Friday, November 25, 2011

Super Easy Pizza Dough

Pizza is my favorite food besides chocolate (and cookies). My madre is the best pizza maker West of the Mississippi as far as I'm concerned, and this is her recipe. It is very quick, and very easy. Even non-cookers/bakers can do it if they put their mind to it (no rhyme intended).

No Rise Instant Pizza Dough

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast (.25 ox or 1 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp white sugar
1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Stir together flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Mix in water and vegetable oil. Divide dough in half. Begin using gravity to stretch the dough. Spread it on an oiled baking sheet and use a rolling pin to roll to desired shape and size. Bake 5 min, remove and poke air bubbles with a fork. Add your favorite toppings and bake another 10-20 minutes until cheese is melted and golden.

Pizza Sauce

Per Pizza-
1 can tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp oregano

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Easy Pudding Cake

This is a favorite from my growing up years. My mom used to make it all the time, and I think it was the first thing I ever learned to bake. It is very easy, and very tasty. I made it on Sunday, and probably ate the half of the cake by myself...for better or for worse... :)

Pudding Cake aka Best Chocolate Cake EVER.

Prep Time: 10 Min
Baking Time: 30 Min

1 small pkg. chocolate pudding (cook and serve)
1 cake mix (chocolate)
1 c. nuts, chopped
1 c. chocolate chips

Make pudding in medium saucepan according to package instructions. Remove from heat. Let cook for about 5 minutes. Add chocolate cake mix (dry) to pudding and mix just well enough to incorporate (small powder bits are fine). Spread quickly into greased and floured 9X13 inch pan. Sprinkle nuts and chips over the top and press into the batter with the back of a spatula. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if you please.

Variations: Lemon cake mix with vanilla pudding and white chips, spice cake mix with butterscotch pudding and butterscotch chips.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

We have some cakey winners!!!

I apologize for the delay in the cake mix contest winner decision. Without further delay, I'd like to proudly announce the winner is....

Submitted by Hannah

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cake mix
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 cups milk (I used vanilla almond milk)
assorted sprinkles
Combine flour, cake mix, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix. Add 1 cup of milk, egg and vanilla extract and stir until smooth. You want the batter to look like regular pancake batter; not too thin, not too thick. This will vary greatly on the brand of cake mix you use. Start with 1 cup of milk and add more if needed. I suggest a small taste test as well to see if the pancakes are flavored enough.
Preheat a skillet on medium heat (I use an electric grilled and turn it to 250 degrees). Fold desired amount of sprinkles into batter. Pour batter in 1/4 cup measurements onto skillet and let cook until bubbles form on top, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 minute more. Serve with vanilla glaze.

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
assorted sprinkles
Mix milk, extract and powdered sugar until glaze forms. You may need to add a little more sugar or water/milk to reach desired consistency. Mix into glaze and drizzle on pancakes.
*Hannah found her recipe here, which includes many other great sweet treats, as well as pretty pretty pictures. Check it out! 

2nd Place- I plan on making this every day. 

Dorm Room Cake
Submitted by Taylor 

Cereal Bowl
Cake Mix of choice

Put desired amount of cake mix into a bowl
Add desired amount of water
Microwave until baked (about 50 seconds)
I have never measured it out, but it makes a pretty darn good microwaved cake once you figure out the proper proportions.

If you would like to make icing use the same or a different flavor cake mix and add less water so it is thicker. Spread on top of microwaved cake.

3rd Places in no particular order ( I couldn't choose between these three, so there are three third places whether you like it or not.)

Healthy Chocolate Cake
Submitted by Tyler 

1 can black beans
1/2 can water
1 chocolate cake mix 

Drain the beans and rinse them so that you don't get gas as a result of eating this delicious cake. Blend the beans with 1/2 can of water (using the original bean can). Mix this with the cake mix and put her in the oven and sha bang! You have a cake with virtually no fat and still all of the original tastiness. Your friends won't even be able to taste the difference. 

Peach Cobbler
Submitted by Maddison 

1 large can of peaches (29 oz)
1 lemon cake mix
1/2 cup of melted butter or margarine

 Lightly grease a 9 X 13 pan, then pour in peaches and their juice. Sprinkle dry cake mix over the fruit, then melt butter and pour over cake mix. Bake at 350 for 60 minutes (or at like 400 for 30 minutes or something like that, I don't remember). Serve it hot or cold. It is delicious.

Sprite Cake
Submitted By Liz 

You can make a cake by mixing a cake mix with a 2-liter bottle of Sprite! It's rather amazing, and fairly delicious. You leave out the other ingredients that the cake mix calls for and use Sprite instead, then bake the cake at the allotted temperature for the allotted time. That's it!
Congrats to these lucky finalists, and thanks everyone who participated!

Monday, October 17, 2011


In the next few days the winners of the cake mix contest will be announced. Thank you everyone who participated!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Desserts To Die For!

I love pumpkin. I don’t mean the literal pumpkin guts or anything. Just processed pumpkin with tons of preservatives and chocolate added. Mmmm, nothing says autumn louder than a pumpkin dessert. Last year around this time, my good friend Jesse C. brought over a plate of these divine cookies. I can still remember the blue tinted glass plate on which the cookies sat. Everything about these cookies was perfect- from their circular shape, to the balanced chocolate-pumpkin ratio, to the slightly crispy outside and the perfectly gooey inside. I highly recommend these cookies. Thanks for saving they day yet again, Jesse.

Total Prep Time: 7 Min
Total Cook Time: 10 Min
Total Price: $0.00 They were a gift. (I challenge you to find an unsuspecting pumpkin-a-holic to make them for you too!)

Perfectly Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 can (29 oz) of 100% Pure Pumpkin (I use Libby's brand)
2 boxes spice cake mix
1 bag (11 oz) of your favorite chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix pure pumpkin and spice cake mix in a large bowl until even consistency. Mix in chocolate chips. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet (or I use parchment paper) using a spoon. Bake 10 min. However, I have found each oven may be different, so watch cookies and remove from oven after a toothpick/fork comes out clean in the middle of one of the cookies.

Another tasty yet easy pumpkin dessert is this Pumpkin Crumble. Check out the recipe here
I made this for my work meeting, and it was a complete success. Two thumbs up.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cake Mix Contest!!!!!

Calling all bakers!!!!

I’d like to turn this Surprisingly Simple blog over to all you faithful readers, and open up a little friendly competition. The name of the game is cake mix.  
Cake mixes are for bakers who are accomplished at the art of not wasting their time mixing together ingredients that someone else already mixed for them, all for the price of $0.75!

This being said, I would like to see what you wonderful readers have to offer in terms of recipes that use cake mixes. For example, I’ve seen recipies for truffles, cookies, extra special cakes, and all sorts of other delicious treats. In order to entice you to participate, Surprisingly Simple will be having a contest with real live prizes. Wherever you are in the world, if your recipe wins, you’ll be awarded a $5 gift card to Cold Stone Ice Cream, or Jamba Juice (you choose) as well as your very own post on this blog, which we all know will lead to fame and fortune. This is just the second place prize. You can choose. Recipes will be judged on their simplicity relative to their deliciousness, as well as the overall “wow” factor. The judges will be an anonymous selection of cool people, yet to be determined.

Enter by 10:00am MST, Saturday, October 15, 2011!

email all entries to !

Tell your friends, tell your mom, tell your wife! Tell everyone so that we can share in the joys of not cake cake mixes together. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tomato Basil Pasta!- All the way from Italy!

Here is a recipe shared by a friend of a friend via the friend. Aka my super cool world traveling co-worker Liz. She spent the summer in Italy, so I think we can really trust her pasta cooking skills. This dish has some solid power house ingredients that really you can’t go wrong with. Plus, who isn’t in love with basil?

Tomato Basil Pasta

Total Prep Time: 15 min
Total Price: $5, but there was a lot left over ingredients that can be used again.

pasta of any variety
olive oil
a few leaves of fresh basil
cherry tomatoes

As you wait for the water to come to a boil, cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters, dice the garlic, and slice the basil leaves into strips. Once the water is boiling, put in your pasta. As the pasta cooks, simultaneously cook the other ingredients in a small frying pan with some olive oil. When the pasta is ready, use a slotted spoon to transfer it into the frying pan. Cook the pasta and the fresh ingredients together for a few minutes, as this will allow the pasta to better retain these flavors.

You can alter your ingredients from the classic tomato-basil combination as desired to use random vegetables that you may already have. Zucchini work well in this recipe and you could also add in onions or use different spices to suit your tastes.

*Liz is very, very cool. And it’s not just because she speaks Italian and had beautiful hair. She’s one of the nicest people I know too.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sweet Bean Burritos

*The fastest way to cook a potato is in the microwave. Wash the potato, then put it in a plastic zip-lock bag. Then stab the potato all over with a fork, puncturing it (there should be tiny holes all over its skin). Microwave for aprox. 6 min, or until soft enough. I’ve never cooked one in the oven before. Please don’t tell my mother.

This being said, a while ago a co-worker was helping me brainstorm ideas of how to spice up my diet, once again, and she pointed me towards this recipe. If you are a fan of sweet potatoes, you’ll love it. I love it. With my super scientific way to cook potatoes mentioned above, these burritos become pretty simple, easy, and not super time consuming.

Sweet Bean Burritos
Time to prepare: 20 min
Total Cost: around $3.50

1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 can black beans, drained
1 medium sweet potato, cooked and mashed*
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt to taste

6 flour tortillas
cilantro, chopped
cheddar cheese, shredded
sour cream (optional)

In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and cook onion and garlic until soft. Add beans, stir in the mashed sweet potatoes, add the cumin and salt, mix well. Heat until mixture is hot.
Place desired amount of mixture in a warmed tortilla with cheese and sour cream and a little cilantro if you want. Roll into a burrito shaped burrito, and eat.

Original recipe found here!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Molten Lava Cakes of Love

I wish I could take the credit for this beautiful delight, but I can’t. However I can take the credit for loving chocolate and laziness enough to share this recipe with the world! This is super easy, and yet if you’ll notice by the picture, very official and gourmet looking. Perhaps even romantic looking. Maybe you should make these this weekend for your secret crush. You’ll win him/her over for sure with these.

Total Prep Time:10 min
Total Cook Time: 10 min
Total Cost: most people have most of these ingredients can be found in yours or your neighbors pantry except maybe the chocolate chips, which you can get for $2.50. Go love your neighbor.

Molten Lava Cakes of Love

4 tablespoons of room temperature butter
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 oz bittersweet melted chocolate (I just used most of a bag of good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a muffin tin with butter. Sprinkle sugar over the butter, coating each cup. Dump excess sugar out. The recipe usually makes about 8 cakes, so you only need to coat that many.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each one well. Then add flour and salt until just combined. Melt chocolate (I usually do it in the microwave in 30 second intervals) and mix into the batter.

Place equal amounts of the batter into the sugar lined muffin tin and bake on a baking sheet for 8-10 minutes or just until the top of the cakes no longer jiggle when slightly shaken. (this is the crucial part, if you go to long you'll over cook them, they are supposed to be "molten" inside after all). Scoop into a bowl (don't worry about it staying intact when you take it out of the muffin tin-it won't.)

Serve with vanilla ice cream and berries (I like raspberries with a little sugar on them the best) and get ready for the best and easiest dessert of your life.

*This recipe was brought to you by Melissa. Another amazing co-worker with a good head on her shoulders and a good recipe book on her bookshelf. She is a saint, and also cute. If you would like information on how to contact her, or how to make her a Molten Lava Cake of love, just let me know!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Under-Appreciated Item of the Week

This week's under-appreciated item is...(drum roll...)


In my professional opinion, Tapatio is the best hot sauce that can be found on this side of the border. You can trust my opinion, because I’ve been around the hot sauce block a time or two. I don’t remember how I was first introduced to Tapatio, but it was true love from the very first instance of taste-bud contact. It has the perfect blend of spice and flavor, and I must warn you, it is addicting. A bottle of Tapatio only costs around $2.00. It is better for you than any other condiment, because it is just spices. So each serving has 0 calories and 0g fat. Therefore substituting it in lieu of your other favorite dressings is an easy way to cinch your belt a little bit.  

Tapatio is more than just a sauce to dip your quesadillas in. Here are some other things that it can enhance:
  • add it to your veggies
  • use as salad dressing
  • use on your sandwiches to make a spicy mayo
  • mix in to your pasta-roni
  • put on scrambled eggs
  • dip your french fries in it
  • pour on potato chips
  • naturally it goes great on traditional things like tacos, nachos, burritos, etc.
  • insert your own clever idea here!
I heart tapatio.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

10 Minute Pasta- starring Sara W.

Today's guest chef comes to us from the exotic land of Paris, France. Ok she's really from Texas, but she has been to France. Sara is a former roommate of mine, who graciously used to cook for me all the time. Those were beautiful days. She is one of the inspirations for this blog, and therefore I thought it would be expedient for her to be a guest chef. So from Sara's kitchen to yours, I bring you 10 Minute Pasta! Super easy, and simple- I wonder why I never thought of it before! All I know is that Sara's cooking is spectacular enough to attract a genius pre-med husband, so there is certainly something to learn from Sara.

10 Minute Pasta

Total Cook/Prep Time: 10 min of course.
Total Cost: $3.01

1 bag of frozen raveoli
1 piece of baked chicken
1 can of tomato sauce
1/4 c. of Mozarella cheese

This recipe is as simple as it looks.  Cook the raveoli pasta for 10 minutes, while heating up the tomato sauce on the stove. Cube the baked chicken, and then mix it with the tomato sauce.  Drain the pasta, and top it with the tomato sauce and Mozarella cheese.  

*Note on the chicken: I like to use my George Foreman Grill for times like these, when I just need a little bit of chicken fast. Another idea might be to just bake a few chicken breasts at the start of every week, so you have them ready for meals and days when you're more busy. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ice Cream for Breakfast? Yes please.

Were you allowed to eat whatever you wanted for breakfast as a kid? Don't feel bad if your answer is no. Most moms don’t let their kids have just anything for breakfast--especially ice cream. Traditionally breakfast is supposed to be hot, not frozen.However, traditionally, my family is not very traditional and our favorite breakfast foods involve ice cream. It has always been my favorite food for morning, noon, and night.

Usually I don’t just sit down and have a big ‘ol bowl of ice cream for breakfast. I usually disguise it in something that looks nutritious. The habit started because growing up we would have cream of wheat with ice cream on it. The ice cream stands in for the milk and sugar normal people put on it, but it is twenty million times better. Now that I’m older I just eat it on regular Quick-Oats oatmeal. If you are a fan of hot cereal, or you even like it a little bit, then I recommend trying this. There’s no better way to start the day.

Another way to eat ice cream for breakfast is to put it on your pancakes or waffles. I think this is more common, but still a tantalizing experience for your taste-buds.

This week’s challenge: Have ice cream for breakfast!!! Live a little.

Monday, October 3, 2011

S'mores Treats

I have always had a thing for anything s'mores related. This being said, my co-worker Andrea was my hero last week and brought these incredible creations to our work meeting last week. These things changed my life-love at first taste bud contact. I came home from school that day, and made my own batch. I will never admit to how many I did, or did not eat from said batch. I will admit that it only took me a total of ten minutes to make, and everyone that tried them wanted to be my best friend. I was instantly the most popular girl in school- or my apartment at least.

S’more Treats

Total Prep Time: 10 min
Total Cost: $6.59

1/4 cup butter
1 (10 oz) bag regular marshmallows
1 box of Golden Graham cereal
1-2 cups Chocolate Chips

In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add marshmallows and keep stirring until the marshmallows completely melt and you get a marshmallow sauce. Make sure you don’t use a rubber spatula to stir. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this mistake... Remove from heat.Add Golden Grahams and stir until they are all well coated, then add chocolate chips.
Grease a 9x13 pan and press S'mores mixture into it.

Cut into squares and eat! Hopefully you share with people, and don’t eat them all by yourself.

Here is where Andrea first found the recipe.

AND, here is where you can take a look at Andrea's really cool photography website. Her photo skills are very similar to her cooking skills, which have forever changed me for the better.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Night Idea: Popcorn Party!

I looked out the window and what did I see? A popcorn party just for you and me.

A few weekends ago I accidentally told a lot of people the same thing- "We should do something fun tonight! I'm sure the gang will be doing something great. I'll let you know!" Unfortunately, I frankly had no idea what anyone was doing, and I honestly hadn't heard of anything going on. I just knew a bunch of people who wanted to do something...or anything really. So that meant I felt some pressure to deliver. Luckily, I have creative friends who helped me brainstorm a list of fun Friday night ideas. The list was quite eclectic- ranging from finger painting with pudding to making a fort to stalking people with lives who were on dates. We were just tired of the typical dinner and a movie night. So, after much deliberation and careful voting, we decided to have a popcorn party. In case you're unaware, a popcorn party means that you make way more popcorn than you can ever eat, in every flavor you could ever imagine.

Thanks to our good friend google we uncovered a dozen or so really interesting recipes all involving popcorn. A trip to the store and $15 dollars later we were on our merry way to buttery popcorn bliss. We only really needed to pick up a few random ingredients like unpopped popcorn kernels, jello, and marshmallow.

Yes, we made all these kinds of popcorn, and yes we ate too much. But each and every calorie was a calorie filled with love. 

Price: as much or as little $ as you want. (Pretty cheap though because you probably have a lot of ingredients already.)
Fun Factor: out of this world!