Monday, March 30, 2009

Vote for me!!

Voting is now open for this month's Iron Cupcake Challenge at No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner! This month we had to use nuts or seeds in our cupcake creations. So I came up with an All Grown Up Almond Joy Cupcake...






Be sure to vote for BOTH of my cupcakes (you can vote for up to 3 creations...but if you just stop at my two it's fine by me!!) :)
Voting is open until this Friday at 12 (central time) so be sure to tell your friends to vote too!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chicken Curry Pasta

I told you it was time to get creative since we're at the end of the month, at the end of the budget and taking a grocery store hiatus. The meal below was quick, inexpensive (especially since I already had everything...but the ingredients themselves are budget-friendly) and very good!

I based the recipe on one my mom described to me over the phone and then I added in a couple different twists based on what I had in the kitchen. I would have prefered to use wheat pasta but we were out...if you have it at home, I think it would really add to the flavor (and nutritional benefits) of this meal.

Chicken Curry Pasta

1/2 lb pasta
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
pepper
3 diced roasted red peppers (packed in water)
1 can Italian style diced tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
Shredded or diced cooked chicken (I used roughly the equivalent of a breast and a half)
Several halved cherry tomatoes

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

2. Combine the curry powder and salt in a small bowl along with a couple of turns from the pepper mill. Saute onions on medium high until they begin to soften...about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, chicken and spices, mixing to coat all ingredients with the tomatoes sauce and spices. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until everything is heated through.

3. Add the pasta to the chicken and curry mixture and toss to combine.

That's it! I hadn't cooked with curry in ages...after remembering how such a small amount of curry can go such a long way in terms of flavor, I'm definitely going to be looking for more ways to incorporate it into our meals.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Search the web...earn swagbucks!

I just found out about this great site called Swagbucks through MoneySavingMom. You basically have the opportunity to earn swagbucks/points for simply doing internet searches through the swagbucks site. Then you can cash in your swagbucks for various prizes including things like giftcards to Target, Starbucks, Amazon, etc. Super easy, right? Who couldn't use a cup of coffee just for doing what we already do every day?!

If you're interested in joining SwagBucks, you can go here and tell them I sent you!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spuds and Studs

My dad makes THE best potato soup. I'm still not entirely sure how he does it...I should definitely get to the bottom of that...but trust me when I say it is the BEST. It is everything potato soup should be in terms of texture and taste.
This recipe is not in the same league...but it is quick, inexpensive, lowfat and tasty nonetheless. I topped ours with some turkey bacon and it tasted very similar to eating a loaded baked potato.


I'm finally at the bottom of my giant bag of potatoes I got on sale earlier this week....so back to non-potato fare next week, I promise!!

So that covers the spuds....now on to the stud!

Here's some recent pics of Deacon at 15 months old. We're not thinking he'll get any taller, but he'll continue to fill out a bit and continue getting his big boy coat until he is 2 years old. Which is a bit daunting since he already tips the scales at 82lbs.

The picture above is one of the few I've been able to capture where there hasn't been grass, twigs, or other various contraband hanging out of his mouth.


Doesn't he look so cute?! Stud may have been the wrong choice of words given his little surgical alteration a few months back. But I think you get my point...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Baked Potato Eggs

Sounds weird, right? Well, they look kinda weird too...but they taste great!



I found this idea from Real Simple (their picture is WAY more appealing than mine!). At first, the ingredients seemed like such an odd combination to me. But then some of my favorite breakfasts are those skillet type deals with the hash browns, and sausage and eggs all mixed together...which is pretty much what you end up with here.

2 large baking potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 precooked turkey sausages, diced (I used 4 pieces of turkey bacon, crumbled)
4 large eggs

1. Heat oven to 400° F.


2. Scrub the potatoes and pierce each with the tines of a fork. Bake until fork-tender, about 45 minutes.


3. Carefully cut each potato in half. Scoop out the insides and stir in the butter and cheese. Fold in the sausages. Spoon the mixture back into the potato halves, creating a hollow in each center. Break 1 egg into each hollow.


4. Arrange on a baking sheet and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until set.

Such an inexpensive and hearty meal!! It definitely will serve 4...I was surprised at how full I was after 1 half of a baked potato...and the leftovers don't reheat all that well so I'll probably just half the recipe for the 2 of us next time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Easy Italian Calzones

Back in our college town of Winston-Salem, NC (Go Deacs!) one of our favorite Italian restaurants was a little place called Elizabeth's (sounds like authentic Italian, right?).

It wasn't our favorite because of their stellar service...it always took an eternity to get your food, but hey, we were in college, where did we have to be?

What kept us coming back was their calzones. They were embarassingly large and absolutely stuffed with toppings...you could easily get 3 meals out of 1 of these calzones.

So when I saw a tube of Pillsbury pizza crust and some turkey pepperoni in the fridge over the weekend, I couldn't help but remember those calzones and then I had to have one.


To make these at home, I sauteed some green pepper and onion with 2 links of hot Italian chicken sausage (casings removed). I rolled out the tube of Pillsbury pizza crust (it's quite good when you don't have time to make your own crust) and cut it into 3 equal parts which I then rolled out into circles. I put some of our favorite marinara sauce down the center of each piece of dough (not too much or it will get soggy) and topped it with the sausage mixture, some turkey pepperoni and the Sargento brand Italian cheese blend. Then fold the dough to cover the filling and press the edges to seal (my technique here still needs some work as you can see in the photo). Bake on a greased baking sheet at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Top with grated parmesan and serve with marinara sauce for dipping!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stuffed Peppers

I've tried and tried to find a stuffed peppers recipe that I really liked but they always seem to come up short. At the end of last week when I was rifling through the pantry to see what I could throw together for dinner, I found a box of Zatarain's black beans and rice that I had picked up on sale a while back. And then I remembered the spicy Italian chicken sausage I had in the freezer...and the red peppers sitting in the crisper....and I decided to give stuffed peppers another chance.


I followed this Zatarain's recipe and we both really loved the meal! The peppers stayed tender crisp and were a great accompaniment for the rice mix and spicy sauce. I don't know what they put in that seasonings packet with the beans and rice but it is so good! The bit of cheese on top didn't hurt anything either! So next time you see Zatarain's Buy One Get One Free, definitely give this recipe a try!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Broccoli Cheddar Egg Puff

I was (and remain) pretty excited about this recipe...my husband, not so much. But I see a lot of potential in this little egg bake where I'm pretty sure he just saw broccoli...a vile weed in his eyes.

Here's the recipe as I found it on startmakingchoices.com:

1-1/2 teaspoons Canola Oil
2 cups frozen broccoli florets, thawed, drained and chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1-3/4 cups fat free milk
1-1/2 cups Egg Beaters
1 cup reduced fat all-purpose baking mix
3/4 cup shredded reduced fat Cheddar cheese, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 8x8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add broccoli, onion and red pepper; cook and stir 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from heat.

3. Combine milk, Egg Beaters, baking mix and about half of the cheese in large bowl. Beat with wire whisk until blended. Add vegetables; mix lightly.

4. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake 40 minutes. Sprinkle top with the remaining cheese. Bake another 10 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes.


I had fresh broccoli so I used that...and used a reduced fat Italian blend of shredded cheese since that's what I had in the fridge. I thought this turned out to be like a puffy omelet and just thought in the future it would be a great way to use up veggies we have lying around that are on the verge of getting too ripe. As I mentioned, Jake wasn't a big fan...but that just meant more leftovers for me which I thought worked equally well for dinner, breakfast or lunch! I think I might be able to change his mind if I leave out the broccoli next time!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bikini Friendly Banana Bread

It's about to be 83 degrees here in Orlando today! Definitely feels like spring (well really it's all just summer here) has arrived! It really snuck up on me this year...

Here's a quick and easy recipe that is bathing-suit-season-friendly! Yet another one from Hungry Girl! Can you tell I'm a fan?!


Banana Bread

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated Splenda

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)

1/2 cup fat free liquid egg substitute (I used Publix Eggsters)

1/2 cup no sugar added applesauce

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the mashed bananas, egg substitute, applesauce and vanilla (all the wet ingredients). Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just blended.

3. Spoon batter into a large loaf pan sprayed with nonstick spray.

4. Bake at 350 for about 50 minutes are until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

4. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into 8 slices (just 2 pts per slice!).

I sprayed ours with zero-calorie butter spray and it made a great breakfast or after dinner snack!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Vote for Me!

I finally got it together and entered the Iron Cupcake Earth challenge for this month! The ingredient we had to use was coffee, so I created a Mocha Valencia Cupcake based on my favorite Starbucks beverage!

I blogged about it here...but more importantly, you can go here and vote for Christie's Cupcakes!!