Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest and have made this coffee cake several times now  – with rave reviews every single time I make it.  Even my kids love it.

Coffee Cake

While the original recipe was really good by itself, I thought I’d share the recipe the way I make it, too.

Here you go –

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake


2 Packages Neufchatel Cheese, softened (low-fat cream cheese)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 egg


1 cup sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 cup sour cream (low fat is fine)
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour

Streusel Topping:

1/4 c sugar
1/4 c flour
3 Tbsp butter (chilled & cubed)


1/4 cup (give or take) powdered sugar
1 – 2 tsp milk

  1. Make the filling: In a small bowl, using a hand mixer, mix the filling ingredients until they’re well combined. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Spray/Grease a 9×13 Pyrex cake dish.
  4. Make the cake:  In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar & butter.
  5. Add the sour cream and extracts.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined.
  7. Add the salt, baking soda and baking powder.
  8. Add the flour gradually (so you don’t have a flour storm in your kitchen)
  9. Spread about half of the cake mixture in the bottom of the 9×13 pan. You may need to use an offset spatula to spread the batter.
  10. Pour the filling on top of the batter in the pan.  Using a spatula, spread to form an even layer across the batter.
  11. Take the remaining batter and add to the top of the filling. You will need to carefully spread this across the filling to form a third layer.
  12. Make the streusel:  In a small bowl, mix the streusel ingredients with a fork. Or, if you have a small food processor/chopper, mix the ingredients in that. It is important that the butter be COLD to properly form the streusel.  You will end up with oatmeal-like texture if your butter is the proper temperature.
  13. Sprinkle the streusel on top of the batter.
  14. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees .
  15. Cool completely on a wire rack (about an hour or so)
  16. Make the glaze:  Combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add milk SLOWLY until you get the desired, drizzly texture. Depending on humidity you will need more/less milk.
  17. Store in a cool place in a Tupperware or sealed container.  Refrigeration is probably a good idea in a hot climate.

This tastes absolutely divine with a cup of Earl Grey or coffee. And it’s not too shabby with a cup of cold milk, either. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty darn good no matter how  you serve it – even if you eat it out of your hand as you dash out the door to go somewhere. Not that I’ve ever done that or anything… wink, wink.

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday, ya’ll.

It’s been a whirlwind weekend.  One that I need a day off to recover from. Unfortunately, that’s not happening, so I’m going to fortify myself with some strong tea and a bite of the coffee cake I baked this weekend.  It’s really, really good. SuperMan says it’s a lot like the cream cheese danish you find at the grocery store, only better.  I have to say, if you combine cream  cheese, sour cream and cake, I don’t think you can go wrong.


I was sick last week – the girls finally contaminated me with the virus they have been sharing the past few weeks. I ended up on the sofa for two days, pretty much feeling too rotten to do more than sip ginger ale, eat saltines and take Tylenol and cold tablets. I wonder if it was a mild case of the flu – but I never had any serious fever, so I don’t know.  By Saturday, though, I was feeling much better and I’m hoping we’ve seen the last of that bug for a while.  I’ll be dosing everyone with Vitamin C and probiotics this week just to be safe.

It’s cold this morning.  26 outside when I woke up.  We had a beautiful sunrise.  All reds and blues and violets.  I told Little Bit as we admired it on the way to school that it was God just showing off for us this morning and telling us hello.  Which we both needed – neither of us wanted to get up and out of our warm beds today.


I spent a little while yesterday rummaging through my recipe lists to come up with a few ideas for dinnertime for the next week or two. Rather than doing a weekly menu plan, I thought I’d just list a few things and then I can pick and choose between what sounds good for the day and what I have on hand.

  • Meatball Subs (using up leftover spaghetti sauce)
  • BBQ Chicken Pizzas
  • Red Beans w/ Rice & Polksa
  • Tacos

I also wanted to share this new recipe find with you – Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Spaghetti.  I made it for dinner on Friday night and we loved it.  DEVOURED it.  As a matter of fact, I ate it again on Saturday for dinner when I was scrapbooking with friends.  And I’ve been thinking about making it again ever since. SO GOOD.  It’s very similar to the Rotel Chicken Pasta dish I make (without the Rotel) and we’ve all agreed it will be going into regular rotation for our family.

And now I’m off to fix another cup of tea and try to get my body going for the day – I’ve been up for three hours but it’s still balking at being awake!

Wintertime Comfort Food

It’s rainy and cold here today – we’ve gone from 60-70 degrees on Tuesday to much cooler temperatures today.  I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes for comfort foods for cold, blustery days like today.  Some of these are crock-pot recipes and some are stovetop, although quite a few of the stovetop ones I’ve done in the crock pot as well.  These are old standby recipes that I turn to again and again for something warm, hearty and filling for my family.  An added bonus is that with most of them I can sneak some veggies in without too much protesting from the troops.

Beef Stew: This recipe originated from one of those little recipe books you pick up at the checkout in the grocery store. I’ve tweaked it and made it my own and we love it.  It’s also great for feeding a crowd. I usually make this in the crock pot but there is no reason why you couldn’t simmer it on the stove if you don’t have a crock pot.


Pasta Fagioli: This is one of my all-time favorites.  It just screams “Italian comfort food” to me.  It’s super-easy and can be done in the crock pot or on the stovetop.

French Onion Soup: I don’t know about you, but a rainy, cold day is just perfect for a big bowl of French Onion soup.  My girls have not yet learned to appreciate this soup, so we don’t get to eat it around here as frequently as I’d like to.  But it is always something I order when I’m traveling for work. It makes me feel warm and cozy when I eat it and it’s great for sipping while watching TV in a hotel room. I saw this recipe on a recent episode of Cooks Country (one of my all-time favorite cooking shows – they are the real deal when it comes to cooking shows) and I am thinking I might try it soon. Love the fact that it is slow-cooker friendly.

Chili should be on the list, too, and a good white chicken chili is another recipe I love to make in the cool weather.

My hearty beef chili is another family favorite and I usually serve it with elbow noodles on the side so that the Little Bit can have “chili mac” that she loves. (Here’s my veggie chili recipe just to round out the offerings)

And, of course, you always need a good vegetable soup recipe.  This one I call clean out the crisper” soup because I never know what I’m going to throw in there – it just depends on what I have that needs to get cooked in my veggie drawer.  It’s great for using up leftovers and always tastes so good.

Chicken&Dumplings - Page 050

If you are Southern, then you know a comfort food list is not complete without a recipe for Chicken & Dumplings.  As a matter of fact, I’ve got a hankering for these. Might just make some this week.

Finally, my favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe.  I love the chili-chicken-ness of it and the fact that you can eat it with tortilla chips or all by itself.  If you’re not a fan of Velveeta, here’s another tortilla soup recipe (my original one) without the extra cheese.

I hope these recipes help when you’re on the hunt for something warm and tasty for your family. What sorts of comfort foods do you gravitate towards in the wintertime?


Turkey & Rice Soup

I mentioned yesterday we had two turkeys this year for Thanksgiving. SuperMan felt if one was good, two was better. Smile Not really. We just couldn’t decide between smoked or fried, so we ended up doing both. I had gotten a free turkey, so it seemed like a good thing to do. Well, now I have a ton of turkey to deal with and so this will most definitely be on my list of things to make this week (maybe even today).

Turkey Rice Soup

It’s super quick, super easy and super good.

If you’ve got leftover turkey to deal with, you might want to give this a try. I’m betting you have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.

Turkey & Rice Soup

~1 pound cooked turkey (or chicken) diced into bite-sized pieces
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 – 2 1/2 cups (cooked) rice
~ 1/2 cup celery, diced
~ 3/4 cup carrots, diced (I just used a handful of shredded carrots)
2-3 cups chicken broth (I used one box of broth)
Houston House Seasoning to taste

  1. In a large stockpot, combine all ingredients except rice.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30  minutes. (You could also do this in your crock pot on low for 2-3 hours)
  2. About 10 minutes before serving, drop the rice in and mix to combine.  Heat through.
  3. Serve.

Turkey Rice Soup

O.M.G. Salisbury Steak

Y’all, I made the BEST Salisbury Steak the other night.

Totally by accident.

It was so good, I don’t even have a picture of the finished meal to share with you.  My family devoured it before I could take one!

O.M.G. Salisbury Steaks in the pan
goodness in progress

So, I can’t SHOW you how yummy it was. But I can certainly TELL you.  And SHARE the recipe so that you can try it out yourself.  And it is so easy to make.  What you need most is a little time.  Not Thyme – Time.  I think the secret to this dish is cooking is slowly and letting the flavors really “percolate” in the dish. The longer you can let it simmer, the better it will be.

Seriously.  I wanted to DRINK the gravy it was so good…

There’s nothing fancy you need for this recipe.  It’s pretty much all basic ingredients.  Unless, of course, you consider mushrooms or brown gravy mix “fancy” ingredients?  Those are the only two things I don’t always keep stocked in my pantry.  But they’re worth the shopping trip to purchase.

I made the patties from ground beef – almost exactly like I make my meatloaf – and then browned them in my cast iron skillet, adding the onion & mushrooms to brown alongside the steaks.

O.M.G. Salisbury Steak & Gravy

2 pounds ground beef
~1/2 cup milk
~1/2 cup bread crumbs
Houston House Seasoning
2 eggs
2 tbsp dried minced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic

~1 cup mushrooms,diced
1 onions sliced

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 package Brown Gravy Mix
1 bouillon cube (beef)
about 2 cups of HOT water

  1. In a large bowl, combine the milk & bread crumbs to make a paste.
  2. Add the beef, eggs, onion & garlic.  Add seasoning & mix well with your hands to combine.
  3. Form into patties – about 3/4 of an inch thick.
  4. In a large skillet, heat some oil and add the patties.
  5. Let them cook on one side for 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Don’t move or mess with them. Once they’ve cooked enough, they’ll release from the pan and you can turn them and cook on the other side.
  6. After you’ve flipped them, drop the onions and mushrooms in the pan with the patties – cover.
  7. In another bowl, whisk the soup, gravy mix, bouillon and hot water.
  8. Pour the gravy over the steaks. Re-cover and cook on low for about an hour.  You may need to add more water (I added close to a cup) to keep the right consistency of the gravy.  It will get dark brown and delicious.
  9. You can also run a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan to get the brown bits off the bottom to get mixed in the gravy for even more goodness.
  10. Serve with mashed potatoes and die of happiness.

You can also do this with cubed steaks – I’ve done that before, too.

Baked Ravioli


Well, that was fun (not) –

I’ve been sick for the past two days with a stomach bug – the kind that reminded me of the worst morning sickness days of my pregnancies.  I lived off of saltine crackers, plain bagels and ginger ale for two and a half days. Not sure if it was a virus or food poisoning, but it was most definitely not fun and I’m so glad I’m feeling better this morning.

I have a yummy and easy recipe to share with you.  This is one you can literally have in the oven in 10 minutes if you have the ingredients on hand – and dinner in a half hour. Super simple.

Baked Ravioli

I made it one night last week when I was crazy busy with work and needed something filling and fast.  I served with a salad and garlic bread and the family loved it.

It’s kind of like a lazy-woman’s lasagna.  But tasty in it’s own right.  And, ironically, the little one doesn’t like lasagna, but loved this.

Baked Ravioli

1 large package prepared three-cheese ravioli
1 quart marinara sauce (you can use jarred, I used leftovers)
1 pound ground beef
Italian Seasoning
Houston House Seasoning
2 cups mozzarella or three-cheese Italian blend

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Brown the ground beef. Season with Houston House Seasoning & Italian Seasoning.
  3. In a large casserole dish (deep dish is best) put about 1/2 cup of marinara. This will coat the bottom of the pan so the pasta won’t stick.
  4. Add in one layer of ravioli. (if they are frozen, that’s fine)
  5. Spread about half of the ground beef on top and cover with some more marinara.
  6. Add in another layer of ravioli and top with the remaining beef and marinara.
  7. Top with cheese
  8. Bake, uncovered, about 20 minutes.

Let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.


Serve with a salad & garlic bread.


Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole

My menu plans went out the window this week when the girls got sick.  I needed comfort food, and fast.  I had pinned this recipe and decided to try it out – I figured it might be comfort food-y enough to give the girls some goodness in their sick little bodies.

I mean, doesn’t that just look delectable?

Of course, I made it my own with a few modifications and I thought I’d share the finished product with you here.  The verdict from the family?  Well, the sickos weren’t crazy about the crackers on the top but SuperMan and I absolutely loved it.  And the leftovers for lunch are even better after the flavors have settled in together even more.

So, this one comes with the highest of recommendations from our family.  Next time I make it I’ll only put crackers on half, but that will be the only change.  It is really, really good.

chicken noodle soup casserole

Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Houston House Seasoning
minced onion (dried)
minced garlic
Mrs. Dash (garlic variety) if you have any, not necessary if you don’t
2 bouillon cubes (chicken)
1/2 pound of egg noodles (uncooked)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I used low fat/low sodium)
1 can cream of chicken soup (I used low fat/low sodium)
1 cup sour cream (1 small container)
1-2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
1 sleeve butter crackers (like Ritz) crushed
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

  1. Season chicken breasts generously with Houston House Seasoning and Mrs. Dash.
  2. In a large stock pot, place the chicken breasts, bouillon cubes, about 1-2 Tbsp of minced onion and 1-2 Tbsp of minced garlic.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.
  3. Cook chicken in water for about 1-2 hours or until tender.
  4. Pull chicken breast out of water (reserving water) and shred. Set aside.
  5. Bring the chicken broth back to a boil and add the egg noodles.  Cook until al dente.  You do not want to overcook so they will not be soggy in the casserole. A little “firm to the tooth” is better.
  6. While noodles are cooking mix the cream soups & sour cream in a large bowl.  Add about 1-2 tsp of Mrs. Dash and 1-2 tsp of Houston House Seasoning and mix well.
  7. Mix in the chicken.
  8. Pull noodles from the water (I saved the broth & froze it for another use later) and mix in gently with the chicken/soup mixture.
  9. Place in a greased casserole dish – 9×9 or larger.
  10. Top mixture with 1-2 cups of cheese. You want to see noodles peeking out. It should not completely obliterate the casserole. It’s just a garnish, so to speak.
  11. In a small pot, melt the butter. While butter is melting, crush the crackers if you have not already. (good stress reliever)
  12. Remove melted butter from heat and add the crackers to the butter and mix well.
  13. Sprinkle the crackers on top of the cheese, spreading in a thin layer.
  14. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. (uncovered)

Let sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving so you don’t scorch anyone’s mouth.



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Saturday Sweetness: Apple Cake


Hello, Sweet Things!Saturday Sweetness

Happy Saturday to you!  It’s an overcast, gloomy day here in our neck of the woods… looks like it will be rainy around here for the next four or five days. I’m not complaining, though, because it means the weather will cool down even more and that means I might get my first fire in the fireplace for the season! Yippee!

Today I’m going to be spending some time in the kitchen – I’m planning to make a batch of my beef stew for a get together with some friends.  We’re not getting together until tomorrow evening, but I’m making it today so the flavors can meld and be even tastier by tomorrow.  I’ll cook it in the crock pot and then I can stick the crock in the fridge until it’s time to warm it up tomorrow.

I’m also going to make this awesome Apple Cake recipe. I’ve shared it with you before (years ago) but I thought I’d share it again. To me, it’s the quintessential fall cake recipe. My mom and I make it many times throughout the fall. Baking this sort of signals the beginning of the fall baking season to me.

It’s so simple to make and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand… and it is so worth it. It tastes super good.

I’m off to the kitchen – well, I am as soon as SuperMan relinquishes control in there. Right now he’s making our weekly Saturday breakfast smorgasbord and since it is one of the highlights of our weekend, I’ll just stay out of his way and let him go.  THEN I’ll get in there and do my thing the rest of the day. Smile

Here’s the recipe.  I hope you enjoy.


1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups apples, peeled & chopped (the smaller the pieces the better)
1 cup raisins

  1. Cream oil, sugar.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Sift flour with salt and baking soda.
  4. Slowly add (in 1/2 cup increments) to wet ingredients.
  5. Add pecans, raisins and apples.
  6. Pour into greased Bundt pan.
  7. Bake at 350 for one hour.


Best-Ever Black Beans & Cuban Pork


Last Friday SuperMan and went to a Cuban restaurant for lunch.  I hate to say it, but the food was less than what we’d hoped for. As a matter of fact, it really just left me with a hankering for some good Cuban food. I was rather disappointed.

So, we decided to make our own!

I bought a pork butt and marinated it over the weekend and then decided Monday was the day to cook it. It was really good, but what was even better were the black beans I cooked with it.

They were surprisingly good. Like, really, really good.

Almost exactly like I’ve had from some of the best Cuban restaurants I’ve eaten at in the past and exactly like what I think of when I think of Cuban black beans.

After raving about it on Facebook last night, I received many requests for the recipes so I decided to share with you here.

It may not be “officially” Cuban, but it sure was good. We devoured it.


(sorry for the blurry phone picture – didn’t have my glasses on and didn’t know it wasn’t focused!)

Pork Butt in the Crock Pott  Smile

4-5 pound pork butt

1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 bay leaf (or 2)
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp minced garlic (or more)
1 Tbsp minced onion
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground cumin (or more)

Houston House Seasoning

  1. In a large ziplock bag, add all of the marinade ingredients.  Add the pork and refrigerate. Let it marinate from 8-24 hours.
  2. Place marinade and pork butt in the crock pot and cook on high for the first hour and then on low for 6-7 hours.
  3. Shred meat, and serve with juices from the crock pot as “gravy.”

Best-ever cuban black beans

2 cans black beans (do not drain)
1 finely diced onion
1 finely diced green bell pepper
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1-2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp minced onion

  1. Add all ingredients to a small crock pot (I use my “baby” one)
  2. Allow them to cook on low for 1-3 hours (no less than an hour)
  3. Serve with cooked rice.
  4. You can add some heat by adding some red pepper flakes if you desire.

eat and die of goodness. Smile


Spinach Artichoke Pasta with Grilled Chicken

This was one of my recent recipe experiments thanks to Pinterest. I stumbled across the recipe and thought it was worth a try given that we all love Spinach Artichoke appetizer at restaurants.

I have to say, this one didn’t disappoint.  It was really, really good. So much so that Big Girl decided to have leftovers for dinner the next night instead of what we had already planned for dinner… and she ate two helpings. of leftovers.

Yeah, it’s that good.

This makes A LOT of food. So much so that I shared a healthy portion with our neighbors for their dinner the night I made it and we still had some leftovers.  So, save this for a meal when you’re having folks over or make it and give some away like we did. Your friends will love you if you do.

I don’t have a picture – it didn’t last long enough for me to get one – but here is the one on the Pinterest link:

I used ziti pasta instead of the bowtie you see here.  I don’t think it really matters. You could even use linguine if you wanted. Whatever you have on hand. It’s merely a vehicle to get the luscious sauce into your mouth. Smile

I also added some grilled chicken that wasn’t in the original recipe. I marinated it in some Italian dressing and then grilled it, cut it up and added the bite-sized pieces to the mixture as I added the pasta.

It was a hearty and filling dinner, a one-stop cornucopia of goodness for your mouth and your body.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta with Grilled Chicken


2-3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup Italian Dressing
Houston House Seasoning

1 12 ounce box of pasta

1 tsp butter
2 Tbs minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
1 8 oz package reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/2 lemon, juiced (I used about 1-2 tsp of lemon juice)
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts (packed in water) drained & chopped
10 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed, with as much water squeezed out as possible
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
Additional parmesan for serving


  1. Marinate chicken breasts in Italian Seasoning & sprinkled with Houston House Seasoning for about 1 hour.
  2. Cook pasta.
  3. While pasta is cooking, grill chicken. (or sauté in a skillet)
  4. Cut cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  5. In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter and add garlic. Cook for about 30-45 seconds, being careful not to scorch garlic.
  6. Add cream cheese, stir until melted and combined with garlic.
  7. Slowly add milk, whisking it gently into the cream cheese.
  8. Add sour cream, lemon juice, salt & pepper flakes. Combine, being careful not to boil the mixture as the sour cream can curdle.
  9. Add in the artichoke hearts, grilled chicken, parmesan cheese. Mix to combine – you can turn off the heat here.
  10. Drain pasta.
  11. Add the pasta (if your saucepan is big enough) and stir to combine.
  12. Season with additional salt & lemon juice as desired (I needed both)
  13. Serve topped with additional parmesan.