What’s Cooking

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Sweet Potato Lentil Soup

2 large sweet potatoes, cut into bite size pieces

2/3 cup onions, chopped small

2 cups lentils, rinsed

3 tsp. garlic, minced

1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes

2 cups carrots, chopped

1 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. onion powder

salt and pepper to taste

3 bay leaves

8 cups vegetable broth

2 tbsp. olive oil or butter to sauté veggies


In a large soup pot, heat olive oil or butter and sauté onions and carrots. Stir in seasonings and garlic. Add bay leaves, lentils, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.  Pour in vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Put a lid 3/4 over the way over the pot and reduce heat to simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until sweet potatoes are cooked through. Remove bay leaves before serving.

*If you want a more filling soup, serve over 1/4-1/2 cup rice or quinoa.


What’s Cooking with Jessica?

Irish Brownie


Brownie Base

1 box (10.25 oz) fudge brownie mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
2 eggs

Irish Cream Topping

1 carton (8 oz) whipping (heavy) cream (1 cup)
1/4 cup milk
1/4cup vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix (half of 3.4 oz box)
3 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
1 bar (1.4 oz) chocolate-covered toffee candy, crushed


1.  Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only of 8-inch square pan with shortening. In large bowl, stir brownie mix, oil, 2 tablespoons liqueur and the eggs with spoon about 50 strokes or until blended. Spread batter in pan.
2. Bake 23 to 26 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
3. In medium bowl, beat whipping cream, milk, pudding mix and 3 tablespoons liqueur with electric mixer on high speed 4 to 6 minutes or until soft peaks form. Spread mixture over cooled brownies. Sprinkle with crushed candy. Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Cut into squares. Store in refrigerator.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Okay I have officially gone from pumpkin spice season to egg nog season. I’ve enjoyed egg nog in many recipes but my favorite is pudding. This week I’d like to share my recipe for Egg Nog Pudding.


Egg Nog Pudding

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

dash of nutmeg (optional as most egg nog contains nutmeg but I like more!)

dash of salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/4 cups egg nog (I use store bought)

3 egg yolks

whipped topping (optional)


In a medium pot whisk together cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and sugar. Then whisk in egg nog and egg yolks. Turn stove on to medium and whisk continuously until thickened. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Once thickened enough to stick to the back of a spoon, pour into a bowl. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl, making sure it lies on the pudding. I like to pat it down to the edges. This helps to ensure you won’t have a thick skim on top of the pudding. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Serve with whipped topping if using. Enjoy!


What’s Cooking with Melissa?

I happen to love casseroles. Sometimes I’ll just look in the cabinets and refrigerator and see what I can put together. This casserole is great because it can be assembled in the morning and baked when you get home from work or after being gone all day.


Goulash Casserole


1 1/2 lbs. ground meat (beef, turkey, venison)

1 1/2 cups elbow noodles, uncooked (gluten free if needed)

1/2 cup green peppers, diced

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

1 10 oz. can cream of mushroom soup (gluten free if needed)

1 cup water

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce with garlic

1/2 tsp. oregano

pinch of red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups shredded cheese (I use mild cheddar)

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish, set aside. Cook ground meat until browned and drain. Cool slightly (or cook ground meat the night before). While meat is cooling, mix the rest of the ingredients, except cheeses, right in the dish. Mix cooled meat with ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 7-8 hours. Remove casserole from refrigerator at least 20 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; bake for 1 hour. After 1 hour sprinkle cheeses over top of casserole and bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

*It is important to remove the dish from the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before baking to keep the dish from breaking in the oven.

**More veggies like zucchini and mushrooms can be added.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

With Harvest/Halloween parties coming up, I thought I’d share a couple of treat ideas. These are both super easy and fun treats that children can help prepare.


Caramel Dipped Grapes

20 unwrapped caramels

2 tbsp. milk

1 bunch large green grapes (works with all grapes but green ones have a great tart taste similar to a granny smith apple), washed and dried

Toothpicks for dipping

Optional: crushed walnuts, sprinkles


Remove the grapes from the refrigerator about an hour before you’re ready to dip them. Grapes need to be washed, thoroughly dried and not cold because of sweating. In a small saucepan, on low/medium heat, melt caramels with the milk, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Remove from heat. Put toothpick in bottom of grape (it stays on better this way) and dip in caramel; then dip into nuts or sprinkles if using. Place on Platter and get ready to refrigerate.



Mummy Cookies

1 package store bought cookies (sugar or chocolate chip)

1 package white chocolate chips

Edible eyes


Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Place cookies on baking sheet at least an inch apart. Melt white chocolate chips according to package. White chocolate scorches easily so do not overheat or allow any type of liquid in the pot or bowl. When white chocolate is melted and removed from the stove, spoon it over the cookies in a zig zag motion. Place 2 eyes on the melted white chocolate so they stick.

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)