

‚ô• Denise

 

Quick & Easy Belgian Waffles

I love waffles. Waffles with butter. Waffles with syrup. Waffles with ice cream. Yeah, with ice cream — that’s my favorite! My kids love¬†them too and I was constantly loading my freezer with boxes of store-bought waffles. They were costing me a fortune and the more I checked the ingredients on the box, the more I realized that I didn’t want my kids eating them daily. I’m forced to read every label of everything I purchase because my four year-old is severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, along with some dye sensitivities. So I added “make homemade waffles” to my weekly to-do list and stopped adding “waffles” to my grocery list.

I didn’t have a waffle maker, but I had an old-fashioned pizzelle maker that doubled as a waffle maker. I liked it, but I wasn’t in love. I really wanted a good Belgian Waffle Maker. Christmas was around the corner and my brother knew that I had been wanting one, so he gave me a Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker. I knew it had to be a good one because he’s the type of person who reads every review and only buys the “good stuff!”

I’ve been making delicious waffles¬†for my family weekly using this awesome waffle maker. It’s simple to whip up a couple batches and freeze them so we have them for a week or two. This recipe is super easy and the ingredients are always on hand. You’ll be amazed at how fluffy these waffles are on the inside and how crispy they are on the outside. Not to mention, they are really filling!

What You Need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • (optional) 1-2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat waffle maker. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk milk, eggs, and oil in a bowl. Whisk milk mixture into dry ingredients until dry ingredients are completely moistened. Pour 1 cup of batter onto the bottom grid. Close top and flip waffle maker. Bake until brown – about 4 minutes. Makes 3.5 to 4 waffles.

Batter Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker Waffle with Butter

These are so quick and easy to whip up and the clean up is¬†a cinch with the non-stick ceramic grids. To freeze, simply let the waffles cool and then stack them between layers of wax paper¬†and place in a freezer bag. To heat up, either pop them in the toaster or place on oven rack and bake at 350¬į for ten minutes.

Once you make these, I doubt you’ll want to go back to store-bought waffles. My kids LOVE them… and if you have picky eaters like me, you’ll know that a thumbs-up from the kiddos is a good sign!

Enjoy!

‚ô•Denise

Posts on Happy Little Wife contain affiliate links. When you make a purchase through an affiliate link, your price will be the same, but Happy Little Wife will receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting me.

 

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Party-Perfect Ranch Pretzels

Here’s another quick and easy recipe that’s perfect for a party. I’ve been making these for the past 6 years and every time I make them they don’t stick around for long. My husband likes to gobble them up and has even been known to smuggle them to work with him. (And then he’d have to hide them because his employees would try to snatch them.) I used to have to make double batches so there were enough to go around! I’ll be honest, the first time you taste them you’ll be unsure if you really like them, so you’ll grab another piece to try to confirm whether you like or dislike, and the next thing you know, you’ve eaten way more than you should have. The best part about these pretzels is that you can decide how much zing you want to give these addicting little pieces of crunchy goodness.

Let’s start with what you need:

  • 2 pounds of Sour Dough Pretzels
  • 1.5 packages Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1.5 cups vegetable oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons lemon pepper (optional)
  • 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder (optional)
  • 1.5 teaspoons dill (optional)

I do use the lemon pepper and garlic most of the time, but have never used dill in my pretzels.

Now let’s get to making them!

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350¬į
  2. Break up pretzels in an oven proof pan (I use a 9×13 glass pan)
  3. Mix ranch and the spices of your choice with oil until well combined
  4. Drizzle over pretzel pieces
  5. Stir to coat each pretzel piece
  6. Bake for 7 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and stir
  8. Bake for 7 more minutes and stir
  9. Turn oven off and leave pretzels in the oven for 20 minutes
  10. Serve warm or once cooled

These store incredibly well for a couple weeks (if they last that long!) in an airtight container.

Add these to your snack menu and let me know what you think of them!

-Denise

 

Crowd-Pleasing Pepperoni Bread

Whether it’s the holidays or an upcoming football party, I figured this was the perfect time to share this simple recipe. It’s a favorite around here and it’s always on the menu when we’re having a party. I don’t know if you noticed, but there are three large loaves in the photo above. And guess what? You can make those three big loaves for less than twenty bucks and in about an hour! (Minus thaw time.)¬†Say what?! Oh, and you only need THREE ingredients. You can thank me for this later.

You’ll need:

  • 3 loaves frozen bread dough
  • 1 lb Sliced Pepperoni
  • 1 lb (16 oz) Provolone Cheese

Directions:

  • Using a pastry brush, coat bread dough in vegetable oil. Let thaw and rise for 6 hours. (I place each frozen loaf on a cookie sheet with nonstick foil.)
  • Once bread is ready, flour your surface and roll each loaf out with a rolling pin. Just roll it out in as close to a square shape as possible – it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • Place pepperoni on dough – leave about an inch all the way around.
  • Place cheese layer on top of pepperoni.
  • Add another layer of pepperoni on top of the cheese.
  • Roll bread up into a loaf and close the ends nicely.
  • Place back on cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 350¬į for 40 minutes until golden brown.

That’s all there is to it! Every time I serve this someone wants the recipe. It’s simple, delicious, and inexpensive to make.¬† (Just don’t count the calories!)

Enjoy!

Chicken Alfredo Soup

It was a cold, damp, and dreary day here – the perfect day for one of my favorite comfort foods. This soup is absolutely amazing – it’s creamy and delicious and has two of my favorite ingredients: chicken and alfredo sauce. The best part about this soup is you can have it on the table in under an hour. ¬†I, personally, like to peel and cube the potatoes earlier in the day (just put them in a pot of water and cover) and dice up the veggies too and leave them in the fridge. So how do you make this delicious soup? ¬†Here ya go:

You will need:

  • Boneless Chicken Breast (I use 3-4)
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • 32 oz Chicken Broth
  • 2 Jars of your favorite Alfredo Sauce
  • Garlic
  • Onion Powder
  • Basil

{I use the frozen garlic cubes and basil cubes, but I also add garlic powder to taste. I use onion powder too.}

If you notice, I don’t have measurements for any of the ingredients – I just add enough for us.
We like a lot of potatoes, so I typically cube up about 7 medium size potatoes. I use about a cup and a half of carrots and celery.
1. Wash, peel, and cube potatoes
2. Chop carrots
3. Chop celery
4. Add potatoes, celery, carrots, chicken broth, garlic, onion, and basil to your soup pot.
5. Cook until potatoes are almost done.
6. While veggies are cooking, fry up chicken breasts and cut into pieces.
7. When potatoes are just about cooked, add 2 jars of Alfredo Sauce and Chicken to the pot.
8. Cook just long enough to finish cooking potatoes and to warm everything together.
Serve with Italian Bread. {I love to dip the bread into my soup!}

You can also add broccoli and/or red peppers to the mix – we just prefer it without those.

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as we do! It’s always a good “snow day” dinner!

xoxo, ? Denise

 

 

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