What’s Cooking

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

This week instead of a full recipe I’d like to share a cake hack with you. A cake hack is just transforming a plain box cake mix to a totally different cake without making it from scratch. This is my favorite cake hack and I hope you enjoy it too!


Yellow Cake with Fruit

1 box yellow cake mix and ingredients listed on box to make cake

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)

1/2 stick butter, melted

1 cup light brown sugar

2 cups sliced peaches, thinly sliced apples, blueberries, etc.

cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle on top of cake mixture (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9×13 baking dish melt butter in preheating oven. When butter is melted remove dish from oven and sprinkle brown sugar over the butter (mix in if needed). Next put fruit evenly over top of brown sugar/butter mixture. In a large bowl mix cake mix with ingredients listed on box and stir in cinnamon if using. Pour cake batter over top of fruit.  Sprinkle batter with cinnamon/sugar before baking.  Bake for 35 minutes, according to box time, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

*If using frozen fruit I always thaw fruit and drain well before putting it in the baking dish.


What’s Cooking with Melissa?

With school starting, sports practices and games to run around to, it doesn’t save much time for cooking in the evenings. This week I’d like to share a quick supper recipe for Egg Roll Stir Fry.


Egg Roll Stir Fry

1 lb. ground turkey (can use ground beef or pork also)

2 tbsp. olive oil (can use sesame oil if you have it)

1/4 cup onion, finely diced

1 tsp. ground ginger

2 tsp. minced garlic

2 tbsp. soy sauce (gluten free or low sodium if needed)

salt and pepper to taste

1 bag coleslaw mix (16 oz.)

1/2 cup shredded or grated carrots

1/4 cup green onions, chopped


In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté onions until transparent. Next add the ground turkey, breaking it up with a spatula and cook thoroughly. Add ginger, minced garlic, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for a few minutes then add coleslaw mix and carrots. Sauté until cabbage is wilted; it only takes a few minutes. More soy sauce can be added if needed and top with chopped green onions. It’s great as is or serve over white rice, brown rice or cauliflower rice.

*Can top with duck sauce also.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

I can’t believe I’m even thinking these words, but school is about to start. Where did summer go? Anyway, with school starting that means packing lunches. So this week I’d like to share a recipe with you for Lunchbox Bars. They are great for lunchboxes, after school treats, dessert or breakfast on the go!


Lunchbox Bars

1 bag large marshmallows

6 tbsp. butter

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup peanut butter

4 cup crispy rice cereal

1 cup crushed graham crackers

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 1/2 cup quick oats

1/2 cup crushed walnuts

1 cup mini chocolate chips


In a large bowl combine crispy rice cereal, crushed graham crackers, coconut, quick oats, crushed walnuts and mini chocolate chips. Over low heat melt butter and marshmallows together, stir frequently. When marshmallows are melted remove from heat then stir in honey and peanut butter. Pour marshmallow mixture over top of the oat mixture and mix well. Pour into buttered 9×13 pan for thicker bars or an 11×17 baking sheet if you want thinner bars. With a buttered spatula, spoon or small sheet of waxed paper, press the bar mixture evenly in the pan. Cover and let set for a couple of hours then cut into squares.

*If you need to make these gluten free as I do, check all labels and enjoy!


What’s Cooking with Melissa?

I’m so happy peach season is finally here. If you like to bake with peaches as much as I do, try this week’s recipe for Fluffy Peach Breakfast Biscuits. We like to eat these for breakfast, dessert or anytime!


Fluffy Peach Breakfast Biscuits

2 3/4 cups Bisquick (gluten free if needed)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 1/4 cups fresh peaches, chopped small

3 tbsp. butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/4 cup vanilla yogurt (if using plain yogurt also add 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract)

1/3 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup quick oats

cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle


Glaze: 2 tbsp. milk + 1 cup powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together Bisquick, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add chopped peaches, toss to coat. Stir in until just combined the melted butter, vanilla yogurt, milk and egg. On a parchment covered baking sheet, spread dough out to 11 by 7 inches and about 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle oats and cinnamon sugar mixture on top. With a knife or pizza cutter, lightly cut biscuits into 15 squares. Bake 12-15 minutes. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and cool. Once cooled, make and drizzle glaze over top.

*1/3 cup chopped pecans sprinkled on top before baking is a great addition.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies (these are soft cookies)
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. finely shredded zucchini (skin on)
1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
dash of salt
3/4 c. mini chocolate chips
2/3 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream together butter and light brown sugar, then stir in egg, vanilla and zucchini.   Next add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Mix until combined this gently stir in chocolate chips and nuts if using.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes.  ( 9 minutes is perfect for my oven)

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

After picking a lot of blackberries recently I froze most of them to use later but left some out for some recipes. This week I’d like to share a recipe for Blackberry Lemonade. Hope you enjoy some in this heat! It’s definitely worth the effort.


Blackberry Lemonade

1 1/2 cups. blackberries (fresh or frozen)

1 cup. lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

4 cups water


Simple Syrup:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water


In a small saucepan boil one cup sugar and one cup water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside. Put blackberries in a blender and pulse until smooth. Strain blackberries to remove seeds. In a pitcher mix together 4 cups water, lemon juice, strained blackberries and simple syrup. Stir well and refrigerate until ready to serve.


What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Watermelon limeade is a great refreshing drink in this hot summer heat. This recipe is great for a mocktail, cocktail or even popsicles. Believe me that the popsicles are grandson approved. It may take a little bit of time to make but it is so worth it!


Watermelon Limeade

2/3 cup water

2/3 cup sugar

6 cups watermelon, cut up

1 1/2 cups lime juice

3 cups water


In a saucepan boil water and sugar to make a simple syrup. Boil for a few minutes, just until the sugar dissolves, remove from heat and cool. Place watermelon in a blender and blend until it is all juice. Pour into colander with very small holes or use my method of lining the colander with coffee filters and strain watermelon juice. This step makes a big difference in the juice. Pour watermelon juice in a pitcher with simple syrup, lime juice and water. Stir and enjoy over ice!

*If you want it sweeter just make the simple syrup with 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water.


What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Since July 4th is coming up, it made me think of cookouts and what I might want to make. Since I have dietary issues I always like to make a dish that can be a meal just in case there isn’t anything else I can have. This week’s recipe for Taco Pasta Salad fits that description perfectly. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Taco Pasta Salad
1 12 oz. box rotini pasta (cooked per box instructions)
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1/4 cup onions, diced
1 package taco seasoning
1 15 oz. can fire roasted corn, drained (sweet corn is good too)
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or even quartered
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or taco blend shredded cheese)
2 cups Frito’s chips, roughly crushed (tortilla chips or Dorito’s work too)
2 cups chopped or shredded lettuce
1 cup French, Catalina or Ranch dressing (this I find is personal preference)

Cook pasta according to box instructions, rinse with cold with cold water, put into a large bowl and set aside. In a skillet, cook onions and brown ground meat until no longer pink, drain if needed. Stir in taco seasoning and water (amount according to seasoning package) and simmer about 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Stir into pasta the meat mixture, corn, black beans, tomatoes and 1 cup shredded cheese. Cover and refrigerate. Right before serving top with lettuce, remaining shredded cheese and crushed Frito’s chips.
*Dressing can be mixed in right before lettuce, cheese and chips are put on top or I like for each person to use their dressing of choice.

Blueberry Upside Down Cake

Blueberry Upside Down Cake
For topping:
2 1/2 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 pint blueberries, washed
For Cake:
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour (gluten free cup for cup works perfectly)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put 2-1/2 tbsp butter in 9 inch round cake pan and melt in preheating oven. When butter is melted, remove from oven and swirl pan around so sides get coated or use a paper towel to carefully grease the sides of the pan. Next sprinkle brown sugar over butter in pan and gently stir. Put blueberries in pan.

Beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form, set aside. In a large bowl cream together softened butter and sugar, then add egg yolks and vanilla; beat well. In another bowl stir together, flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to the butter alternately with the milk. Fold egg whites into batter. Pour into pan and spread over top of blueberries. Batter will be very thick. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown on top and knife inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for about 15 minutes, then flip cake onto large serving plate.
Enjoy and Happy Father’s Day! 

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Lately some days have been so hot that it’s hard to think about cooking a large dinner. Even if I cook the main dish I like to make cold salads for side dishes. This week I’d like to share a recipe that is one of my favorites, Cabbage Salad. Hope you enjoy it!


Cabbage Salad

1 10 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained

1 14 oz. bag coleslaw

1/3 cup red onion, chopped small

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2-2 tbsp. sugar

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. salt


Put mandarin oranges, coleslaw mix, red onion, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Set aside. In a small bowl mix together balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, black pepper and salt. Pour dressing over top salad and toss to coat. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. Stir before serving. (I like to stir a couple of times while it’s in the refrigerator “marinating.”)