Chicken Pasta Salad

1 lb box bowtie pasta, cook in salted boiling water. When cooked, rinse in cold water & drain.

While pasta is cooking, prepare following:
1 1/2-2 cups red grapes, cut in half
8 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
12 oz can cashew, bits & pieces
2 stalks celery, diced small
3 large cans chunk white chicken, drained
*optional: handful chopped green onions

Dressing: Mix in separate bowl until well combined
1 cup light mayo
3/4 bottle Kraft coleslaw dressing

Mix all ingredients in large bowl. I usually add some onion salt to taste. Refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.
This is always a hit at any party, and we actually get requests for it several times a year.

*recipe from my mom


Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

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4 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 C. sugar
2 T. pure vanilla extract
2 C. milk or half 'n' half
pinch of salt


In a large bowl, whisk together all ice cream ingredients. Transfer to an ice cream maker and process following the manufacturer's instructions.


Add some fun mix-ins. When ice cream has reached soft serve consistency, remove from ice cream maker and quickly add fruit, nuts, chocolate, candy bits or whatever. Thoroughly incorporate with a spoon. Freeze immediately. Let harden overnight.

* owner of recipe unknown*


Sweet & Spicy Crockpot Chicken

This is super quick and super easy to throw together and tastes amazing! Don't let the lack of ingredients fool you!

1 pound (about 2) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (14-ounce) can petite or regular diced tomatoes, undrained (I used diced tomatoes that included diced green peppers and onions and it was amazing!)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you like extra heat – with this amount it is mild enough for my kids to eat it up but spicy enough to help offset the sweetness)

Place the chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Pour over the chicken. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-9 hours. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Return to the slow cooker and mix the chicken with the juices from the tomato/brown sugar sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice.

*adapted from mel's kitchen cafe

Magic in the Middle Cookies

Get ready for the best thing you've ever put in your mouth....

Chocolate Dough
1 1/2 cups (6 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar (plus extra for dredging)
1/2 cup (3 3/4 ) brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk

Peanut butter filling
3/4 cup peanut butter, crunchy or smooth, your choice
3/4 cup (3 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
2. To make the dough: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
3. In another medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the sugars, butter, and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the egg, beating to combine, then stir in the dry ingredients, blending well.
5. To make the filling: In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and confectioners sugar until smooth.
6. With floured hands or a teaspoon scoop, roll the filling into 26 one-inch balls.
7. To shape the cookies: Scoop 1 tablespoon of the dough (a lump about the size of a walnut), make an indentation in the center with your finger and place one of the peanut butter balls into the indentation.
8. Bring the cookie dough up and over the filling, pressing the edges together cover the center; roll the cookie in the palms of your hand to smooth it out. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
10. Roll each rounded cookie in granulated sugar, and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
11. Grease the bottom of a drinking glass, and use it to flatten each cookie to about 1/2-inch thick.
12. Bake the cookies for 7 to 9 minutes, or until they’re set and you can smell chocolate. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.

*adapted from mel's kitchen cafe