Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sesame Chicken

        I have had a lot of luck finding and tweaking Chinese recipes of all our favorite restaurant style/take out Chinese meals.  But there was one that has always eluded me.  I have tried a handful of Sesame Chicken recipes and it just never turned out how we liked.  I finally tried this recipe and hit the Sesame Chicken jackpot!  We serve it over our favorite fried rice. Yummy!
Sesame Chicken
4 Chicken Breast, trimmed and diced into bite size pieces
Vegetable Oil for frying
For the Sauce:
¾ cup honey
¾ cup soy sauce
½ cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1 t sesame oil
1 TBSP minced Garlic
Sesame Seeds for garnish

Coat bite sized chicken pieces in cornstarch and stick them back in the fridge while you prepare the sauce.   The cornstarch needs to have time to adhere to to the chicken.  Next mix all of your sauce ingredients except for the Sesame Seeds and set aside.  After your chicken has been in the cornstarch coating at least 20 minutes, pour Veg oil about an inch deep in a large skillet over medium high heat.  You will need to fry your
chicken in small batches to keep the pan from overcrowding.  I do mine in 4 batches.  Lightly Brown Chicken. Drain Chicken on a paper towel and pour off any excess oil from the pan. Add the Chicken back to the pan and pour the sauce you made over the top. Bring to a hard boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over fried rice! :-)

More Chinese 'Take Out-Fake Out' here!

<3 Aunt Bee

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tex-Mex 'Cowboy' Casserole

Tex-Mex 'Cowboy' Casserole | Aunt Bee's Recipes

        This is one of our favorite 'Tex-Mex' Casseroles!  It is easy and a great one to prep ahead of time!  I remember when my little ones were babies and having a list of recipes that I could prep during nap time then just pop in the oven at dinner time.  This is one of THOSE recipes!  It is fabulous right out of the oven, but oh man, the leftovers the next day are EVEN BETTER! For the salsa, we use a very mild salsa, to make it kid friendly but it is totally up to your heat preference!  If you like Tex-Mex, give this one a try!

~Tex-Mex 'Cowboy' Casserole~
1/2 lb Ground Beef
1 (12 oz) can corn, drained
1 (12 oz) jar chunky salsa (Hot or Mild, whichever you prefer)
1 (2.25 oz) can Sliced Black Olives, drained (Save out 2 TBSP of the black olives for the topping)
1 Cup Cottage Cheese
1 Cup Sour Cream 
2 1/2 cups Tortilla Chip Crumbs (It takes about 5 cups of whole chips to make 2.5 cups of crumbs)
2 Cups of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided 
Bell Pepper, diced (I like red ones on this)
tomato, diced
Green Onions, chopped
A few WHOLE tortilla chips for garnish!
           Brown ground beef in skillet.  Drain.  Add in the corn, chunky salsa and all but 2 TBSP of the black olives. Continue cooking for a couple of minutes until mixture is warmed through.  Remove from heat and set aside. Combine cottage cheese and sour cream.  In a 2 quart Pam sprayed casserole dish.  Layer 1/2 the crushed chips, then 1/2 the meat mixture, then 3/4 cup cheddar cheese and finally, 1/2 the Cottage Cheese mixture. Repeat the layers again ending with the Cottage cheese mixture.  Cover with foil and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove foil.  Top with remaining cheddar cheese, tomatoes, black olives, bell pepper and line the outside with whole tortilla chips.  Place back in the oven, uncovered, for 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.  (Careful not to let chips burn)  Remove from oven and allow to set for 10 minutes. Garnish with green onions and serve! 

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars

Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars | Aunt Bee's Recipes

       Hi everyone!  I wanted to tell you about our newest favorite treat!  We had these amazing Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars last week at my little brother's wedding rehearsal dinner.  They have a Red Velvet cake bottom and the topping is like a cross between Cheesecake and Paula Deen's Butter cake.  So pretty much the best thing ever.  Uncle Bee took one bite and immediately said, 'You NEED to make these for the blog.'  LOL!  I am NOT a baker, in any way shape or form, but I can google, so I did.  I googled Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars for a solid hour and never found anything that even closely resembled the delicious bars we had.  Finally I came across these Strawberry Cheesecake bars that use a box strawberry cake mix for the bottom and the topping closely resembled what I was looking for.  So I decided to try to substitute Red Velvet cake mix for the Strawberry cake mix.  It worked and they turned out exactly like the delicious Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars we had at the wedding rehearsal.  They are also ridiculously easy to make!   If you like Red Velvet cake and cheesecake, you have to give these a try!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars
1 box Red Velvet cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16oz) package powdered sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 F.  In a bowl, combine melted butter and boxed cake mix.  Add in 1 egg and mix thoroughly.  (Mixture will be thick).  Press into a Pam sprayed 13x9 Pyrex dish.  Next beat the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, 2 eggs,  and Vanilla Extract on medium speed with an electric mixture until creamy.  Pour over the cake batter.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set and top is barely starting to brown slightly.  Allow to cool completely before slicing into bars.  Enjoy with a tall glass of milk!  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Porcupine Meatballs

Last night, I made something we hadn't had for a while, an old favorite:  Porcupine Meatballs!  They are so easy and yummy and REALLY Frugal!  This is a favorite of my Meat and Potatoes loving hubby :-)   I served them over rice and with some fresh veggies with Creamy Roasted Garlic Dressing on the side.  Yummy!  

Porcupine Meatballs
1.5 lbs uncooked Ground Beef
3/4 cup uncooked White Minute Rice
1 Small Onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup Cold Water
1 TBSP minced garlic
1/2 tsp Salt
1.5 tsp Celery Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
For The Sauce
1 (15oz) can Tomato Sauce
1 (8 oz) can Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup Red Wine
2 TBSP Worcestershire
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix uncooked Ground Beef, Uncooked Rice, chopped Onion, Cold Water, Garlic, Salt, Celery Salt and Black Pepper.  Form into meatballs.  Place in a Pam sprayed 13x9 Pyrex dish.  Mix Sauce ingredients and pour over meatballs.  Bake covered with foil for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more.  Serve Meatballs and Sauce over Rice or Egg Noodles.  Enjoy!  

<3 Aunt Bee

Friday, February 21, 2014

Italian Sausage & 5 Cheese Baked Ziti

       We were in the mood for some cheesy Italian comfort food and boy did this HIT. THE. SPOT.  My mom had told me about a 5 Cheese Baked Ziti she loves from Olive Garden and I knew I had to try to recreate it.  I added the Italian Sausage because Uncle Bee is a Carnivore and would have been looking for the entree for his side dish of  'mac and cheese' if I hadn't.  HAHA! We served this with our favorite garlic bread and a side salad with Creamy Italian Parmesan Dressing.  I can not WAIT til leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  Or tonight for 2nd dinner ;-)  The breadcrumb topping with fresh garlic MAKES this dish.  Absolute heaven.  This would be a GREAT one to make for company!  You could prep it ahead of time and just throw it in the oven right before company arrives with a cleaned up kitchen and a glass of wine ;-) 

~Italian Sausage & 5 Cheese Baked Ziti~
For the Ziti Sauce
1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage, crumbled and browned
2 (15oz) cans tomato sauce
16 oz jar of Alfredo, (or make your own!)
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 cup Fontina Cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese shredded
Ziti Topping
3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Kraft Parmesan Romano Grated Cheese blend

1 TBSP Italian Seasoning
4 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped (The fresh garlic cloves MAKE this dish)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
Remaining Ingredients
1 lb dry Ziti pasta
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
To prepare the sauce: Brown and drain the Italian Sausage.  Add the Tomato Sauce, Alfredo sauce, Ricotta, garlic powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes and stir to combine over medium heat.  After combined, remove from heat and add in Fontina and mozzarella shreds.  Set aside.  
To prepare the topping:  In a bowl, add Mozzarella shreds, Panko breadcrumbs, Romano/Parmesan cheese, and Italian Seasoning.  Combine well.  Add finely chopped garlic, Vegetable Oil and Chopped Parsley.  
To prepare noodles, boil them for 2 minutes LESS than the time it says on the box for al dente.  This is VERY important, because they will continue cooking in the oven and no one likes mushy noodles.  Drain noodles.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 13x9 inch Pyrex dish with cooking spray.  Place 1 cup of Ziti sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Combine hot noodles with the rest of the Ziti Sauce and pour into pyrex dish.  Top with 2 cups of Mozzarella cheese, then sprinkle on the Ziti topping.  At this point you could stick in the fridge until ready to bake, or bake right away.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes, or until bubbling and top is starting to brown.  ENJOY!

Adapted Recipe Source

<3 Aunt Bee

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Peppery Pineapple Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

       Good evening!  I am super excited about this recipe!  I told you guys that Nana gave me a bunch of new cookbooks this weekend and I have worn those pages out already!   I am a self proclaimed Cookbook NERD!  I need a room just to keep all of them, because I have never met a cookbook I didn't NEED.  :-)  Anyway, this recipe is a KEEPER!  And what's not to love about a dinner with all your basic food groups? Meat, Veggie, Fruit, Grains all in one!  

~Peppery Pineapple Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry~
2 lbs Top Sirloin, trimmed and sliced against the grain
Veg Oil for Frying + 2 tsp for Sauce
1 TBSP Fresh Ginger
3 or 4 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1/2 cup Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
1 cup Water
1 TBSP Brown Sugar
1/2 TBSP Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
10 oz Bag Frozen Broccoli Florets, thawed
1 (20oz) can Pineapple Chunks in Heavy Syrup, drained and liquid reserved for the sauce
Cooked White Rice.
Trim and slice Top Sirloin thinly against the grain.  Coat with cornstarch and let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to give the cornstarch time to adhere to the meat.  Meanwhile, saute chopped garlic and ginger in 2 tsp oil stirring constantly until fragrant and tender.  Add Soy sauce, water, beef boullion, Red Pepper, and Pineapple Syrup to the garlic and ginger.  Let simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Next heat enough oil to brown meat in a large Frying pan or wok.  Brown meat in 2 batches.  Allow to drain on paper towels.  Add browned meat to reserved sauce.  Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes or until it starts to thicken.  Add pineapple and broccoli and simmer for 3-5 minutes more or until warmed through.  Serve over rice  

<3 Aunt Bee

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Pasta

         I have another low fat dish for y'all!  Just kidding! <evil laugh>  My sister made this dish last week and loved it so much that it has been at the top of my 'TO MAKE' list ever since.  Well, it was just as great as she said it was!  This is definitely going into our dinner rotation!  It made a ton, so next time I will split it in half and make one/freeze one for a busy night.  This would be an EXCELLENT way to use up leftover chicken!  
Buffalo Chicken Pasta
3-4 cups leftover Chicken or 2 large breast boiled and shredded
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 small onion, diced
3 TBSP unsalted butter
1 cup Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
1 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 cup Crumbled Blue Cheese or Gorgonzola
8 oz of your favorite pasta, cooked 1 minute less than al dente, it will continue cooking in the oven.
8 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Saute Celery and Onion in butter until softened.  In a large bowl, combine shredded Chicken, cooked celery and onion, ranch dressing, Franks Red Hot Sauce, Softened Cream Cheese, Garlic Salt, Pepper, Gorgonzola (or blue cheese) and cooked pasta noodles.  Pour into a Pam Sprayed 9x13 and top with shredded cheddar.  Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees or until dish is warmed through and cheese is bubbly.  ENJOY!  

<3 Aunt Bee

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Crock-Pot Chili Cheese Hot Dogs

Crock Pot Chili Cheese Hot Dog with all the Fixin's! 

       After our whirlwind weekend, we came home Sunday afternoon EXHAUSTED with about 4 loads of dirty clothes and a very empty fridge. I knew it was time for my fail proof back pocket crock pot life saver recipe! Chili Cheese Hot Dogs! I can not tell you how many times this has saved our family from ordering 40 dollars worth of delivery pizza, or from equally overpriced take out. I don't know what type of magic the crock pot does to a hot dog wiener but the only thing I can compare it to is one of those hot dogs you get at the fair or a concert. Where the wieners get really plump and juicy with a really crispy skin. This is the ONLY way we make hot dogs now.

Hot Dogs in a Crock Pot
1 pack of your favorite wieners (We like the Ball Park Bun Length)
a crock pot
Hot Dog Buns
All The Fixin's
Toss the wieners in the bottom of your crock pot. Do NOT add water! I do spray my crock pot with Pam first because it makes the cleanup so much easier. Spread them around where as much of each of them is touching the crock pot as possible. Cover and set on low for 3 - 4 hours.  I take them out and put them on a paper towel to drain a little of the moisture off. (I CANT STAND SOGGY BREAD) Then we top them with whatever we like. We usually have a can of our favorite chili and a can of nacho cheese sauce around for just this purpose. But we also sometimes just top with ketchup, mustard and onion. The point is, HOWEVER you usually top your hotdog, try cooking them this way first. Please let me know what you think and if you have any questions!

Placed in Crock Pot

After cooking on low for 3-4 hours

Topped with Hot Dog Chili Sauce, Nacho Cheese Sauce, Mustard and Purple Onion

Check out my top 20 favorite slow cooker recipes here!

<3 Aunt Bee

Monday, February 17, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 2-17-14 and a Weekend With Family!

       Hi everyone!!!  We are back from an absolutely AMAZING weekend in Birmingham with our families!  We spent our days with my family at my little brother's wedding rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, wedding and reception and our nights with my husband's side of the family.  Our rehearsal dinner was catered by CM Food Service and the food was SO GOOD!  I am definitely on a mission to recreate the Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars.  OUT OF THIS WORLD DELICIOUS!  My mom and sister did SUCH a good job with the dinner!  Everything was just beautiful!  
       So I have to take a second to mention, that night after the rehearsal, my sister in law CANCELLED her Valentines Night dinner plans and came to pick up my 3 year old so he could go back and play with her and my nieces and my mother in law(Nana) so he wouldn't have to sit through the rehearsal dinner after a 4 hour car ride.  How amazing was that?
He was so psyched to be there!  

So that night after we got back from our dinner to stay at Nana's house, she gave me the SWEETEST birthday present!  (My birthday was a couple of weeks ago but we just now got a chance to come visit) 

It says 'Aunt Bee'.  How precious is that?

      She also gave me about 15 new cookbooks that I am SO excited to try out!  The next day was the wedding.  Have you ever seen a more gorgeous bride? 

Our new sister, as pretty on the inside as the outside.

The wedding party.  Front left, my daughter (age 9) and niece were flower girls and front right, my son (age 3) and my nephew were ring bearers.  Ashlea's sister's baby boy is in the very front and he is just adorable and stole my heart!  My dad was my brother's best man and I have never seen him so proud :-)

The beautiful bride, bridesmaids, and the little STUD MUFFIN!

on the way to Uncle Cody and Aunt Ashlea's wedding! She was so excited to be flower girl!

The newlyweds in front of Shiloh United Methodist Church in Calera, Alabama!  This church was SO CUTE!  It was the church Ashlea's mom grew up in and her grandmother has attended for years! 

Just Married!  <3

The Wedding Reception was held at Timberline Golf Club in Calera, Alabama.  It was absolutely stunning!  

My son and my PRECIOUS niece arriving at the Reception.  

My daughter and I

I have to take a minute to tell you all how happy I am that my 'little' brother has found such an amazing woman to spend the rest of his life with.  She is breathtakingly beautiful and as sweet as she is pretty and loves the Lord with all her heart.  Her whole family was so warm and welcoming to us!  

One of my favorite moments of the whole weekend.

Before the wedding Ashlea invited the women from our family to join the women in her family for a prayer to ask God's blessing on their marriage.  Her sister Brooke delivered one of the sweetest prayers I have ever heard and I can promise you, there was not a dry eye in the room.  My sister is not in the photo, only because she is the incredibly talented photographer behind the lens.  If any of you are in the Birmingham, Alabama area and are interested in booking a session with one of the best photographers around, check out her facebook page for more information.

I am going to have lots more photos from the weekend to share, but this is getting too long so I guess I will go ahead and post our menu plan for the week.  As I mentioned earlier, Nana gave me about 15 new cookbooks this weekend so I am SO excited to be trying out some new recipes!

1) Peppery Beef & Pineapple Stir Fry
2) Vegetable Beef Soup (Nana sent us home with some of her homemade soup!) and Grilled Cheese
3) Porcupine Meatballs and Rice 
4) Tex-Mex Cowboy Casserole
5) Italian Sausage and 5 Cheese Pasta Al Forno (Based on Olive Garden's 5 cheese Pasta Al Forno but I add Italian Sausage because we are carnivores)
6) Buffalo Chicken Pasta

For TONS more menu plans, check out It is going to be SUCH a yummy week!  I am so excited to be back cooking!  

<3 Aunt Bee

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Crock-Pot Brown Sugar and Balsamic Pork Roast

      Good evening! We are finally getting the snow we have been waiting on in North Alabama! It is coming down so fast! I hope it sticks long enough for us to get to play in it tomorrow! For dinner tonight, we had one of our all time FAVORITE crock pot recipes: Brown Sugar and Balsamic Pork Roast. It is SO flavorful, tender and delicious! We served it over Basic Rice Pilaf and Balsamic Roasted Asparagus.
Brown Sugar and Balsamic Pork Roast
1 (2 lb) pork loin
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 TBSP minced garlic
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
Glaze (I sometimes double this to  serve over mashed potatoes or rice)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. (I also add the cooking liquid that has accumulated in the bottom of the crock-pot to the glaze) Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush roast liberally with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.

<3 Aunt Bee

Check out my top 20 favorite slow cooker recipes here!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Meatloaf with Chili Sauce

Good evening! North Alabama is on day 2 of a Winter Storm advisory! We got a little bit of snow and ice today, and expecting 5-8 inches here tomorrow! I know that may not sound like a huge deal up north, but down here, well:

I loved John Candy!
       So, with this weather, we ended up having school cancelled today and tomorrow AND the power hasn't gone out (yet) so it has been fun! The kids played outside in the snow twice today! Last night, I got a meatloaf out of the freezer from the last time I made a double loaf. I let it thaw in the fridge overnight and baked it tonight like normal. All I had to do was make some glaze and top the meatloaf for the last 10 minutes. Easy, yummy homemade meal! I can not say enough about how delicious this meatloaf with chili sauce is. It IS a little bit more labor intensive than other meatloaves I have made, but since it makes 2 loaves, one to bake and one to freeze, it is DEFINITELY worth it! (And the only meatloaf recipe I ever make now!) We served it with better than Cracker Barrel Hash-brown Casserole and Southern Style Green Beans.

Meatloaf with Chili Sauce
1/2 cup milk
4 slices white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin or 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chili sauce, plus 1/2 cup for glaze
1 cup fresh parsley or 1/3 cup dried parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup ketchup for glaze
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center.  Chop your onion and garlic finely, set aside.   In a large bowl, pour milk over bread; let soak, about 30 seconds.  Add beef, pork, onion, garlic, 1/2 cup chili sauce, parsley, Parmesan, eggs, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Using your hands, mix until combined; do not overmix or meatloaf will be dense.  Divide mixture in half. Gently pat each half into a log, and place each log in an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Do not press down or into corners. (I freeze 1 of them at this point.)  Bake 1 hour. For the glaze mix 1/2 cup chili sauce with 1 cup ketchup.   Brush half of the glaze on top of the meatloaf and continue cooking until juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 160 degrees, about 15 minutes.  Reserve other half of the glaze in the fridge and you have a 2nd dinner ready to go for a busy night!

<3 Aunt Bee

Monday, February 10, 2014

~Menu Plan Monday~ 2/10/14

       Good evening!  Stopping in to post my dinner menu plan for the week!  This week is going to be a little different than normal as we are only planning 6 dinners at home because we have a special night out coming up and we are under a Winter Storm advisory. This may cause power outages so the next couple of nights are subject to be switched to Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches at a moment's notice. My kids will be heartbroken I am sure ;-)


Spaghetti and Meatballs (using homemade meatballs from the freezer!)

Triple Cheese Meatball Subs (Using leftover meatballs!) #LeftoverMakeover

In addition to these meals, this week we will have fresh cut carrots, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes with dinner.  I try to do at least 2 Veggies (or more) with every meal to balance it all out :-) I hope you all have a fantastic and YUMMY week!  For more meal plans, check out menu plan monday at

<3 Aunt Bee