Asiago Mashed Potatoes

I love CHEESE. There, I said it. If I can add cheese to something, I will. And ULTIMATELY, I think it makes EVERYTHING taste better. So instead of plain old mashed potatoes and gravy, try this YUMMY recipe from my newest book 101 Things To Do With Cheese!

Asiago Mashed Potatoes
2 1/2 pounds russet or red potatoes, peeled and boiled (or Yukon golds are good too!)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup milk
Garlic salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons sour cream
3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese

Using a potato masher, mash the warm potatoes with the butter and milk. Season with the garlic salt and pepper. Stir in the sour cream until desired consistency is reached. Stir in the cheese and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serves 4 to 6.

TIP: I leave the peel on my red potatoes because I love the rustic look it gives, and honestly, it saves time! Also try adding a teaspoon of Italian seasoning for a slightly different taste.


Cheesy Beef Tacos

I made these TACOS as an experiment and they ended up being pretty YUMMY, but not the healthiest thanks to the CHEESE sauce. Oh well! You've got to enjoy LIFE a little, right?

Cheesy Beef Tacos
1 pound hamburger
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup salsa, plus more if desired
Tostitos Queso Dip, plus more if desired
Flour tortillas
Toppings: lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, etc.

In a large frying pan, brown the hamburger and then drain. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the onion; let cook until onion is tender. Stir in about 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa followed by 1/3 to 1/2 cup queso dip. (If this isn't "saucy" enough for you, add more salsa, or dip, or both if you want!) Stir together and let simmer about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve in warm tortillas topped with toppings of choice. Serves around 4.

TIP: When I "drain" my hamburger, I actually put it in a fine strainer and rinse it with water to help eliminate a few more calories. Also, if these don't have enough spice to them for you, add a few shakes of crushed red pepper to the mix!


Peach Freezer Jam

OK, since I had a ton of PEACHES even after making the crisp multiple times, as well as SEVERAL batches of muffins, I ended up being ABLE to make several batches of jam too! I just use the RECIPE from the Sure Jell box, but I thought I'd SHARE it below just so you can see how EASY it is.

Peach Freezer Jam
3 cups chopped fresh peaches
4 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup water
1 box Sure Jell pectin

Measure peaches into a large bowl. Add the sugar and lemon juice and mix well. Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix water and pectin in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute and then add to peach mixture. Stir 3 minutes or until all sugar is dissolved and mixture is no longer grainy.

Fill clean plastic containers with jam to about 1/2 inch from the top. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours and then freeze or use. Makes about 6 (1-cup) containers.

TIP: Don't try to cut down on the sugar or your jam won't jell! Also, it sometimes takes a few days before the jam jells, so don't stress if it seems runny right at first. And don't forget to leave a container of the fresh jam in your fridge so you can enjoy it asap! :)


Peach Muffins

Did I already say I love PEACHES? Well, I do and I hate to see any from our TREE go to waste, so every YEAR I make up a few batches of these DELISH muffins. Hope you likes!

Peach Muffins
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 cups fresh peaches, peeled and chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a muffin pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, spices, soda, and salt; set aside. In another bowl, mix together the oil, eggs, and sugars. Combine mixtures and stir in the peaches. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full and then bake for 18 to 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool about 5 minutes in the pan and then let cool completely on a wire rack. Makes about 2 dozen.

TIP: Because this makes so many muffins, I usually freeze about half a batch so I can pull them out a month or so later and enjoy them again! Also, I'm sure this would be great with canned peaches as well—just make sure if they are in syrup that you give them a rinse before putting in the batter.


Quick Peach Crisp

I love it when our PEACH tree is full of ripe peaches because it gives me the EXCUSE to make this dessert over and over! I love the CRUNCH of the "crisp" combined with the SWEET peaches. Yum!

Quick Peach Crisp
1 heaping cup oats
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup butter
5 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except 1 tablespoon flour and the peaches, cutting in the butter until crumbly. Put the peaches in an 8-inch square pan and sprinkle with remaining flour. Top with crumb mixture and then bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

TIP: This recipe can basically be made with any fruit! Try it with berries, cherries, pears, apples, etc. They all taste yummers! :)


Raspberry Scones

I love all SORTS of breakfast breads, and SCONES are one of my favorite. Raspberries are also another FAVORITE of mine, so I figured, why not put them TOGETHER?

Raspberry Scones
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 heaping cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold butter
1 egg, beaten
4 to 6 tablespoons milk or half-and-half
1 container raspberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in the egg and enough liquid to just moisten the dough. Gently fold in the berries. NOTE: I usually eat some out of the container before putting them in, so you might not need the whole thing!

Scoop 8 equal "blobs" and place on a baking stone or cookie sheet; flatten slightly if necessary. I like to shape my blobs into triangles, so feel free to as well. Bake for 14 to 17 minutes or until light golden brown. Serve warm.

TIP: What really makes these over the top is sprinkling them with large sugar crystals. They are seriously spectacular this way!


Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad

Experimenting with all my SUMMER produce is always fun and tasty, and this SALAD combo just seemed to be a NATURAL. Grilled veggies with cheese and PASTA, I mean, come on!!

Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 yellow or red onion, sliced into rings
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 package spaghetti noodles, sticks broken into thirds, cooked, drained, and cooled
Asiago and/or Parmesan cheese, grated

Brush a grill pan with olive oil and heat. Place veggie slices in the pan and season with salt and pepper; grill until slightly browned and tender. Set aside to cool. When cool, cut veggies into smaller pieces (i.e., cut zucchini slices in half so they are easier to eat!). Toss veggies with pasta and a handful of cheese; drizzle with a little olive oil and toss again. Top with a couple more handfuls of cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled.

TIP: You can obviously add whatever veggies you want to this dish, as well as change up the type of pasta used. As usual, this recipe is so EASY, yet it tastes AMAZING! :)


Homemade Oreos

This is a RECIPE my sister-in-law makes all the time, and EVERYONE loves it! These little COOKIES are so CHEWY and chocolaty, and EASY to make, you'll want to make them ALL the time too!

Homemade Oreos
1 box devil's food cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 container store-bought cream cheese frosting

In a bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, and oil. Dough will be stiff. Roll the dough into small balls, about 1 inch, or use a small cookie scoop. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. The cookies won't look done, but leave them on the pan for 3 to 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool. They'll turn out perfect! Sandwich 2 cookies together with the frosting and enjoy!

TIP: Stir in some chocolate chips to make the cookies extra chocolatey. Also, feel free to use homemade cream cheese frosting too.


Peanut Butter Brownies

Another easy SWEET treat for ya! I've been so into BAKING these days and I'm not really sure why! Anyway, you can WHIP these up in a snap if you need a YUMMY dessert to take somewhere.

Peanut Butter Brownies
1 box brownie mix (for a 9 x 13-inch pan)
Ingredients on back of box
1/3 to 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 bag milk chocolate and peanut butter swirl chips (or just peanut butter would be fine)

Mix brownies according to package directions. Stir in the peanut butter and 1 cup of the chips. Spread mixture into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan and sprinkle remaining chips over top. Bake according to package directions. NOTE: I had to bake mine about 5 minutes longer than the max time on my brownie box, so just make sure to check them!

TIP: I'm sure you all know the trick of adding ingredients to brownie mixes. I just think that we forget sometimes! Some other good combinations to add to a regular brownie mix: mint chips or chopped peppermint patties, chopped peanut butter cups or Snickers, M&Ms, nuts, etc.