Monday, December 14, 2009

Muffins...or Dessert?

I'm not sure whether these muffins should really be labeled dessert. I'm also not sure why it matters to me since I've never been one that struggled with eating dessert for breakfast. Though Mom, if you're reading this, I don't do that now that I'm pregnant, I promise. Nothing but wholesome, well rounded, get your day going right breakfasts these days!


So technically, these pumpkin cream cheese muffins were labeled cupcakes in the original recipe. But in my world, no frosting = muffin. And these sour cream coffee cake muffins have "cake" in the name. Regardless, these sweet treats will happily disappear from your breakfast table or dessert table. I wish the sour cream coffee cake muffins would have risen a little better...but what they lacked in looks they made up for in flavor.



I packed some up for some good friends and brought the rest in to work for my coworkers (who doesn't like to start a Monday morning with an unexpected treat?!). I left the ones for friends in muffin tins, tied them up with a bow with a homemade ornament attached and was all set to make my Christmas deliveries. So easy if you are looking for some last minute ideas!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pecan Cheesecake Pie

This pie is a great twist on the classic pecan pie. Pecan pie is Jake's absolute favorite so I wasn't sure how this twist would go over, but he loved it! So even a pecan pie purist will enjoy this dessert!


Pecan Cheesecake Pie
(Source: Southern Living, November 2007)

1/2 (15-oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs, divided
3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
1 cup light corn syrup

1. Fit piecrust into a 9-inch pie plate according to package directions. Fold edges under, and crimp.

2. Beat cream cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and salt at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture into piecrust; sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans.

3. Whisk together corn syrup and remaining 3 eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla; pour mixture over pecans. Place pie on a baking sheet.

4. Bake at 350° on lowest oven rack 50 to 55 minutes or until pie is set. Cool on a wire rack 1 hour or until completely cool. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 2 days.

We let it get back to room temperature before serving. It didn't last long around our house!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes

I know what you should have for dinner tonight...it's this: Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes. You really won't regret it. Pioneer Woman says so.



Don't change a thing. Seriously, bite the bullet and use the heavy cream.

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
½ whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
1 can Artichoke Hearts (14.5 Oz. Quartered Or Whole, NOT the marinated kind) Drained
1 can Diced Tomatoes With Juice (14.5 Oz.)
1 cup Heavy Cream
½ cups Chicken Broth (More As Needed)
½ teaspoons Nutmeg
Salt And Pepper (to Taste)
1 pound Thin Spaghetti
1 cup Parmesan Cheese, Freshly Grated
2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives (or Other Herbs) Chopped

1. Cook spaghetti till al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Melt olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Stir and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cream and chicken broth. Add salt and pepper to taste (do not undersalt!) Cook over low heat until heated through, then turn off heat.

4. Place drained pasta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 cup Parmesan. Pour sauce over the top. Add chives. Toss lightly to combine and coat; add a tiny bit of reserved pasta water if sauce seems too thick.

Enjoy!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Homemade Mac and Cheese

This recipe quickly became one of my favorite mac and cheese recipes (and I've found some good ones!). Super easy and completely satisfying on its own or as a great side. Having it as a side makes for more leftovers which is always a plus!





Mac and Cheese
(Source: Southern Living, October 2009)

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (10-oz.) block extra sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
1/2 (16-oz.) package elbow macaroni, cooked

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Microwave milk at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes. Melt butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute.

2. Gradually whisk in warm milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened.

3. Whisk in salt, black pepper, 1 cup shredded cheese, and, if desired, red pepper until smooth; stir in pasta. Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2-qt. baking dish; top with remaining cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.


I just prepared everything on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet so I could put the whole thing directly in the oven. No need to dirty another baking dish! I also used whole wheat rotini pasta I had in the pantry instead of elbow macaroni.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maple Walnut Chicken

I tried out a recipe for Maple Walnut Chicken last night after receiving it as part of an email recipe exchange (like a chain letter but you send recipes to the first person on the list...and there are no scary threats if you decide not to participate!). It was a delicious and simple meal that had the whole house smelling like Fall was finally here! And more than likely you have the ingredients on hand which always makes a recipe more appealing in my book!


Maple Walnut Chicken

4 boneless chicken breast
Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
½ Cup Walnuts (I chopped them into smaller pieces)
5 Tbsp cider vinegar
3 Tbsp maple syrup

1. Rub chicken breast with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.

2. Toast walnuts over medium in skillet until fragrant and golden brown (about 5 min).Transfer walnuts to dish. Use same skillet to cook chicken (it took about 20 minutes over medium heat).

3. Remove chicken and cover to keep warm.

4. Add vinegar to same skillet and cook about one minute while stirring. Then add maple syrup and ½ cup water – simmer about 7 minutes until it thickens a little. Add walnuts to sauce.

Slicing the chicken before putting the sauce on helped to coat the chicken really well. This chicken went great with steamed broccoli and rice pilaf. I left out the thyme and just seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper and it was great! Can't wait for the leftovers at lunch!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

I haven't had any crazy cravings since being pregnant. Except for one undeniable one for Sour Patch Kids...they tasted just as good as I remembered they did back in elementary school! This is all much to Jake's disappointment...he's more than willing to run out in the middle of the night for a Wendy's Spicy Chicken or whatever it may be. Maybe he'll get his chance soon enough. Anyway, what I've really been wanting are good old fashioned comfort foods...like pot roast, macaroni and cheese and chicken pot pie. Yum!

So I tried my hand at an easy, homemade chicken pot pie and loved the results!


(Source: Cottage Living, January 2005)

1/2 cup butter
2 small leeks or 1 small onion, chopped (I used an onion)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup frozen peas *
2 cups frozen baby corn blend *
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, divided
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 (15-ounce) refrigerated piecrust
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

**I just used 2.5 cups of a frozen mixed veggie blend including green beans, carrots, corn and lima beans. I also left out the fresh herbs and just used salt, pepper and some spices I had on hand.

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Melt butter over medium heat. Sauté leeks or onions 7 minutes. Sprinkle flour over leeks or onions. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth and next 3 ingredients; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add peas, corn blend, parsley, 2 teaspoons dill, and chicken. Mix well. Pour into a greased 9-inch deep pie dish.

2. Whisk together egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water, and brush underside of crust edge with egg wash. Place crust, brushed side down, over pie; crimp or use back of fork to seal rim of crust around dish. Cut 4 to 5 vents in the pastry. Brush top with egg wash, and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon dill. Bake at 400° for 30 to 35 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and mixture is bubbling.


This is definitely going in the "recipes to make again" file. It was so easy and would be a great way to put leftover veggies to great use!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Crockpot Chili

Here's a great recipe I recommend making over the weekend and then reheating during the week for an easy dinner...it gets better the longer it sits! And since it involves using the crockpot, it's really an easy dinner no matter when you make it! I think I may have an unhealthy obsession with my crockpot...but that's for another post.




Corny Chili Recipe
(Source: Taste of Home)


1 pound ground beef (I used turkey)
1 small onion, chopped
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (11 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
3/4 cup picante sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Corn chips, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese, optional

(I also threw in a can of chili style beans and used the zesty chili flavored diced tomatoes)

1. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
2. Transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, corn, picante sauce, chili powder and garlic powder. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until heated through. Serve with corn chips, sour cream and cheese if desired. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Snickerdoodle Blondies

I took a break from cupcakes this weekend and tried out a new dessert recipe. I've always been a fan of snickerdoodles and a good cinnamon/sugar combo so this recipe caught my eye. They were every bit as good as the reviews said they would be...and they smelled SO good while they were baking! They made the whole house smell just a little bit more like fall...which is desperately needed in a place where we're still consistently getting temperatures in the upper 80s.
Snickerdoodle Blondies

2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 t kosher salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 T vanilla extract
2 T granulated sugar
2 t cinnamon

1. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar for about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla. Beat until smooth.

3. Stir in the flour mixture until everything is well blended. Spread evenly in a lightly greased 13x9 inch pan. (The batter is thick and sticky so you'll want to spray the back of a spatula with cooking spray to help you get it evened out!)

4. Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the batter.

5. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350. The surface should spring back when pressed when they are ready.

The original recipe says to cool before cutting...and I was patient for the most part, but these blondies were SO good when they were still the slighest bit warm.



I just loved the cinnamon and sugary topping...it gave these little treats just the right amount of flavor! Try these out! Chances are you already have everything you need in your pantry right now!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ravioli Bake

Unfortunately, this post will have to go up without a photo. Quite honestly, the meal was gone by the time I remembered to take a picture! This is so ridiculously simple but really hits the spot!

All you need is 1 large package of frozen cheese ravioli (frequently on sale at Super Target), 1 jar of spaghetti sauce, 1 can of diced tomatoes (I like the kind that are seasoned with basil, garlic and oregano), 1/4 cup zesty Italian dressing, and about a cup of shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend I had on hand but plain mozzarella would be great too).

Pour the spaghetti sauce into a 9x13 inch baking pan. Stir in the diced tomatoes (undrained) and the Italian dressing. Add ravioli and stir gently to coat the pasta. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes (this baking time is if you thawed the frozen ravioli...if it is frozen bake for 50-60 minutes). You can just test the ravioli for tenderness to be sure it is done. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a cup of cheese. Let stand for just a minute so the cheese can get melty and serve!

This makes a nice alternative to plain ol' spaghetti but might just be even easier to make! And only uses one pan which makes clean up easy too. I like this for evenings when I have a meeting or Bible study because I can mix it up before I go, and then Jake can pop it in the oven in time to be ready when I get home!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Meatless Mexican Casserole

This is one of those simple, inexpensive and satisfying dishes that should really show up on our dinner table a lot more frequently. This is one of my go to recipes for pot lucks, office parties, etc and it makes a perfect meal to take to friends with a new baby! I plan to make another batch to freeze before our little one gets here too since it holds up really well in the freezer.

Mexican Vegetarian Casserole
(Source: Southern Living)

15.25oz can of whole kernal corn
15 oz can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
10 oz can of diced tomatoes with green chiles
8 oz sour cream
8 oz picante sauce
2 cups cooked rice
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 bunch green onions (sliced)
2.25 oz can sliced black olives
2 cups shredded monterey jack

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Spoon into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish.

3. Top with remaining 3 ingredients.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Let cool before serving and it will hold together better!

(I usually just use 4 cups of a Mexican blend of shredded cheese because it is easier to find in the store.)

It won't look quite so appetizing when you are mixing everything together but trust the process...you'll have a delicious casserole in no time! :) We usually have it with a side of cornbread (the "fancy" kind you mix with creamed corn and sour cream is my favorite!) and the leftovers never last long!

If you are looking for more meatless ideas, I think this lasagna that Kara made looks incredible! It's on my list of recipes to make sooner rather than later!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Announcement!

Check out our big news here!! Might help explain why I've been the world's worst blogger lately! :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tomato Pie

I was so excited that it was just 67 degrees when I left my house this morning!! Maybe Fall will find its way to Central Florida at some point after all!


But in the meantime, we are still enjoying some last remnants of summer including some deliciously ripe tomatoes. If you are fortunate to live somewhere where you're still getting some great tomatoes, I wholeheartedly recommend you make this tomato pie before it's too late!



Tomato Pie

1/2 15oz refrigerated pie crust

4-5 large ripe tomatoes, sliced and drained

1 bunch green onions

2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend

1/4-1/3 cup mayo

Fresh basil

1. Bake crust according to package directions (I skip this step...but if you want a crispier bottom crust I recommend you do bake the crust first).

2. Slice tomatoes and pat dry. Layer on pie crust. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with chopped fresh basil and sliced green onions (I have substituted Italian Seasoning instead of fresh basil when I haven't had it on hand and it works well!). Continue layers until pie is full.

3. Combine cheese and enough mayo to make a stiff mixture (I usually use 1/3 cup). Spread over top of pie with a fork being sure to go all the way to the crust.

4. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. You may have to cover the crust to keep it from browning too much if you prebaked it.

5. Let the pie cool slightly before slicing and it holds up much better!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Swagbucks

This is for all the frugalistas out there...if you haven't signed up for swagbucks yet, why the heck not?! I've just been using their search engine since the end of March and have already received a $10 gift card to Starbucks and $5 to Amazon.com! All you have to do is use their engine to search the web which we all know you're doing anyway...so why not get rewarded for it?! Click on the swagbucks link on the right side of my blog and you can sign up quickly and easily and start earning points! Sign up now and start with 3 free points!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Meatballs Made Easy

I've had spaghetti and meatballs on my "to do" list for ages. My husband loves them, but I have a hard time getting motivated to go through all that effort when I'm just as happy with a regular ol' meat sauce. So when I saw the 4 ingredient meatballs in the lastest Kraft Food & Family magazine, I figured now was as good a time as any to cross them off the list.

I substituted ground turkey for ground beef and went ahead and made the tomato basil cream sauce to go with the meatballs. They were fabulously easy to make and really quite good too. We liked them best in meatball subs...that's one of the great things about meatballs is plenty of leftovers and ways to use them!

2 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1-1/4 cups water
2 eggs

1. Heat oven to 400ºF.
2. Line a baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray.
3. Mix ingredients until blended; shape into 32 (1-1/2-inch) balls, using 1/4 cup for each.
4. Place meatballs on prepared pan. Bake 16 to 18 min. or until done (160ºF).

I froze half of the meatballs which means I won't have to get psyched up to make them again any time soon...though with this easy recipe, I won't really have an excuse any more!

Here's the recipe for the Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce too:

Mix 1 jar (14 oz.) spaghetti sauce, 2 oz. cubed Cream Cheese and 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil in large skillet; cook on medium-low heat 3 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Add 16 hot meatballs; stir to evenly coat. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese before serving. Makes 4 servings, 4 meatballs and 1/3 cup sauce each.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Melon, Mozzarella & Proscuitto Skewers

Here's an easy and refreshing appetizer that should go on your "to do" list before summer slips away! These simple skewers from Southern Living are so easy to make and the flavor combination of the melon, mozzarella and proscuitto is really different and delicious!


20 (1-inch) cantaloupe or honeydew cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)

20 thin slices prosciutto (about 1/2 lb.)

20 fresh small mozzarella cheese balls (about 1 [8-oz.] tub)

20 (4-inch) wooden skewers

Freshly cracked pepper
To assemble the skewers, thread 1 melon cube, 1 prosciutto slice, and 1 mozzarella ball onto each of 20 (4-inch) wooden skewers. Sprinkle with cracked pepper.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lemonade Pie

I'm quite often guilty of finding a really good recipe that we both really like...and then never making it again. But this Lemonade Pie makes an appearance in our freezer every summer. It's a perfect summertime dessert that requires no baking and is wonderfully refreshing.



Creamy Lemonade Pie
(Source: Southern Living, May 2007)

2 (5-oz.) cans evaporated milk
2 (3.4-oz.) packages lemon instant pudding mix
2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (12-oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, partially thawed
1 (9-oz.) ready-made prepared graham cracker crust
Garnishes: whipped cream, fresh mint sprigs, lemon slices


1. Whisk together evaporated milk and pudding mix in a bowl 2 minutes or until thickened.

2. Beat cream cheeses at medium speed with an electric mixer, using whisk attachment, until fluffy. Add lemonade concentrate, beating until blended; add pudding mixture, and beat until blended.

3. Pour into crust; freeze 4 hours or until firm. Garnish, if desired.

And that's it! I'm not a big fan of key lime pie but find this pie has the right combination of sweetness and tartness.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Best Ever Banana Pudding

I think Paula Deen is the quintessential southern chef. Lots of butter, loads of fat, but seriously good food y'all. So a couple years ago when I was looking for a banana pudding recipe for a barbecue, her recipe archives were the first place I looked...and I never had to look any further. This is THE best banana pudding recipe you'll find. Trust me...I ate my fair share of the dessert during my time living in North Carolina!

I made this again just recently for a barbecue...something about pork bbq always makes me want banana pudding.

So here it is, Paula Deen's recipe for Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding. It's come a long way away from Nilla wafers! I do lighten it up a bit so the recipe you see below includes my modifications. I always make sure to only make it when I know I can give some away too!


6-8 ripe bananas, sliced
2 cups skim milk
1 5oz box instant French Vanilla pudding (vanilla works too if you can't find French Vanilla)
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12oz container light frozen whipped topping
2 bags of Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies

1. Line the bottom of a 13x9x2 dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

2. In a large bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld mixer.

3. In another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture.

4. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended.

5. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Disney's Animal Kingdom!

I'm a year older but clearly not any more mature! :) For my 29th birthday, Jake and I went to Disney's Animal Kingdom (the whole get in free on your birthday deal "almost" makes it affordable...almost) and got to play all day! It was so much fun...one of those days where your face and cheeks hurt at the end of it from smiling so much!

I think Animal Kingdom is my new favorite park. Look at these fun guys who helped me celebrate the start of the last year of my 20s!


This little guy had enough sense to seek cover from the rain:

I, sadly, was not quite as sensible...which you can see quite clearly by the awesome hair shown below.



And that's the only picture I can actually post...my painstakingly straightened although naturally curly hair pretty much overwhelmed every picture beyond this point. Gorgeous.

Since I'm so slack on posting lately, and haven't even posted pictures from our little day trip to Mount Dora! It was super cute, and Deacon as usual had the time of his life meeting the locals at the dog park and wrecking shop in the local dog bakery. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor not once, but twice when we were told how well-behaved Deacon was at the fabulous little place we grabbed lunch. Deacon is many things but "well-behaved" isn't usually one of them!
He was quite pleased with himself...

I wonder if he'd be so well-behaved after a couple rounds at Mount Dora's monthly "yappy hour." Might just have to try that out sometime soon!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mixed-Berry Dutch Baby

Yeah, I thought the same thing when I saw that title in my most recent copy of Food & Wine magazine? What the what?! Who's ever heard of a Dutch Baby?! Turns out, its a German oven-baked pancake...and its delicious!

OK, so admittedly its a little hard to tell exactly what you're looking at in the picture there. I was in a hurry to get it on the table for company so the photo is sorely lacking. But since I'll definitely be making this again, I'll try to get a better picture for you soon...deal?

Mixed-Berry Dutch Baby
Source: Food & Wine July 2009

**I substituted strawberries and blueberries for raspberries and blackberries in the original recipe

3 large eggs
1/2 t finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup milk
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 cups blueberries
4 T unsalted butter
Confectioners sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 425 and heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet over moderate heat.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the lemon zest, sugar and salt until combined. Add the flour and milk and whisk until smooth. Add 1 cup each of the berries.

3. Melt the butter in the skillet and add the batter, spreading the fruit evenly. Bake in the center of the oven for 22 minutes, until the edges are browned and puffed and the center is lightly browned in spots.

4. Transfer skillet to a trivet and dust with confectioners sugar. Cut into wedges and serve with the remaining berries.

I also served this with sweetened Greek yogurt and homemade granola (this granola is SO good and SO easy...another winning recipe found by my friend Kara) It was a super tasty, super easy breakfast for company that was a little on the lighter side.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Healthified Turkey Artichoke Panini

Here's a quick, tasty and healthy idea for a weeknight dinner! Not quite as good as Panera's version, but for all the fat and calories you're saving, definitely worth it. I liked it so much I made it for both of us for dinner one night, and then made it again for lunch the next day.

Healthified Turkey Artichoke Panini

1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/4 cup reduced-fat garlic-and-herbs spreadable cheese
1/2 cup loosely packed washed fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
4 slices soft whole wheat bread, 1/2 inch thick (1 1/2 oz each)
1/4 cup roasted red bell peppers, drained, sliced
4 oz sliced cooked turkey breast or chicken breast
2 tablespoons reduced-fat shredded Italian cheese blend
Cooking spray or olive oil cooking spray

1. Heat closed contact grill or panini maker for 5 minutes.

2. Place artichoke hearts on paper towels; pat dry. Coarsely chop artichoke hearts.

3. In small bowl, mix artichoke hearts, spreadable cheese and spinach. Spread mixture on 2 bread slices. Top with bell peppers, turkey and shredded cheese. Top with remaining bread slices. Spray both sides of sandwiches with cooking spray.

4. When grill is heated*, place sandwiches on grill. Close grill; cook 3 to 5 minutes or until bread is toasted and cheese is melted.

*To cook in skillet, heat 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sprayed sandwiches; cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until toasted and cheese is melted.

1 Sandwich: Calories 380 (Calories from Fat 90); Total Fat 10g (Saturated Fat 4 1/2g, Trans Fat 1g); Cholesterol 70mg; Sodium 680mg; Total Carbohydrate 40g (Dietary Fiber 8g, Sugars 11g); Protein 34g % Daily Value*: Vitamin A 25%; Vitamin C 25%; Calcium 25%; Iron 20%

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Southwestern Shrimp and Grits

My neighbor let me borrow her Bobby Flay Mesa Grill Cookbook and mentioned she thought I would enjoy looking through it. I haven't caught Bobby Flay's TV show too often but I'm going to have to make sure to tune in after flipping through this book! I flagged so many recipes I'd like to try...I hope she doesn't mind if I keep the cookbook for a while! :)

I tried Bobby's recipe for Sauteed Shrimp with Sweet Potato and Smoked Chile Grits and Green Onion Cilantro Sauce which is quite a mouthful! I was intrigued by the combination of ingredients and happened to have most of what I needed already in the kitchen which rarely seems to happen! I've always loved shrimp and grits but this might be hands down the best shrimp and grits recipe I've ever tasted! The grits are incredible and are worth making even if you don't make the shrimp to go with them!



1 large sweet potato

2 T canola oil
1 small Spanish onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2.5 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup whole milk

2 t chipotle chile puree

Kosher salt

1.5 cups quick cooking grits

2 T unsalted butter
2-3 t honey

6 T olive oil

1 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined

Freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake sweet potato for 45-60 minutes or until tender.

2. Peel the sweet potato and puree the flesh in a food processor or ricer, set aside.

3. Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan over med-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft (3-4 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the stock, milk, chipotle puree (just take a can of chipotles in adobo sauce and puree it in your food processor...it will keep for a month in the fridge because of the vinegar in the adobo sauce), and 2 t salt and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the grits, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Stir in the sweet potato puree and cook, stirring often for 5 to 10 minutes, until smooth and thick. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and honey to taste. Cover and keep warm.

5. Heat 3 T olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Cook half of the shrimp until lightly golden and just cooked through (about 1-2 minutes per side). Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining olive oil and shrimp.

6. Spoon the grits into 4 shallow bowls and arrange the shrimp around the grits. Drizzle with the green onion cilantro sauce and sprinkle with green onion.

To make the green onion cilantro sauce, combine 1 cup sliced green onions (white and green parts), 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1 T Dijon mustard, 2 t honey in a food processor and puree. Season with salt and pepper. With the motor running, slowly add 1/2 cup canola oil and blend until emulsified. This can be made up to 8 hours in advance and refrigerated.


Bobby's original recipe also called for drizzling red chile oil over the top which I'm sure would have been awesome...but I didn't know where to find guajillo chiles to make it! :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tamales!!!

Well not quite...seems the real things would take a lot of work and are likely too ambitious for a work night (or any night for me!) But this casserole comes really close to capturing the flavor! Sadly, this is the best picture I got of it...don't judge it based on this image!





Chicken Tamale Casserole


1 cup preshredded 4 cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided

1/3 cup fat free milk

1/4 cup egg substitute

1 t ground cumin

1/8 t ground red pepper

1 (14.75oz) can cream-style corn

1 (8.5oz) box corn muffin mix

1 (4oz) can chopped green chiles, drained

1 (10oz) can red enchilada sauce

2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast

1/2 cup fat free sour cream.


1. Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl stirring until just moistened. Pour mixture into a 13x9 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.


2. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface with a fork and pour enchilada sauce over top.


3. Top with chicken and remaining cheese and return to the oven to bake at 400 for 15 more minutes or until the cheese melts.


4. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting into 8 pieces. Serve with a tablespoon of sour cream on top!


Calories: 354 Fat: 14.1g (sat 7.1g,mono 3.3g,poly 1.2g) Protein: 18.9g Carbohydrate: 36.3g Fiber: 2.5g Cholesterol: 58mg Iron: 1.7mg Sodium: 620mg Calcium: 179mg


And because in my world, no mention of tamales is complete without also pointing you towards this classic Seinfeld episode here you go. The relevant part is around 3:19, but there's no harm in watching the whole thing! :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Eggless Breakfast Burrito


Picked up a bag of spinach at the store because its good for you and you figured you'd make several salads with it but now you're running dangerously close to the expiration date and don't know what to do with it? Maybe that just happens to me...anyway, these Hungry Girl Eggless Stuffed Breakfast Burritos were the perfect way to use up that spinach and get a healthy dose of veggies first thing in the morning!





1 large La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Low Carb/High Fiber Tortilla


1 slice extra lean turkey bacon


2 cups fresh spinach leaves


1/3 cup diced mushrooms (I skipped these)


1/4 cup diced tomatoes


1/4 cup diced green bell pepper


2 T diced onion


1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss Cheese


2 T shredded fat free cheddar cheese


1. Cut bacon into small bite sized pieces. Add to a small nonstick pan along with peppers, onions and mushrooms once the pan has been brought to medium high heat. Cook until bacon starts to crisp (about 5 minutes)


2. Add spinach and cook and stir until the leaves are wilted. Add shredded cheese and stir until just melted. Remove from heat.


3. Warm tortilla in the microwave for about 10 seconds and the spread cheese wedge on top. Evenly spoon spinach mixture on top of cheese and then add diced tomatoes. It'll look something like this...



4. Fold in the sides of the tortilla and carefully roll it up!


Just 199 calories and SO SO good!


Ovenbaked Omelette

Hungry Girl calls this one the Ginormous Oven-baked Omelette...and she wasn't kidding.

This breakfast could easily be prepped the night before and then just popped in the oven in the morning. Or you could just make it for dinner one night like I did. I skipped the parmesan topping and really didn't miss it. The best part is it is only 140 calories a serving...which is 1/4 of the monstrosity you see picture above!

Hungry Girl's Ginormous Oven-Baked Omelette

2 cups fat free liquid egg substitute

1/2 cup fat free milk

1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheese (any flavor)

1 cup sliced bell peppers (I used red and green)

1 cup sliced mushrooms (skipped these)

1/2 cup sliced tomatoes

1/2 cup sliced onions

1 T reduced fat parmesan grated topping (skipped this)

3/4 t garlic powder

1/8 t black pepper

1. Spray a deep, round casserole dish with nonstick spray. Pour egg substitute and milk into the dish. Add shredded cheese, tomatoes, garlic powder and black pepper and stir until mixed well.

2. Bring a large pay sprayed with nonstick spray to high heat and saute peppers, onions, and mushrooms for 2 minutes or until they start to brown. Add the veggies to the casserole dish and mix.

3. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove and cover with parmesan cheese.

4. Return to oven to bake for 20-25 minutes more or until the omelette has puffed and is firm.

5. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into 4 slices.

I topped mine with hot sauce and served it with these butternut hashbrowns (surprisingly super tasty! with some ketchup on top they tasted like the real thing!).

Lastly, here's a picture of Deacon in his bad to the bone flaming bandana looking super tough.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cheeseburgers Done Light


It's Memorial Day so I'm sure many of us will be firing up the grill later on today! It's been raining for about 7 straight days here in Florida so I'm looking forward to getting to use our grill again!

We definitely won't be eating on the light side during our cookout tonight...but I did try out this Hungry Girl recipe last week and it was GREAT! Definitely provides that cheeseburger taste you want without all the guilt. Plus, the fiber makes it more satisfying and filling than anything you could get from a drivethru. Seriously, try this out!





You can't really tell from the picture but I had loaded it up with lettuce, tomatoes, mustard and ketchup.

And since I'm crazy behind on blogging, here's some of what we've been up to for the past few weeks:
Fabulous trip home to celebrate mom (and a friend's wedding!!).
A much too short trip to see our cutie grandparents.

Pool day(s) with Deacon...this pool lasted a whole 48 hours before he popped it so that's something.




And celebrating 3 wonderful years of marriage!


HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Layered Mexican Chicken

I promise I'm still here! Things have been really busy at work lately and between that and being out of town and the usual running around I haven't really gotten my act together to cook too many blog worthy meals lately! Until last night anyway...because how can you seriously make excuses on a Sunday evening?

So I made this Layered Mexican Chicken casserole...



and it was SO good! It tasted a whole lot like enchiladas...and there is nothing wrong with that!

I halved the original recipe as follows to get 6 portions. But I instantly regretted that decision after tasting it...and after Jake beat me home for lunch today and it was gone just like that.

Layered Mexican Chicken

1lb uncooked, boneless, skinless chicken breast

15 oz canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1.5 cups fat free sour cream

1 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican-style cheese, divided

4 oz chopped green chiles

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp black pepper

6 medium corn tortillas, cut into 2 inch strips

1/2 cup salsa

1. Place chicken in medium saucepan and fill with enough water just to cover chicken. Place pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Drain and cut into one inch pieces when it is cool enough to handle.

2. Transfer chicken to large bowl and add beans, sour cream, 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, chiles, cumin, and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

3. Arrange half of tortillas in the bottom of a prepared casserole dish that has been sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Overlap the pieces to cover the surface. Top tortillas with half of the chicken mixture, layer with remaining tortillas and then top with remaining chicken mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

4. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until filling is bubbly and cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing into 6 pieces. Serve with salsa on the side.

Totally worth the measly 6 points per serving!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cut backs

Haven't been doing a lot of cooking lately...still trying to undo what I did in California between the Sprinkles cupcakes and In-n-Out burgers! But I did make some fun cupcakes this past weekend to share with friends! Check it out on my cupcake blog!

Monday, April 20, 2009

California Dreamin'


We're back from a fabulous vacation in Southern California!! I had never been that far west and just loved every minute of the trip (it went by much too fast!). We started in Santa Barbara and made our way down the Pacific Coast Highway to Orange County! We got to catch up with some friends and see some beautiful scenery...and taste some excellent wine!!

Here are some highlights:


Sunset in Santa Barbara...it was incredibly windy (I kept blaming the Santa Ana winds) and COLD but it was BEAUTIFUL.

Wine tour in Solvang and Los Olivos. The picture below was taken at the tasting room at the Koehler Winery.


Roblar Winery...by far the most beautiful.


Any Sideways fans will recognize this spot:


Quick tour of Pepperdine University...how do these kids get any studying done with views like this?!


Lunch at Moonshadows in Malibu...made infamous by Mel Gibson's drunken rant. The views are amazing...right on the Pacific Ocean.




Had to stop by UCLA where Jake tried his best to get into Pauley Pavillion...he had to settle for a picture with the Bruin instead.



Santa Monica pier:

Beverly Hills! I'm the creepy creepster hiding out behind the sign.



Rodeo Drive!


Hollywood Walk of Fame


The Pacific is COLD!


Dodgers Game!


Good friends:

And good food (Sprinkles Cupcakes & In-n-Out Burger):

Hopefully I'll be back in the kitchen soon! Preferably making lighter fare...did I mention Sprinkles and In-n-Out burger?!