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Back-of-the-Box (or -Jar or -Bottle) Recipes for Easy Entertaining


In a perfect world, a homemade meal would be something to get excited over, not intimidated by. The thing is, between work, kids, and a to-do list longer than Santa’s naughty and nice lists combined, standing over a hot stove for longer than 20 minutes doesn’t seem like an attractive way to spend an evening. With a little help from some of your favorite supermarket brands, that can all change.

Click here for the Best Back-of-the-Box Recipes (Slideshow)

Following an easy recipe on the back of the package of your favorite pantry staple is a great way for you to get a helping hand, and end up with something delicious. Kellogg’s changed the game when they printed the recipe for Rice Krispies Treats on the back of their Rice Krispies cereal boxes. They got the idea from Mildred Day, a Campfire Girls counselor and Kellogg’s employee, who created the recipe to help her Campfire Girls raise money. Kellogg's executives noticed the popularity of Day’s recipe — which was printed in the Campfire Girls’ cookbook in 1939 — and added it to the back of the box in 1941. They trademarked the Rice Krispies Treats name and the rest is cereal-box history. The idea made sense for price-conscious shoppers who were looking for a homemade dessert treat that they felt good about serving their family.

The beauty of a back-of-the-box recipe is that you get the satisfaction of cooking something at home without investing all the time it might take to do it from scratch. You’re still pulling it together, but in half the time. Food Network’s Sandra Lee has made a career out of box and bag shortcuts, and you can get in on the action, too.

Another benefit of the brand-name recipe is that you can take advantage of a good supermarket sale. Instead of stockpiling your cabinets with foods you have no specific plan for, turn the box over for some inspiration. After all, if it weren’t for the recipe on the French fried onions can, would you really know what to do with them? Campbell’s practically invented the soup-as-sauce technique by suggesting it with a recipe printed on their label. The brand has released over a dozen cookbooks full of recipes in which a can of soup is the thing that ties it all together.

Instead of avoiding the center aisles of the supermarket, embrace them with some of these easy and delicious back-of-the-box recipes.

Crispy Fried Chicken

Pancake mix is not just for breakfast, and that was proven when Aunt Jemima decided to whip up a batch of fried chicken using pancake mix. Use the buttermilk-flavored mix and tell guests they’re getting buttermilk-battered fried chicken for a meal they would swear you took all day to make.

Monkey Bread

Pillsbury has celebrated the inventive home cook with their Bake-Off for over 40 years. The contest asks consumers to come up their own recipes using Pillsbury products and rewards one lucky winner with $1 million, a new kitchen, and his or her recipe featured on the Pillsbury website and products. The recipe has to be as good as this one, though. Plastered on the back of a biscuit can for years now, this recipe makes it possible to transform breakfast bread into a pull-apart treat that everyone will love.

This article was originally published December 22, 2014.


Triscuit Recipes to Serve at Your Next Party

This post may contain affiliate links, please read my disclosure policy.

Here are some of my favorite, easy Triscuit recipes! I say that Triscuits are is the ‘easiest’ appetizer – but really, the easiest appetizer is probably good ‘ol chips and salsa. But sometimes a girl’s gotta get somewhat creative, and upgrade a bowl of chips to something that looks like it took a lot of effort. And whenever a girl’s gotta do that, she turns to Triscuits. This girl in question is actually me. Triscuits are my happy place.

I wish I could tell you that my favorite appetizer is some sort of complicated puff pastry concoction, but truthfully I haven’t mastered puff pastry, and puff pastry also usually makes me sick because I lack enough self control to stop at the third serving.

Anyways, puff pastry lover or not, Triscuits are my main squeeze in the appetizer department. I always follow this formula (I failed math, but I do remember f(x)… I wonder if my math teacher had turned functions into Triscuit word problems I might have passed?). Here we go:

f(triscuit) = something savory + something sweet + something crunchy

The something crunch can often be the Triscuit itself, but crushed nuts are a really great option for this. I usually reach for a bit of cheese when it comes to something savory, although salami or prosciutto are also great options.

Now for my favorite part, which I could go on like Bubba and his shrimp about, the something sweet. Strawberry jelly, blackberry jam, fig preserves, sliced watermelon, maple syrup, raw honey, dried cranberries, cherry jam, sliced figs, fresh pears… I could keep going for about 10,000 more words, but I will stop, because I want to keep a shred of my dignity in tact.

Triscuit Recipes that Rock

Disclaimer, Triscuit is not paying me to tell you this. I wish I could squeeze some money out of that cardboard box that I love so much, but this is me just being real with you here.


Use creative toppings

The simplest way to make a box of brownies taste homemade is by adding on toppings. Like jazzing up an ice cream cone at the scoop shop, there are an endless array of combinations that would fool any sweets eaters into thinking your boxed brownies are homemade.

For entertaining a younger crowd, you could smear on homemade chocolate frosting and add a handful of rainbow sprinkles that the kids will absolutely love. For the adults, add a bit of elegance with crushed pistachios and a handful of fresh raspberries. If you have anyone with a sweet tooth that needs an extra sugary fix, try a mixture of your favorite candy bars or cookies crushed on top, or double up on the frosting with a layer of creamy peanut butter and a rich chocolate ganache. Or try crushed Graham crackers and peanut butter cups over your chocolate icing. You can even go all out with a s'mores topping consisting of Graham cracker, mini marshmallows, and Hershey's chocolate candy bar pieces — sprinkled on when they're fresh out of the oven so they get a perfect melt. The point is to mess around with it and have fun. If you think it would taste good on a brownie, it probably will.


9 Reasons Why Bisquick Is the Most Versatile Ingredient in Your Kitchen

I need to confess something and please don’t judge. I mean, if anything, Chowhound is the place where we can answer questions we are too embarrassed to ask and geek out about foods that we love or crave without shame.

Anyway, here it is: I love me some Bisquick.

Do you even remember what that is? Do you still use it? If you spent any time watching what happens in the kitchen, your parent or grandparent probably pulled out a yellow box of the good stuff on a weekend morning to make pancakes. That, or this happened many times throughout the week to whip up—well—just about anything. It was always delicious because Bisquick makes everything easier and t-t-t-tasty. Now, if that wasn’t you, here is a Bisquick refresher.

Bisquick was created by General Mills in 1930 after a top sales executive had some exquisite biscuits in a train dining car. The chef had premixed lard, flour, baking powder, and salt and then kept it all on ice so he could speedily bake fresh biscuits for the passengers. Apparently, this concept had yet to be marketed. So, the exec rushed home and came up with his own formula that could be boxed and stored outside the fridge. It was originally sold as a biscuit mix that was “90 seconds from box to oven.” Put simpler, a way “to make biscuits quick.” After they released it, I imagine the cries of joy must have sounded like Boston at the end of last year’s Super Bowl.

Nowadays, baking out of a box is as American as apple pie. Bisquick even comes gluten-free, and many a Bisquick lover has used this base to hack faster ways to make things that we love from casseroles to dinner rolls—and, of course, dessert.

So, without further ado, here are nine reasons why Bisquick is one of the most versatile ingredients in your kitchen.

1. Chicken Fricasse with Bisquick Dumplings

Spring is almost officially here, but tell that to the temperatures, which continue to trend cold in many parts of the country. So, why not make Bisquick dumplings like mamma used to? Oh, but that is too hard, right? Nope. This is an easy, 30-minute, one pot recipe with thick white sauce and chive dumplings. Get the Chicken Fricasse with Bisquick Dumplings recipe.

2. Homemade Baked Corn Dogs

Few things are more American than a corn dog. That juicy flavor of salty, roasted pork or beef wrapped in sweet, crusty corn. It’s a snack, a witty hors d’ouevre, or a meal that will make your inner child happy. Sure, you need cornmeal, but the Bisquick will take care of making sure they bake to crunchy perfection. Get the Homemade Baked Corn Dogs recipe.

3. Biscuit Mix Pizza

I recently agreed to a family vacation with five children and 10 adults. If you have kids under the age of seven, you know it’s not only hard to feed them, but you always need to entertain them. Nothing works better than a pizza party. First, the kids learn and start to feel comfortable in the kitchen. Second, they don’t find reasons to fall or fight (if you are lucky). This recipe is super easy and yeast-free, which is a nice step to skip with potentially impatient kids. It also makes a biscuity crust that is moist and soft. I recommend adding a little garlic and onion powder to the dough if you want to add a bit more flavor. Get the Biscuit Mix Pizza recipe.

4. No-Fail Tortilla Recipe

Ever want Mexican food, but you’ve run out tortillas? Never fail at this critical life moment again. Just make more. The recipe is so simple that tortillas are just a little 30-minute bake session away. The best part is that you let dough sit for 20 out of the 30 minutes. So, grab a marg and thank Bisquick for the win! Get the No-Fail Tortilla Recipe.

5. Oven-Baked “Fried” Chicken

Health is important but every now and then you crave a bit of fried chicken. The Bisquick oven-baked chicken is said to taste like KFC. So, yaaaas, please. Try to control yourself once you give this one a try and save those deep frying points for something more exotic like the following… Get the Oven-Baked “Fried” Chicken recipe.

6. Bisquick Churros

Every dessert has a moment. And right now, I am all about churros—crispy fried dough with cinnamon sugar. One problem: I always find them randomly at an amusement park, festival, or street fair, so I have no control over the oil and ingredients. Thanks to Bisquick, I can now make them at home. Get the Bisquick Churros recipe.

7. Red Velvet Mug Cake

This is the silliest little recipe that is all about having cake with as little commitment as possible. Back in college, for so many reasons, we would just crave a little cake. The problem was that there was no reason to keep buying big cakes for just a nibble. Enter cake in a cup or “mug cake.” Who doesn’t want cake in five minutes? Get the Red Velvet Mug Cake recipe.

8. Bisquick Banana Bread

In high school, I had a teacher who forever made her way into our hearts and stomachs because she’d periodically bring in “insert-x” bread. I tried to emulate this at work, but sadly, bread is hard sometimes and I have no time to suffer for the benefit of others. Thus, Bisquick makes sweet bread-making fail-proof. Once you have mastered this banana bread, you can start to switch in veggies, as well as add nuts, seeds, and/or dried fruit to use up whatever else you have lying around the house. Get the Bisquick Banana Bread recipe.

9. Bisquick Chocolate Chip Cookies

Having a bad day? Need some TLC: tender-loving cookies? Let’s face it. Some days just suck and you need to be home, put on sweatpants, and enjoy a chewy, soft bit of chocolate and dough. The ingredients in Bisquick make the cookies magically fluffy and crispy at the same time, and using it means there’s less to measure out as far as dry ingredients. Enjoy—and feel better! Get the Bisquick Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe.


An Affair from the Heart Fudge Recipes:

See All of My Candy Recipes

Once you make this perfect fudge recipe, you’ll quit looking at all of the others! What do you say we get to the recipe for Grandma’s Never Fail Fudge?


Turn to the Back of the Box for Delicious Memorial Day Recipes

Memorial Day, which officially begins Friday at 5 p.m., signals the start of outdoor grilling, eating, and entertaining season. Whether it’s at a backyard cookout, family reunion, beach vacation, neighborhood block party, or backyard cookout, food is the tie that will bind family and friends together until Labor Day. Finding the right recipes to celebrate summer’s memory-making and as well as ordinary times is as close as the box on the supermarket shelf.

Sure, we’ve all seen those “back of the box” cookbooks containing recipes from food companies on back or side of their product. It had been a while since I’d looked through mine and, to be honest, I wasn’t that interested. My interest rose when I read online that one of the best pound cake recipes is an “oldie but goodie” printed on the side of Duncan Hines’ Lemon Supreme Cake Mix.

After trying the lemon pound cake recipe, I can attest it’s every bit, if not better, than the review. As a result, I began scanning boxes for interesting recipes for Memorial Day weekend and summer entertaining.

I spent so much time in supermarket aisles reading boxes that store personnel began to give me strange looks. No matter, my supermarket-stalking uncovered several recipes that are now part of my summer recipes arsenal.

First, every Memorial Day weekend worth its salt includes a grilled burger. OK, even an oven-baked or pan-fried one is pretty good. If you’ve heard of anything that sounds better than French’s Crispy Onion Burger, I’d like to know about it. Yes, friends, those delectable little morsels are not just for topping Thanksgiving's green bean casserole.

Mix 1-1/2 pounds of ground beef with three tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce, two cups of crispy fried onions, three-fourths teaspoon of garlic powder. Form with six burgers, then grill, bake or fry until done. Here’s the best part: the box encourages us to top the juicy, crispy burger with even more crispy fried onions before adding the top bun.

It’s hard to find a more versatile, portable and delicious summer side dish than pasta salad. However, bubbling vats of hot water and vegetables that require chopping aren’t appealing mental pictures. I was delighted to learn one of my favorite go-to shortcuts, Suddenly Salad, can be transformed into two, possibly more, delicious pasta salads.

Combining my favorite sandwich with my favorite food group, pasta, is possible courtesy of Club Pasta Salad. Found on the back of Suddenly Salad’s Ranch and Bacon box, it’s a recipe that combines the box’s pasta and seasoning with chicken, cheese and tomatoes in the most delicious way.

Creamy BLT Pasta Salad, found on Suddenly Salad’s Creamy Macaroni box, is filled with crumbled bacon, chopped tomatoes and bits of spinach in addition to the ready-to-go pasta and seasoning in the familiar green box.

An easy, go-to summer dessert that can be baked without a lot of fuss when the last-minute decision to fire up the grill and invite the neighbors over is made is as valuable as an invitation to the boss’ beach condo. Duncan Hines’ Lemon Pound Cake might just revolutionize your summer. In my opinion, it should be moved from the side of the box and occupy a place of prominence on the front.


Kellogg’s Raisin Bran® Muffins Recipe

I’m one of seven which means it was pretty much always complete chaos in our house even though number 6 and 7 didn’t come until I was in college. Once we all got home the kitchen became the main area activity, we were always “starving” but sometimes it was a struggle to find something quick and easy. Which is why now, I try to have a lot of quick and easy snacks on hand for easy grabbing and going, when necessary of course.

I just got back from visiting my family in New York for the holidays and not much has changed. The kitchen is still the main area of activity especially as the kids start to arrive home from school. While I was there I made them a couple of quick and easy snacks for them to be able to grab and go. Next time I’m there these Kellogg’s Raisin Bran® Muffins will be a must.

My favorite part about these muffins is that they are super easy to make. My mom is crazy busy, she works full time, has seven kids, and volunteers her time. Everything she makes needs to be time efficient. These muffins take about 10 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to bake.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Whisk together 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, Set aside.

In a large bowl combine 3 cups Raisin Bran and 1 1/4 cups milk. Let stand until the cereal has begun to soften.

Whisk in one egg and 1/4 vegetable oil

Then add the flour mixture to the wet mixture

Then fold in 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Spray your muffin tin with non stick cooking spray. Then fill each hole about 3/4 of the way up with the batter. Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mix

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


11 Romantic Chocolate Desserts You Can Make With Boxed Cake Mix

If there’s ever a time to go all-out with chocolate, it’s Valentine’s Day. But just because you’re in the mood to eat a decadent dessert doesn’t necessarily mean you feel like taking the time to bake one from scratch. That’s where shortcuts like boxed cake mix come in.

Cake from a box comes out perfectly every time thanks to the absolute perfect combination of ingredients that add flavor, texture and the perfect amount of rise. I’m sure you’ve baked one before, so there’s no need for a hard sell. What you may not have tried is using cake mix in recipes other the one on the back of the box &mdash there are so many things you can do to the powdered mix besides just stirring it with oil and eggs and pouring it into a cake pan.

The 11 chocolate desserts below range from super-rich cakes to soft, airy cookies. All of them start with boxed cake mix and are easy enough for people who can’t quite master baking from scratch. Whether you’re eating out or staying in on Valentine’s Day, you’ll definitely want to head home for dessert.

Ooey-gooey cake

This gooey chocolate cake has sour cream, which makes it extra dense, like a cross between cake and a brownie.

Chocolate cake mix bars

Sweetened condensed milk and a healthy amount of white and milk chocolate chips make these chocolate cake mix bars totally irresistible.

Triple-chocolate brownies

These chocolate brownies are three times as nice as the regular kind, with a layer of pudding and a layer of frosting.

Ridiculous chocolate cake

You’d never guess this gorgeous chocolate cake was made with boxed mix. It’s also got pudding mix and sour cream for extra texture and richness.

Chocolate-peanut butter chip Bundt cake

Anyone will go nuts for this peanut butter Bundt cake.

Better-than-anything cake

What’s a better-than-anything cake? Chocolate saturated with sweetened condensed milk and caramel sauce covered in a generous layer of Cool Whip.

Chocolate dump cake

The best part of this chocolate dump cake is that you can top it with as much ice cream and chocolate sauce as you want.

Chocolate cake mix cupcakes

These adorable chocolate cupcakes are better than a human valentine, TBH.

Earthquake cake

Can’t decide between chocolate and vanilla? Earthquake cake is what you need.

Chocolate cake mix cookies

Cookies are a mess-free dessert option, and you can totally make them with a box of cake mix.

Black forest cake

This black forest cake looks and tastes fancy, but it’s made with convenient cherry pie filling and marshmallows.


16th annual Egg Hunt contest: Father and daughter team up to earn winning title

As usual, the winners of Joe&rsquos Mildly Entertaining Easter Egg hunt proved harder to fool than I expected.

A Laotian Buddhist shrine tucked into an East Side neighborhood? They knew it. Two virtually identical statues of an aviator? They located the right one.

The 16th annual contest challenged readers to decipher rhyming riddles pointing to the location of imaginary eggs. The winners of the always competitive early-bird prize are Steve Huggins, 54, of Bexley, and his daughter, Betsy, a 22-year-old Ohio State University student.

Their 10 correct answers arrived in my email inbox at 12:03 a.m. Tuesday, two minutes after the last riddle in the contest had been posted on Dispatch.com.

Steve Huggins, an engineer, admitted he was actually asleep at 12:03 a.m., but his daughter woke him up to say she&rsquod sent the 10th answer.

&ldquoShe&rsquos really good at internet searching,&rdquo Steve Huggins said.

It didn&rsquot hurt that the Bexley natives were solving a final riddle about statues of Jerrie Mock, a Bexley mother of three who became the first woman to fly solo around the world in 1964.

&ldquoI did know who Jerrie Mock was,&rdquo Betsy Huggins said.

She was also familiar with the Buddhist shrine, Watlao Buddhamamakaram, because she went to Bishop Hartley High School, which is nearby.

The egg hunt victory will probably count as only her third-best accomplishment of the spring. She graduates in May from Ohio State University with two undergraduate degrees (strategic communications and theater.)

She and her father beat the next closest contestants &mdash Patti Hambley, of Columbus, and former winner Dave Dury, of Columbus, &mdash by two minutes. Their answers both arrived at 12:05 a.m.

The Hugginses win $75. Claiming the other $75 prize is Lou Tomlin-King, 61, of Grandview Heights. Her name was drawn at random from among all the entries that had 10 correct answers.

Tomlin-King, who retired from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services last year, was also pretty quick at solving the final riddle. Her answers arrived at 12:22 a.m. Living in central Ohio since 1988 was a big help in the contest, she said.

The contest drew 243 entries, with 111 getting all 10 correct. That&rsquos about 45 percent, nearly identical to the percentage of perfect scores in last year&rsquos contest.

The first riddle was among the most troublesome. It referred to Flint Ridge Ancient Quarries and Nature Preserve, site of pits dug by native people in search of flint for toolmaking and jewelry.

Also giving contestants trouble was No. 8, which referred to the Beach Road Bridge, a 19th-century metal-truss span that was moved from its original location on the Big Darby Creek to the Alum Creek Greenway in Westerville.

Among the easier riddles was No. 2, which referred to the Tee Jaye&rsquos Country Place restaurant at Morse Road and North High Street. The restaurant&rsquos pending closure &mdash and the uncertain fate of its huge neon arrow sign &mdash have been in the news in recent weeks.

The final act in every Egg Hunt is the court of appeals, where I entertain objections from contestants who argue that their wrong answers should be counted as right. Email me if you want to make a case.


Icebox Cake

In my third attempt to decide the perfect birthday cake to celebrate my birthday this year I made a Chocotorta. Similar to the Italian Tiramisu, this decadent Argentinean dessert is typically made with