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Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin BarsI had some leftover pumpkin, from a previous recipe, that I needed to use before it went bad. I’m not sure where I got this recipe but I decided to give it a try. It turned out even better than I thought it would.

1 (18.25 ounce) box of yellow cake mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, divided
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Reserve 1/2 cup of the dry cake mix.

2. In a large mixer bowl, combine the remaining dry cake mix, oil and 1 egg. Mix together using a spoon until crumbly;  with your fingers,press mixture firmly onto bottom of a 13×9-inch baking pan.

3. In another large mixer bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients; mix well using a spoon. Pour over cake mix layer. Bake for 50 minutes; cool before cutting. Makes 24 bars.

You may eat these just as they are or frost them with Cream Cheese Frosting. Either way they are really good.



Minestrone Casserole

minestrone-casseroleThis is the perfect recipe for using those wonderful vegetables from your backyard garden or purchased from your local farmer’s market!

2 cups uncooked mafalda noodles
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium zucchini or summer squash, quartered lengthwise and sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (15 ounce each) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs, undrained
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup refrigerated basil pesto

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cook and drain the noodles as directed on the package using the minimum cook time.

2. Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and bell pepper; cover and cook 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are just tender. Uncover and stir in the zucchini and garlic; cook and stir 1 minute longer.

3. Place the noodles in an ungreased 2-1/2-quart casserole. Stir in the carrot mixture, beans, tomatoes, 1/4 cup of the cheese, the salt, pepper and pesto. Cover and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until hot in the center. Top each serving with the remaining cheese. Makes 6 servings.



Slow Cooked Barbecued Chicken

slow cooked barbecued-chickenBarbecued chicken is one of my favorite foods and this delightful recipe from Taste of Home is also one of my favorites.

1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 broiler/fryer chicken (2-1/2 to 3 pounds) cut up and skin removed
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

1. In a small saucepan, combine the first 11 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

2. Place the chicken in a 3-quart slow cooker; top with the sauce. Cover and cook on Low for 3 to 4 hours or until the chicken juices run clear.

3. Remove chicken to a serving platter and keep warm. Strain the cooking juices and skim the fat; transfer to a small saucepan. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into the juices.

4. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken and serve the remaining sauce on the side. Makes 4 servings.



Slow-Cooked Cherry Pork Chops

slow-cooked-cherry-pork-chopsThe sweet-tart taste of cherry pie filling adds the perfect touch to these tender slow-cooked pork chops. I especially enjoy the convenience of preparing this tasty recipe using my slow cooker during the hot summer months.

6 bone-in pork loin chops (8 ounces each cut 3/4-inch thick)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pepper (to taste)
1 cup canned cherry pie filling*
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1/8 teaspoon mace

1. In a large skillet coated with cooking spray, brown the pork chops over medium heat on both sides; season with salt and pepper.

2. In a 3-quart slow cooker, combine the pie filling, lemon juice, bouillon and mace; add the browned pork chops.

3. Cover and cook on Low for 3 to 4 hours or until the meat is no longer pink. Makes 6 servings.

*Serve the remaining cherry pie filling over slices of pound cake or a bowl of vanilla ice cream for an easy and special dessert.



Mixed Vegetable Bake

mixed-vegetable-bakeThis is a wonderful recipe for using those delicious home-grown vegetables from your garden or purchased at your local farmers market. Serve it with grilled steak or chicken for a real dinner treat!

4 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 large onion, cut in half and into 1/4-inch slices
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place the potatoes, onion and carrots in baking dish; toss with 1/2 each of the oil, garlic, thyme, tarragon, salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes.

3. In a medium bowl, toss the bell pepper and zucchini with the remaining oil and seasonings; stir into the potato mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring halfway through bake time. Makes 6 servings.



Zesty Sausage Sandwiches

DSCN2129I love to use my slow cooker during the hot days of summer. It allows me to serve my hubby a tasty hot meal without heating up the kitchen and making the air conditioning or me have to work harder. This is one of our favorite summertime recipes.

5 Italian sausage links (4 ounces each)
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
pepper (to taste)
6 hoagie or submarine sandwich buns, split

1. Brown the sausage links in a large skillet over medium heat; cut into 1/2-inch slices. Place in a 3-quart slow cooker. Stir in the onion, green pepper, tomato sauce and pepper.

2. Cover and cook on Low for 7 to 8 hours or until the sausage is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender. Use a slotted spoon to serve on buns. Makes 6 servings.




DSCN2072A delicious new Weight Watcher’s low-calorie, low-fat twist on traditional tacos.

2 (3/4 ounce) rectangular taco shells
1/2 cup fat-free refried beans
3 tablespoons shredded nonfat cheddar cheese
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
2 tablespoons nonfat sour cream
2 tablespoons salsa
1 tablespoon chopped green chiles (from can), optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place the taco shells on a baking sheet. Spread the refried beans evenly in the bottoms of the shells. Top each with 1/2 of the cheese. Bake until hot and the cheese is melted, about 8 minutes.

3. Top each chalupa with 1/2 of the tomato, lettuce, sour cream, salsa and chiles (if using).

Per Serving: 200 calories, 5 g Total Fat, 1 g Saturated Fat, 1 mg Cholesterol, 510 mg Sodium, 30 g Total Carbohydrate, 6 g Dietary Fiber, 10 g Protein, 191 mg Calcium.