Crock Pot BBQ Country Style Ribs

My family loves these BBQ country style ribs!  They are so easy to throw in the crock pot for my family and work great for larger crowds too!

Using my crock pot in the summer is one of my favorite ways to save time, conserve energy and beat the heat.  A couple of years ago I found a recipe for BBQ crock pot country style ribs and after a couple of tweaks, it quickly made its way into our meal time rotation.  Country style ribs are a great meat alternative to chicken or beef/turkey and they are generally inexpensive and not very fatty so you get more meat for your money.  We’ve use this recipe for our own family, but it works equally as well when serving larger crowds.

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To make these BBQ country style ribs, you’ll need the following ingredients:

My family loves these BBQ country style ribs!  They are so easy to throw in the crock pot for my family and work great for larger crowds too!

*Note: For this recipe, I use a 3-quart crock pot, but you’ll want to use a 6-quart crock pot if you decide to double or triple the recipe.

In your crock pot, place the ribs on the bottom.  Sprinkle the top with brown sugar, onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Pour in the apple juice.  Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours.

My family loves these BBQ country style ribs!  They are so easy to throw in the crock pot for my family and work great for larger crowds too!

Remove the meat from the crock pot and put on a plate.  Drain the liquid and (carefully) wipe out the pot with a paper towel.  Put the ribs back into the pot and add your favorite BBQ sauce.  (We use Famous Dave’s or Sweet Baby Ray’s.)  The meat will be very tender by this point so you can break it up a little when you mix the BBQ sauce around or wait until you serve it.  Set the crock pot on HIGH and cook for another 30 minutes to an hour.

My family loves these BBQ country style ribs!  They are so easy to throw in the crock pot for my family and work great for larger crowds too!

Serve on rolls as a sandwich or eat as is with rolls, salad, potatoes, a veggie or fruit.

My family loves these BBQ country style ribs!  They are so easy to throw in the crock pot for my family and work great for larger crowds too!

Store in a sealed container for no more than a week.  This stores really well and the leftovers are delicious.  My family loves this meal and I love how easy it is!

Crock Pot BBQ Country Style Ribs
serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs boneless country style ribs
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp dried, chopped onion
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 c. apple juice 
  • 1 1/2 c. BBQ sauce

Directions:

  1. In your crock pot, place the ribs on the bottom.  Sprinkle the top with brown sugar, onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Pour in the apple juice.  Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours.
  2. Remove the meat from the crock pot and put on a plate.  Drain the liquid and wipe out the pot with a paper towel.  Put the ribs back into the pot and add your favorite BBQ sauce.  The meat will be very tender by this point so you can break it up a little when you mix the BBQ sauce around or wait until you serve it.  
  3. Set the crock pot on HIGH and cook for another 30 minutes to an hour.
  4. Serve on rolls as a sandwich or eat as is with rolls, salad and fruit.
  5. Store in a sealed container for no more than a week. 

My family loves these BBQ country style ribs!  They are so easy to throw in the crock pot for my family and work great for larger crowds too!

Mother’s Day Dinner Menu 2017

I've made planning your next Mother's Day dinner easy with this menu of tried and true recipes that you can adapt to feed any size crowd.

Ever since my husband and I got married, we spend at least half of our Sunday evening meals each month at a family member’s home.  The family hosting plans the meal and then asks those who are coming to pitch in and bring something to share.  It’s been a great way to both save on the cost of food and enjoy time with family.  With Mother’s Day coming up, I know many people, including my family, are going to be getting together to celebrate mothers, wives, sisters, aunts, grandmothers and other special women in their life.  This year, my husband and I will be hosting Mother’s Day dinner at our house, which means we get to plan the meal. 

My husband’s family is fairly large and there are over 20 people to feed when everyone gets together.  This can get a little overwhelming, but I’ve gotten fairly good at planning food for so many people in the 9 years my husband and I have been married.  Whether you have a large family or are on the smaller side, I have a Mother’s Day menu that can be adapted to serve any size.  All recipes come from my blog and in the case of dessert, I’m sharing a few options to choose from depending on taste preferences.  Or you can make all of them.  Hey, it’s for Mother’s Day! *wink*

Main Dish

I've made planning your next Mother's Day dinner easy with this menu of tried and true recipes that you can adapt to feed any size crowd.

Sides
Green Salad
Carrots and Potatoes (cooked in crock pot with roast) 
I've made planning your next Mother's Day dinner easy with this menu of tried and true recipes that you can adapt to feed any size crowd.

I've made planning your next Mother's Day dinner easy with this menu of tried and true recipes that you can adapt to feed any size crowd.

Dessert
I've made planning your next Mother's Day dinner easy with this menu of tried and true recipes that you can adapt to feed any size crowd.
I've made planning your next Mother's Day dinner easy with this menu of tried and true recipes that you can adapt to feed any size crowd.
I've made planning your next Mother's Day dinner easy with this menu of tried and true recipes that you can adapt to feed any size crowd.
What are your plans for Mother’s Day this year?  Do you have the same meal each year or does it change?

One Pot Taco Pasta

Quick, easy and delicious!  This one pot taco pasta only takes 30 minutes to make and your family will love it!

One day I was browsing through my saved recipes on Pinterest and found one that looked promising.  It was a one pot dish that only took 30 minutes to make.  If you’ve been following me for long, you know that those two things are like magic words.  I love cooking, but don’t usually have a lot of time to devote to it so the majority of meals I make take about 30 minutes or less to prep and then leave all day in the crock pot or take 30 minutes from prep to table.  This new one pot taco pasta I’m sharing today will have you jumping for joy because it’s quick, easy and delicious.  Plus it uses basic ingredients that I always have on hand.

So before we get started, I have to point out that I can’t take 100% credit for the birth of this dish.  I found a recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and then just made it my own.  It’s different enough that I feel comfortable saying that it’s simply been adapted from her recipe.  Let’s get started!

Here’s what you need:

Quick, easy and delicious!  This one pot taco pasta only takes 30 minutes to make and your family will love it!

It might look like a lot of ingredients, but like I mentioned above, this is a one pot dish so it’s not complicated at all.

First, grab a large pot.  Brown your ground beef or turkey, drain and then put it onto a towel lined plate or bowl to soak up any additional grease.

Quick, easy and delicious!  This one pot taco pasta only takes 30 minutes to make and your family will love it!

Next, add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, chili powder, oregano, pasta, chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar to your pot.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring often to make sure pasta doesn’t stick, until pasta is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Quick, easy and delicious!  This one pot taco pasta only takes 30 minutes to make and your family will love it!

Turn off the heat and add the ground beef, salt, pepper, onion salt and garlic powder.  Stir together to incorporate all the ingredients.

Top with shredded cheese and cover for 1-2 minutes to let the cheese melt.  The sauce will thicken as it stands.  Serve warm.

Quick, easy and delicious!  This one pot taco pasta only takes 30 minutes to make and your family will love it!

I’m not even kidding when I say that my family LOVES this meal.  It’s one of those meals that pleases everyone and I don’t have to fight the kids to eat it all.  In fact, they usually ask for seconds!  If we happen to have leftovers, this dish reheats really well and we just have it for lunch the next day.  It’s been perfect for when we have company over because one batch of this taco pasta will serve 4 adults and 2 kids if we pair it with salad and rolls.  I hope you and your family love it!

Quick, easy and delicious!  This one pot taco pasta only takes 30 minutes to make and your family will love it!

One Pot Taco Pasta
(adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)
serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground turkey or beef
  • 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 cups bowtie pasta
  • 2 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 

 Directions:

  1. Using a large pot, brown the ground beef.  Drain the fat and pour beef into a paper towel lined bowl to soak up any additional grease.  Set aside.
  2. In the same pot, combine the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, chili powder, oregano, pasta, chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring often to make sure pasta doesn’t stick, until pasta is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Turn off the heat and stir in the ground beef, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
  4. Top with shredded cheese and cover for 1-2 minutes to let the cheese melt.  The sauce will thicken as it stands.
  5. Serve warm.
  6. Store leftovers in a covered container for up to a week. 

Quick, easy and delicious!  This one pot taco pasta only takes 30 minutes to make and your family will love it!

      Raspberry Cake Mix Cobbler

      Quick and easy dessert made with only 3 ingredients!  Swap out the raspberry for blueberry or blackberry pie filling.

      Last weekend, I had a hankering for a dessert that my mom used to make when I was growing up.  I can’t tell you how many years it’s been since I even had it, but all of a sudden, it sounded like the best thing in the world.  So I called my mom who immediately knew what I was talking about.  I got ready to write down the ingredients but the list was so short I didn’t even have time to grab my pen. “3 ingredients?”  I asked her.  “Are you sure?”  She assured me that was all and with disbelief I finished the call.

      Due to some things out of my control, I didn’t have time to make it that night.  Or the next.  Finally it was Sunday and I knew I’d have time to make it because we weren’t going anywhere for dinner.  I pulled out the ingredients and my husband asked what I was making: “Um, it’s a pie filling cake thing with cake mix and butter.”  We never had a name for it growing up and even as I was typing this post, I wasn’t sure what I should call it.  I finally settled on cake mix cobbler because that seemed like the closest thing to what it is.  Besides delicious, that is. *wink*

      This is a great dessert to make for your family or a smaller gathering and is quick and easy to throw together.

      To make this, you need the following ingredients:

      • 1 (16.5-oz) box of yellow cake mix
      • 3/4 c. butter, melted
      • 1 (21-oz) can of pie filling (raspberry, blueberry, blackberry)
      • finely chopped walnuts (optional)
      Quick and easy dessert made with only 3 ingredients!  Swap out the raspberry for blueberry or blackberry pie filling.

      First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

      Next, coat an 8×8, 9×9 or 11×7 pan with cooking spray.

      Pour the pie filling into the bottom of the pan and spread it out as evenly as possible.

      Quick and easy dessert made with only 3 ingredients!  Swap out the raspberry for blueberry or blackberry pie filling.

      Sprinkle the dry cake mix over the top of the pie filling, distributing evenly.  If you decide to use the chopped walnuts, sprinkle some over the top.  This is how we made it growing up, but my husband has a tree nut allergy so no walnuts for us. *sigh*

      Melt the butter in the microwave and drizzle over the top of the dry cake mix. 

      Note: Because I used an 8×8 pan, I actually spread about half of the cake mix and then poured half of the butter and then used the rest of the cake mix and poured the rest of the butter on top.  I did this because the smaller pan makes the cake mix layer thicker, but if you use an 11×7 pan, you wouldn’t need to do this step.

      Quick and easy dessert made with only 3 ingredients!  Swap out the raspberry for blueberry or blackberry pie filling.

      Put it in the oven for 20-35 minutes.  Start checking for doneness at 20 minutes and then go at 3-5 minute increments after that.  You’ll know it’s done when the edges start turning a golden brown and it’s not wet to the touch.  (Although be careful because it’s super hot!)

      Quick and easy dessert made with only 3 ingredients!  Swap out the raspberry for blueberry or blackberry pie filling.

      Serve warm or cool with whipping cream or ice cream.  This is a sweet dessert and vanilla ice cream seemed to cut the sweetness a little bit.  Even though this is only an 8×8 pan, the portion sizes are a little smaller due to the sweetness so you could probably serve 6-8 people.  Or just yourself.  I won’t tell. *wink*

      Quick and easy dessert made with only 3 ingredients!  Swap out the raspberry for blueberry or blackberry pie filling.

      Raspberry Cake Mix Cobbler
      serves 6-8

      Ingredients:

      • 1 (16.5-oz) box of yellow cake mix
      • 3/4 c. butter, melted
      • 1 (21-oz) can of pie filling (raspberry, blueberry, blackberry)
      • finely chopped walnuts (optional)

      Directions:

      1.  First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
      2. Next, coat an 8×8, 9×9 or 11×7 pan with cooking spray.
      3. Pour the pie filling into the bottom of the pan and spread it out as evenly as possible.
      4. Sprinkle the dry cake mix over the top of the pie filling, distributing evenly.  (If you decide to use the chopped walnuts, sprinkle some over the top.)
      5. Melt the butter in the microwave and drizzle over the top of the dry cake mix.  Note: Because I used an 8×8 pan, I actually spread about half of the cake mix and then poured half of the butter and then used the rest of the cake mix and poured the rest of the butter on top.  I did this because the smaller pan makes the cake mix layer thicker, but if you use an 11×7 pan, you wouldn’t need to do this step. 
      6. Put it in the oven for 20-35 minutes.  Start checking for doneness at 20 minutes and then go at 3-5 minute increments after that.  You’ll know it’s done when the edges start turning a golden brown and it’s not wet to the touch.
      7. Serve warm or cooled with whipping cream or ice cream.
      8. Store covered in the fridge for up to a week.

      5-Ingredient Chicken and Rice Casserole

      An easy and inexpensive 5 ingredient chicken and rice casserole.  Perfect for weeknights, weekends or when you need to feed a group.

      Growing up, we had a lot of casseroles for dinner.  It was one of the fastest, easiest and most inexpensive ways to feed a family.  I danced and played other sports and had a high metabolism which was the perfect combination for needing to consume a lot of calories each day.  Forget boys, I was a growing girl!  *wink*  As a mom now, I totally understand why my mom made casseroles as often as she did.  I just don’t have time to slave over a meal that takes hours to prepare.  The recipe I’m sharing today is perfect for an easy weekday dinner, a Sunday meal or when you need to feed a lot of people without spending a lot of money.

      I first had chicken and rice casserole while over to dinner at my dad and step-mom’s house a couple of years ago.  My step-mom is a great cook, but when she pulled this out of the oven, I was a little bit skeptical because it’s certainly not pretty.  But hey, it’s chicken and rice, which I always like and know my kids will eat so we piled it on our plates and ate it all.  Then went back for seconds.  My husband might have even had thirds.  A couple of days later, I texted my step-mom asking for the recipe and was surprised at how short the ingredient list was: 5.  Five ingredients to make a tasty, filling meal.

      Here’s what you’ll need:

      • 1 (10.5 oz) can cream of chicken
      • 1 (10.5 oz) can cream of mushroom
      • 3 lb. chicken breasts
      • 1 pkg onion soup mix
      • 2 c. Minute/instant rice
      • 2 cans water

        An easy and inexpensive 5 ingredient chicken and rice casserole.  Perfect for weeknights, weekends or when you need to feed a group.

        Okay, so it’s 6 ingredients, but who counts water?

        To get started, you need to preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and get out a 9×13 pan and some tin foil.  Next, remove the fat and cut your chicken into large chunks.

        An easy and inexpensive 5 ingredient chicken and rice casserole.  Perfect for weeknights, weekends or when you need to feed a group.

        Open the cans of soup and pour them straight into the pan, along with the rice and water.  Also, make sure you use minute/instant rice.  The real stuff won’t cook all the way through.  Stir it all together until thoroughly mixed. 

        An easy and inexpensive 5 ingredient chicken and rice casserole.  Perfect for weeknights, weekends or when you need to feed a group.

        Put the chicken in, spacing it throughout the pan as evenly as possible but don’t stress out about it.

        Take your packet of onion soup mix and sprinkle it over the top of the chicken and rice/soup.  Cover the pan with tin foil and pop it in the oven.

        An easy and inexpensive 5 ingredient chicken and rice casserole.  Perfect for weeknights, weekends or when you need to feed a group.

        Start checking the chicken at about an hour and a half, but it could take up to 2 hours to cook through.  Don’t go any longer than that, or you will end up with dry, overcooked chicken.

        We usually serve this with salad or steamed veggies, fruit and rolls.

        An easy and inexpensive 5 ingredient chicken and rice casserole.  Perfect for weeknights, weekends or when you need to feed a group.

        5 Ingredient Chicken and Rice Casserole
        Makes (1) 9×13 pan, serves 6

        Ingredients:

        • 1 can cream of chicken
        • 1 can cream of mushroom
        • 3 lb chicken breasts
        • 1 pkg onion soup mix
        • 2 c. minute/instant rice
        • 2 cans water

         Directions:

        1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and get out a 9×13 pan and some tin foil.  
        2. Remove the fat and cut your chicken into large chunks.
        3. Open the cans of soup and pour them straight into the pan, along with the rice and water.  (Make sure you use minute/instant rice.  The real stuff won’t cook all the way through.)  Stir it all together until thoroughly mixed.  Put the chicken in, spacing it throughout the pan as evenly as possible.
        4. Sprinkle the onion soup mix over the top of the chicken and rice/soup.  Cover the pan with tin foil and pop it in the oven.
        5. Start checking the chicken at about an hour and a half, but it could take up to 2 hours to cook through.  (Don’t go any longer than that, or you will end up with dry, overcooked chicken.)
        6. Serve warm with salad, steamed veggies, fruit and rolls.

        If you’re looking for another tasty chicken dish, check out my Parmesan Chicken!

        Simple, inexpensive, but most of all, moist and flavorful!  Makes great leftovers!

          Conversation Heart Cookies

          Make these darling (and delicious) conversation heart cookies for Valentines and share the love!

          Growing up, one of my favorite candies to receive during Valentines were those little conversation hearts.  You know the ones.  They have all sorts of silly phrases or words on them and the only color that tastes good is the white.  When I was younger, my mom would buy a big bag of them so we could grab a few and put them in with our Valentine cards for our classes at school.  I was that kid who always had to sort through and find the hearts that matched the person I was giving them to.  My best friends got ones like: U R CUTE or 4EVER.  The cute boys in class or my crush got the ones that said: CALL ME or LOVE U.  (I doubt anyone actually read the hearts before they ate them, but it was still part of the fun to think that maybe they did.)  Now I’ve got a bigger, and better tasting, treat that I like to make around Valentine’s Day: Conversation Heart Cookies.

          The recipe for these cookies is actually one that I shared over a year ago during Christmas time.  I called it “My FAVORITE Roll and Cut Cookies” because they are the same cookies I’ve been making for as long as I can remember and they are amazing.  They hold their shape well and aren’t brittle so they can hold up to frosting and decorating.  The frosting recipe that I use can also be found in the same recipe, along with tips for how to avoid the dough sticking to the rolling pin and recognizing the perfect frosting consistency.

          Okay, so these cookies might be one of the funnest (most fun?) treats that I make.  Most of the time I make a bunch and let the kids help decorate.  But with these conversation heart cookies, I keep most of them for myself and let the kids help with only a dozen or so.

          To make your own conversation heart cookies, you’ll need:

          • one batch (about 3 dozen) roll and cut cookies (recipe HERE)
          • one batch of frosting (recipe HERE)
          • food coloring (I used Neon)
          • bowls
          • red decorating gel

          Before you start decorating, make sure the cookies are completely cool.  Make the frosting and divide it into bowls, depending on how many colors you want.  I chose to do four colors. 

          Make these darling (and delicious) conversation heart cookies for Valentines and share the love!

          Using the back of a small spoon, spread the frosting around the cookie, leaving a small border all the way around.  (See my cookie recipe for more in-depth instructions on using this frosting.)

          Make these darling (and delicious) conversation heart cookies for Valentines and share the love!

          The next step is important because if you don’t do it, you won’t be able to write the words on the cookies.  You have to let the frosting/icing completely dry.  This can take a few hours during the day but I usually just frost them at night, leave them out for a couple hours and then store them in an airtight container until I’m ready to do the next step.

          To write the words on the cookies, I use a small tube of red decorating gel.  Just snip off the top and squeeze a little out to get a feel for how hard you need to push.  Keep a napkin or paper towel nearby to wipe the tip of the tube off to keep it clean between cookies.

          Unless your cookies are really big, you’ll want to stick to one or two words or shorten the words to single letters (example: You are = U R).  I like to use the top middle part of the cookie where it dips down as my center when I am deciding where to place my words.  For example, when I write the word “sweet”, I write the first “e” in the middle and use that as my center, writing the second “e” and “t”, then going back and writing the “w” and the “s” last.  Doing it this way just keeps things more centered.  (Although let’s be honest, the words on the real candies are anything but centered.)  If you mess up a little, you can just use your (clean and dry) finger to wipe it off the cookie and start over.  This is one of the biggest reasons why you want to make sure the icing is dry.  It’s much more forgiving if you make a mistake.  In the example below you can see that I wrote “kiss” then used that word to help me center the word “me” underneath it.

          Make these darling (and delicious) conversation heart cookies for Valentines and share the love!

          If you’re going to be storing them, I highly recommend letting the gel set and thicken before moving them to a container.  Store them with a sheet of wax paper in between and keep them in the fridge or on the counter for up to one week.

          Make these darling (and delicious) conversation heart cookies for Valentines and share the love!

          Make these darling (and delicious) conversation heart cookies for Valentines and share the love!

          So what do you think?  Are you excited to make your own?  I seriously just love making these at Valentines even though they do take a little longer due to the time between steps.  But when they’re finished and you give them to your kids, spouse, neighbors or friends, the look on their face will make it worth it and they will think U R CUTE. *wink*  (I couldn’t help myself.)

          Make these darling (and delicious) conversation heart cookies for Valentines and share the love!

          Make these darling (and delicious) conversation heart cookies for Valentines and share the love!

          If you are looking for more Valentines ideas, check out The ULTIMATE All Things Valentines Round Up I put together a couple weeks ago.  You’ll find ideas for crafts, kid activities, recipes, date night and gift ideas and more!  I’m not kidding when I say there is literally something for everyone.

          The ULTIMATE All Things Valentines Round Up

          Do you have a favorite Valentines treat you make every year or a favorite candy you can only find during Valentines?  Share below, I’d love to hear!

          Copycat Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake

          Moist white cake, fluffy lemon cream filling and a buttery crumb topping.  This cake rivals Olive Garden's lemon cream cake and you'd never guess it starts with a store bought cake mix!

          Three years ago, my husband celebrated his 30th birthday.  I wanted to do something special for him but he’s not big into parties or being in the spotlight.  However, one thing my husband loves is lemons.  Any dessert with lemons in it and he is in heaven.  So I set out to find a lemon cake that would blow all other lemon cakes out of the water.  And guys…I found it.

          I had to be really secretive about making it because not only was the cake a surprise, but I’d also invited a few of his closest friends to come over for a low key, semi-surprise party.  I wish I could have captured the look on his face when his friends started showing up randomly at our house.  Priceless.

          But back to the cake.  I’m not even joking when I say this is the BEST lemon cake I’ve ever tasted in my life.  The cake is moist and almost melts in your mouth. There is just the right amount of lemon in the cream filling/frosting.  And the crumb topping is like the icing on top of the icing on the cake.  *wink*  Everything just works so perfectly together.  To take this cake to the next level, I added fresh raspberries on top.  Oh. my. goodness.

          As a quick side note, Olive Garden has a lemon cream cake that is almost identical to this one, but truthfully, I think this one is way better.

          So are you ready to make this yet?  Let’s get started:

          First, gather your ingredients.  There are 3 separate parts to the cake: the cake itself, the lemon cream filling and the crumb topping.

          Moist white cake, fluffy lemon cream filling and a buttery crumb topping.  This cake rivals Olive Garden's lemon cream cake and you'd never guess it starts with a store bought cake mix!

          Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Decide if you want to use one pan or multiple pans to bake your cake in.  I’ve always just used one 9-inch round cake pan and then cut it in half to make two layers, but you could also bake it in two or three pans.  Grease the pans well to make the cake easy to remove from the pan once cool.

          For the cake: In a large bowl, mix together the dry cake mix and the dry pudding mix.  I just use a whisk to make sure it’s well incorporated.  Then I add the egg whites, water and oil.  Beat well for 2 minutes at medium speed.  Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake for 40-45 minutes if using one pan.  (If using more pans, start with 25 minutes and keep checking to see if it’s cooked through by inserting a toothpick.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan.

          Moist white cake, fluffy lemon cream filling and a buttery crumb topping.  This cake rivals Olive Garden's lemon cream cake and you'd never guess it starts with a store bought cake mix!

          While the cake is baking, make the lemon cream filling.  In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and powdered sugar together with a mixer until light and fluffy.  Mix in lemon juice and lemon zest.   In a separate bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form.  Fold cream cheese mixture into cream.  Store in the fridge until ready to use.

          Moist white cake, fluffy lemon cream filling and a buttery crumb topping.  This cake rivals Olive Garden's lemon cream cake and you'd never guess it starts with a store bought cake mix!

          For the crumb topping, grab a small bowl.  Combine the flour and powdered sugar together using a whisk.  Add cold butter that’s been cut into cubes and dribble in vanilla.  Using your fingers, break the butter into smaller pieces as you work the ingredients together.  Be careful not to press it together.  You want everything to be crumbly, with the butter pieces no larger than a pea.  If you’re having trouble, put the topping back in the fridge for a few minutes to let the butter harden and then resume working it into crumbs.  Chill until ready to use.

          Moist white cake, fluffy lemon cream filling and a buttery crumb topping.  This cake rivals Olive Garden's lemon cream cake and you'd never guess it starts with a store bought cake mix!

          When cake is cool, gently remove the cake from pan(s).   If you used one pan, cut the cake in half and remove the top.  I like to even out the top a little bit because I actually flip the cake over onto the serving plate so it’s on the bottom and it will frost easier if it’s flat on the bottom and the top will be pretty and flat.   If you used multiple pans, you can trim a little off the top if it’s too rounded, otherwise you don’t need to do anything.

          Moist white cake, fluffy lemon cream filling and a buttery crumb topping.  This cake rivals Olive Garden's lemon cream cake and you'd never guess it starts with a store bought cake mix!

          *Hint: Use a large bread knife to even out the tops and to cut the cake in half.  It won’t stick like other knives.

          Place the bottom layer of cake on serving plate or stand.  Depending on how many layers you have, divide the filling into half or thirds.  Be generous with the filling.  Carefully place each layer on top of the cake/filling and spread the filling over the top and sides.

          Moist white cake, fluffy lemon cream filling and a buttery crumb topping.  This cake rivals Olive Garden's lemon cream cake and you'd never guess it starts with a store bought cake mix!

          If you are using any berries on top, place those before putting the crumb topping on.  Sprinkle crumb topping on top of icing.

          Moist white cake, fluffy lemon cream filling and a buttery crumb topping.  This cake rivals Olive Garden's lemon cream cake and you'd never guess it starts with a store bought cake mix!

          Chill the cake for at least 3 hours before serving.  Sift powdered sugar over the top if desired.  Cut into pieces and serve.

          Moist white cake, fluffy lemon cream filling and a buttery crumb topping.  This cake rivals Olive Garden's lemon cream cake and you'd never guess it starts with a store bought cake mix!

          Olive Garden Lemon Cake

          serves 12-16
           

          Ingredients:

          Cake

          • 1 (15.25 oz) white cake mix (any brand will work as long as it’s the right size)
          • 4 large egg whites
          • 1 1/3 c. water
          • 1 (3-oz) white chocolate instant pudding mix
          • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
          Lemon Cream Filling

          • 12 oz. cream cheese, softened (1 1/2 pkg)
          • 3 c. powdered sugar
          • 1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
          • 4 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
          • Grated lemon peel off 1 lemon
          • Yellow food coloring
          Crumb Topping

          • 2 Tbsp. butter, cold
          • 1/4 c. powdered sugar
          • 1/4 c. flour
          • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
          • berries, optional (I used raspberries but blueberries or blackberries would be good too.)
          Directions:

          1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease either 1, 2, or 3 (9-inch) round cake pans.  (refer to notes above)
          2. Cake: Pour dry cake mix into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in dry pudding mix.  Add remaining cake ingredients.   Beat for 2 minutes at medium speed.  Pour into pan(s).  Bake for 40-45 minutes if using one pan and 30-35 minutes if using multiple pans, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool completely in the pan.
          3. Lemon Cream Filling: In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and powdered sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy.  Mix in lemon juice and lemon zest.  Whip cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks form.  Fold cream cheese mixture into whipped cream.  Store in the fridge until ready to use.
          4. Crumb Topping: In a small bowl, combine flour and powdered sugar.  Add cold butter and dribble in the vanilla.   Use your hands to mix.  Break butter into smaller pieces as you incorporate dry ingredients.  Be sure not to press together.  You want to end up with a very crumbly texture with pieces no bigger than a pea.  If you’re having trouble, put mixture in the fridge for a few minutes to harden the butter.  Chill until ready to use.
          5. When cake is cool, remove the sides of the pan or gently remove cake from pans.  If you used one pan, cut the cake in half and remove the top.  If you used multiple pans, you can trim a little off the top if it’s too rounded, otherwise you don’t need to do anything.
          6. Place bottom layer of cake on serving plate or stand.  Depending on how many layers you have, divide the filling into half or thirds.  Be generous with the filling.   Carefully place each layer on top of the cake/filling and spread the filling over the top and sides.  If you are using any berries on top, place those before putting the crumb topping on.  Sprinkle crumb topping on top of icing.
          7. Chill the cake for at least 3 hours.  Sprinkle top with sifted powdered sugar before serving.
          8. Makes 12 large pieces and 16 smaller pieces.