Coffee Cake

When I was little, I always got excited when my mom would make coffee cake. Usually reserved for special occasions, it was always a fun treat. As a child, I thought it must be super complicated to make it. But when I got older I asked my mom for the recipe and discovered it was super simple. It comes together in minutes, but has to be prepared the night before so the rolls have time to rise. Sticky buns, monkey bread, or coffee cake – whatever you call it, it is a delicious and easy breakfast that anyone can enjoy.

To get started, put the frozen rolls in a bundt pan coated with cooking spray, then sprinkle the butterscotch pudding over the top of the rolls.

Coffee Cake from Cooks My Books

Mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together until combined, then pour over the top of the rolls.

Coffee Cake from Cooks My Books

Cover the bundt pan with a wet dishtowel and let the rolls rise overnight.

Coffee Cake from Cooks My Books


Coffee Cake from Cooks My Books

In the morning, bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until the top is golden brown.

Coffee Cake from Cooks My Books

Invert the bundt plan on a tray, plate, or cookie sheet and serve while still warm. I usually use a cookie sheet covered in foil for easy clean up. And if the rolls aren’t quite done, the cookie sheet can go back in the oven.

Coffee Cake from Cooks My Books


Banana Cream Pie

When I first started baking and cooking, I focused most of my attention on making cupcakes. I intended on making the cupcakes for my wedding so I wanted to try to master a few recipes. As a result I have made a lot of cupcakes over the past few years. And while I do enjoy a cupcake now and then they aren’t my favorite. Without any hesitation, I would rather have pie.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved pie and I have requested pie instead of cake on my birthday more than once. So it seemed logical that the next thing on my baking to do list should be to master making pie.

As luck would have it, I stumbled upon this recipe for Banana Cream Pie. It quickly became my go to recipe because it only has a few ingredients, comes together fairly quickly, and is a big hit at family gatherings.

First combine the graham crackers and sugar in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter until evenly distributed. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a lightly greased 9 inch deep dish pie plate.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Prepare pudding in a bowl by whisking the milk and pudding mix together. Refrigerate to set.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar together.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Fold in half of the whipped topping and the banana pudding until the mixture is well combined.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Arrange the banana slices in the graham cracker crust.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Pour in half of the filling.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Repeat with remaining bananas and filling.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Put the remainder of the whipped topping into a piping bag with tip.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Pipe whipped topping around the edges of the pie and in the center. Or if you prefer, spread the whipped topping evenly over the top of the pie.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Refrigerate until set, about 1 to 2 hours. Serves 8.


Hot Chocolate Mix

I have been thinking about hot chocolate a lot lately. Probably because it has been snowing here for a few days and I’m freezing my buns off. I have always loved hot chocolate. Even the thought of taking sips from a big mug on a cold day makes me grin.

When I was a kid, I remember happily making hot chocolate from the little Swiss Miss packets. But when I was a little older, everything changed one day when my mom said “I found this recipe for a hot chocolate mix in an old cookbook. Let’s give it a try.”

It took a couple of times to get the mixture just how we wanted it, but after that I was hooked. I never wanted anything else. And with only 4 ingredients, it is super simple to make.

To make the mix, stir the dry milk, powdered creamer, powdered sugar, and Nesquik together in a large bowl until combined. That’s it. You’re done. If you want the mix to have a more uniform look, like the ones you get at the store, you can put the mix in a food processor or blender and process it in batches. Return to the bowl and mix together again. Store in an airtight container. I use quart size mason jars. The mix will fill up about 4 of them.

Hot Chocolate Mix from Cooks My Books

To make the hot chocolate, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the mix to 1 cup of hot water. Stir until the mix has dissolved. Add marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired, and enjoy.

Hot Chocolate Mix from Cooks My Books


Quick and Easy Cheeseball

Yesterday, I was watching the Super Bowl with my husband when he said “We need some finger foods. We usually have snacks during the Super Bowl.” I racked my brain for something that would be quick to make. I wanted to make something that we already had all of the ingredients for so I didn’t have to go to the store. It took a minute, but then it came to me. A cheeseball.

I went to the kitchen and grabbed my family cookbook. I could look up the recipe – butter, cream cheese, black olives, and green onions. Seemed simple enough. And then I remembered there was some leftover bacon in the fridge from breakfast. Everything is better with bacon right?

Before you start mixing anything, make sure that your butter and cream cheese are room temperature. To do this, I usually leave the butter out on the counter. For the cream cheese, I put in it the microwave using the  softening function.

Once they are softened, cream together butter and cream cheese in a bowl using a stand mixer or hand mixer.

Quick and Easy Cheeseball by Cooks My Books

Stir in olives, bacon, and green onions with a spatula until well incorporated.

Quick and Easy Cheeseball by Cooks My Books

Scoop the mixture onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Roll into one large ball or two small balls. Usually, I will do the one large ball.

Roll the ball(s) in the chopped walnuts until completely covered, if desired. You can skip this step if you just aren’t a fan of nuts, or have an allergy. This is also were having two smaller cheese-balls comes in handy, because you can roll one in the chopped walnuts and leave the other plain. I skipped this step this time because we were out of walnuts.

Place on plate(s) and chill in the refrigerator until set.

Quick and Easy Cheeseball by Cooks My Books

Serve with your favorite crackers. I usually use wheat thins because they are sturdy and won’t crack when I’m trying to scoop up some cheeseball.

Quick and Easy Cheeseball by Cooks My Books




Parmesan Chicken

A few years back, I was trying to decide what to make for dinner. I was bored with my usual go-to chicken dinners, so I decided to try something new. After poking around on the internet for a bit, I stumbled across this recipe for Parmesan Chicken on Simply Recipes. After looking over the recipe, I decided to make it for two reasons.

  1. I had all the ingredients
  2. Little bites of paremsan chicken baked in butter sounded delicious.

Since then, I’ve made it many times and it has always been a big hit. I’ve even had family members request that I make it for special occasions. But don’t take my word for it, give it a try for yourself.

(This post contains affiliate links)

To get started, melt the butter in a bowl or pie plate. Add the minced garlic and stir together. Then, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, dried parsley, salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and black pepper in a separate bowl or pie plate.

Dip the chicken chunks into the garlic butter to coat. Be sure to reheat the butter if it starts to thicken.

Parmesan Chicken by Cooks My BooksIMG_0058
Pieces in garlic butter

Next, move the pieces to the pie plates with the breadcrumb mixture and coat. When I first started making this, I would use small bowls, but I’ve found it’s easier to use pie plates.

Parmesan Chicken by Cooks My Books
Pieces coated in breadcrumb mixture

When coated with the breadcrumb mixture, place the chicken into a greased 9 by 13 baking dish (or whatever size you have), leaving a little bit of space in between each piece. Depending on the amount of chicken, you might need to use more than one baking dish. When all of the chicken is in the pan, drizzle the remaining garlic butter over the chicken pieces.

Parmesan Chicken by Cooks My Books
Ready to go in the oven

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius).

Parmesan Chicken by Cooks My Books

We usually eat this with spaghetti marinara and corn.  Yum!


Homemade Broccoli Cheese RiceARoni

Have you ever made a boxed version of something and thought to yourself, “I wonder how hard it would be to make this from scratch?” I had that exact thought as I was making a box of RiceARoni a while back. So I decided to do some poking around online to find a recipe.
Guess what? I found a recipe on Pinterest by Life Currents. And guess what else? It was super easy to make. Turns out RiceARoni is a combination of rice and Orzo pasta. Honestly, I think the hardest part for me was finding the Orzo pasta. Mostly because I kept accidentally walking past it in the pasta aisle at the grocery store.
I’ve made this recipe a few times now, and have made some tweaks. There has even been a few occasions where I thought I had broccoli in the fridge but didn’t, or I forgot to put the cheese on, and it was still super good. I usually make a double batch of the recipe to make sure that we have leftovers. 🙂
Before I start cooking, I like to chop up the veggies first. I try to make the onion bits on the smaller side, but usually leave the broccoli a little larger. If you’d like the final product to look like the boxed version, then I would recommend chopping the broccoli into smaller pieces.
To get started, put the oil and onion in the pan over medium heat. Cook until the onions start to get tender. This will take a few minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for a minute longer.
Note: Make sure the pan you choose has a lid, as you will need to cover it later on.
Broccoli Cheese RiceARoni By Cooks My Books
Next, stir in the rice and orzo pasta until they are coated with oil. Let the rice and pasta cook for a few minutes. The pasta will brown and the rice will start to look translucent.
Broccoli Cheese RiceARoni By Cooks My Books
Next, stir the broth into the RiceARoni mixture. I’ve used both chicken broth and vegetable stock when I’ve made this, or a combination of the two. It is delicious either way. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low  (it should still boil on low). Cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until a majority of the broth has been absorbed.
Broccoli Cheese RiceARoni By Cooks My Books
Stir in the broccoli. Re-cover and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and the broccoli is tender. (If you accidentally wait too long to put in the broccoli, don’t panic. You can always add a little more broth to help the broccoli cook and it will turn out just fine.)
When the broccoli is tender, remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cheese to melt, or serve as is and let each person add as much cheese as they want. Or both. Enjoy!


Easy Garden Fresh Salsa

It seems like forever since I wrote a blog post. Probably because it has been. But I promise I haven’t been ignoring writing for no reason. I have been in the garden pulling weeds, making sure everything was growing, or trying to figure out what to do with 50 pounds of cucumbers. Literally 50 pounds of cucumbers. But I didn’t start writing this post so I could rant about cucumbers. I wanted to write today because our tomatoes are finally starting to ripen and I’m super excited about it. 

I already made a list of all the things I plan to make with them, but I since I haven’t blogged in a while I figured I’d start with something simple. Today I wanted to share with everyone a recipe for a simple garden fresh salsa.
Easy Garden Fresh Salsa by Cooks My Books

In the past, I’ve mentioned that I’m a little obsessed with vegetables in unusual colors. For example, last year we had a yellow tomato plant. The yellow tomatoes looked so pretty in salsa. SO, when picking out plants this spring I made sure to include a yellow lemon boy heirloom tomato plant.

Do you have to include yellow tomatoes in your salsa? Nope. It will taste just as good with any color tomato that you decide to use. The best thing about this recipe is that you can tweak it to taste however you want it. 
Easy Garden Fresh Salsa by Cooks My BooksTo get started, chop 4 to 5 cups of tomatoes. I used roma tomatoes and the yellow lemon boy tomatoes. Roma tomatoes aren’t as juicy as other tomatoes. They are usually the main ingredient in making tomato paste because of their lower moisture content. If you want a less juicy salsa, you can use all roma tomatoes.

Kitchen Tip: When you are cutting the tomatoes, try putting a towel under your cutting board. This will keep your cutting board from wiggling around, and it will hopefully soak up any excess tomato juice that drips off.

Next, chop the onion and jalapenos. I used 2 small red onions, but white or yellow will work just as well.

Did you notice that I didn’t say how many jalapenos to use? That’s because it depends on how spicy they are. And how spicy you want the salsa to be. This time, I chopped up 4 jalapenos and the salsa ended up being between mild and medium. Other times when I use 4 jalapenos the salsa is too spicy for me to eat. If you don’t like spicy at all, you can skip the jalapenos or substituting for sweet or bell peppers. 

Lastly, add the cilantro, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir everything together. Ta da! You have salsa. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments or on the Cooks My Books Facebook Page.