Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Eve

Ever since my husband and I were married, we let our family know that Christmas eve is reserved for us. With our latest addition to the family, I am so thankful that we have set aside this time for us. Christmas can be so full of hustle & bustle that being able to spend the night as a family is worth more than any presents Santa brings.

I like to make a nice dinner on Christmas Eve. This year we decided to have steak, baked potatoes & Caesar salad. These three things are super easy, so I picked a rather difficult dessert. I wish I had a picture of my husband grilling steaks on the patio with a foot of snow falling. But they sure did taste good!

I am a big fan of Annie's Eats, I have noticed lately that I am starring her recipes on my google reader. She makes some of the prettiest things I have ever seen. We picked the caramel apple cheesecake pie.
This was time consuming, I am not going to lie. Start to finish was about 2 hours, then you have to let it cool for 4 hours. So plan in advance (i did not,thus we had this for breakfast on Christmas Day-what??? it has fruit in it!)

Anyway, mine is not near as pretty but was quite tasty. I didn't make my own caramel sauce though. I just bought sauce at the store.

Cookies for Santa!

This being the first year with our son, I wanted to start a cookies for santa tradition. I had been baking & cooking for 2 weeks & really didnt want to even make cookies on Christmas Eve. But the snow started falling, I was going to be stuck in the house & I really wanted to try royal icing.

I made these sugar cookies. They were delicious! Just plan ahead b.c they have to chill for 3 hours.

I used this recipe for the royal icing. Now I didnt have enough powedered sugar to make a lot of frosting, but I also didnt make very many cookies. I wish I had had more frosting though & better tools.

Annie has a great post on tips for using royal icing. I am looking forward to trying out royal icing on other cookies. I really like how it looks in the end and maybe I can convince the hubs that I need some new tools. After the mess that was our kitchen table post cookie decorating I think I have it in the bag :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Festive Appetizer

My cousin made this dip while we were visiting in Chicago. I was in love with it (as was my munchkin)

Its so easy and has the red, green & white colors you need for your Christmas Dinner, open house, etc...

You'll need
Sun dried tomatoes-jarred in oil, preferably diced or sliced
pesto- you can make our own or buy the premade kind, about 2 cups
cream cheese- 1-2 boxes, so I think 16 oz?

So, I let the cream cheese sit out until softened, then I whipped in it the kitchen aid. Once that was done, I spread it on a serving dish.
Next pour on the pesto, spread it all over the cream cheese.
Then layer with the sun dried tomatoes. You'll want to keep some of the oil, not all of it though.

And you are done. Serve with ritz or club crackers.

Friday, December 4, 2009


So last holiday season I made some kind of red pepper topped ritz crackers-does anyone know what this is???

In the meantime, here are few recipes I have made

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes- SO GOOD!!! If you haven't made some form of chocolate pb cupcakes, do so now. You will not be sad.

Beef Enchiladas --> I have always wanted to make my own red sauce, mostly b/c I felt like I always had the ingredients on hand, but i could never find an easy recipe to do this. Now I have one that I will use for every enchilada I want to make. To note, on this recipe, I omitted the rice.

And of course one big fat fail recipe. If anyone can explain how I messed this up, I would love to hear it. Pumpkin Pie Squares. The whole "top" stuck to the dish & it was all wiggly and looked like uncooked pumpkin.

Holiday baking is going to start this Sunday, if I have time. I have to go to the store first-any special requests?? Any favorite holiday recipes you like to make?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oh the excuses...

Daylight savings adjustment, a new baby, the holidays, I can't my pictures to upload. Oh I could go on & on, but we have heard them all before.

I am still cooking & baking. I don't take many pictures b/c while I have a light box, I don't have a light for said light box. And nothing is more unappetizing then seeing a nasty picture accompany a great recipe.

However, I wanted to share a few recipes I have made lately that I have been really impressed with.
Pizza Pasta--> Loved this recipe b/c it was quick & quite versatile, use whatever you have on hand, oh and it makes a lot!
Breakfast Casserole--> what a genius idea on how to use up leftover hot dog buns!
Pumpkin Cupcakes--> Great idea for yellow cake mix! And great for this holiday season!! The hubs said these were great-very dense & moist. (plus cake mix right now is like $.77 box-super cheap dessert for a potluck!)
Tiramisu Cupcakes--> My friend Nemmie, over at Cast Sugar, brought these beauties to our Halloween party. They are to die for & really not THAT hard to make. Just a little time consuming. A few notes on this recipe: use Kahlua over Marsala for the coffee syrup. Also, did you know cake flour is just AP Flour & Cornstarch? Genius!

And of course, a few pictures of why I never blog anymore!

So that is all I have for now. I hope to at least be able to put up some links to recipes I have tried recently, if not pictures.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I will try to be better

I could come up with a million excuses on why I haven't updated my blog. Ones I am sure we have all heard before. But now that we are back from a nice trip to Hawaii, I will have some more time on my hands (at least I hope to!)

I cannot believe I have never posted this recipe before. When I first met my husband, this was my go-to impress everyone dinner. I think my favorite vegetable is artichoke, so I pretty much love any recipe that includes artichoke hearts in it. Each time I make this recipe I change it up a bit, but the basics behind it make for a great meal. I also changed quite a bit of it so its not so complicated.

Chicken Saute w/Artichoke Hearts
Fresh artichokes taste best in this dish. If they are unavailable, use about 1 1/2 cups thawed, frozen hearts or drained, marinated hearts and add them with the tomatoes.

1 lemon, halved
1 lb. small artichokes
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
4 skinless chicken breast halves
2 Tbs. pure olive oil
Salt and freshly ground white or black pepper, to
4 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
1 shallot, cut into slivers
1 Tbs. minced fresh basil
1 Tbs. minced fresh tarragon
1 Tbs. minced fresh chervil
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 or 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Have ready a bowl three-fourths full of water to which you have added the juice from 1/2 lemon. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, cut off the stem even with the base. Cut off the top one-third of the artichoke. Starting at the base, break off 3 or 4 rows of the tough outer leaves, snapping them downward, until you reach the tender, pale green inner leaves. Trim away any dark green areas around the base. As you work, rub the cut surfaces with the remaining lemon half to prevent darkening. When the artichoke is fully trimmed, cut in half lengthwise and, using a sharp spoon or knife, scoop out and discard the prickly choke. Then cut each half in half again to create quarters and add to the lemon water. Set aside.

Spread the flour on a plate, then lightly coat both sides of each chicken piece with the flour, shaking off the excess. In a fry pan over high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chicken pieces and sauté, turning once, until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Pour off all but 2 Tbs. of the fat from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and shallot, and sauté until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the basil, tarragon, chervil and mustard. Increase the heat to high, pour in the wine and broth, and deglaze the pan, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Return the chicken to the pan and add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook turning the pieces occasionally, until the chicken is opaque throughout and the juices run clear, about 20 minutes for the breasts and 30 minutes for the thighs and drumsticks.

About 10 minutes before the chicken is done, drain the artichokes and add to the pan. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate as they are done, then just before the remaining chicken is done, return the cooked pieces to the pan to warm briefly.

Transfer the contents of the pan to a warmed serving platter and garnish with the parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Casual Entertaining, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1998).

*** My Changes--> I used only chicken breasts, the original recipe calls for drumsticks & thighs. Since chicken breasts have less fat, you will need to add some more olive oil to the pan to saute the garlic & shallots.
If I don't have fresh herbs, I just used dried.
If I don't have wine, I just use more chicken broth. Sometimes I use marsala in place of the white wine.
Sometimes I add tomatoes, other times I don't. Other good additions are mushrooms, black olives & toasted pine nuts.
I usually serve this over whole-wheat pasta and top it off with some grated parmesan cheese.

--> Pictures are not working right now so I will add them later

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cashew Chicken

We love love love Chinese food at our house. My husband actually really loves this china buffet out by us. I sometimes have issues with it b/c the chicken isn't always trimmed and it isn't all white meat. Plus its usually fried with tons of salt & sugar added in. Long story short, I like to attempt my own Chinese food at home.

I stumbled across Amber's post for cashew chicken & when I saw it was originally a Williams-Sonoma recipe I knew it was going to be a good one. Some of my all time favorite recipes have come from Williams-Sonoma. And this one did not disappoint. Like Amber said this came together pretty quickly which was nice b/c we didn't have a lot of time last night. While the recipe says to use chicken thighs, I just used cut up chicken breast.

Cashew Chicken

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

~makes 4 servings ~

3 tablespoons. soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons corn or peanut oil
2 green onions, chopped
1 cup salted roasted cashews
Steamed rice for serving

Marinate the chicken - In a large bowl, stir together 2 Tbs. of the soy sauce, the wine and ginger. Stir in the chicken to coat evenly and set aside for 15 minutes.
Make the sauce - In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbs. water, the remaining 1 Tbs. soy sauce, the Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, sugar and cornstarch, and stir to dissolve the sugar and cornstarch.
Stir-fry the chicken - Heat a wok or large fry pan over high heat until very hot and add 2 Tbs. of the corn oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade, draining it well, and discard the marinade. Add the chicken to the wok and stir-fry until opaque, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl.
Return the wok to medium heat and add the remaining 1 Tbs. corn oil. Add the green onions and stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Return the chicken to the wok and add the cashews. Give the sauce a quick stir, add to the pan and stir until the sauce thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately with the steamed rice

In addition to this, I also made my "fried" rice.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Squash Casserole

My dad & I love to cook-i have always been this way-but my dad started his cooking about 3-4 years ago. Well, he knows all about our garden & veggies, we usually bring some out to them when we visit. Anyway, the last time we were at their house, he had printed out a recipe for me. Squash Casserole. Yay! I can use up some of the squash at home!! Then I read who the recipe was by. Paula Deen. I was like, man this is going to be laden in butter, cream, etc...
My dad loves him some Paula. In his defense, he was treated for throat cancer years ago & lost a lot of weight. I mean, he wasnt big before but he is so skinny now, so we encourage him to eat full bodied meals.
I adjusted the recipe to better fit our dietary needs :)

Squash Casserole
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Prep Time: 25 min Inactive Prep Time: hr min Cook Time: 55 min
6 servings
6 cups large diced yellow squash and zucchini
Vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter (I used 2 Tbps here & a little olive oil)
1/2 cup sour cream (I used lowfat sour cream)
1 teaspoon House seasoning, recipe follows
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (2% cheese)
1 cup crushed butter crackers (recommended: Ritz) (I used Club Crackers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Saute the squash in a little vegetable oil over medium-low heat until it has completely broken down, about 15 to 20 minutes. Line a colander with a clean tea towel. Place the cooked squash in the lined colander. Squeeze excess moisture from the squash. Set aside.

In a medium size skillet, saute the onion in butter for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and mix all ingredients together except cracker crumbs. Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish and top with cracker crumbs. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt

1/4 cup black pepper

1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

I also added some grilled chicken so it could be a main dish, well I would have eaten it as a main dish without the chicken but my husband wouldnt. I really liked it, he said he wanted the squash cooked more so it was less crunchy more chewy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Stuffed Peppers

I was really really excited for stuffed peppers. The day started out raining and i thought what a perfect dinner! I should have known then that they would be so-so. I don't want to bag on anyone so I will post the recipe but not the link. I had 3 big peppers from the garden & 2 baby ones, so I went ahead & bought 3 more red peppers from the grocery store.

2 cups cooked brown or white rice
1lb ground turkey
7 bell peppers
1 onion
Olive oil for vegetables
2 tomatoes, diced
1 jar (25.5 ounce) marinara sauce
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Fresh cracked pepper
½ cup Parmesan Reggiano

1. Make the rice according to package directions. Set aside.
2. brown the ground turkey
3. Dice the onions & add to the turkey, if you need more oil add it here.

4. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Rub a 7x11 inch (2 quart) baking dish with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Pour in the sauce and spread about the bottom of the dish. Line a jelly roll pan with foil and place the baking dish in the center to prevent spills.

5. In a large bowl mix together the rice, sausage, diced bell pepper, onion, asparagus, tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes, and fresh cracked pepper.

8. Stuff the peppers with the mixture and gently pack down. Place in the sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan Reggiano Cheese. Top with a pepper ring.

9. Bake for 60 to 120 minutes or until golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. Wait 5 minutes before serving.

Here are the reasons maybe we didn't like it
1) not enough sauce
2) the peppers were still really crunchy even after an hour of cooking
3) the insides weren't, i don't know, cheesy enough maybe?

So since I have so many leftover, I decided to remake them. I cut the peppers in half & placed them in on a bed of tomato sauce in a roasting pan. I sprinkled them with mozzerella cheese & put them in the oven at 375F for probably 25-30 minutes. They were so much better.

More zucchini

I found this gem over at ClosetCooking. He has some of the best pictures. I am extremely jealous of his farmers market b/c they always seem to have the most unique items.

Italian Sausage & Zucchini Pasta

A few changes--> I didnt even look for garlic scape. I just used some garlic cloves. I also used turkey sausage & whole wheat rotini to make it a bit more healthy. I have become a big fan of using leftover pasta water to create a sauce. I used to think it would be so bland but its not! Try it out!

Zucchini Harvest

As many of my followers know, my husband has quite the green thumb. We have the biggest zucchini I have ever seen, so I decided to put one (yes one) to good use yesterday. I made 3 different kinds of zucchini bread.

The first was found on
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups shredded zucchini (12 ounces)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through baking soda) in a large bowl.

Combine egg substitute and next 4 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl; add sugar, stirring until combined. Add zucchini; stir until well combined. Add flour mixture; stir just until combined. Stir in walnuts.

Divide batter evenly between 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

**So for one of these I just made it plain, no nuts.

And I made a smaller one with chocolate chips

The next recipe was a little different. I was sucked in by the color of the bread from the original poster. See how yellow it is???

Zucchini Bread

**This one only made one large loaf. I had wanted to make 2 loafs, one plain & one with pecans. So instead I did half with pecans and half without.

The showdown results
Its easy to say the chocolate chip one was the best, I mean it had chocolate chips in it. But the yellow one had a much lighter feel to it. The plain one you could really taste the cinnamon. So I think my winner is the yellow one!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pasta no sauce

Many of you fellow foodies watch Food Network and I know we all sit there and watch Giada make some delicious pasta dish by only using the water that the noodles were cooked in, but I have always been hesitant to do this. I mean, its just starchy water, how can that taste good? Well I still stand by that statement but I will say that adding some of the extra pasta water to this dish made it really good.

I marinated some chikcen in olive oil, lemon juice & pepper. I then grilled the chicken in a grill pan (only b/c there was a torrential downpour taking place outside) However, this worked in my favor b/c I had extra juices from the chicken to use in the sauce. I sauteed some mushrooms in a separate pan then dumped everything into a big pasta bowl to mix up. I added about 4-5 Tbsp of noodle water to the dish, then sprinkled it with parmesan cheese. I also had some toasted pine nuts to use, so I tossed those in as well.

This was really good (not colorful by any means) but nice & light which is something you dont normally find in a pasta dish.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Moroccan Chicken

You know how we all find diet food bland? Well, I really want to stick to this diet, but still experiment with different foods. My South Beach Diet book had a recipe for Moroccan Chicken w/Summer Squash. The Moroccan part didn't stick out to me as much as the summer squash part, b/c I need to use up our squash!

This was a little different-so you picky eaters-be weary about trying it. Cinnamon + Chicken seems a little weird to me, but it was good. Not GREAT by any means, but good. The only difference in this recipe is that I used black olives instead of green. And I made some whole wheat cous cous to round out the meal.

Moroccan Lemon Chicken w/Summer Squash and Green Olives
South Beach Diet

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 lemon
4 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
¾ lb summer squash
1/3 cup pitted green olives
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

Pound chicken breasts between wax paper until ¼ “ thick
In a small bowl, mix cumin, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, allspice, salt & cayenne. Squeeze 1 Tbsp juice from the lemon and add to the spice mixture. Add 3 tsp oil to spice mixture. Spread over chicken, on both sides.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, in batches if necessary and cook, turning, until blackened on the outside & cooked through. 3-4 mins per side. Transfer to a plate & keep warm.
Add remaining 1 tsp oil to the skillet & return to med high heat. Add onions slices & cook, stirring w/a wooden spoon & scraping up any brown bits, about 3 minutes. Add squash, olives & water. Season lightly w/ S&P. Cover and cook until the squash is tender, 4 to 5 mins. Remove pan from heat, squeeze a little more lemon juice over chicken & veggies, sprinkle with parsley & serve.

No parsley for us- we have a bunny that is attacking our garden!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Got Lots of Summer Squash?

Well its that time of year again. Our garden is producing more than we can handle, at least in the squash territory. Still waiting on some ripe tomatoes.
Anyway, if you have an adbunance of summer squash-Make this!

Its good! Double the recipe b/c 4 cups of sliced squash is about 1 squash in my garden.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vegetable Hash

We eat a lot of egg beaters/egg whites on this diet. It truly is the easiest way to get a lot of protein in your morning meal. I like this "hash" because it is hearty, but it doesn't have any potatoes in it. I have been adding it to our morning eggs, but you could also serve it as a side dish to any meal. The best part is that I cooked this up on Sunday so I was able to just add it into my eggs without the added sauteing time.

Chunky Vegetable Hash
South Beach Diet Book

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
pinch of dried thyme
pinch if paprika
1/8 tsp salt
1 small red pepper, diced
4 large button mushrooms, diced
2 small zucchini, chopped
1 small garlic clove

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, thyme & paprika, reduce heat to medium low & cook, stirring occasionally, 7 minutes or until soft. Stir in remaining items. Cover & cook, stirring occasionally 4 more minutes.

Spicy Shrimp & Bok Choy Stir Fry

This was so good, but I didn't make enough! I always forget that ingredients like bok choy, spinach, etc... They cook down. So I thought, oh one head of bok choy will surely be enough. Yeah, not so much.

Spicy Shrimp & Bok Choy Stir Fry

South Beach Diet Book

1 ½ lbs large shrimp
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves minced
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 lbs bok choy, sliced crosswise
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp chile garlic sauce

Combine shrimp, scallion whites & garlic
In a wok, heat oil. Add shrimp mixture & cook until shrimp are pink, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Return pan to heat, add bok choy, cover & cook until crisp & tender, 3 to 4 mins. Drain any liquid from the pan & add to the shrimp.
Return pan to heat, add soy sauce & garlic sauce. Stir to combine, bring to a boil. Add shrimp mixture & toss to coat. Cook just briefly. Stir in green scallions & serve.

** This was really good, the sauce had just the right amount of spice to it. I will use the sauce again, but probably add more stir fry veggies. It just seems really plain-not in taste-just in looks.

Turkey Meatloaf

This recipe is packed with protein and fiber. It filled us up pretty quickly.

Home-style Turkey Meatloaf w/Mushrooms & White Beans
South Beach Diet

2 tsp olive oil
1 ½ cup chopped onion
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
¾ lb mushrooms chopped
4 large garlic cloves minced
1 15oz can great Northern beans, drained & rinsed
1 ¼ lb ground turkey
2 large eggs
½ cup chopped parsley
4 tsp Worcestershire
2 tsp Dijon mustard

Heat oven to 375F. Spray 8x4x2 ½ w/ olive oil.
In a large skillet heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and seasonings. Reduce to medium low & cook for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic; cook until onion is softened & mushrooms are Incorporated, about 5 minutes. Add beans & stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a bowl & let cool.
In a large bowl, combine cool bean mixture, turkey, eggs, parsley & 2 tsp Worcestershire. Mix well with wet hands to combine, form into a loaf & place in a pan. Stir together mustard & remaining sauce. Set aside.
Bake for 50 minutes. Brush with reserved Worcestershire sauce & return to oven. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until temp registers 170F.

** 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper is a lot. I only did 1/4 tsp
** I also used 93% lean ground beef for this since we had just had turkey burgers
** My husband doesn't care for Dijon mustard, so my glaze was just ketchup.

I served this with some baked sweet potatoes & grilled summer squash

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sun Dried Tomato & Feta Stuffed Chicken

I grabbed a copy of South Beach Diet at the library a few weeks ago. A lot of the allowable food items on that diet are approved for P90X so I've snagged a few recipes from it & will be making them this week.

Last night was Sun Dried Tomato & Feta Stuffed Chicken. I found sun dried tomatoes in a bag in the produce section-kind like craisins- and I was so excited. See usually sun dried tomatoes are in a jar with lots of oil. This is a much healthier option.

Sun Dried Tomato & Feta Stuffed Chicken
SB Diet
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, pounded thin
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
1 Tbsp EVOO

Mix the tomatoes, cheese, basil & EVOO in a bowl.
Lay mixture in chicken & roll the chicken up. I use a toothpick to secure the chicken in place.
In an oven proof skillet, spray with Misto & heat over medium-high heat.
Heat oven to 425F.
Place chicken in pan & brown on one side. Season with S&P.
Place pan in oven & cook until chicken is no longer pink.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grilling Garden Delicious

Not only did the Hubs get a new smoker this year, but he also got a fab grill for Father's Day-man am I happy!!!

So we grilled some garden harvest. We just picked whatever was ready in the garden & grilled them up.

Some squash, zucchini & green onions.

And some store bought mushrooms (boo to the store bought food ;) )


We were invited to our friends house for BBQ on Friday night. A little early 4th of July celebration. The last time we went over to their house for dinner, I made this trifle. I mostly just made it b/c I wanted to use my trifle bowl, but wow did it make an impression on our friends! I heard about the trifle for weeks, if not months, afterwards.

So I thought it was only fitting to make it again. Happy 4th Justin & Shonna!

Brownie Trifle-4th of July Style

1 box of brownie mix
Cool Whip

1) Make brownies according to package. (Before I had a baby & my husband left for a week, I probably would have made these by scratch. Not so much now)
2) Let brownies cool completely
3) Meanwhile, slice up the strawberries
4) Once the brownies are cool, cut into squares and place in the bottom of the bowl. Layer with cool whip, then top with strawberries & blueberries.
5) Repeat

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Its that time of year again!

The garden is in full swing!!! Well it has been for awhile, I just haven't had time to do much with it.

We harvested our peas & snap peas awhile back. I cant wait to make some pea baby food for Jayson! And the past few days we harvest our green beans:

And our first squash! (We now have 3 more)

I know some of our stuff is blooming later than everyone else, but the hubs started everything from seed this year. EVERYTHING (herbs,carrots, green onions, shallots, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes)

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

On this diet, I almost always make salads to go with our dinners. Since typically do not get carbs, I like to fool myself into thinking I am not missing them. Ask yourself, if your meal choice was either a chicken breast, sauteed squash & steamed green beans OR chicken breast sauteed squash & a Greek salad-which would you pick?

So I look for ways to make salads a little more fun than just your basic side salad.

Greek Salad: mixed greens, tomatoes, black olives, cucumbers, feta cheese. Balsamic Vinaigrette
Apple Cheddar Salad: Mixed greens, apples, cheddar cheese, balsamic vinaigrette.
Spinach Mushroom Salad: Spinach, mushrooms, red onions, Italian dressing

You get the idea. Just something to give us a better variety of vegetables. Sometimes I will even top them w/almonds or pecans. (I am crazy like that)

Anyway, 1 oz of goat cheese is equivalent to one dairy serving in this diet plan. I bought some to stuff into chicken but had some leftover & was trying to figure out what to make with it. I found this recipe on

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

1/3 cup olive oil --> OMIT
1/3 cup lemon juice --> OMIT
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onions --> OMIT
1 tablespoon honey --> OMIT
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard --> OMIT
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs --> whole wheat breadcrumbs that I seasoned w/Italian Seasoning
1 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds --> OMIT
3 (4-oz.) goat cheese logs
1 large egg, lightly beaten --> 1/4 cupegg beaters
3 tablespoons butter --> OLIVE OIL
1 1/2 (5-oz.) packages sweet baby greens, thoroughly washed
12 pitted ripe olives, sliced --> OMIT

1. Whisk together first 5 ingredients.

2. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and sesame seeds.

3. Cut each goat cheese log into 4 slices. Dip in egg, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Cover and chill 2 hours.

4. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Fry goat cheese, in 2 batches, 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until browned; drain on paper towels.

5. Toss salad greens with olive oil mixture. Top with olives and warm goat cheese rounds.

As you can tell, this isn't very diet friendly. So I had to adjust. I didn't use their dressing-i just used a store bought low fat balsamic vinaigrette. I didn't chill the goat cheese (oops!) and i just drizzled a little olive oil in the pan to "fry" the logs.

This was really good & made my grilled chicken breast dinner a little fancier.

Monday, June 29, 2009

More Salmon

We bought a huge salmon fillet at Sam's Club that I portioned out for our meals. This was salmon dinner #2.

I used my chicken with sherried mushrooms recipe & applied it here. Only I broiled the salmon & seasoned it with S&P.

Here is the recipe for just the sherried mushrooms & sauce
1 (14.5oz) can fat-free low sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 Tbsp minced shallots
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

1. Place broth in a small saucepan & bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1 cup, about 7 minutes.
2. heat a medium skillet and add butter, mushrooms, and shallots to the pan. cook over medium high heat until mushrooms are light browned, stirring constantly. Add sherry; bring to a boil. Add 1 cup reduced broth, cook until reduced to 1 1/2 cups (about 7 minutes).

I just drizzled the sauce & mushroom mixture over the salmon when it was done cooking & served it with a little whole wheat couscous.

Italian Pork Tenderloin

This is a really simple meal to make and whenever I run out of ideas I know I can just defrost a tenderloin, season it up, and bake it-then be good for a few days (it makes a lot).

This time I marinated the pork tenderloin in a light Italian dressing for about 6 hours. I baked it in the oven until the internal temperature reached 180. I believe I had the oven set to 350-so it took awhile. (That's about the only downside to this recipe, the hour or so it takes to cook this)

Served with some cauliflower & cheese and 1/2 cup of wild rice.

Updating fool!

I hope I have time today to make some updates-finally! I really hope to keep this blog. It has been so helpful to me since starting P90X again because I have been able to go back to the recipes I posted when we did this diet the last time. Saving me TONS of time by not having to search the Internet for new recipes. Now I am sure my updates & posts will die down, sometimes I just don't have time for a picture and I do a lot of repeats for simplicity sake, but I will try my hardest to post a bit more often.

That being said, P90X is here. We haven't been completely committed to the workouts, as we are still trying to figure out routines & schedules these days, but we have started the diet. And by diet, I don't mean a lot of food restriction. There are so many foods you can eat on this diet, but its mostly high protein, low carbs, eat 5 times a day type of deal.

First up is an oven roasted salmon w/spinach & tomatoes.

I served this is 1/2 cup of cous cous.

I marinated the salmon in olive oil and minced garlic. I spread a layer of spinach in the bottom of a 9x9 pan, layered on tomatoes, then placed the salmon on top of the veggies. Seasoned it with S&P and some more garlic, then roasted it at 375 for about 20 minutes or until flaky. (I can't remember if I covered it. I think I did)

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'll be back soon!

So this little guy has been taking up my time the past 2 months. :)

Jayson graced us with his presence on April 8th and I haven't had a chance to blog since then. I have done some cooking, so I will try to get the blog updated, but be ready for some serious diet food.

The hubs and I are starting P90X again. This time I'll be tagging the posts that are P90X friendly because as I was going through my blog, I couldn't remember which ones were. Some oldies will pop up, but its been awhile since you have seen them so it'll be a good refresher.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

S'more Cookies

One thing I love are graham crackers. I love them with some peanut butter on them. Some chocolate, whatever. They are just delicious. I have been eyeing my bag of mini marshmallows for the past few weeks and thought, well maybe I can make a s'more cookie.

I found this recipe on Hershey's but instead of making bar cookies I made individual ones.

S'More Cookie Bars
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 (1.55 oz. each) HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate Bars
1 cup marshmallow creme
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Press half of dough into prepared pan.

3. Arrange chocolate bars over dough, breaking as needed to fit. Spread with marshmallow creme. Scatter bits of remaining dough over marshmallow; carefully press to form a layer.

4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. 16 bars.

So my adjustments are as follows:
I used mini chocolate chips in place of the bars
I used mini marshmallow's in place of the fluff
I made individual cookies instead of bars. Cooked for 12 mins at 350, cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then remove.
I think the only thing I would change would be to add more graham crackers or more chunks.

2 things, but no pictures

I thought I would slide these two in between some picture posts.

I needed to make something spicy-you know-kick labor into gear & all. It was snowing on Sunday-again. So a soup sounded good. I was going to go a tortilla soup, but then I came across this chiptole pepper soup on Cara's blog. This was really good. I added more chicken broth b/c it didn't seem to make as much as I wanted.

Secondly, in my bored state, I made some sugar cookies. I used this recipe from Ms Nemmie over at Cast Sugar. I omitted the zest & just used vanilla. They were pretty crispy, but they kept their shape and I never have a sugar cookie keep its shape, so this will go into the Christmas cookie rotation.

Beef & Noodle Bake

I am still cooking and baking away. I need to occupy my time until Baby R decides to grace us with his presence. The good thing is that at least I am able to put some of this stuff in the freezer.

Beef, Cheese, and Noodle Bake
Cooking Light

1 (8-ounce) package small elbow macaroni
Cooking spray
1 cup prechopped onion
1 cup preshredded carrot
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 pound lean ground sirloin
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) 2% reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese (such as Cracker Barrel), divided
Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Lightly coat pasta with cooking spray.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and carrot, and sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add ground beef; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates.

Add pasta to beef mixture in pan, stirring to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Place milk, flour, nutmeg, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan; stir with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add 1 cup cheese, stirring until smooth. Pour cheese mixture over pasta mixture; stir. Top evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

This was ok. It lacked some flavor-I don't know exactly what though. I think maybe I wanted some tomato chunks, but then it would have been more like an Italian bake.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Homestyle Chicken & Biscuits

I was looking for a nice casserole recipe for the hubs & I one night. I had all the meals planned for the week & wanted something easy. This was very easy. I have no clue where I got the recipe from, it was sitting in my recipe binder from 2004.

Homestyle chicken & biscuits

1 can cream of mushroom soup (i used healthy request)
1 can cream of broccoli soup
1 cup of milk
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp thyme
1 cups cooked cubed chicken
3 cups frozen cooked veggies (i used California mix)
1 cup cooked diced red potatoes
1 pkg biscuits (I used Grands 10 oz, quartered)

Mix soups, milk, thyme & pepper in a baking dish. Stir in veggies, chicken & potatoes.
Bake at 400F for about 15 minutes.
Stir the casserole, then top with biscuits. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the biscuits are brown.

Still here, counting down the days

Baby R isn't due until April 11, but I keep hoping he will make an early appearance. In the meantime, I am still cooking away. I did make a ton of freezer meals over the weekend, when we were snowed in. (Its SPRING mother nature!) All were recipes I have made before (mexican lasagna, chicken stroganoff & jambayla) I also stored some extra spaghetti sauce & chicken cacciatore in the freezer too. But hey, we also have to eat now right?

So while I am bored, I usually bake or cook. I made a loaf of the pumpkin cream cheese bread, and since I had about 1 cup of pumpkin left, I needed to find something else to use it in. I came across these pumpkin muffins on Smitten Kitchen.

Pumpkin Muffins
Smitten Kitchen (from Gourmet)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cups sugar, plus 1 tbsp
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.

Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/4 cup of sugar, baking soda & salt in a large bowl. Then whisk in flour & baking powder until just combined.

In a small separate bowl, stir together the cinnamon & sugar.

Divide batter in the muffin pans, then sprinkle the tops with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake until puffed & golden brown-about 25-30 minutes.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spiced Chicken with Oranges

I found this recipe in a recipe binder I created years ago. In fact, I just checked the date on the print out and it says "07/23/2003". I have had some Chinese Five Spice powder in the cupboard, unopened, for probably 6 months. I couldn't tell you why I bought it, for whatever reason I never made whatever I intended to make.

I really like the PF Changs Orange Peel chicken, and this is what I had envisioned this recipe to be, so when I started cooking and smelled the licorice, I was a bit concerned. Chinese Five Spice has cinnamon, star anise, ground cloves, licorice & fennel. I did not know this until the hubs said "Smells like licorice". My expectations went way down. I am not really a fan of licorice unless it comes in the form of a Twizzler. But I kept on.

Spice Chicken With Oranges
Bone Appetit (Feb 2003)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used tenderloins)
2 tsp chinese five spice
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium red onion (I used yellow)
1/2 cup orange juice
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp hot pepper oil (I used canola oil & cayenne pepper)
2 seedless oranges, peeled & sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch thick sections
**I also used some flour

Mix salt, pepper, five spice, sesame seeds & flour in a bowl. Toss chicken in the mixture.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute chicken until golden brown & cooked through. Using tongs, transfer to a plate.

Add onion to drippings in the skillet (if you dont have enough add some more butter). Saute until tender. Add OJ, soy, and pepper oil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes. Add oranges and stir until just heated through. Return chicken to skillet to reheat.

I served this with some asian rice & steam broccoli. It was better than I had anticipated, but not as good as I was hoping.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Shrimp & Sausage Hash

I won't lie, I was little skeptical about this recipe. I read the ingredients to the hubs and he said "well that sounds freaking awesome!" so I put it on the menu. I mean, it didn't even call for ranch and he thought it sounded good. I think maybe my issue with the recipe is b/c I don't really like all my food to touch. I don't know why, but I just don't.
So hash is a mixture of meat, potatoes, onions & spices. I had some smoked sausage in the freezer and needed to figure out something to make with it. I went to the Armour-Eckrich website and found this recipe.

Smoked Sausage & Shrimp Hash


1 cup chopped red potatoes (1/2-inch pieces)
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 large shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
1 package (16 ounces) Eckrich® Smoked Sausage, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup chopped peeled sweet potato (1/2-inch pieces)
1 large red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


1. Place red potatoes in small saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil 2 minutes. Drain. Remove potatoes from saucepan; drain on paper towels.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add shrimp; cook and stir 30 seconds, or until shrimp just start to turn pink. (Shrimp will not be fully cooked.) Remove shrimp from skillet; set aside.

3. Add sausage and yellow onions to same skillet; stir. Reduce heat to medium-high. Cook and stir 6 minutes, or until sausage and onions are lightly browned. Add red potatoes, sweet potatoes, bell peppers and garlic; cook 6 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Add shrimp and green onions; cook and stir 1 minute, or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in salt and black pepper.

**Some of my changes--> I didn't have yellow or red peppers, but I still had a ton leftover from our garden in the freezer. So I just used those. I wish my potatoes had been more browned than mushy. I am not sure why they got mushy-maybe my pan wasn't big enough. I used normal sized shrimp, so I had about 10-12 of those.

I was surprised at how much I liked this. The hubs loved it (meat & potatoes kind of guy he is) and I think if you used turkey sausage it would be pretty healthy.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

There has got to be shorter name for these bad boys! They are absolutely wonderful though. I found them over on Stacey's blog. As soon as I saw her post on them I knew I needed to make them ASAP! I have been wanting to make something with the oats I have in the pantry, but I didn't want oatmeal raisin or butterscotch oatmeal.

PB, CC, Oat cookies

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2c rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & slightly cooled
1 c peanut butter
1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg plus
1 yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions. Mix flour, oats, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Either by hand or with electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, vanilla, and peanut butter. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in chips. I didn't follow this next step. I just used my good old PC cookie scoop. Although I did use parchment paper and refrigerate my dough for a bit. For an illustration of step 3 click here

3. Form scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball using fingertips of both hands, pull into two equal halves. Rotate halves ninety degrees and, with jagged surfaces exposed, join halves together at their base, again forming a single cookie, being careful not to smooth dough’s uneven surface. Place formed dough onto one of two parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. (Dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month—shaped or not.)

4. Bake, reversing cookie sheets’ positions halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes (start checking at 13 minutes). (Frozen dough requires an extra 1 to 2 minutes baking time.) Cool cookies on cookie sheets. Serve or store in airtight container.I found the trick to these cookies was taking them out of the oven before they looked like they were done. They stayed moist on the inside but slightly crunchy on the outside.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

I was waiting to post this b/c I had left the recipe at home. However, when I got home I realized I threw the recipe away & its no longer available online. So I will have to write this one from memory.

I got this recipe from Williams-Sonoma years ago. When I found the cinnamon buttermilk recipe, I also stumbled upon this recipe too.

Chicken Cacciatore

4 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch strips
2lbs chicken (either pieces or boneless skinless), cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
12 white button mushrooms, halved
2 garlic cloves
2 cups diced tomatoes (I used 2 cans diced tomatoes drained)
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup chicken broth

1. Cook bacon, remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside
2. Season chicken with salt & pepper. Add chicken to the same pan with the bacon grease (if you have a lot of grease, drain some of it). Cook until browned. (not completely cooked). Remove from pan & set aside.
3. Add onions to the pan & cook until translucent. Add garlic & saute a little longer.
4. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover & simmer, about 30 minutes. This will bring more flavor to the sauce.

I served this over some Parmesan mashed potatoes. You could use pasta, we just had too many pasta dishes on the menu for the week. This made a lot. I had enough for 4 servings, plus I was able to freeze 2 additional servings of the sauce.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Busy Bee

3 1/2 weeks until my due date and boy have we been busy. Between baby showers, getting the house put together & childbirth classes, we haven't had time for much else. I finally had time this weekend to do a little baking, although I sat there the entire time thinking about how I should be cleaning out the bathroom cabinet to make room for the baby stuff, but I knew a little baking would make me feel better. I even had time to make a menu plan for the week that didn't consist of sandwiches or eating out. So we may have some updates this week!

Whenever I go to the store and I buy buttermilk I almost ALWAYS buy too much. I just can't ever remember how much I need for my recipe. So I am trying to use up some that I have in the fridge. I came across these cinnamon buttermilk muffins & whipped them up Sunday morning.

Cinnamon-Buttermilk Muffins
For the muffins:
7 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (I used dried)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the topping:
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease 9 standard muffin cups with butter or butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray; fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping.

To make the muffins, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well until pale and smooth.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Add to the butter mixture in 2 additions, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. Stir just until evenly moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each three-fourths full. Bake until the muffins are golden, dry and springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins and let stand until cool enough to handle.

To make the topping, in a small, shallow bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Put the melted butter in another small bowl. Holding the bottom of a muffin, dip the top into the melted butter, turning to coat it evenly. Immediately dip the top in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, coating it evenly, then tap it to remove excess sugar. Transfer the muffin, right side up, to the rack. Repeat with the remaining muffins. Let cool completely before serving. Makes 9 muffins.

Note: These cakelike muffins are made from a batter similar to that used for preparing doughnuts, but they are baked instead of fried

As the note says at the bottom, these are like donuts but much healthier. They were so light and not too sweet. Williams-Sonoma recipes have never done me wrong!

Monday, March 2, 2009

My Cousin Gina

Some of the best recipes are the ones you acquire from a family member-especially the ones that don't have an actual recipe. My cousin Gina made Italian Sausage & Peppers one year at Christmas. They were to die for. She graciously told me how to make them and while mine are pretty darn good, they don't handle a candle to hers.

Her recipe:
First & foremost get some good Italian sausage. I prefer something that is a little spicy. Cut up the peppers like I did and toss them with some olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, a little crushed red pepper, and oregano. Then just mix them in with the sausage and put in the oven at about 400. I'd say it probably takes about an hour. Check them every 10-15 minutes and stir it up so the sausage cooks on all sides. When it starts to get fairly brown (about 40 minutes) put in some chicken broth. You can also use a little white wine if you'd like. You want that to get a little dark which will happen with the browning of the sausage. I sometimes add a little more oregano, pepper, etc...if it seems to need it. I like to have a good amount of juice (its great for dipping bread) so I often end up adding a little more broth close to it being done if there doesn't seem to be enough.

I follow this word for word. Sometimes I skimp on the sausage & I think that is why mine aren't as good as hers.

This time I wanted to make some homemade bread for dipping. I pulled out the recipe for the Garlic Swirl bread

Garlic Herb Swirl Bread
3 ¼ cups bread flour, divided
1 tbsp. sugar
1 pkg. active dry or quick-rising yeast
½ tsp. salt
1 cup very warm water (115-125°)
2 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened or melted

For the filling:
4 tbsp. butter, softened
5-6 cloves roasted garlic
1 tsp. dried parsley
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried basil
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl or in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer combine 2 cups bread flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add in water and butter/margarine and mix by hand or on low speed for 1 minute. Add in remaining flour ¼ cup at a time until the dough is moist but not sticky.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it over to coat with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 40-45 minutes.

Grease a 9×5” loaf pan. Punch down the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a large rectangle no more than 9” wide. Combine butter, garlic, parsley, oregano, basil and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl and mix until well combined. Spread the butter mixture over the surface of the dough rectangle. Tightly roll up the dough into a cylinder shape, pinching and tucking ends to form a tight seal. Place seam side down in prepared loaf pan. Oil the surface of the loaf and cover loosely with a clean cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 20-45 minutes. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Preheat the oven to 450°. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and bake for about 30 minutes more. To prevent over-browning, cover with foil toward the end of baking if necessary. Bake until crust is golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Transfer from pan to a cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing.

Source: adapted from Amber’s Delectable Delights

I had a hair appt so the hubs filled in for me while I was out. I mixed it all up & left right as it needed to rise. He did the rest. Thanks Hubs!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chipotle Tamale Pie

I have had this recipe marked ever since I bought cornmeal at the grocery store. I honestly don't even remember why I bought it. I am still trying to clear out our deep freeze so I can start freezing meals. If this tells you anything, its that I have a LOT of food in the deep freeze. I won't have even made it through the summer garden harvest before this next garden season is upon us.

This casserole is a good way to eat up a lot of items in your house. I think you could adapt the ingredients to whatever you have on hand really. Change it up with some black beans & ground chicken. Anyway you slice it, it was easy, healthy & made a lot of food, for not a lot of $$$.

Chipotle Tamale Pie
1 3/4 cups chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 pound ground round
1/2 cup bottled salsa
1 to 2 tablespoons bottled chipotle sauce (such as La Preferidia) or hot sauce
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can pinto beans in zesty sauce (such as S&W), undrained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 400°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and beef; cook 5 minutes or until meat is browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in the salsa, chipotle sauce, beans, and tomatoes; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup cilantro. Spoon beef mixture into a 3-quart casserole.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup cilantro, milk, butter, and egg; stir until well-blended. Spoon the batter over beef mixture; spread evenly. Bake at 400° for 35 minutes or until golden.

A few changes to the recipe: I used ground turkey & our homemade salsa. I couldn't find pinto beans in zesty sauce so I just used regular ones. I also couldn't find chipotle sauce, but I did have adobe peppers in chipotle sauce, so I used about 2 Tbsp from that. I added some 2% mexican mix shredded cheese. It looked like it would be a little dry (i am assuming b/c I drained the beans) so I kept part of the tomato juice.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Creamy Ranch Chicken Pasta

I'll make this a quick post. When I received my daily email from BHG and saw "Ranch" in the title I knew I had to make it for my husband. There are two things my husband loves, anything with ranch dressing (it has to be Hidden Valley though) and anything wrapped in bacon.

So when I actually read the recipe and saw it had ranch & bacon, oh I knew he would just love it. I changed out the whole milk in the recipe, that is too much fat. I just used 2% and it was fine. And we have pretty much banned white pasta in our house. We only eat whole wheat.

Creamy Ranch Chicken
6 slices bacon
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. ranch dry salad dressing mix
1-1/4 cups whole milk
3 cups dried medium noodles
1 Tbsp. finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Cut bacon into narrow strips. In a large skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels; discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings.

2. In the same skillet cook chicken in reserved drippings until tender and no longer pink, turning to brown evenly. Sprinkle flour and salad dressing mix over the chicken in the skillet; stir well. Stir in milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Stir in bacon. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Serve chicken mixture with noodles; sprinkle with Parmesan. Makes: 4 servings

I decided to do a salad with this too. I am not always in the mood for a fresh garden salad, so I like to change it up a bit. Greens, an apple, candied walnuts & a homemade dijon balsamic vinaigrette.

Thai Fish Sauce & Lime Chicken

I am finally getting around to making some of the recipes I had tagged back in January. The two that I am posting about today have been on the menu rotation since probably mid January. After I finally made them, the hubs said "why have you been holding out!" I think I just had to be in the mood to make this stuff.

I think the biggest struggle I have when making my weekly menu is that I like to have a variety of dishes. I won't have a pasta dish two nights in a row. Or Mexican two nights in a row. So I try to be creative. This is good & bad; good b/c I am forced to make a variety of dishes, bad b/c it takes me forever to come up with my menu.

I like to throw some Thai or Chinese in throughout the week. I knew I had fish sauce & limes in the fridge so I searched myrecipes and came across this one.

Thai Fish Sauce and Lime Chicken
Cooking Light

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons sweetened chili sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
Lime wedges (optional)
Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

Add broth, chili sauce, and fish sauce; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until broth mixture is reduced to 2/3 cup (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat; add lime juice and peanut butter, stirring until smooth. Serve sauce over chicken; sprinkle with peanuts. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.

I only made half of this recipe because I wasn't sure how well it would reheat. I served this with some store bought pot stickers & edamame. So an all around healthy meal. Don't be scared off by the ingredients-you can buy fish sauce in any grocery store & I used Thai sweet red chile sauce for the sweetened chile sauce.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Toasted Pecan, White Chocolate & a bunch of other stuff...

Back in December, all the grocery stores had their baking items on sale. I am pretty sure I purchased enough chocolate bark, chips, frosting, cake mix, etc... to last me until the Spring. I mean really, who leaves the grocery store down close to $100 and all they bought was baking supplies??? Me. That's who.

I boycotted baking for awhile. The hubs was complaining about gaining sympathy weight, I wasn't in the mood to bake. I needed a little break. That didn't stop me from collecting recipes in my "to make" document that I keep handy. So when I was bored last week & on a baking/cooking spree, I knew these would be a hit. I had toffee chips leftover from said baking shopping spree but didn't want to make plain old cookies.

These were awesome! I really should have taken the advice of Baking Blonde & saved some of the dough in the freezer. Oh well, I will just have to make them again. In my attempt to make them not so bad for you, I made the cookies smaller. That didn't really work b/c I just felt the need to eat two at a time.

Toasted Pecan, White Chocolate & Toffee Chip Cookies

Toasted Pecan, White Chocolate and Toffee Chip Cookies
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled until warm
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Heath Toffee Pieces
3/4 cup Toasted Pecan Pieces
1 cup White Chocolate, chopped (I recommend using white baker’s chocolate, not white chips)

Toast the Nuts:
Adjust oven racks to upper & lower -middle positions & heat oven to 350.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Spread nuts on a baking sheet.
Bake in oven, stirring occasionally, for about 10 to 15 minutes until fragrant.
Remove from oven and allow to cool. Turn off oven.
*** I just toasted the nuts in a pan on the stove***

Whisk dry ingredients together; set aside.
With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter & sugars until thoroughly combined.
Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients & beat at low speed just until combined.
Gently fold in toffee pieces, pecan pieces and white chocolate chunks.

Cover bowl tightly and place in refrigerator until ready to bake (at least 12 hours but up to 72 hours).
***I didn't have time to let them sit for 12 hours, I held out to 6 hours & started baking. ***

When ready to bake allow dough to come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a spoon or medium cookie scooper, place dough balls on prepared sheets about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 9-12 minutes until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft & puffy. Do NOT overbake!

Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking and place on wire rack to cool.

*Instead of baking all of the dough at once you can drop dough balls onto a cookie sheet and chill until firm. Place in Freezer bag and freeze for later baking. Allow to come to room temp and bake as usual watching carefully not to overbake.

Next time I will probably double the recipe & freeze half for a later date. I'd better do this before the baby is born!