Homemade Muffins Recipe

What do you do with a leftover cup of fresh blueberries? You make homemade muffins, of course! Here's the easy recipe.
The Author's Homemade Blue-Razz-Banana-Berry Muffins

What do you do with the last of your Mother's Day berries and a stray half-banana? Well if you're me, you make homemade muffins, of course!

On Mother's Day I was blessed with a generous supply of chocolate-covered strawberries as well as plenty of fresh blueberries and raspberries, a gift from my daughter-in-law. The strawberries are gone (and oh, they were delicious!), but about a cup of berries remained in the fridge this morning, so I decided to find a simple muffin recipe and use them up.

It took just a few minutes to find a "Best Ever Muffins" recipe, so I gathered the ingredients and went to work. Copyright laws don't allow me to publish the complete recipe here, but this link will take you right to it. It's easy and you probably have all the ingredients on hand (2 cups flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 3/4 cup white sugar, 1 egg, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup oil).

The batter went together quickly in the usual muffin-making method (gently stir mixed wet ingredients into mixed dry ingredients). Then I added the berries (about a cup). I also had half of a banana in the refrigerator leftover from a PB&B sandwich a few days ago, so I coarsely chopped that and added it, too. The muffin pan was ready and waiting, so I filled it up.

About 25 minutes-of-baking later (400 degrees), then 10 minutes of cooling, it was time to give the muffins a try. The verdict? Delicious!

I'm not sure why I don't bake muffins more often, but I think I will now. I always have fruit around and just might try chopping and adding some of the frozen mixture that I keep on hand for making smoothies. And of course there are always raisins (hubby loves raisins), grated carrots and pineapple, chocolate chips, or whatever happens to float my boat on any given craving-muffins morning.

Do you make homemade muffins? What's your favorite kind? 

Homemade Sweet Potato Chips for Dogs

Prepared properly, sweet potatoes make a safe and nutritious snack for your dog. Here's the recipe.

Are sweet potatoes safe for dogs to eat? The answer is a resounding yes, as long as the sweet potatoes are cooked first. In fact, prepared properly they are very nutritious and good for dogs, just as they are for people.

Sweet potatoes rank very high on the nutritional value scale, containing plenty of beta carotene, vitamin C, and other nutrients that are great for the immune system. Daisy loves them and I love giving her a snack that's good for her, though I try not to overdo it. If she had her way, her slim, girlish dog-figure would be long gone!

Buying fresh produce and making your dog's snacks in your own kitchen is easier than you might think. One potato goes a long way, so it's economical, too.

Here's the recipe. Step-by-step pictures are below.

Daisy's Sweet Potato Snacks


1 sweet potato - smooth and uniform in size
cutting board
a sharp knife or mandolin slicer


Scrub the sweet potato thoroughly with a vegetable brush. It's important that it's good and clean. I don't peel mine, but you can if you want.

Carefully slice the sweet potato into discs about one-eighth inch thick or just a bit thinner for crunchier chips. They bake better when they're uniform in size. To make the slices uniform in size, use a mandolin slicer.

Arrange sliced potatoes on an ungreased baking sheet or pizza pan. I didn't have a problem at all with the potatoes sticking.

Bake in preheated 300 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Check thinner chips sooner. For some of my thicker slices, I turned them over and baked an additional five or 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Store in bags. If they're nice and dry and crisp they should keep well at room temperature. If they're not quite as dry, then store in the refrigerator just to be safe.

When preparing sweet potato snacks for your dog, scrub the sweet potatoes well.
Scrub the sweet potato well using a vegetable brush.
It's important that the food you use is as clean as possible,
especially since you won't be peeling the sweet potato.

Using a knife or mandolin slicer, slice the sweet potatoes into thin discs for crispy chips.
Slice the sweet potato into thin discs.
It's much easier with a mandolin slicer. I didn't have mine yet
when I made this batch of chips. 

Bake sweet potato slices in the oven as directed in the recipe.
Arrange slices on a baking pan, place in the oven and
bake at 300 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

Wait patiently with your dog while the sweet potato chips are baking.
Wait patiently with your dog until the chips are nice and crisp.

Cool the sweet potato chips then give the dog a taste. Yum!
Cool the chips then let the dog give them a taste test.
Daisy loves her sweet potato chips!

Store your dog's homemade sweet potato chips in a plastic bag.
Store the baked chips in a plastic bag. 

P,S. Yes, these sweet potato snacks are perfectly fine for adults. Try some salt or cinnamon if you bake up a batch for yourself. Dogs don't need the extra flavor.

Hamburger Vegetable Soup Recipe

I like to start with a can of soup, inventing my own tasty creation as I go. That's how this 4-ingredient Hamburger Vegetable Soup recipe was born.

I love soup. I even like soup from a can. But I especially like canned soup when I start with a can and then embellish it with extra ingredients, inventing my own tasty creation as I go, based on what I happen to have in my pantry or freezer. That's how this four-ingredient Hamburger Vegetable Soup recipe was born.

This was last night's dinner and worked well to comfort our bodies after a very cold, almost-winter's day. Served with cornbread and a bowl of mixed fruit, the recipe generously fed two of us with a bit left over for today's lunch. Simply double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe if you're serving a bigger family.

Here's my "homemade-up" recipe:

4-Ingredient Hamburger Vegetable Soup

1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 can condensed vegetable soup plus a soup can of water
1 can seasoned diced tomatoes
16-ounce package of frozen mixed vegetables (or use canned or leftover vegetables if you prefer)

In a large saucepan, brown the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you go, until no longer pink. Add the soup (plus the can of water) and the diced tomatoes. Stir together well. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the vegetables and return to a simmer. Put a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or just until the vegetables are done if you're in a hurry.

Serve steamy bowls or mugs of soup along with cornbread or crackers plus a bowl of peaches or other fruit for a nice, cool contrast.

Serves 3. Recipe can be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled for a crowd.

Recipe notes: 

  • Feel free to substitute ground turkey for the beef. Our family prefers extra-lean ground beef.
  • If you enjoy a spicy soup, add Cajun Seasoning or Chili Powder to taste.
  • Because I used canned ingredients, I chose not to add additional salt.  
  • Choose a healthier version (i.e. reduced sodium) soup if you prefer. 
  • Seasoned diced tomatoes are available in a variety of flavor combinations. Use your favorite (Italian, Mexican, etc.). 
  • Stretch the flavor and the quantity of the soup even more by adding a can of beans or leftover cooked rice or macaroni. 

Enjoy "homemade-up" soup recipes? Here are a couple more of our family's favorites.

Quick Easy Chili Recipe

Don't forget to pin this recipe so you don't lose it!

I like to start with a can of soup, inventing my own tasty creation as I go. That's how this 4-ingredient Hamburger Vegetable Soup recipe was born.

Pecan Pie Muffins

This Pecan Pie Muffins recipe is quick and easy and the result really is reminiscent of pecan pie. Great for Christmas morning or a holiday brunch!

Here's a sweet and very tasty treat that's particularly suited for the holiday season and goes well on a brunch menu. I came across the recipe in a magazine recently and couldn't wait to try it. Fortunately, since I had all the ingredients on hand, I didn't have to wait very long.

This muffin recipe is quick and easy and the result really is reminiscent of pecan pie. The batter mixes up quickly with only five ingredients, so this would be a fun item to bake up fresh on Christmas morning.

The recipe I found calls for using a mini muffin tin, but since I don't currently have one I used my regular-sized muffin tins. Since the muffins don't rise much, I should have filled the tins nearly full, but since I hadn't made them before and filled the tins about 2/3 of the way, my 11 muffins came out looking a little flat. Filling the tins almost full should yield closer to nine large muffins. I've added a mini-muffin tin to my wish list since I think that bite size would be preferable, though they probably won't last very long around our hungry family.

Since the result is rather addictive, you might want to double the recipe so you'll have plenty on hand.

Pecan Pie Muffins Recipe


1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins (or spray with non-stick spray) or use paper liners if you prefer. 

In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, and pecans. Set aside. 

In a small bowl, melt butter then whisk in the eggs. Add this mixture to the sugar mixture in the large bowl and stir together gently.

Fill muffin tins almost to the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Cool muffins on  a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Makes about nine large muffins or 2 1/2 dozen mini muffins. 

So, what do you think? Might these pecan pie muffins grace your family's holiday brunch table this year? Enjoy!

This Pecan Pie Muffins recipe is quick and easy and the result really is reminiscent of pecan pie. Great for Christmas morning or a holiday brunch!

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Homemade chicken nuggets taste so much better than drive-thru nuggets. They're easy to prepare and bake in just 20 minutes. Here's the recipe.

I remember the first time Mawie, my grandmother, fixed homemade chicken nuggets, Parmesan noodles, and peas for me. Since then I've prepared this recipe dozens of times for my family and we all love it.

I actually simplified Mawie's original recipe by using store-bought seasoned bread crumbs instead of adding the thyme, basil, and salt to unseasoned crumbs, as called for in her original recipe. The most recent time I baked chicken nuggets I had panko bread crumbs on hand and used those along with a few good shakes of Italian seasoning and a touch of garlic powder.

Homemade chicken nuggets taste so much better than what you get at the drive-thru. In my opinion, baked really is better than deep fried! Most importantly, when you make them yourself you know exactly what's going into them. For me, that's very important as I try to avoid food with a high sodium content and flavor-enhancing ingredients.

Here's the recipe.

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

3 boneless chicken breast halves or a package of fresh chicken breast tenderloins (20 ounces)
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (or panko bread crumbs and added Italian seasoning, see above)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Cut chicken into pieces about 1 1/2 inches square. Combine crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Dip nuggets in melted butter, then in crumbs. Place on foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes (watch that the bottoms don't burn). 

Serves 3.

Most recently I used parchment paper to line the baking sheet and the chicken didn't stick at all as it tends to do with foil. The panko crumbs that I used didn't get as brown as the regular bread crumbs, but to remedy that you could turn the chicken halfway through baking. I just don't like to take the extra time. Just be sure not to overcook or burn the bottoms while you're waiting for the tops to brown.

I serve chicken nuggets with Parmesan noodles and peas, like my Mawie did. To make Parmesan noodles, just cook egg noodles as directed on the package, drain and return to the hot pan. Add a good-sized dollop of sour cream and a good sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and stir it all in. If I don't have sour cream on hand, I just stir in some butter and the cheese. To borrow a phrase, ummm, ummm, good! Kid- and husband-approved, too!

Do you like chicken nuggets? Do you drive thru or make your own? Think you'll try this recipe? I'd love to read your comments!

Originally published 11/20/06. Updated 10/7/16

Classic Pumpkin Pie

Everyone should have this classic pumpkin pie recipe and prepare it often.

For Thanksgiving, Christmas, a crisp, autumn day, or just because you love the fragrance of pumpkin baked with traditional spices, everyone should have this classic pumpkin pie recipe and bake it often.

I always wonder why companies change tried-and-true recipes that they've printed on their label for years. I can understand updating ingredients to improve the nutrition of the recipe, but changing the method alone has always puzzled me. At one point that happened with Libby's pumpkin pie. This is the classic pumpkin pie recipe as I copied it off the pumpkin can label years ago. This method is the simplest and still makes the pumpkin pie that my husband and my kids love best.

Chances are, this is the pie you grew up eating. And loving.

Classic Pumpkin Pie Recipe

2 eggs, slightly beaten
16 oz. can pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
12 ounce can evaporated milk

Combine ingredients in order given.
For two 9" frozen pie shells: Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes on pre-heated cookie sheet.
For one 9" homemade pie shell: Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 45 minutes longer.
Pie is done when table knife inserted off-center in the pie comes out clean.

Recipe Notes:

  • I know that cans don't hold as much food as they used to, so if the can of pumpkin that you buy contains a bit less than 16 ounces, that's fine. These proportions still bake up perfectly. 
  • I use a 10-inch glass pie pan when I bake this and the timing is perfect. If you use a stainless steel pie pan, check the pie at 40 minutes instead of 45. It could take up to 50 minutes. Trust your nose and the knife test.
  • I use the Pillsbury refrigerated crusts, the kind you unroll at room temperature. Substitute your own homemade crust if you prefer. 

Thank you for sharing this recipe with your friends and family!

Skillet Smoked Sausage Pasta Dinner

If you love skillet meals that go together easily, cook up quickly, and satisfy a hungry family, try this Skillet Smoked Sausage Pasta Dinner.

Recently I came across my friend Barbara's recipe for Stove-Top Broccoli and Sausage Pasta. It looked and sounded so good, I knew I'd have to try it. Try it I did, though with a few small changes, and we love it.

If you love skillet meals that go together easily, cook up quickly, and satisfy a hungry family, then I urge you to give this recipe a try. I think you'll find that both Barbara's version and my own are "keepers." Whichever one you choose to keep probably depends on whether you have broccoli or bell pepper on hand. Like both? That's smart! Prefer yet another vegetable? Substitute as you please! That's the beauty of skillet dinners; the variations are limited only by your family's taste buds and the contents of your refrigerator.

I call my version Skillet Smoked Sausage Pasta Dinner. Here's the recipe:

Skillet Smoked Sausage Pasta Dinner


8 ounces rotini pasta

1 12 to 16 ounce package smoked Polish or similar sausage

1 can (14-1/2 ounces) Italian seasoned diced tomatoes, undrained
OR used unseasoned tomatoes and add
1 T minced fresh basil or 1 t. dried basil and
1 T minced fresh parsley or 1 t. dried parsley flakes

1 can corn, drained or about 1 cup frozen cut corn

1 bell pepper, green or whatever color you prefer, cut into 1 to 2-inch chunks

Crumbled Feta or grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


Slice the sausage into quarter-inch rounds then place in a large, cold skillet. Over medium heat, cook and stir long enough to brown the sausage and let the juices flow, scraping the bottom of the skillet as the sausage cooks.

As the sausage is browning, cook the pasta to al dente as directed on the package (about 7 minutes). Drain and set aside. (Or cook and drain pasta ahead of time.)

Add tomatoes, seasonings (if using), corn, and the bell pepper to the sausage mixture. Stir together well. Cover, reduce heat and simmer over medium-low heat for about 5 to 8 minutes until pepper is almost as done as you like it (we like it still a little crispy).

Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and stir together well. Cook and stir just until everything is heated through.

Serve topped with a bit of the feta or Parmesan cheese, if using.

Serve with salad or homemade applesauce on the side.

Do you like skillet meals? What changes would you make to the recipe to suit your family? I'd love to read your comments and suggestions.

Skillet Smoked Sausage Pasta Dinner recipe from RecipesForRealPeople.com

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