Decadent Chocolate Trifle…

Chocolate Trifle

This week, I’ll be sharing not one, but two awesome trifle recipes! I know…that’s kinda weird to just randomly post a bunch of trifle recipes, but I have a reason. :) We threw a graduation party for the son of our good friends a couple of weeks ago and when I asked his mother what his favorite dessert is, she told me he loves chocolate cake and my lemon-lime sugar cookie truffles. I wanted to do something unique that incorporated both of his favorite things, and after lots of thought, ended up making two kinds of trifles- chocolate and lemon. They were both a huge success! I really love this kind of dessert, not only because can they be made ahead of time (and should be!), they’re super simple to throw together and the result is always fantastic.

This trifle features chocolate cake soaked with coffee, then drizzled with a bit of hot fudge and layered with chocolate pudding and cool whip. I’m not kidding when I say this is decadent. The best part is, the longer it sits, the better it gets.  I love “soggy” desserts, so naturally, this one ranks pretty high on my list. If you’re looking for a dessert that looks beautiful, tastes amazing, and requires minimal time and effort, this one’s for you!

Chocolate Trifle 2

Decadent Chocolate Trifle

1 chocolate cake, baked, cooled, and cut into cubes (you may have some left over- save ‘em for a snack!)
hot fudge, for drizzling
1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee that has been allowed to cool
2 3.4-oz. boxes chocolate pudding mix
4 cups milk
1 16-oz. container Cool Whip

Whisk together the pudding mix and milk until thick; about 2 minutes. Set aside.

In a trifle dish or large glass bowl, place half of the cake cubes in a single layer; spoon over half of the coffee, then drizzle a small amount of hot fudge over the cake. Spoon half of the chocolate pudding and spread evenly, then half of the cool whip. Repeat layers, reserving one or two small pieces of cake for the top. When layers are complete, crumble the cake and sprinkle over the top of the cool whip for decoration. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Serves 12.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Crock Pot Green Chile Pork…

green chile pork2

The crock pot is seriously one of my greatest friends in the kitchen. I love having dinner mostly prepared for me at the end of a long day. Especially if it’s juicy, tender green chile pork. Yum. The best part about this recipe is that it can be used for multiple meals. I made tacos with it the first meal, then salads, then sandwiches. It’s the pork that keeps on giving.

green chile pork

Crock Pot Green Chile Pork

boneless pork roast (or loin), about 2 pounds
bunch cilantro (do not chop- just leave it on the stems)
salt and pepper
juice of 2 limes
juice of 1 orange
1 small can diced green chiles
dash liquid smoke

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours. When done, remove cilantro stems and shred meat to use for tacos, salads, or sandwiches. Serves about 6-8.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Chocolate M&M Sugar Cookies…

Chocolate M&M Sugar Cookies 2

There’s a joke (sort of funny, sort of not) in our family now that these are “tornado cookies”, because I baked them the day of the tornado last month. Chuckle. Sort of.

These are some seriously good cookies. It’s a marriage of two awesome cookies- chewy M&M cookies and rich chocolate sugar cookies. Yeah baby. I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for chocolate sugar cookies (which would’ve been awesome on their own), and since I was craving M&M cookies, threw some M&Ms in. I was verrrrry happy with the results! Chewy and deeply chocolaty with the nice crunch of M&Ms. I can’t wait to make these again; hopefully minus the tornado this time. ;)

Chocolate M&M Sugar Cookies 3

Chocolate M&M Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon corn starch
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, substitute 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups M&Ms

Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and corn starch in a medium bowl; set aside.

Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in shortening (or additional butter). Add egg and vanilla; mix until creamy. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the M&Ms.

Drop dough by tablespoon-size scoops onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are firm, 9-11 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 days. Makes approximately 36 cookies.

Recipe source: adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies cookbook

Chocolate M&M Sugar Cookies

Choc Sugar Cookies

Cassidy was obviously a fan. :)

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Sauteed Kale…

Sauteed Kale

Are you scared of greens? Does kale or spinach send you running in the opposite direction? Well, fear, be gone, because I have news for you- there’s nothing easier or tastier if you know how to prepare them! I know a plate of soggy kale might seem unappealing to those of you who aren’t big into greens, but I promise it’s just the opposite! Joel and I both love kale (even Cassidy loves it!); in fact, it’s just about our favorite green. I keep a giant bag of frozen, chopped kale in the freezer and put it in soups, casseroles, smoothies, and much more. But my favorite way to prepare it is simply sauteed. It’s amazing how much flavor is packed in these amazingly healthy greens.

A church friend and neighbor of ours is going through some health issues and he and his wife have decided to completely change their lifestyle. They’re exercising and eating healthy- no processed or refined foods. I recently talked with them about their new diets and found out they’re trying to eat as many healthy vegetables as possible. So of course, I asked them if they’d tried kale yet. Since they hadn’t, and seemed a little hesitant, I decided to post this recipe for them. Getting healthy is serious business and I want to help them find some recipes that are super good for you, yet delicious as well.

The kale is blanched, then simply sauteed with a little pancetta (which could absolutely be left out), garlic, and a little red pepper for some heat. Ready in 7 or 8 minutes, full of flavor, and packed with nutrition! Say yes to kale!

Sauteed Kale 2

Sauteed Kale

1 pound fresh kale, washed, ribs removed, and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon diced pancetta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
pinch red pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the kale in and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, until it starts to wilt. Meanwhile, cook the pancetta in a skillet over medium heat for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the olive oil. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for a minute or so.

Using a large slotted spoon, remove the kale from the boiling water and place directly in the skillet with the pancetta and garlic. Sautee for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper. Serves 4 as a side dish.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Goulash…

Goulash

When I was growing up, I was sort of a picky eater. Ok, not sort of. I was a total brat. I hated Mexican food (gasp!), spaghetti sauce, onions, peppers, and lots of other random things. I mean, how is it possible that I hated Mexican food?! Especially when, now, I could eat it 5 days a week! Ugh. What a weird kid. If I smelled onions and peppers cooking, I automatically knew I’d be shunning dinner that night. So naturally, when my mom or anyone else would make goulash (not that my mom ever really made goulash all that often), I’d not-so-politely refuse.

Nowadays, I love the smell of peppers and onions cooking together! Throw in some ground beef, tomatoes, and whole wheat macaroni and I’m more than thrilled to fill my plate with it! So is Cassidy! (SUCH a great eater!)

This is one of those meals that comes together really quickly and has that great comfort factor. You know, like, after surviving a tornado and your family could really use some good, comforting food? Yeah, it’s perfect for that. And chances are, you most likely have all of these ingredients in your fridge/pantry already! This is one of those perfect weeknight meals…

Goulash 2

Goulash

1 pound lean, ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
bay leaf
splash white vinegar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat macaroni pasta

In a large skillet, cook the ground beef, onions, and peppers over medium-high heat until soft. Drain any fat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add in tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, bay leaf, and vinegar. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente; about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and stir it into the meat mixture. Simmer on low for another 5-10 minutes. Serves 4-6.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Crunchy Bean Tacos…

Crunchy Bean Tacos

Readers, meet my new favorite weeknight meal! I feel like I could eat this once a week for the next year (and Joel concurs!)!

A couple of months ago, we had dinner at our music minister and his wife’s house. She made us their family’s favorite bean tacos and we immediately fell in love. Corn tortillas filled with mashed up beans, then fried until golden and crispy. Super, super yummy. It didn’t take long for me to recreate the recipe in my own kitchen and we were just as enamored with them the second time! This is a great meatless option that requires little effort. Turn your Taco Night on its head this week and give these a try!

Crunchy Bean Tacos 2

Crunchy Bean Tacos

1 can black beans
12 corn tortillas
small handful chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons salsa
1/4 teaspoon salt
shredded cheddar cheese
vegetable oil

In a small bowl, mash the black beans with the back of a fork; stir in the cilantro, salsa, and salt. Set aside.

Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds or so, to make them more pliable. Spread a big spoonful of the bean mixture on one side of the tortilla, top with a sprinkle of cheese, then fold over to make a taco. Once all your tacos are assembled, heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Place 2 or 3 tacos in the oil and cook for about a minute or two on each side, until crispy and slightly browned (if you undercook them, they’ll be chewy). Repeat with the rest of the tacos (you may need to add more oil in between batches). Serve with guacamole and salsa. Serves 3-4.

Recipe source: adapted from our friends’ family recipe

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I Will Praise You In This Storm…

tornado4

On Wednesday, May 15th, my little town witnessed a massive and destructive tornado. I’ve written down the story and shared lots and lots of pictures over on my family blog, A Little Something Lovely, and I hope you’ll take the time to click over and check it out. Thank you for being patient with me the past couple of weeks as my family and I get our lives put back together.

Also, thank you to my friends, family, former co-workers, and fellow bloggers who have called, texted, emailed, tweeted, and facebooked us to check on us! And an  especially big thank you to each and every one of YOU who have been so kind and supportive to me and my family during this time. You are all wonderful.

Click here to read the story.

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Smothered Pork Chops…

Smothered Pork Chops

For some reason pork chops always get neglected at my house. I really like them (and so does Joel!) but for whatever reason, I just don’t think about them when I’m menu planning. Poor pork chops. Too bad, too, because pork chops are GOOD! I love them cooked this way, and especially this way. But now I have a new favorite way to prepare them- smothered! Brown them on each side until they’re nicely seared, make a yummy gravy with the drippings, then pour it over the chops and bake them in the oven for about 30 minutes. Fast, easy, and super tasty.

Smothered Pork Chops 2

Smothered Pork Chops

4 center cut pork chops, about an inch thick or so
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup white wine (preferably one that’s not too sweet, like pino grigio or chardonnay)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing (I like Newman’s Own Family Italian)
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Brown the pork chops for about 5 minutes on each side, until they have a nice sear (depending on the size of your skillet, you may have to do this in two batches). Remove from pan and place in a greased baking dish.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and sprinkle the flour into the drippings and stir for about 30 seconds, so the flour taste can cook out. Slowly whisk in the white wine, water, and salad dressing. Whisk until there are no lumps and gravy starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the gravy over the pork chops. Cover with foil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Serves 4.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Mother’s Day…

dedication2

Yesterday was a special day. Obviously, because of Mother’s Day, but also because our baby girl, Cassidy was dedicated at church. For those of you who aren’t familiar, in some churches, after a baby is born, the parents will have them dedicated. Basically, it’s a ceremony where all new parents line up in front of the congregation, and dedicate their new baby to God, promising to love them, pray for them, and raise them to be followers of Christ. In turn, the church also promises to keep the new parents in their prayers and help them in any way they can. It’s a sweet little ceremony that is meaningful and special to the parents. Our whole family was there, which made it even more special to us! Joel and I were so happy to take part in this and will remember it always!

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It was especially meaningful for me, because I was asked to sing. Here’s a little tip: don’t ever agree to sing a song about watching your baby grow up ON Mother’s Day, and ON the day your own baby is being dedicated. Yikes. I may have had a teensy meltdown in the middle of my song. Luckily, every mom in that room understood completely.

My whole Mother’s Day weekend was wonderful. I have the most thoughtful, sweet husband who cherishes me and makes me feel like the world’s greatest mother, even when I don’t deserve it.

I hope all the moms out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day and felt as appreciated and loved as I did!

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Beefy Noodle Bake…

Beefy Noodle Bake

I like to set goals. It’s my thing. Even if it’s tiny and insignificant, I’ll still try my hardest and do everything I can to achieve it. I’ve done it all my life, and I’m sure I’ll do it the rest of my days. Some big (really big!) goals I’ve set for myself over the years have been college (private school isn’t cheap, and my goal was to get as many scholarships as I could to help out), grad school, singing with Fort Worth Opera, Joel (probably the greatest achievement of my life!), and so many more! Nowadays, my goals tend to be more family-related, such as putting healthy, homemade meals on the table at least 5 nights a week. It’s a challenge, but it’s definitely doable! Especially with quick and easy meals like this one!

This is actually an old recipe from a few years back, but since it’s one of our favorites, I thought it could use some updating. This is as simple a dish as they come and comforting and hearty to boot. Like I said, it’s a family favorite and I make it all. the. time. Cassidy loves it.

Beefy Noodle Bake 2

Beefy Noodle Bake

1 1/2 pounds lean, ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes (14 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups non-fat Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup onion, chopped
8 ounces egg noodles
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile, brown the beef and onion in a large skillet over medium heat; drain fat. Add tomatoes, salt, sugar and black pepper; reduce to low heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Combine Greek yogurt (or sour cream) and cream cheese in a bowl; mix well and stir into the beef mixture.

Place the noodles in a greased 9×13 baking dish and top with the beef mixture. Top with cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes, until bubbling. Serves 6.

Recipe source: heavily adapted from Gooseberry Patch ‘Best Ever Casseroles’

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