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Monday, June 13, 2016

No-Bake Lemon Jello Cheesecake

I'm all about a no-oven summer, at least as much as I can help it.  I can't totally avoid it, I still need baked rolls, bread and cookies.  But I do try to plan more meals and treats that require no-oven in the summer time. Are you that way too? 

This no-bake cheesecake fits my no-oven requirements perfectly! My friend, Leticia, shared this recipe with me back when we were in high school. We made it at least a half a dozen times during our senior year - somehow it didn't end up in my own recipe collection and I had to get it from her recently.  We served it to our friends and the missionaries from our church, who came for dinner, and it was a hit!  I can't believe I've gone 12+ years without this yummy stuff!

Now some may argue that this isn't cheesecake -  and it's not your typical baked cheesecake. Since there is jello in it (along with your more typical cheesecake ingredients, sugar, cream cheese, graham cracker crust, etc) - it's got a nice firm but spongy texture. It's light and lemony and I like to make sure the crust is extra thick - I'm a sucker buttery, sugary graham cracker goodness!  Mmm, I'll take another slice right about now! 

Serve it plain and simple or garnish it with a small quartered lemon slices or a lemon zest curl if you want to get it a little fancy! Or I've seen recipes for candied lemons too. That would also work well.  

Keep cool out there this summer and enjoy some cheesecake!

No-Bake Lemon Jello Cheesecake


For the Crust:
1 ½ sleeves graham crackers, crushed to crumbs (about 2 ½ cups of crumbs)
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup butter, melted

For the Cheesecake:
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk (or substitute 4 ounces milk and 8 ounces heavy cream)
1 small box of lemon jello
1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
½-1 lemons, zested
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Lemon slice quarter or lemon zest curls for garnish, optional


Pour the canned evaporated milk (or substitute listed in ingredient list) into a small bowl (glass or stainless steel) - and place it in the freezer until the milk starts to freeze to the edges of the bowl (for me this is about 30-45 minutes). While this is freezing - In a small mixing bowl mix lemon jello packet with the envelope of Knox unflavored gelatin until combined - then add one cup of very hot water and stir until dissolved. Place the lemon jello mixture into the fridge and chill until it’s sticky on top (it should stick to your finger if you touch the top - if it’s still runny it’s not ready) but don’t let it firm up too much.  This usually takes about the same amount of time as the freezing the milk.  

While you’re waiting for the milk and jello to be ready start on the crust. In a gallon size zip top bag place 1 ½ sleeves of graham crackers and zip closed.  Roll with a rolling pin until the crackers are crushed as evenly as possible (or blend in a blender until you have crumbs).  Pour the crumbs into a mixing bowl and add the sugar. Stir until combined. Add melted butter and stir until evenly combined. Press the crumb mixture into a 9x13 glass or metal pan using your hand or the bottom of a glass cup until the mixture is firmly packed down

Mix the cream cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and vanilla until smooth with a hand mixer (or in a blender).  In a clean bowl with clean beaters - whip the frosty milk until fluffy (it won’t be quite as fluffy as cream - but it gets very frothy).  Add the chilled and sticky lemon jello mixture to the cream cheese mixture and beat/blend til smooth. In a large bowl fold in the whipped milk into the cream cheese/jello mixture until combined and pour over the graham cracker crust. Smooth evenly across the curst.  Chill covered for at least 2 hours, preferable 4+.  Serve chilled. Cut into square and serve. Garnish with lemon slice quarters or a lemon zest curl if desired.


Originally shared on Eighteen25. Adapted this recipe from one my friend, Leticia F. gave me.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Fudgy Doctored-Up Chocolate Cupcakes {from a cake mix}

In our family it's always been a tradition to make a birthday cake or cupcakes for celebrating the kids birthdays. It all started with our talented mother! Our mom made some of the most amazing cakes for us when we were kids! And the taste of homemade is waaaay better than store bought.  This recipe combines homemade with a cake box mix that's doctored up to make the best cupcakes ever!  The cake mix saves you time on measuring out all the ingredients, but with a few doctored up tips these deep rich, fudgy texture of these doctored up chocolate cupcakes are out-of-this-world good!

You start with a basic devils food cake mix (if you prefer a white or light colored cake mix try using instant vanilla pudding instead of chocolate).  So you'll get about 24 cupcakes.  But we've added some extra things to make these over-the-top-good.  You'll put everything in that the cake mix calls for (except you'll sub milk for water, and add one extra egg), plus you'll add a box of instant chocolate pudding mix and a cup of sour cream.  Those few things really help get that yummy fudgy texture that makes these soooo good! 

You can frost these however you like.  Below we have a recipe for our favorite cream cheese frosting.  It calls for chilled cream cheese which makes it really hold together well. It's so easy to pipe and doesn't run like some cream cheese frosting recipes we've had before. Pictured above are the rocket-ship cupcakes, which were frosted with a big round tip. I actually didn't even use a real frosting tip. I just put some tape on the side the little insert that you put a frosting tip on to make it a circle and piped it on that way.  The chocolate/vanilla swirl cupcakes were frosted with a Wilton 1M (large star) tip.  Here is an awesome video that shows you how to do cupcake frosting just right.  That's what I followed. 

Top with any sprinkles or cupcakes you like. I have found buying sprinkles from the grocery store bakery is really cheap. They'll sell me a big tub for $2-3. I get way more that way then I do buying small bottles on the baking isle.

Doctored Up Chocolate Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:
1 small package instant chocolate pudding
2 tablespoons flour (for high altitude only)
1 box devil’s food cake mix
oil, eggs, milk instead of water, and one extra egg as called for on the back of the box
1 cup sour cream (low or high fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla
24 cupcake liners

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
10 ounces cream cheese, chilled
6 ½ tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
3 ¼ cups powdered sugar, sifted
4 teaspoons vanilla extract (clear if you want it to stay white)
⅛ teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin tins with 24 liners.

Combine the dry cake mix package with the instant pudding (and 2 tablespoons of flour if you’re at a high altitude - over 4,500 ft).  Add the amount of oil from the box, sub milk for the water that the box calls for, and add one extra egg from the box directions.  Add the sour cream and vanilla.  Beat with a hand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Fill each baking cup ½-⅔ full. Bake for 19-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove each cupcake from the tin onto a cooling rack.  Let them cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the sifted powdered sugar and salt. Mix until incorporated.  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Frost by hand or pipe in a bag with a Wilton 1M tip for swirls or a round tip for a smoother look. Top with sprinkles if desired.  Chill until ready to serve.

Recipe Source:

Originally shared on - the cupcake recipe by Leesh; Cream cheese frosting recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Blender Salsa

We have a favorite salsa recipe and we want it to be your favorite, too.  It's ridiculously easy and so addictive.  We have both been making it for years now and we have tweaked the recipe so now we can declare it perfect.  Lu shared the original a couple of years ago, but since we both have made slight changes from the old recipe and we got some new pictures we decided it deserved a new post.  

Declaring it perfect may seem pretty bold, but one taste and you'll understand.  Oh, and did we mention that it uses canned tomatoes? In my opinion, that is one of the best things about this salsa--you can enjoy it all year! Originally I was worried it wouldn't taste as fresh using canned tomatoes, but the cilantro, lime, and jalapeno do an excellent job of making the whole thing taste fresh and I didn't miss dicing all those tomatoes one little bit. 

Just try to plan ahead at least an hour before you want to eat it so that the flavors can get happy before you eat it....although I've never been one to be able to but off my salsa craving for a whole hour!

Blender Salsa

Printable Version


1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 cans (10 - 14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 jalapeno, roughly chopped with seeds and membranes removed
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped *
juice of 1/2 lime


In a blender, or blending cup if using an immersion blender, combine Rotel with all ingredients besides diced tomatoes. Blend until smooth or desired consistency is reached. Add in diced tomatoes and pulse a couple of times leaving a little bit of texture. Chill for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld. Serve with chips, taquitos, quesadillas, enchiladas or any way your salsa-loving heart desires!


*I don't bother removing the majority of the stems. I know some people use only the leaves though. Just chop off the bottom and give the rest a rough chop before throwing it in the blender.

Recipe Source:

Adapted from the Pioneer Woman Cooks; Originally shared on

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sweet Pork Nachos

Sweet pork nachos have my heart forever.

Start with this delicious sweet pork.  Cover it in cheese and other goodness.  Bake until melty...
... and drizzle with this creamy cliantro-lime dressing.  Devour.  
Follow this link to OSSS where we are sharing the recipe today!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Blueberries N' Cream Mile-High Pie

I'm excited to share a new favorite summer recipe of ours.  Mile-High Pie - blueberry edition. I shared it at the end of last summer on my friend Christine's blog, I Dig Pinterest (she has an awesome blog if you want a great source for recipes, home decor, and DIY things). Anyhow, let's get down to business...

This recipe comes from my husbands family.  It's been made in their family for a few generations, only with strawberries.  The strawberry version is wonderful. We absolutely love it! But I've been on a major blueberry kick lately (and forever)! And now we are left having two favorite versions of this pie. 

I have several other flavor combos I'm wanting to try too, so stay tuned.  

Let's get a little intimate with this piece of pie! Take a close look.

Meet Blueberry N' Cream Mile-High Pie!  Isn't she a gorgeous?! You can see the beautiful blueberries and swirls of cream throughout.  This dessert is unlike any other dessert I've had. It's so light and fluffy you almost pile it a whole mile high, hence the name. The mixture is a whipped frozen berry, egg white and sugar mixture, you wouldn't believe how much volume a few blueberries and 2 egg white and some sugar can get as you whip it for 5 minutes.  I love watching it grow in the mixer!  Then whipped cream gets gently folded into the berry mixture, leaving you with delicious swirls of creamy goodness. This is torturous to write about when I don't have any in my freezer right now. 

It's so light in texture I feel like I could probably eat nearly the whole pan.  But we usually eat it ever so slowly and savor a piece of pie every night until it's gone.  Below you'll find some step by step pictures of this comes together. It's easy as 1-2-pie! 

Starting in the top left and going left to right.

1. Add egg whites, lemon juice and sugar to your stand mixer with the whip attachments.
2. Pull some frozen blueberries from the freezer and let them thaw for a few minutes until this are still frozen, but thawed just enough to crush under the pressure of your fingers. Don't let them go past that or they won't whip up nice.
3. Turn your mixer on high and whip for 5-10 minutes until it's stiff, full and fat. It takes up practically the whole bowl on my mixer when it's done.
4. Here it is nice and full. Scrape it gently into a large mixing bowl.  
5. In the mixer or with a hand mixer whip a cup of cream until it's stiff.
6. Place the whipped cream into the mixing bowl with the blueberry mixture and gently fold it together - I like to make sure it's not over mixed, you want to save the fluff from being flattened. I like swirls of cream in mine.
7. Place 3/4 - 1 cup of graham cracker cups in the bottom of a casserole dish or cake pan that has a lid.
8. Gently spread the blueberries n' cream mixture over the crumbs.
9. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 - 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs over the top. Place the lid on or cover tightly with foil and freeze for 12-24 hours. Serve immediately upon removing from freezer.

There you have it. It's simple, easy and so scrumptious! I hope you and yours will enjoy this as much as me and mine!


Blueberries N’ Cream Mile-High Pie


2 large egg whites
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice (bottled or fresh)
10 ounces frozen blueberries, slightly thawed - see notes below
1 cup whipping cream
1 ½ - 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, divided


In a gallon size zip top bag place 1 ½ sleeves of graham crackers and zip closed.  Roll with a rolling pin until the crackers are crushed as evenly as possible.  Pour all but ¾-1 cup onto the bottom of a 9x13 cake pan (with lid) or a glass casserole dish and spread evenly.  Reserve the ¾-1 cup for the top of the pie.

Get the blueberries out of freezer and set on the counter for about 5 minutes, when they have softened enough so that you could pinch one and it would crush under the pressure of your fingers then it’s just right.  It will still be partially frozen.

Attach whips to a large stand mixer (such as a BOSCH) and place egg whites, sugar, lemon juice, and slightly thawed blueberries into the bowl, make sure your mixer lid is on.  It is important to mix these ingredients together and NOT separately! Mix on high speed for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is stiff, fat and full. It will fill up your entire bowl after it has mixed this long.  Carefully scrape this mixture into an extra large mixing bowl. In the same mixer whip whipping cream until peaks form (about 2-3 minutes).  Scrape whipped cream into the large mixing bowl with the strawberry mixture.  Gently fold the whipping cream into the blueberry mixture until it is mixed well.  Do not over mix or you will lose some of the air and fluff of the mixture.  If there are small streaks of white cream it’s just fine! I really like it that way.

Pile this mixture high on the graham cracker crumb crust taking care not to handle it too much (save the fluff).  Top with remaining graham cracker crumbs and cover with lid or plastic  wrap and freeze for 12-24 hours before serving.  You want it nice and firm before serving, and it thaws quick! Serve immediately after removing from freezer.

Recipe Source:

adapted from this recipe from my mother-in-law, Maureen Grover. Originally shared on I Dig Pinterest (Summer 2015)

And try not to lick your plate, I dare you!

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Grilled Chicken

Today we are sharing a super-speedy, SUPER yummy pasta sauce recipe.  It is seriously lick-the-bowl good!  You must make it.  I made it just last night and my kids (and hubby) devoured it!  

Check out these fun campanelle pasta noodles, too.  We loved them in this dish and also love using them in this skillet lasagna.  

Hop on over to OSSS for the recipe and printable.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cilantro Lime Ranch Dressing

I love cilantro. And I love ranch. So this dressing is definitely a marriage made in heaven for me! I think it's just as good as the real deal(at cafe rio/costa vida) and you'll end up with a whole bottle of it to use on everything!  

We use it like regular ranch--as a dressing and and dip for just about everything! We love it on an ordinary green salad, Taco Salad, and obviously on Sweet Pork Salads, too.  Drizzled lightly over nachos makes them heavenly, too!

Cilantro Lime Ranch Dressing

Printable Version

1 packet (3 tablespoons) Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup your favorite salsa verde*
1/2 -1 bunch cilantro, depending on how cilantro-y you want it
1/2 jalapeno (with or without seeds & membranes depending on how hot you want it--I usually leave the seeds out)
Juice and zest from half of a lime
3/4 cup light or olive oil mayo (if you use regular mayo you will need to use a little more mayo (or a little less milk) because it makes the dressing thicken differently.)  
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped


Combine all ingredients in blender.  Blend until smooth.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours.  If necessary, add more milk and thin to desired consistency.  


*I like both the Herdez and La Victoria brands--just make sure the first ingredient is tomatillos

I like this recipe because I don't have to worry about having fresh tomatillos on hand, I can just use the salsa verde to get the same flavor.

Recipe Source:

I probably looked at 20 different copycat recipes and tried 5 or so until I tweaked it and came up with this one that I really love. Not really sure which recipe influenced it the most, probably the one I got from my old neighbor, Debbie Huffaker.