Easy Cranberry Chicken

Cranberry Chicken

Everyone needs some delicious, fool-proof, kid AND adult-pleasing, one-dish, freezable, all-around-perfect recipes, and this is one of my favorites.  This is my go-to meal when I deliver meals to friends who have just had babies, surgery, etc.  First, because it is completely stress-free and always turns out, and second because I’ve repeatedly gotten comments like “Wow, my kids gobbled that up!”  Even my notoriously-picky almost three-year-old son immediately took a bite tonight and said “Mmm, mmm!”  And my husband who doesn’t like cranberry sauce loves this recipe and asks for it frequently.  Really, it’s just amazing.

So now, without further ado, the Cranberry Chicken recipe!  I’ve seen this in various places, but I got the recipe from “Don’t Panic!  Dinner’s in the Freezer!” by Martinez, Howell and Garcia.  It freezes perfectly, and the cookbook gives instructions for multiplying and freezing the recipe, so if you’re interested in that, get the cookbook!

Cranberry Chicken

  • 8 oz. Catalina dressing
  • 1 package onion soup mix
  • 1 can whole cranberry sauce
  • 4 boned chicken breasts (I’ve used every cut of chicken for this, and it’s great with everything.  We like dark meat the best, as it gives it more depth of flavor and is usually cheaper.  When I deliver to friends I usually use boneless breasts for the best kid-friendliness.)

Combine Catalina dressing, onion soup, and whole cranberry sauce in baking dish and mix.  Add chicken in a single layer and cover with sauce.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until digital meat thermometer reads 165 degrees (if you use boneless skinless chicken breasts you’ll need to reduce the time or it will get dry.  I highly recommend using a digital meat thermometer–I LOVE mine!)

Talk about easy-peasy, huh?  I serve it on rice drizzled with a liberal amount of sauce and steamed green beans.  Easy and delicious, and only one dish to clean!  Enjoy, and maybe make a double batch to share with a friend who would be encouraged by a night off from cooking!

Cranberry Chicken2


Apple Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel and Caramel Drizzle

Apple Coffee Cake

Once a month, I torture my husband by baking something to take to my Bible study’s brunch.  First he has to restrain himself from eating it the evening before, and then hope that I bring some back for him afterwards.  I know…poor man!

This month I decided to try out Pinch of Yum’s Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake, but because I have a chronic inability to leave well enough alone when it comes to baking, I made a few modifications.

As luck would have it, there was some left over, so my husband’s patience was rewarded and he got to sample it.  I asked him to leave a piece so I could take pictures for the blog, and at one point I heard him emphatically clattering the lid into place in the kitchen, whereupon he declared resolutely, “I must close this, or I will EAT.IT.ALL!”  About half an hour later he came into the living room with a groan and said, “It’s just soooooo good…I ate more!”

It’s a very moist cake with bursts of apple all through it, and the streusel and caramel toppings add an amazing crunch plus gooiness that’s just divine.  Thankfully, I did snap some pictures before it all disappeared, and I can confidently say that it met with the husband’s approval.  Hope it meets with yours!

Apple Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel and Caramel Drizzle


  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup whole milk plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cups chopped Granny Smith apples (about two small)


  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Caramel Drizzle:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk


  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt together.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk egg, then add buttermilk, oil, brown sugar, vanilla and apples.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring until combined.
  5. Pour batter into a 9×13 greased pan.

For streusel:

  1. Mix white sugar, cinnamon, and butter with a fork until crumbly (you can slightly soften butter, but do not melt).
  2. Sprinkle topping over batter and bake for 45 minutes.

For caramel drizzle:

  1. Add brown sugar, butter, and milk to small saucepan and bring to boil, stirring frequently.  Boil for one minute, then drizzle over baked cake.
Close up of the cinnamon streusel and caramel topping

Close up of the cinnamon streusel and caramel topping

An odd phenomenon with this cake has been that every time my husband or I walk past it a fork-full or two seems to disappear. Strange….

Please leave a comment to let me know how it turns out for you!  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel

Pumpkin Muffins 2

As soon as Fall hits, my instant reaction is to “Pumpkin Spice All the Things!!!”  From candles to muffins to decorations to coffee, pumpkins take over in a short-lived reign of glory.  My very favorite Pumpkin Thing is these Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting, but we can’t stop there!  Must pumpkin spice ALL the things!  So let’s move from cookies to muffins.

These Pumpkin Cream Cheese muffins were inspired by this recipe.  It always makes me scratch my head when people review recipes and say “It’s great!  I made the following changes:” and proceed to detail how they changed so many things that what once was Chicken Cordon Bleu has somehow morphed into Beef Wellington (but it turned out great!)  Heh.  So here is my version!

These are deliciously Fall-like, not-too-sweet, dense and moist muffins.  And, as you can see in the picture, they have lovely domed tops.  I learned recently that the secret to baking muffins or cupcakes with high tops is to bake them for the first 5-8 minutes at a temperature from 400-425 degrees, which causes a burst of steam that lifts the tops of the muffins!  Then, reduce the temperature for the remainder of the baking time.  For more details, see here.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

Streusel Topping:

  • 4  tablespoons flour
  • 5 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2  cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place paper muffin liners in 24 muffin tins and set aside.

Cream Cheese Filling: Beat cream cheese until soft and completely smooth.  Add egg, vanilla and brown sugar; beat until smooth.  Place in refrigerator.

Cream Cheese

Cream Cheese Filling

Streusel Topping: Mix flour, sugar, and cinnamon.  Add COLD butter and cut together with pastry cutter or fork until crumbly.  Place in refrigerator.


Streusel Topping

Muffin Batter: Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.  Add eggs, pumpkin, canola oil and vanilla; beat together until smooth.

Fill cups with pumpkin mixture until they’re about 1/2 full.  Add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese filling in the middle of the batter.  Sprinkle on 1 teaspoon of the streusel topping.

Topped with cream cheese and sprinkled with streusel

Topped with cream cheese and sprinkled with streusel

For domed muffins: Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes, then decrease oven temperature to 375 and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Makes 22-24 regular sized muffins.

Look at those lovely domed tops!

Look at those lovely domed tops!

And the final step: pour yourself a lovely cup of coffee and enjoy!  What is your favorite pumpkin recipe?  Please comment below!

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing

After what feels to me like years of waiting, Autumn is finally here!!  I adore Fall; the cozy sweaters, crisp air, flame-colored leaves, boots, spicy candles, and pumpkin everything.  These Pumpkin Spice Cookies are one of my favorite pumpkin recipes, both for the amazing, Autumn-filled taste and the memories attached.  The first time I made these cookies was when my husband and I were dating.  He had planned an outing for us and wouldn’t tell me anything about it.  I offered to make a picnic for us, and baked these cookies.  As it turned out, he took me for a drive in the gorgeous Wisconsin colors (Wisconsin may be known for its frigid winters, but its Fall colors are just awe-inspiring.  It’s really become my favorite place to be in the Fall), and then we stopped at a corn maze where we wandered around until it was dark and we wondered if we’d be stuck forever.  In the end we found the side of the maze and escaped through the wall.  Ha!

But back to cookies—these were a smashing hit with my then-boyfriend (or maybe he just thought he had to rave about them since it was the first thing I’d ever baked for him??)  I’ve made some adjustments over the years since then, but every time I make them I know Autumn has officially arrived, along with a sweet trip down memory lane.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 c White Sugar
  • 1 c Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 1/8 c Butter (2 sticks plus 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1 ½ tsp Vanilla
  • ¾ c Pumpkin
  • 3 Eggs
  • 3 ½ c Flour
  • 1 ½ t Baking Soda
  • 1 t Cinnamon
  • 1 t Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • ¾ t Salt

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • ¼ c Butter
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • 1 ½ tsp Milk
  • 2 c Powdered Sugar

Heat oven to 375°F.   (I always forget this step at the beginning….) In large bowl, beat white sugar, brown sugar, butter and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until well blended.

Someday these pictures will display a beautiful stand mixer with lots of gadgets.  Today is not that day.

Beat in pumpkin and eggs until well mixed. On low speed, beat in flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

Time to point out one of my favorite kitchen gadgets ever – my amazing measuring spoons.  Since the recipe has already called for vanilla, usually I’d have to wash my measuring spoons before I could add the spices.  This wouldn’t be a big deal, except that I’m usually baking at a frantic pace while Little Bear naps, so every minute spent washing teaspoons is one minute closer to having an awake toddler tearing through the house while I try to bake.  The solution?  These!

Two sided measuring spoons!!

As you can see, the round side still has traces of vanilla in it, but no washing required! The side for dry ingredients is oval shaped, which makes it easy to fit into all my tiny spice jars. Not only that….

How awesome is this?!

They stack together and are magnetic, so they stay together!! So, no more octopus of measuring spoons taking up half my drawer. Has anything so simple ever been so brilliant??  If you now realize your kitchen will not be complete without this brilliant invention, you can get your own set here.

Alright, back to the dry ingredients   Most recipes recommend mixing the dry ingredients together before adding to the wet.  This is a great idea, unless you have a teeny tiny kitchen with barely enough counter space to hold one bowl, let alone extra bowls for mixing other ingredients.  Still, I don’t want all the salt to end up in one cookie, so this is my solution:

Add the cinnamon (or salt, baking soda, etc) to the cup of flour, then….

Use the measuring spoon to mix it right in the measuring cup. Hold it over the bowl so any that spills falls right in, and when it’s thoroughly mixed, dump it in. Do this with the other cups of flour and salt/baking soda/etc. No extra bowls to clean!

When all ingredients have been added, drop dough in heaping tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.

These will spread a fair bit, so don’t make them too big.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Ovens vary A LOT, so be sure to check them.  Another of my favorite kitchen gadgets is an in-oven thermometer.  I discovered my oven heats about 10 degrees too cool, so I always have to turn the dial up a bit to get it to the temperature I need.  If you’ve been frustrated by under or over baked things, chances are it’s not you, it’s your oven!  Get a thermometer and check!

Remove to cooling racks and allow to cool completely. Like I mentioned, my kitchen is teeny tiny (like, REALLY teeny tiny).  These stackable cooling racks are AWESOME:

Stackable cooling racks

These cookies would be great just as is; they are soft, cakey, and full of Fall.  But, to take them to Amazing you need the cream cheese frosting:

In separate bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and milk and beat on high speed until combined.  Slowly add powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined, then on high until smooth.  I love this frosting so I frost liberally; if you want a lot of it, you can double the recipe, or just add a bit more of each ingredient.  Frosting isn’t an exact science; you can play with it until it’s the consistency you prefer.

And then, voila!  Autumn in a cookie!  Hope you love these as much as I do!

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 c White Sugar
  • 1 c Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 1/8 c Butter (2 sticks plus 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1 ½ tsp Vanilla
  • ¾ c Pumpkin
  • 3 Eggs
  • 3 ½ c Flour
  • 1 ½ t Baking Soda
  • 1 t Cinnamon
  • 1 t Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • ¾ t Salt

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • ¼ c Butter
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • 1 ½ tsp Milk
  • 2 c Powdered Sugar

Heat oven to 375°F.   In large bowl, beat white sugar, brown sugar, butter and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until well blended.  Beat in pumpkin and eggs until well mixed. Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together.  Add to pumpkin mixture and beat on low speed until combined.  Drop dough in heaping tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove to cooling racks and allow to cool completely.

Frosting: In separate bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and milk and beat on high speed until combined.  Slowly add powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined, then on high speed until smooth.  Frost liberally and enjoy!

What Cake?

I’ve been eating real oatmeal for the past few days.  Do you feel sorry for me?  I do.  It was suggested that it might help increase my milk supply, so for the sake of my adored little baby I’m willing to choke down the nasty, globby, bland, sticky stuff.  Okay, it’s not that bad, especially once I add a heaping spoonful of brown sugar and a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon.  But it certainly wouldn’t be my first choice for breakfast.

So, to reward myself for this heroic act of self-sacrifice, and to celebrate the fact that it is now Fall-ish time sort-of (if you ignore the weather and the technical date Autumn starts), I decided to make some What Cake.

This cake has a ton of childhood memories associated with it; my mom would make it in the Fall and I remember requesting it for my birthday cake at least once.  It got its name because it’s so yummy that it gets gobbled up and you innocently ask “What cake?” when the members of the family who didn’t get as much as they wanted ask about it.  Hehe!  I love the mischievous twinkle in my Mom’s eyes when she explains that to people who ask for the recipe.

It’s kind of a caramel spice cake, and fills the house with a deliciously sweet and cinnamony aroma.  I like to delude myself into calling it “healthy” since it has oatmeal in it (see, just one more way I’m looking out for Baby and eating oatmeal!  Never mind that it has twice as much sugar in it as oatmeal….)  It’s super easy to make and just delicious!

What Cake?

1 ½ c boiling water

1c uncooked plain oatmeal (Old Fashioned or Quick Oats both work)

1 stick butter, cut into chunks

1 ½ c flour

1t baking soda (a little less)

1 ½ t cinnamon

½ t salt

1 c sugar

1c brown sugar

2 beaten eggs

Grease a 9×13 pan and heat oven to 375.  Pour boiling water over oatmeal and butter, stir until butter melts.  Mix well flour, soda, cinnamon, salt; add to oatmeal and mix well.  Add sugars, then eggs, mix thoroughly.  Pour in pan and bake for 25 minutes.

But, never fear, you’re doing it right! With all the ingredients it looks like this.

The batter is thick before you add the eggs–I always used to check the recipe 3 times because I was afraid I did something wrong!


3/4 c brown sugar

2T milk

6T butter

1c chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Combine everything but nuts in pan and heat to a boil, stirring frequently.  Boil for one minute and remove from heat.  Blend in nuts, spread on cake and place under broiler long enough to brown slightly (broiler is optional, but will make the topping more caramelized).

More sugar! More butter! Ohhhh yeah!  (The Facebook preview made you think this is how I make oatmeal, didn’t it?  Lol.)

Boiling and turning into carmely deliciousness

Pouring on the topping. I didn’t have any nuts this time, but I like it best with them. Mom used to top it half-nuts and half-not-nuts to please the various family members!

It’s not the most glamorous looking cake (especially without the nuts), but has gotten rave reviews whenever I’ve served it!

Yum, yum, yum!

And now, eat it quickly so you can innocently say…

What cake?