What’s Cooking

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

As I’m making my lists of gifts for Christmas, I start thinking about what kind of homemade gifts I’ll be making. This year one semi-homemade gift will be Layered Cookie Bars. By using a cookie mix as the base, this recipe is super easy and quick to make. Best thing about these cookie bars is how great they taste! Don’t forget to make enough for yourself because you won’t want to give them all away!

Layered Cookie Bars

1 1-lb. bag of chocolate chip cookie mix or 1 box of gluten free chocolate chip cookie mix (both work perfectly)

1 egg

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup butterscotch chips (if gluten free be sure to check package)

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, set aside. Stir together the chocolate chip cookie mix, softened butter and egg. Using your hands, press the crumbly dough into the bottom of the baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Pour sweetened condensed milk over top of the cookie crust. Next sprinkle the butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, coconut, then the chopped nuts. Bake 25-30 minutes. Coconut will be slightly browned when done. Completely cool then cut into bars.

*White chocolate chips can be used in place of butterscotch or simply add them to the layers!

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

This is apple season, and I have a great recipe for you. It is just right for this holiday season when you have family or company visiting. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and it is oh so good.

Apple Crisp Coffee Cake
Cake Batter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
1 cup sour cream
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsps vanilla extract
4 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced

Topping
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 9×130-inch baking pan. Whisk together first 6 dry ingredients for cake batter. Stir in melted butter, sour cream, eggs and vanilla extract. Sprinkle apples on top of batter. Stir together all topping ingredients until thoroughly mixed. Sprinkle on top of apples. Bake for 40-45 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Can be served cold or warmed up with a dollop of ice cream.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

I always like to make special treats for holiday breakfasts, and recently I made a new casserole I’d like to share with you. Cinnamon roll French toast casserole was such a big hit that I’ve added it to my holiday breakfast menus. It’s so easy you may want to make it weekly!

Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole

10-12 slices of bread (gluten free bread works perfectly also)

6 large eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup fat free half & half

2 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

pinch of salt

Cinnamon Mixture (stir together, and set aside):

1 cup light brown sugar

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 cup butter, melted

Grease an 11×7 casserole dish with butter. Place a single layer of bread on the bottom. You may need to break some in half to cover the bottom. Spread cinnamon mixture over bread then place another layer of bread on top. Whisk together egg mixture ingredients and pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake remove from refrigerator and allow to sit for 20 minutes before baking. Optional: sprinkle the top with a cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake in 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

Icing: (optional but good)

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. milk (a little more if needed)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Stir together all ingredients and spread on top of warm cassero

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Finally some campfire worthy weather! We do a lot of camping, and I love to cook meals and desserts over an open fire. A fire pit in our back yard allows me to cook over the fire whenever I want and I’m very thankful for that. Before I get in holiday mode I thought I’d share a perfect fall Campfire Apple Cobbler recipe. Enjoy!

Campfire Apple Cobbler

*7 Quart Cast iron Dutch oven is needed.

3 20 oz. cans of apple pie filling

1 box yellow cake mix (Gluten free works perfectly too!)

1 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter (cut into squares)

2 tsp. cinnamon, divided

After your fire is well established, line the inside of the Dutch oven with foil. With butter, grease the foil well. Dump or spoon all three cans of apple pie filling into the bottom of the Dutch oven. Next sprinkle brown sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon on top. Pour dry cake mix on top of apple pie filling mixture then sprinkle the remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon on top. Place small pieces of butter all over the top. Cover with lid. Place on outskirts of the fire and “bake” for 30-45 minutes. (Baking time will depend on how hot the fire is and will require keeping an eye on it.)

*Keep in mind while doing this recipe that no stirring is required. 

*This recipe can be made with other pie fillings, such as blueberry or peach without changing a thing!

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Butternut squash is a vegetable that I hardly ever use but absolutely love. Recently I decided to roast them in the oven with spices and I could’ve eaten the enter pan!

Roasted Butternut Squash

1 3 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with foil. Put cubed squash on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on spices, salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread evenly on the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Butternut squash is a vegetable that I hardly ever use but absolutely love. Recently I decided to roast them in the oven with spices and I could’ve eaten the enter pan!

Roasted Butternut Squash

1 3 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with foil. Put cubed squash on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on spices, salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread evenly on the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

I eat granola every day and bags of store bought granola can be very expensive. Granola is very easy to make, and if you like seeds and/or dried fruit they are a great addition.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

4 cups old fashioned oats

1 cups pumpkin seeds

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

2 tbsp. water

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cloves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put oats and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. In a saucepan on high heat, whisk together remaining ingredients and boil. Remove from heat, pour over oats and toss to coat. Line 2 cookie sheets with foil and grease. Spread oat mixture evenly on both cookie sheets. Bake for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely and store in airtight container.

*3 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice can be substituted for the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Salads can be very ordinary and right down boring if we always prepare our same old recipes. This week’s recipe for Cornbread Salad is easy, filling and very flavorful. 

Cornbread Salad

Prepared Cornbread, cubed (about 4-5 cups)

1 envelope dry ranch dressing mix

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

1 14 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 15 oz. cans corn, drained (Mexican corn can be used)

1 pkg. bacon bits or 1 1/2 cups bacon, cooked and crumbled

3/4 cup red/green bell peppers, chopped

2/3 cup onion, chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 8 oz. bag shredded cheddar cheese or any other shredded cheese

Place cubed cornbread in the bottom of a trifle bowl or large container with a lid if needed for transporting. Mix together dry ranch dressing mix, mayonnaise and sour cream. (This can be doubled if you want more dressing. Also bottled salad dressing can be substituted.) Next layer beans, corn, bacon (except for 2 tbsp.), chopped peppers, onions and tomatoes.  (All of these ingredients can be mixed together then put on the cornbread.) Sprinkle on shredded cheese (all except 1/3 cup) then evenly spoon ranch dressing on top. Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese and bacon on top. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight before serving.

*If you want to add meat to this salad, brown 1 lb. of ground beef or turkey and mix in 1 packet of taco seasoning, cool then spread over top of beans.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Salads can be very ordinary and right down boring if we always prepare our same old recipes. This week’s recipe for Cornbread Salad is easy, filling and very flavorful. 

Cornbread Salad

Prepared Cornbread, cubed (about 4-5 cups)

1 envelope dry ranch dressing mix

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

1 14 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 15 oz. cans corn, drained (Mexican corn can be used)

1 pkg. bacon bits or 1 1/2 cups bacon, cooked and crumbled

3/4 cup red/green bell peppers, chopped

2/3 cup onion, chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 8 oz. bag shredded cheddar cheese or any other shredded cheese

Place cubed cornbread in the bottom of a trifle bowl or large container with a lid if needed for transporting. Mix together dry ranch dressing mix, mayonnaise and sour cream. (This can be doubled if you want more dressing. Also bottled salad dressing can be substituted.) Next layer beans, corn, bacon (except for 2 tbsp.), chopped peppers, onions and tomatoes.  (All of these ingredients can be mixed together then put on the cornbread.) Sprinkle on shredded cheese (all except 1/3 cup) then evenly spoon ranch dressing on top. Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese and bacon on top. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight before serving.

*If you want to add meat to this salad, brown 1 lb. of ground beef or turkey and mix in 1 packet of taco seasoning, cool then spread over top of beans.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Honey Mustard Chicken and Veggies

3-4 Chicken breasts, skinless and boneless, cut in half

1 lb. small red potatoes, quartered

1 lb. bag baby carrots, cut in half

8 oz. green beans, fresh and cut into bite size pieces

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1 large red bell pepper, cut into bite size pieces

2 tsp. minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp. each garlic & onion powder

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

3 tbsp. whole grain mustard

2 tbsp. water

3 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper to taste. In a small bowl mix together honey, the two mustards and water, set aside. Place potatoes, carrots, onion, red pepper and minced garlic in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder and drizzle with 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Toss to coat. Place the chicken breast halves and vegetables mixture on a lightly greased large baking sheet. Spoon honey mustard over all. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Coat green beans with 1 tbsp olive oil, season to taste and add to pan. Cook for another 5-10 minutes or until chicken and all veggies are done.

*Use your favorite veggies. If using mushrooms add them when adding green beans.