How many times do I hear myself say, "where is that big orange binder?" or "has anyone seen that big orange binder?" The big orange binder has been accumulating recipes, kinspiration & original recipe cards tucked into plastic sleeves for my entire-almost-forty year existence. "The Big Orange Binder" is an organization attempt. It's a recipe with a story neatly packaged in a place where I'll always be able to find the ever-elusive . . . Big Orange Binder.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tie Dye Cake

Stolen from Pinterest . . .  morphed into our own.   Best damn cake we've had in a long, long time.

Take a box of yellow of white cake.  Follow the directions.  Sidenote:  I always, always, always add a cup of pudding to cake mix.  I'm not sure why.  Someone told me to.  It makes it so dense and moist and delicious.  Try it.  You'll never NOT do it again.  Vanilla pudding to yellow or white cakes.  Chocolate pudding to chocolate cakes.

So, box of cake mix WITH a cup of pudding, per package directions.

Then, separate it into six bowls.  Add food coloring to each.  And stir really well. Like this:

Then, add it by color to a greased and floured cake pan.  Like this:

Bake as directed.

Oh MY gosh, this is delish.  And, it would be THE cutest cupcakes EVER!!!

Spinach Bowtie Pasta Salad

From the kitchen of my dear friend Melissa, who makes this perfectly chilled pasta salad for all kinds of summer outings.  From picnics to potlucks, this one will stay at the front of your recipe rolodex.

Directions & Recipe

1 bag of bowtie pasta, boiled & drained
1 bunch of fresh spinach, washed & chopped into thin ribbons or small pieces
1 large can of black olives, chopped
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan
1 8 oz bottle of light ranch plus about 3 tablespoons of milk

There you go.  Prep it all up, dump it all together.  Toss.  Chill.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bigelow Constant Comment Shortbread Cookies

Constant Comment was my mom's favorite tea. I can remember her sipping it at her sewing machine in the evenings.  I've come to love the aroma as much as the taste.  It's one of my favorite treats, too. So, of course, I love these cookies!

4 Constant Comment bags
1 1/2 cups butter, unsalted, cut into cubes
1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cups milk
2 cups flour

Oven to 350
Milk in saucepan; heat until bubbles around the side; but do not boil
Remove from heat
Add tea bags
Squeeze to drain

In bowl
Flour and sugar
Cut in butter
Toss to coat
Then begin working with fingertips until the consistence is sandy

Make a well in the center
Add the cooled milk and tea
Toss to moisten
Then work with fingers until a soft dough forms

Wrap in plastic
Refrigerate for 30 minutes
Roll on floured surface until 1/4 inch thick
Cut with cutter

Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown
Do NOT overbake

5 cinnamon stick tea bags
4 fruit and almond bags
5 orange and spice bags

Colorado Peach Cobbler

1 cup sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 cups sliced, peeled, fresh peaches

1 cup sugar
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter or margarine
1 egg, beaten
Ice cream:  optional

In a bowl, combine sugar, flour and nutmeg.  Add peaches; stir to coat.  pour into a greased pan (approx 11x7x2).   For topping, combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in egg.  Spoon over peaches.  Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and topping is golden brown.  Serve hot or cold, with ice cream or whipped cream. 

Yield:  8-10
Credit:  Clara Hinman from Flagler Colorado . . .

Ann's topping variation:
When I was 11 years old, I started working as a bus girl at this little restaurant at the end of Main Street.  Through the 6 years that I worked there, I grew to know and really love Ann and Ray, the husband and wife owners.  In many ways, they were like second parents to me.  I loved their children and working for their little cook-your-own-steak restaurant.  Every fall, Ann made peach cobbler from scratch.  We'd peel peaches after the lunch rush and have fresh cobbler warm and ready for the dinner crowd.  Her topping variation is this:  bisquick with a little sugar and a little milk.  We never measured anything . . . we just eyeballed it and went by taste and consistancy.  When it was sweet to taste and stuck to the spoon like biscuits, we'd glob it over the peaches and bake it up as directed above.  Delicious down to the last bite  .  . and I think, WAY better cold.  Way better cold!!

Granny's Rhubarb Pie


3 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup shortening
5 tbsp water
1 egg
1 tsp vinegar

3 cups cut fresh rhubarb, into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups sliced apple, tart, peeled
1 can, 8 oz, crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp butter or margarine

In a bowl, combine flour and salt.  Cut in shortening until the mixture is coarse crumbs.  Combine water, egg and vinegar.  Stir into the crumb mixture until a ball forms.  Divide dough in half.  Roll out one portion on a lightly floured surface then transfer to a 9 inch pie plate.  Trim the pastry edge.

In a bowl, combine rhubarb, apples and pineapple.  Add honey, lemon juice.  Combine sugar and flour.  Add to the rhubarb mixture.  Pour into crust.  Dot with butter.  Roll out the other crust to fit top of pie.  Place it over and trim the edges.  Seal and flute edges.  Cut slits in the pastry top.  Bake at 350 for 1 1/4 hours or until the pastry is golden brown and apples are tender.

Yield:  6-8 servings
Credit:  Though I have a hard time reading my mother's writing, I think this originally was cut from a book and credit goes to Blanche Baninski in Minto, North Dakota.

Hugs & Chips Cheesecake

2, 3 oz packages of cream cheese
1, 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup mini chips
1, 6 oz, chocolate pie crust
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp flour
chocolate glaze and curls

Oven to 350.
With mixer, beat cheese and sweetened condensed until smooth; then add egg and vanilla.  Mix well.  Toss chips with flour; then stir into the mixture.  Pour into crust.  Bake 35 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched.  Cool and top with glaze and curls.  Serve chilled.

Glaze:  melt 1/2 cups mini chips with 1/4 c whipping cream.  Cook until thickened and smooth.  Immediately spread on top of finished dessert.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake/Muffins/Bread

From the best neighbor in the history of the world, Marilyn . . .

Chocolate Zucchini Cake or Muffins or Bread

1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup oil
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups flour
4 tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
2 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini
1/2 cup chocolate chips

9 x 12 pan
325 degrees
40-45 minutes

** Sprinkle chocolate chips over batter right before baking; don't mix them in or they'll all sink to the bottom.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bread Machine Soft Pretzels . . . So easy your toddler can do it

The Dough . . . 
In the bread machine . . . . 

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
3 cups flour
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
1 egg white, beaten

Put the ingredients in the bread machine.  Do it in the order that your machine manufacturer suggests.   I'm not so good at this.  I figure it all gets mixed in anyway, so I just toss it all in.  I tend to put liquid in first, then solid, then the dashes of small things.  That's just so I can see what I've added.  I get easily distracted, especially in the kitchen.  I use the dough cycle.

Step one.  Cut into pieces & roll into snakes.

Step two:  Make a "v"

Step three:  Cross the ends.  Then twist the ends.

Step four:  fold the ends back over on top of the loop. 

Voila.  Pretzel.

For a traditional pretzel, dip this into baking soda & water
before placing on a baking sheet. 

I say, let it take a while.  Let some be ugly.
Practice doesn't really need to make perfect.
The mis-shapen ones will get eaten, too. 

Be creative.  Make snail shells and cinnamon rolls.

And twists.

And cover those with cinnamon & sugar instead of dipping in soda water.

Salt them right out of the oven. 

MMM!! Enjoy!! 

Hootenanny, or The Oven Pancake

Here's an easy thing to try for a down and dirty breakfast treat.

Not only does it look super cool when it is cooking and cooling, but you can do ANYTHING with it.

Blend together:  1 cup of white flour, 1 cup of milk, 6 eggs and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Pour the mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Then, pour 1/2 cube of melted butter over the top, but don't mix it in.  Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes.  When it comes out, tear it apart and serve with syrup, peanut butter . . . or my kids' favorite, fresh fruit.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chicken Kebabs to Teriyaki Tacos, Paula Deen

Makes 10 appetizer servings (per Paula) or one dinner for me and the kids . . .  

3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
pinch pepper
pinch salt
1 lb chicken tenders, cut in  half

In a large resealable plastic bag everything.  Add the chicken.  Meanwhile, soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes.

Spray a grill rack with nonstick cooking spray, then preheat to medium high.  Drain the chicken & discard the marinade.  Thread the chicken onto the skewers and grill for about 3 minutes on each side.

Serve.  My kids love this with rice, wrapped in a leaf of artisan romaine.  It's a teriyaki taco.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hunter's Pasta Salad

Why Hunter's?  Because I 'hunt' around the kitchen looking for things to put in it.   This pasta salad is a summer time staple in our house and the perfect thing to take to a potluck.  The ingredients are as varied as the guest and you really can't go wrong.

Start with a couple of boxes of rainbow pasta.  I also use mis-matched and every color.  Use whatever you have and add to it to bulk it up.  Cook, drain and cool the pasta.  I do this well in advance so that it's totally dry.  Even the night before is a good idea .  . .

Hunt around the kitchen for ingredients.  Use anything and everything.  Don't forget to scour the pantry.  My favorites are:  cheese cut into tiny cubes, mini pepperonis, black olives, cukes, peppers, hard boiled eggs & broccoli florets.  This is a great way to use the last bit of ham or the end of some other leftover.

Add fat free Italian dressing and toss to coat.  Enjoy cold.

Boat Salads

I'll do anything to spice up a salad and make it fun to put on the table.   Including cutting boats out of artisan heads of romaine, adding bacon people and cheese oars.  Just dribble dressing down the center and pick it up to eat it, like a taco.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Naftanel Microwave Carmel Popcorn

From the kitchen of Kim, my girlfriend a fellow mother-of-a-big family.  She shared this recipe years ago with me and it has become a weekly staple, birthday treat and favorite after school snack. 

In a microwave safe bowl, put 1 stick of butter, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1 cup of brown sugar & 1/4 cup of light karo syrup.  Microwave this on high for 1 1/2 minutes.  

Take this out of the microwave & stir it well.  

Return it to the microwave and cook on high for an additional 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.  Take it out and add 1 tsp of vanilla and 1/2 tsp of baking soda.  

The mixture will bubble up.  Don't be alarmed. 

Stir this together well. 

Have a big batch of popcorn ready, in a large brown paper bag. 

Then, pour the mixture over the popcorn.  I use 3 bags of microwave popcorn or an equivalent amount of air popped or stove popped. 
Fold the edges of the bag and shake it like crazy. 

Then, stuff the whole thing in the microwave and cook it on high for 30 seconds.  

Remove it and shake it well.  Repeat this 3 times. 

Open the bag and empty contents onto a tray, wax paper or foil to cool. 


** A word . . . do not double this recipe!! 

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Arent' there a few things that you just take for granted.  Like, apples.  We eat apples like candy around here.  We eat them whole, slice them, dice them, dunk them and chunk them.  We love apples.

Big likes Gala.
Middle likes Granny Smith.
Little will eat just about any apple, but he prefers Galas with cinnamon & sugar.
Mimi eats an apple a day.  She eats them as a meal.  I love the way her nose wrinkles up when she takes a bit bite.  She especially loves apples with nutella.  Who doesn't?

Here's a favorite snack.  I core these and then slice them with a mandolin, then sprinkle cinnamon sugar on them.  Between all of the kids, they'll eat a half-dozen at a time, if prepared like this.  One of the many, many reasons that I love Costco  . . . . apples by the case.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Corn Enchiladas

Torn from the pages of some divine inspiration . . .
Placed in the box of "must try-slash-I wonder if they will eat" . . . .

Dusted . . .
Saved . . .

Will try it this winter . . . .

Lime Chicken Soft Tacos

From my dear friend Mel, who takes this to pot-lucks and fills her children's tummies with this delicious concoction.  Perfect for soccer nights or late sports nights, since you can prepare it early & let it warm in the crock pot . . . .

Prep Time:
20 Min
Cook Time:
30 Min
Ready In:
50 Min

Servings 10

         1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast meat - cubed
         1/8 cup red wine vinegar
         1/2 lime, juiced
         1 teaspoon white sugar
         1/2 teaspoon salt
         1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
         2 green onions, chopped
         2 cloves garlic, minced
         1 teaspoon dried oregano
         10 (6 inch) flour tortillas
         1 tomato, diced
         1/4 cup shredded lettuce
         1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
         1/4 cup salsa

1.Saute chicken in a medium saucepan over medium high heat for about 20 minutes. Add vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, pepper, green onion, garlic and oregano. Simmer for an extra 10 minutes.
Heat an iron skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the pan, warm, and turn over to heat the other side. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve lime chicken mixture in warm tortillas topped with tomato, lettuce, cheese and salsa.

Bacon Cheddar Muffins

Crud . . .
I found this recipe in a random folder while I was sorting and organizing on the external hard drive during The Waldo Canyon Fire . . . .

In the spirit of organization, I'm putting it HERE, where it belongs.

Recipe type: Baked Goods
Author: Lisa B.
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 10-12

   2 cups all-purpose flour
   3 teaspoons baking powder
   2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
   2-3 slices cooked bacon, chopped (or 1-2.5 ounce bag of store-bought real bacon bits)
   1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
   1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
   1/8 cayenne pepper
   1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
   1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
   1/2 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cheese, bacon, chives, salt and pepper.
3. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, sour cream, and milk.
4. Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients. Batter will be thick.
5. Spoon batter into a greased muffin pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.