Families With Grace

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Meatloaf recipe with ketchup glaze

My all-time favorite meatloaf recipe

There are so many different ways to make meatloaf. I’ve seen it with brown gravy over the top. Sometimes it’s dry. Other times it’s spicy. But, my all-time favorite meatloaf recipe topped with ketchup glaze comes from my mama. It’s one of my favorite dishes she makes.

Meatloaf recipe Pinterest image 3

I hadn’t made meatloaf myself until more recently. My husband and son won’t eat it. They don’t eat much meat. But after trying various meal kit delivery services, I learned making two different dinner options was sometimes worth it. I tried out some meatloaf recipes, and they were good enough. However, they weren’t my mom’s.

For just over a year, my parents have lived states away from me instead of five minutes away from me. So when they were here for a visit in the fall, I asked my mom to make meatloaf. She not only made it, but also froze some meatloaf patties that my daughter and I enjoyed later on for dinners. When my parents were back for my son’s recent birthday, I knew I had to write down her recipe, take photos and share it with you guys as well!

This meatloaf recipe is home-cooking at its finest. It’s not fancy, but it’s hearty and delicious. Serve it up with mashed potatoes or cheesy party potatoes and oven-roasted vegetables for a complete meal.

Figure out the meat

So the issue here is what kind of meat to use. You can use all ground beef (we use chuck at 80/20 fat) or a mix of ground beef and ground pork or sausage. It’s good all the ways! This particular time, we made it with the mix of ground beef and ground pork, because I had some leftover ground pork I wanted to use.

If you do use a mixture of meat, you want to use 3/4 ground beef and about 1/4 ground pork or sausage. We used 2.5 pounds of meat total for five adults (with leftovers), which broke down to 2 pounds of ground beef and 1/2 pound of ground pork.

The fresher your meat is, the better the meatloaf will be. If you have a butcher or butcher’s case at your grocery store, go with ground meat from there. You don’t need it to be all-organic and grass-fed (unless that’s your thing). You just want fresh. However, this time around, we used frozen meat I had, and it was still incredibly good.

Mix up your meatloaf

Switch your oven on to 350-degrees (F) to get it preheating, and then start mixing your meatloaf. Put all of the meat into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 egg, 1 teaspoon of sage (unless you use sausage, in which case omit this), salt, pepper, 1/2 cup diced onion, 3 tablespoons of ketchup and 3 tablespoons of honey barbeque sauce.

The meatloaf ingredients (minus the glaze ingredients) in a large mixing bowl ready to be combined

Cut up about three slices of bread into small pieces. You an use whatever bread you have. This time, I had leftover french bread from serving slow cooker potato soup for dinner a couple of nights prior, so I used that. But regular sandwich bread works. In a pinch, crumbled crackers can work as well.

Chopped bread crumbs ready to go into the meatloaf recipe

Add the bread pieces into the meat mixture and mix it all together well. You can use a spoon for this or your clean hands to do so. I think using your hands is easiest, but do what works for you.

The meatloaf ingredients all mixed together and ready to go into the pan

The next step in this meatloaf recipe is putting the meat into a 9×13 baking dish. My mom’s tip is to make a bit of a “well” around the meat in between the meat and the pan. The grease will collect there and be easier to drain off.

The meatloaf in the pan, with a small amount of space between the meat and pan, that's ready to go into the oven

After your meatloaf is in the pan, top it with the 6 ounces of tomato paste. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place the meatloaf in your preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Finish the meatloaf

About five minutes before the 45-minute mark, mix up your glaze. The ketchup glaze in this meatloaf recipe is probably my favorite thing about it! Mix together 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of ketchup and 2 tablespoons of honey barbeque sauce.

Pull the meatloaf out of the oven. The tomato paste will have baked into the top a bit and grease will have gathered around the sides.

The meatloaf after having baked covered for 45 minutes with the grease around the edges

If you want, an optional step for this meatloaf recipe is to drain off some of the grease. That’s what we chose to do. Here is what it looked like after we drained the grease.

The meatloaf after draining some of the grease out of it

Next, it’s time to spread the ketchup glaze over the meatloaf. Spread the mixed up glaze right on top of the tomato paste.

The meatloaf recipe topped with the ketchup glaze and ready to finish baking in the oven

Put the meatloaf back into the oven, uncovered, for 15 more minutes. Let it set for about five minutes and then slice and put onto a plate for serving. (You want to move it to a plate to serve from because baking the second time will create more grease that you don’t want the meat sitting in.)

Serve up with some cheesy party potatoes, oven-roasted vegetables or mashed potatoes and enjoy!

A slice of delicious meatloaf with ketchup glaze alongside some mashed potatoes
Meatloaf recipe Pinterest image 2

Meatloaf recipe with ketchup glaze

This meatloaf recipe with ketchup glaze is my mom's long-time recipe that makes the best meatloaf hands down. You've got to try it!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 0.5 pounds ground pork
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 3 slices bread chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sage
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup onion diced
  • 5 tablespoons ketchup divided
  • 5 tablespoons honey barbeque sauce divided
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 350-degrees (F).
  • Put the ground beef and ground pork into a large mixing bowl. Add in the tomato sauce, bread, sage, egg and onion.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of ketchup and 3 tablespoons of barbeque sauce, and mix the ingredients well.
  • Put the meat mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Flatten it out to the same thickness throughout and leave a small space between the sides of the dish and the meat.
  • Spread the tomato paste over the top of the meat. Then cover with aluminum foil and baked for 45 minutes.
  • About 5 minutes before the meatloaf is finished with the first round of baking, mix together 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons ketchup and 2 tablespoons barbeque sauce to form the ketchup glaze.
  • Remove the meatloaf from the oven. If desired, drain some of the grease from the meatloaf. Then spread the glaze over the top of the tomato sauce.
  • Put the meatloaf back into the oven, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it set for five minutes before slicing and transferring to another plate to serve.
Keyword family dinner, family recipe, ketchup glaze, kid friendly, meatloaf, traditional recipe

Edible chocolate chip cookie dough you can make in minutes!

A delicious cookie dough dessert without any raw eggs

I love chocolate. A lot. A super lot. My favorite cookies are chocolate chip cookies. And I definitely enjoy some chocolate chip cookie dough when I’m baking them. But, I don’t eat it otherwise, because the risk of salmonella. My son loves chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. So when I discovered an easy recipe for edible chocolate chip cookie dough, I knew I had to try it.

Edible chocolate chip cookie dough Pinterest image

I first made it in 2020 when we were spending lots of time at home thanks to COVID-19. Since then, I’ve made this edible chocolate chip cookie dough multiple times and learned a few things along the way. The first being that I need to double the recipe. Making just the amount for the original recipe isn’t nearly enough for my family!

I’ve made a couple of other tweaks to the recipe and it’s the absolute best. I just made a couple of batches for my son’s 10th birthday and knew I had to share the recipe for this edible chocolate chip cookie dough. I can’t keep the deliciousness to myself!

Prepare the flour

My concern in eating raw chocolate chip cookie dough used to be just the salmonella in the eggs. However, I’ve more recently learned raw flour also poses a risk. Processing grains into flour doesn’t kill the bacteria in the flour. So this recipe starts with cooking the flour so you get rid of the bacteria.

The good news is that you can do this easily in your microwave. Pour two cups of all-purpose flour into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each 30 seconds, until the flour reaches 165-degrees (F). My microwave usually does this in two run-throughs.

A bowl of flour to heat-treat for the edible chocolate chip cookie dough recipe

I grab my kitchen thermometer and really do measure the temperature for this process to be sure.

Mixing the cookie dough

Once your flour is all prepped and ready to go, you just need to mix together all the ingredients. I use my beloved stand mixer, Dorothy, for making this edible chocolate chip cookie dough, but you can also use a hand mixer or spoon.

Put your prepared flour to the side and beat the 2 sticks of room temperature butter with 2 cups of packed brown sugar.

The butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl ready to cream together for this edible chocolate chip cookie dough recipe

You’ll know it’s creamed when it is thoroughly combined and fluffy.

The creamed butter and brown sugar in the mixing bowl

Next, add in 1/4 cup milk, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix the ingredients together. (Be sure to slow down your mixer before adding in the wet ingredients to avoid getting splashed by them. Yes, I speak from experience!) The mixture should be thick, but still wet and clumpy.

The mixture with the milk, vanilla and salt added into it

Now you’re ready to put treated flour to work. Mix it into the mixture in stages. I usually put it in with a heaping tablespoon at a time.

The mixing bowl with a tablespoon of flour ready to pour into the mixer and begin combining it for this edible chocolate chip cookie dough recipe

Once the flour is all mixed in, you should have the consistency of chocolate chip cookie dough that is thick and soft.

The thick, but soft "dough" that forms for this edible chocolate chip cookie dough recipe

Finally, it’s time to stir in the chocolate chips. You could use full-sized semi-sweet chocolate chips for this recipe, but the mini ones work better and are easier to eat. I use my stand mixer’s “stir” setting to stir in the chocolate chips, but you could also do it by hand. You want to avoid a higher setting that will break up the chips.

The finished edible chocolate chip cookie dough in the stand mixer

Transfer the edible chocolate chip cookie dough into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. I can’t tell you how many days it lasts in the fridge beyond two or three, because my family doesn’t keep it around for long!

The edible chocolate chip cookie dough in an airtight container ready to go into the fridge

Serve it by itself, alongside fudgy brownies, with ice cream or however you think sounds best!

A "scoop" of edible chocolate chip cookie dough in a bowl with a spoon ready to be devoured!
Edible chocolate chip cookie dough Pinterest image

Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

This edible chocolate chip cookie dough recipe is delicious and easy. Eat it by the spoonful, with ice cream or with any other dessert!
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 2 sticks salted butter room temperature
  • 2 cups brown sugar packed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour heat treated (see instructions below)
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • Heat treat the flour to kill any bacteria contained in it by placing it in a microwave-safe bowl and "cooking" it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between each 30 seconds, until the temperature throughout reaches 165-degrees (F). Set the flour aside.
  • In a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer, add the butter and brown sugar. Beat together until well combined and fluffy.
  • Turn the speed down and add in the milk, vanilla and salt. Mix until combined.
  • Slowly add in the heat-treated flour at low to medium speed until it is well mixed into a soft, thick "dough."
  • Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Put the edible chocolate chip cookie dough into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
Keyword chocolate chip cookie dough, easy dessert, edible chocolate chip cookie dough, no bake dessert

“Grilled” hot dogs from the oven

Baked hot dogs have a fresh-from-the-grill flavor any time of year!

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The first year my husband and I were married, he told me he liked hot dogs. Since he’s a relatively picky eater and I was a relatively awful cook, I made hot dogs. A lot. As a result, the guy won’t eat boiled or microwaved hot dogs any more.

Nothing beats a good grilled hot dog, unless it's freezing outside! This baked hot dog recipe is super simple and just as tasty as grilled!

As a Midwestern resident, I decided to look for a winter-friendly way to get a grilled hot dog taste that didn’t involve anyone standing out in the cold at the grill. I decided to try baked hot dogs and was pleasantly surprised. Even my husband agreed that baked hot dogs were nearly as good as grilled.

Picking the hot dogs

When it comes to hot dogs, my husband prefers what I call “old school” dogs. We skip the specialty or all-beef hot dogs. Bun length dogs don’t even have a place in our home. And forget the extra thick guys. So, we get regular length, skinny dogs. That’s all I’ve tried baking in the oven. If you are baking thicker or longer hot dogs, you may have to have a longer baking time. Just beware of that.

Let’s get baking!

This is an incredibly simple and straightforward recipe. Start by preheating the oven to 400-degrees (F). Line a baking dish with aluminum foil. I spritz mine very lightly with non-stick cooking spray, but I’m not sure that’s necessary.

For my family of four, I use my 8×8-inch glass baking dish. It easily fits eight hot dogs.

9x9 glass baking dish lined with aluminum foil that's been spritzed with non-stick cooking spray

Next, just put the hot dogs into the pan in one layer. (How simple is that?!)

Uncooked hot dogs in a foil-lined pan ready to go into the oven

Pop the hot dogs into your preheated oven. They baked for 15 minutes total. (Maybe more if they are thicker.) I usually set my time for 7 minutes and shake the baked hot dogs around halfway through. If you really want crispy or blackened hot dogs, you can broil them for the final couple minutes of baking time to the correct doneness. We like ours to be cooked with a bit of crisp on the outside but not color.

Baked hot dogs fresh from the oven that are a nice golden brown

And that’s it. I told you this was a simple recipe! Serve the hot dogs in buns with your favorite toppings. The baked hot dogs pair well with this super easy fire-roasted corn and red peppers. If you’re looking for a crunchy side, try this skillet queso with tortilla chips. And whip up some mint chocolate chip mousse for a simple and refreshing dessert!

Baked hot dogs

Nothing beats a good grilled hot dog, unless it's freezing outside! This baked hot dog recipe is super simple and just as tasty as grilled!
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American


  • 1 package hot dogs


  • Preheat the oven to 400-degree (F).
  • Line a baking dish with aluminum foil. (The size of the dish depends on how many hot dogs you're making. You need enough space for them to be in a single layer.) Spritz lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Arrange the hot dogs in a single layer on top of the foil.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through and golden. To add extra crispness or darkness, broil on low for the final 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time.
  • Serve with your favorite hot dog toppings!
Keyword baked hot dog, easy dinner, family dinner, grilled hot dog, Hot dog, Hot dogs, kid friendly, weeknight dinner

Sugar cookie recipe for cutouts

The best sugar cookie recipe

The best sugar cookie recipe for cutouts Pinterest image

Tis the season for cookies! Christmas cookies are popular for gifts, Santa and families. And cutout sugar cookies are the most traditional of all. However, finding a sugar cookie recipe for cutouts that is soft but sturdy with a bit of crunch can be difficult.

I’ve tried different sugar cookie recipes for cutouts through the years and found this is the best sugar cookie recipe. I how easy it is to adjust the quantities. And depending on how thick or thin you roll your dough you can adjust how soft or how crunchy your cookies turn out.

Make your dough

For the absolute best results with making sugar cookie cutouts, you want to plan ahead and make your dough before you’re ready to start baking. Letting the dough chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours is best.

It all starts with creaming together softened butter and white sugar.

The creamed butter and sugar for the sugar cookie recipe

Next, add in the egg and vanilla, which will make the mixture looser.

Sugar cookie dough with the egg and vanilla added in

In a separate bowl or a large measuring cup, measure out the flour and add the baking powder and salt. Stir it together. I like using a large measuring cup for this so I don’t have to get both a measuring cup and a separate bowl dirty, but that only works for smaller recipes. So do what works best for you!

The flour, baking powder and salt in a large measuring cup

Gradually incorporate the flour mixture into the wet mixture. I use my stand mixer for this, but that’s because I’m attached to her and use her for many things. But, you can definitely mix this by hand. The dough for this sugar cookie recipe for cutouts will be stiff.

The sugar cookie dough mixed all together

Cover the dough and put it in the refrigerator for at least one hour. If you make this ahead of time and want to freeze it, you can easily do so. Just make sure to pull it out of the freezer and give it time to thaw, but still be cold before baking.

Making the cookies

Once the sugar cookie dough is chilled, it’s time to get started on the cutouts. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees (F). Put the dough onto a floured surface and roll it out to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. I usually just roll my dough in a few segments at a time rather than trying to roll it all out at once.

The thicker the cookies, the softer they are. The thinner the cookies, the crispier they are. I usually make mine on the thinner side, which makes the dough go farther and the cookies have a nice crisp to them.

The sugar cookie dough rolled out and ready to be cut

Use your cookie cutters and cut out shapes.

Using a cookie cutter to make sugar cookie cutouts

Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Because these cookies don’t spread out like drop cookies do, you can place the pretty closely together and not have any problem. I usually fit about 15 per cookie sheet.

The cut out sugar cookies on a baking sheet, ready to go into the oven

Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes until the edges are slightly browned. Transfer them to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely before decorating.

Fresh from the oven cutout sugar cookies

I highly recommend decorating them with either my delicious buttercream icing or whipping up royal icing for them. I had a group of middle school girls decorating this batch, and it was easier to put together royal icing for them. Of all the things I make, I don’t use a recipe for it. I just mix powdered sugar, a bit of milk and a bit of vanilla together until it’s the right consistency. And of course we color the icing as well!

Decorated sugar cookies

Sugar cookie recipe for cutouts

This sugar cookie recipe for cutouts has just the right amount of softness and crispness to make delicious cookies any time of year!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 30 cookies


  • 1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • In a large bowl cream the softened butter and sugar together until it's smooth.
  • Add in the eggs and vanilla, beating well after each addition.
  • In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, combine the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  • Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until it is completely mixed.
  • Cover the dough and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400-degrees (F). Roll the cookie dough out on a floured surface until it's 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. (The thicker the cookies, the softer they are; the thinner the cookies, the crispier they are.)
  • Cut the cookie dough into shapes and place them about 1 inch apart on ungreased or parchment paper lined cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden. Cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
Keyword Christmas cookies, cookies, cookout, cutoutcookies, holiday baking, rolled cookies, sugar cookies

Don’t miss these other delicious cookie recipes as well!

The best Christmas cookie recipe: Toffee cookies
Easy peanut butter cookies recipe

Christmas recipes round-up

31 Christmas recipes for sweets, appetizers, sides and breakfast

Christmas recipes round-up Pinterest image

Doing some holiday cooking is always fun for me. I’ve long been deemed the Christmas cookie maker in my family — and I don’t mind a bit. But you need more than just cookies for Christmas. So I’ll pulled together 31 Christmas recipes you’ll love to include in your rotation. I’ve got everything from sweet treats to savory sides to Christmas morning breakfast ideas. And some fit in more than one category!

Be sure to save this post so you can go back to it again and again throughout the holiday season.

Appetizer recipes

A good meal often starts with tasty appetizers. These appetizers all work well for serving before Christmas dinner or as a snack. Some of them, I even serve for dinner around my house, so use them for easy dinner recipes in the weeks leading up to Christmas!

You can’t go wrong with a cheeseball. And this Parmesan ranch cheeseball recipe is a great way to kick off dinner or snack. Even my picky eaters like this one!

Christmas recipes: Parmesan ranch cheeseball recipe

When it comes to Christmas recipes, versatile ones that can be made ahead of time are great. This easy pantry salsa pairs with store-bought chips and can be an appetizer, snack or side dish.

Easy pantry salsa recipe

For an even more robust and filling way to serve tortilla chips, consider adding this skillet queso recipe into the mix. This stuff tastes just like what you get at Chili’s and is so good. I actually included it in my Thanksgiving menu for the past two years!

Skillet queso recipe

With just two ingredients, these meatball pockets are an easy appetizer or snack to make this holiday season.

Christmas recipes: 2-Ingredient meatball pockets

The next three appetizer recipes all start with a buttery, yummy crescent roll crust. Serve them as an appetizer, snack or even main course!

Christmas recipes: BLT pizza
Christmas recipes: Pepperoni pizza pinwheels
An easy, delicious taco pizza recipe

The final appetizer could also count as a side. This bacon ranch cheese bread is my husband’s all-time favorite food that I make. It uses a frozen bread dough for a base as well as precooked bacon, so it’s as simple as it is tasty.

Christmas recipes: Bacon ranch cheese bread

Side recipes

Is there any other side that is better than yeast rolls? I’m a carb lover, and these yeast rolls are one of my favorite recipes. My professional baker friend, Kayla, gave me the recipe originally, and I’m so glad she did!

Christmas recipes: Yeast rolls

If yeast rolls aren’t your thing, give these biscuit muffins a try. They’re simple and easy, and don’t require any time to rise like the yeast rolls do.

Christmas recipes: biscuit muffins

I love potatoes in any form, but these party potatoes are my all-time favorite potato recipe. They are cheesy and creamy and so incredibly delicious. When it comes to Christmas recipes, you’ve got to try this one, because it’s also pretty dang easy. My 13-year-old daughter made these by herself at Thanksgiving this year, in fact.

Christmas recipes: Party potatoes

The red bell peppers in this fire-roasted corn and red pepper recipe give it a festive look. And trust me when I tell you it’s one of the easiest recipes you can make!

Fire-roasted corn and red peppers Pinterest image

Another great and easy vegetable side recipe is this oven-roasted vegetables recipe you can use for most vegetables. And they always turn out so yummy!

Christmas recipes: oven roasted vegetables

Easy Christmas Eve dinner recipe

I had to include the recipe for this super easy slow cooker potato soup made with hash browns. It literally takes 10 minutes or less to put together in your slow cooker and will easily serve six people. You can easily double it if your slow cooker is large enough to feed even more people. It’s warm and filling. So yummy!

Christmas recipes: slow cooker potato soup made with hash browns

Christmas morning breakfast recipes

Whipping up a Christmas morning breakfast seems like so much work, so I love things that are easy or I can even make ahead of time. All of these recipes fall into those categories. Let’s start with the very best pumpkin bread recipe. You can serve this up for breakfast by itself, alongside yogurt and fruit or use it for a sweet treat later in the day. My family gobbles it up quickly, so it’s a good thing the recipe makes two loaves.

Christmas recipes: pumpkin bread

Another great Christmas morning breakfast recipes are these peanut butter honey nut cereal clusters. Make them the day ahead using only three ingredients and your microwave. They are like the pumpkin bread and can be served any time of day.

Christmas recipes: Peanut butter honey nut cereal clusters

For a warm, easy option, try these air fryer doughnuts made easily with canned biscuits. They are best served warm and are definitely a nice treat for Christmas morning.

Easy Christmas breakfast: Air fryer doughnuts Pinterest image

This make-ahead oat and honey granola is a great breakfast option. It works really well with yogurt and is just sweet enough that you can use it as a sweet treat as well.

Christmas recipes: easy oat and honey granola

When it comes to sweet breakfast breads, you can’t go wrong with this protein-packed banana nut bread. The nuts, of course, are completely optional. Bake it ahead of time so you don’t have to do anything besides slice it up and serve it on Christmas morning.

Christmas recipes: protein-packed banana bread

If you’re going for a bigger breakfast on Christmas morning and making pancakes and/or waffles, you’ve got to also make this super easy caramel sauce. We love it most with bananas. It’s so incredibly decadent!

Christmas recipes: caramel sauce for pancakes or waffles

Christmas sweet treat recipes

You can’t leave sweet treats out of a list of Christmas recipes. And I’ve got plenty of them for you, starting with my most popular recipe ever: a 4-ingredient whipped pudding pie. This comes together in just a few minutes, can be made sugar free and has a large variety of flavor options. You’ve got to try it!

Christmas recipes: 4-ingredient whipped pudding pie

Like I said, I’m the Christmas cookie maker in my family. And these toffee cookies are my most popular cookie. They’re so yummy and something a bit different.

The best Christmas cookie recipe: Toffee cookies

After the toffee cookies, my peanut butter cookies are my most requested. In fact, my dad asks for them as his birthday gift each year because he likes them so much. And my husband and kiddos sneak into the kitchen whenever I bake them and get them off the cooling rack.

Christmas recipes: easy peanut butter cookies

And then there are these delicious white and milk chocolate chip cookies. At Easter time, I add in some Cadbury eggs as well, but they are just as tasty with white and milk chocolate chips. They give a different flavor than traditional chocolate chip cookies (which I also love!).

Christmas recipes: white and milk chocolate chip cookies

Of the Christmas recipes I’m listing, the next two are the oldest that have been around since I was a child. First up is sugar cream squares. If you’re not a fellow Hoosier, you might not be familiar with sugar cream pie squares. If you’re from St. Louis, you probably call this gooey cake. From elsewhere, just know it’s basically a mix between blondies and cheesecake. Whatever you call it, though, these sugar cream squares are delicious!

Christmas recipes: sugar cream squares

The next family recipe is easy and delicious. I know ice cream may not sound like a Christmas recipe, but this one is an exception. This Oreo ice cream cake is delectable. A bonus to this recipe is you can make it a week or two ahead of time and it’s good to go!

Christmas recipes: Oreo ice cream cake

While we’re in a chocolate theme, don’t miss this super easy hack to make boxed brownies so fudgy good. Hands down, above everything I make, my brownies are the most requested item. And they are one of the easiest recipes I make just by using this one simple hack!

Christmas recipes: an easy hack to make box mix brownies so fudgy good

Mint is a perfect flavor for Christmas. And this mint chocolate chip mousse is super easy to make. You don’t need your stove or much besides a mixer — handheld or stand.

Christmas recipes: mint chocolate chip mousse

The final three recipes are all incredibly easy microwave recipes, and all of them are great treats to give away to others as gifts. Let’s start with the best puppy chow. Some folks call this muddy buddies. But whatever you call it, I got obsessed with it during quarantine and figured out the best recipe for it. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Easy Christmas treats: Puppy chow recipe

You can’t beat Christmas fudge, and this easy microwave fudge has been perfected by my daughter. There are five varieties you can easily make in your microwave: chocolate, brownie batter, cherry cordial, toffee candy bar and mint chocolate.

Christmas fudge in the microwave Pinterest image

And last by certainly not least, these no-bake butterscotch haystacks only need two ingredients. They are a super easy treat to make and can help fill out a Christmas platter nicely. They’re one of my husband’s favorites.

Christmas recipes: butterscotch haystacks

Fire-roasted corn and red peppers

A super simple side dish for family dinner

Fire-roasted corn and red peppers Pinterest image

When it comes to making dinner, I love easy recipes. And super simple sides that work in veggies are the best! I found a recipe for fire-roasted corn and red pepper salad that I decided to try without looking too closely. When I realized it was intended to be served cold, I decided to change it up and make it my own way. That’s how this fire-roasted corn and red peppers side dish was born.

It’s nearly as easy as oven roasted vegetables and certainly as tasty. It comes together in about 10 minutes and doesn’t take much babysitting, which leaves you free to make other things while the fire-roasted corn and red peppers are cooking. The last time I made this recipe, I paired it with grilled barbeque chicken for a delicious dinner.


The prep work for this fire-roasted corn and red peppers dish is minimal. Start by opening a can of whole kernel fire-roasted corn and draining it. This is what I used:

Del Monte whole kernel fire-roasted corn blend

Then clean and dice one red bell pepper.

Diced red bell pepper for the fire-roasted corn and red pepper recipe

Cut 2 tablespoons of butter and separate them. Put a medium skillet on the stove over medium-high heat.


Put the drained fire-roasted corn and 1 tablespoon of butter into the skillet.

Fire-roasted corn and 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat

Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the butter is melted and the corn is heated. Add in the diced red bell pepper, 1 additional tablespoon of butter and salt and pepper to taste.

Fire-roasted corn and red peppers in a medium skillet cooking with an additional 1 tablespoon of butter

Continue cooking for 5 to 7 minutes until the red pepper pieces have begun to soften. Serve the fire-roasted corn and red peppers side warm.

Fire-roasted corn and red peppers finished in the skillet
Fire-roasted corn and red peppers on a plate
Fire-roasted corn and red peppers Pinterest image

Fire-roasted corn and red peppers

This fire-roasted corn and red peppers recipe is a super simple side that pairs well with so many main dishes. It's a perfect family dinner side!
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people


  • 1 14.75 oz. can fire-roasted corn
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter separated
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste


  • Open and drain the can of fire-roasted corn.
  • Clean and dice the red bell pepper.
  • In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add the corn and 1 tablespoon of butter. Cook for about 3 minutes until heated through and the butter is melted.
  • Add the diced pepper and 1 more tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the pepper begins to soften. Serve warm, and refrigerate any leftovers.
Keyword canned corn, corn, easy side, family friendly, fire-roasted corn, kid friendly, red bell pepper, red pepper, simple side, vegetables

Creamy tomato soup and ciabatta grilled cheese

An easy homemade, creamy tomato soup recipe to warm you up

I’m sort of late to the tomato soup and grilled cheese party. I know it’s been a staple kind of meal for generations, but I never got on board. The closest I got was Spaghetti-Os and grilled cheese. Canned tomato soup just never did that much for me. Then I tried making a creamy tomato soup recipe and not only loved the flavor but also loved how easy it is to make!

Creamy tomato soup with ciabatta grilled cheese

The same recipe I started with and have modified also recommended making grilled cheese on ciabatta rolls instead of with bread. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. And I’m glad I did. Seriously. Pair this creamy tomato soup with ciabatta grilled cheese and you have a dinner hit on your hands. Even my particular eaters get down with this meal!

Making the creamy tomato soup

What sets apart this tomato soup from others is the garlic base. We love garlic in my family, so I use 4 cloves of fresh garlic. If you’re not as big on garlic, use 2 cloves. After you peel the garlic, use a grater to grate it finely. The first time I made this recipe, I didn’t have a grater and just chopped my garlic as finely as possible, so you can do that, too.

4 cloves of grated garlic for the creamy tomato soup

In a medium sized pot over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter has melted, add in the garlic. Cook the garlic for about 30 seconds until it’s fragrant.

Garlic, butter and vegetable oil in the pot for the creamy tomato soup recipe

Then add 4 tablespoons of flour and whisk constantly for another 30 seconds until a paste forms.

Garlic paste in the pot for the creamy tomato soup recipe

Next, add a 29-ounce can of tomato sauce, 3 cups of water and 3 teaspoons of sugar to the pot. Add a good dash of salt and pepper as well. Bring the soup to a boil over high , then reduce the heat back down to medium-low and simmer until the soup thickens a bit, about 5 minutes.

The creamy tomato soup cooking on the stovetop

Soften the cream cheese and stir it into the soup. Once the cream cheese is melted, turn the heat off the creamy tomato soup, but leave it on the stovetop or cover it to keep it warm.

Cream cheese being added to the creamy tomato soup

Making the ciabatta grilled cheese

While the creamy tomato soup simmers, prepare your ciabatta rolls. Slice them completely apart and top the bottom of each roll with about 1/4-cup of shredded cheddar-jack cheese.

Ciabatta grilled cheese sandwiches ready to cook to go along with the creamy tomato soup

Add the tops onto the sandwiches.

A ciabatta grilled cheese sandwich ready to cook to go along with the creamy tomato soup

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Place two of the ciabatta sandwiches into the skillet.

Two ciabatta grilled cheese sandwiches in a skillet with melted butter and oil

Use a second skillet to press down onto the tops of the bread and cook for three minutes; flip the sandwiches and cook three more minutes until the outside is golden and crispy and the cheese is melted. I don’t hold the skillet down the entire time the sandwiches were cooking, but I press down every minute or so.

Cooking the ciabatta grilled cheese by pressing down with a second skillet over the top

The sandwich will get a nice crisp on the outside but still have a gooey cheese center. So yummy!

Ciabatta grilled cheese with a crispy outside and gooey, cheesy center pairs nicely with the creamy tomato soup!

Serve the creamy tomato soup in bowls along with the ciabatta grilled cheese. You don’t have to dip the grilled cheese into the soup, but that’s our favorite way to eat it!

A bowl of creamy tomato soup with half a ciabatta grilled cheese sandwich garnishing it
I didn’t soften my cream cheese before I made the soup this time around and it resulted in a few cream cheese “chunks” floating around in the soup. Those are the white specks you see in this photo.

Creamy tomato soup and ciabatta grilled cheese

A creamy tomato soup and ciabatta grilled cheese recipe that is hearty enough for a family dinner. Even your picky eaters will like this one!
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people


  • 2-4 cloves garlic grated
  • 1 29-ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil divided
  • 4 tablespoons butter divided
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar jack cheese divided
  • 6 ciabatta rolls
  • salt
  • pepper


  • Finely grate 2 to 4 cloves of garlic, depending on how much your family likes garlic. (We use 4.)
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and stir occasionally for about 30 seconds until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of flour to the garlic and cook, whisking constantly, for 30 seconds until a paste consistency is formed.
  • Add into the pot the can of tomato sauce, 3 cups of water, 3 teaspoons of sugar, a dash of salt and a dash of pepper. Stir together and cook over medium-high heat until it boils.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the soup thickens slightly.
  • While the soup is boiling and simmering, cut apart the ciabatta rolls. Divide the 1-1/2 cups of shredded cheese among the bottoms of each roll (about 1/4 cup of cheese for each). Place the top bun on the sandwiches.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter per two sandwiches. (My skillet fits two sandwiches at a time.)
  • Add the sandwiches to the skillet. Place a small skillet on top and press down on the sandwiches to flatten them. Cook for three minutes; flip the sandwiches and cook for three more minutes.
  • While the ciabatta grilled cheese is cooking, add the softened cream cheese to the soup. Stir and let it combine.
  • Serve the hot creamy tomato soup along with the ciabatta grilled cheese immediately.
Keyword autumn dinner recipe, ciabatta grilled cheese, creamy tomato soup, fall dinner recipe, family dinner, grilled cheese, hearty soup, tomato soup, winter dinner recipe

Looking for more soup recipes? Don’t miss these!

Taco soup

Slow cooker potato soup

Taco ranch meatball soup

Slow cooker potato chili

Skillet queso recipe

Restaurant-style skillet queso made easy!

Skillet queso recipe

I can’t resist a good queso. The mix of tortilla chips dipped into creamy cheese is just divine! I’ve tried making a few queso recipes through the years and this skillet queso recipe is one of my all-time favorites. It tastes almost exactly like the skillet queso we order at a chain restaurant named for a pepper.

Basically, you put all the ingredients into a skillet or pot, let them melt and combine together and then serve it with chips. I’ve made this as a side. (In fact, I made it for Thanksgiving last year as a side for my particular eaters.) Or you can also use the skillet queso as a topping for nachos rather than a dip. My son prefers them nacho style. I like it both ways — nacho style or dip. No matter how you eat it, it’s yummy!

Getting started

The most work you’ll do for this skillet queso recipe is prepping the cheese by cutting it into cubes. Not too shabby at all. It uses cheese loaf that is known for melting. The name-brand is Velveeta, but I use the store brand without an issue.

(If you’re not a fan of this processed cheese, don’t let that stop you from this recipe. This is the only thing I cook using it and does not have a strong flavor of the cheese, I promise! )

You need 16 ounces of the cheese. The last time I made this skillet queso, I was only able to get a 32-ounce block. So, I cut it in half by looking at it, wrapped one half in foil and placed it in a zip-top bag in my freezer. (You’ll notice I used the brand-name label just for easy identification!)

Put the cheese loaf on a cutting board and slice it into cubes for better melting. I first slice it in about 1-inch increments.

Then using two or three squares at a time, I cut those into nines.

And now you’re finished with the hardest part of this entire recipe. I told you it was easy!

Putting it together

Pull out a deep skillet or medium-sized pot and put it the cubed cheese into it. Place it on the stove over medium heat.

Add 1 cup of milk. I make this using 1% milk because that’s what my family drinks, and it works just fine.

Add in all the seasonings: 2 teaspoons paprika, 4 teaspoons chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 tablespoon lime juice. (You can use fresh-squeezed lime juice, but I usually just buy a bottle of lime juice and keep in my fridge.)

Finally, add in one 15-ounce can of chili with NO beans.

Give it a good stir and let it hang out over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Stir it every few minutes to keep the cheese from sticking to the bottom.

Serve the queso with your favorite tortilla chips. You can use it as a dip or as a nacho topping, whichever you prefer!

You can also make this skillet queso in a slow cooker if you prefer. Put everything into your slow cooker on low and let it set for about an hour until melted. Alternatively, you can make it on the stove and keep it warm until serving from your slow cooker. It’s incredibly versatile and scrumptious!

Skillet queso

This skillet queso recipe tastes like something you'd get at a restaurant, but comes together in 15 minutes. Super easy and delicious!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican


  • 16 oz. processed cheese loaf (like Velveeta)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 15-oz. can chili with no beans
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


  • Cut the cheese into approximately 1-inch cubes.
  • Place the cheese into a deep skillet or medium-sized pot over medium heat.
  • Add the milk.
  • Add the paprika, chili powder, lime juice and ground cumin,
  • Add the can of chili, and stir well.
  • Continue cooking over medium heat, occasionally stirring, for about 15 minutes until the cheese is completely melted and smooth.
Keyword cheese dip, nachos, queso, tortilla chips

8 Mexican recipes your family will love

Easy Mexican recipes you can make for dinner tonight!

8 Mexican recipes your family will love!

When it comes to cuisine, I can count on Mexican cuisine to almost always be a hit with my family. In fact, I have shared more Mexican recipes on here than any other type of cuisine. Since I share recipes for things we actually eat, I guess that makes sense.

So I decided it was time to pull them together into one handy post so you can easily find some Mexican recipes when you’re planning a quick and easy family dinner. I love recipes that don’t take a long time or a lot of special ingredients. All of these recipes fit into that category!

Baked quesadillas

This easy baked quesadilla recipe is one that I’ve been making for years. I wanted to figure out a way to make quesadillas that weren’t greasy but were crispy. And I wanted to be able to make multiple quesadillas at a time. Of all the Mexican recipes I’m sharing, this one is the easiest to customize for the various tastes in your family. My daughter and I love these quesadillas with chicken. My guys like them with taco meat or bacon. I plan to try making them with pulled pork soon because it’s my latest go-to meat!

Easy baked quesadilla recipe

Taco pizza

If I were to pick another type of food that tends to go over well with my family, pizza would be it. So it’s no surprise that combining pizza and tacos works well. This taco pizza used a crescent roll crust, which makes prep even easier. Drizzle it with a bit of French salad dressing (or maybe salsa) and you’ll be in love!

An easy, delicious taco pizza recipe

Taco ranch meatball soup

When it comes to Mexican recipes, this one is probably far from authentic, but it uses the flavors of tacos so well that I had to include it in this list. This taco ranch meatball soup recipe is yummy. The real star of the dish is the meatballs. Even my husband and son who aren’t big on eating meat love these meatballs. They are just that good. It’s easy, hearty and oh-so-delicious!

Taco ranch meatball soup recipe

Taco cornbread bake

The cornbread base of this taco cornbread bake comes from a box mix and adds just the right flavor. Corn and Mexican flavors pair well together. I like this taco cornbread bake because you get that flavor without the corn. It’s something different. Of all the recipes, this one is the least attractive in appearance but trust me, it’s scrumptious!

Taco cornbread bake recipe

Stuffed peppers skillet

I first made this stuffed peppers skillet at my daughter’s request. I made some tweaks to it, and it’s definitely one of our favorite Mexican recipes. Using a boxed rice mix as a base, this stuffed peppers skillet is delicious and is a great way to sneak in some extra veggies for those who aren’t big veggie eaters!

Stuffed peppers skillet recipe

Pantry salsa

I live in the Midwest. Getting fresh vegetables for salsa year-round isn’t always the easiest or cheapest! Keeping them fresh can also be a challenge. But this pantry salsa recipe uses ingredients you’ll find in your pantry, including canned veggies, to come together into a delightful dip for your tortilla chips!

Easy pantry salsa recipe

Taco soup

My family loves this taco soup recipe. It is in our regular rotation. I love how quickly and easily it comes together. My husband, daughter and I like it most in a bowl that we dip some corn or tortilla chips into as we eat. The soup is thick enough, though, that my son prefers it wrapped in a tortilla with some sour cream and cheese like a taco. No matter how you eat it, though, it’s a quick and yummy weeknight dinner option!

Taco soup: A 20-minute delicious weeknight dinner!

Baked sopapillas

And you can’t forget about dessert! These easy baked sopapillas use flour tortillas and are ready in just a few minutes. They have a sweet, cinnamon flavor without being too strong. Of all the desserts I make, this is definitely one of the easiest!

Easy baked sopapillas recipe

Taco soup recipe

This taco soup recipe is easy to make and delicious!

When it comes to food, Mexican flavors are always a hit for my family. I know if I make taco or Mexican anything, it will likely be a hit, even for my pickier eaters. And this taco soup recipe is definitely one of those recipes. All four of us like this recipe.

Taco soup: A 20-minute delicious weeknight dinner!

My husband, daughter and I eat it as soup using corn chips to scoop it up in. My son prefers it wrapped in a tortilla shell with some sour cream and cheese to eat it like a taco. It’s thick enough that you can do it either way. It’s a hearty taco soup that comes together quickly and easily.

While my family loves tacos and nachos, I try to work in the same flavors in different ways to keep our menu more interesting. I’ve shared recipes before for taco ranch meatball soup, taco pizza, taco cornbread bake, easy baked quesadillas, stuffed peppers skillet, pantry salsa and easy basked sopapillas. This taco soup recipe fits right in!

Time to cook

The base of this taco soup is meat. I use ground beef for this, but you could also use ground turkey or even chicken if your family prefers. I usually use about 1/2 pound of ground beef, because my family isn’t big on meat. But when I recently made it and took photos, I used a full 1 pound of ground beef because my parents were eating with us and I wanted to have plenty to serve. Cook the meat first in a large skillet or pot. Drain it and keep it in the same large skillet or pot.

Next, you basically add in everything else: tomato sauce, corn, enchilada sauce and chili seasoning. If your family likes black beans, add them in here as well. My daughter and I like black beans, but my husband and son don’t. So I leave the black beans on the side. (I buy canned black beans, drain them and put them in a bowl. The soup heats them just fine when you add them in!)

Taco soup recipe ingredients in the skillet

Stir everything together and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes to let the flavors really combine and everything to heat through.

Taco soup cooking on the stovetop

The soup is a thick and hearty soup that is perfect for scooping with corn chips or tortilla chips!

The thick and hearty taco soup is great for scooping with corn chips or tortilla chips.

Time to serve

Once the soup is finished simmering, you’re ready to serve it up. You can put corn chips or tortilla chips in your bowl first and then add the taco soup, but we don’t do it that way. Instead, we serve the chips on the side for scooping the soup with.

Taco soup in the bowl

I also suggest topping it with shredded cheese and sour cream. It’s so yummy!

Taco soup topped with shredded cheese and sour cream

Taco soup

This hearty taco soup recipe is easy and delicious. It's a great family dinner that even your pickiest eaters will love.
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6 people


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans drained
  • 1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn drained
  • 1 10-oz. can red enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 envelope (0.5 oz.) chili seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese for topping
  • 1/2 cup sour cream for topping


  • Cook the ground beef in a large skillet or a pot. Crumble and chop it well. When it is browned, drain the excess fat and return to the same skillet or pot.
  • Add in the tomato sauce, black beans (unless you are serving them on the side), corn, enchilada sauce and chili seasoning mix.
  • Bring the taco soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Serve in bowls topped with shredded cheese and sour cream. (This pairs well with corn chips or tortilla chips for dipping and scooping!)
Keyword family dinner, kid friendly, Mexican recipe, taco, taco soup, weeknight dinner