Monday, December 29, 2008

Bacon Asiago Mushrooms

These are GREAT!! They can be an appetizer or a good side dish paired with a steak.

Take large portobello mushroom caps and place upside down on a baking sheet. (You can remove stems if desired.) Drizzle each liberally with balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover each with shredded asiago cheese. Top each with one slice of bacon, cut in half and criss-crossed. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until bacon is done.

Lasagna Roll-Ups

This is an easy way to have a quicker lasagna. My kids loved it, and got some spinach snuck into their food! Even my husband, who's not a fan of spinach, really liked these.

8 oz uncooked lasagna noodles
1 tbsp olive oil
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and dried
2 tbsp minced green onion
1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 (21 oz) jar Alfredo sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add lasagna and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Rinse in cold water and drain well.

Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan over medium heat, add oil and cook spinach and green onions until tender, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat and stir in ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt and egg.

Preheat oven to 375. Place noodles in a single layer on a sheet of waxed paper. Evenly spread some of the cheese mixture on each noodle. Roll up each noodle from the short end, jelly-roll style.

In an 8x12 baking dish, spoon about 3/4 of the alfredo sauce on the bottom and spread evenly. Arrange the rolled noodles, seam side down, in the dish. Top with mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce. Cover loosely with foil and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until hot and bubble and the cheese is melted.

Chicken and Lemon-Broccoli Alfredo

This is super easy and delicious! My kids gobble it up every time. You can serve it with some rice or pasta.

4 small skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper
8 oz mushrooms, halved
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon
3 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 10-oz container refrigerated Alfredo pasta sauce

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In large skillet, brown chicken and mushrooms 4 minutes in hot oil, turning chicken halfway through.

2. Slice lemon. Add broccoli and lemon slices to skillet. Cover; cook 8 minutes or until chicken is done (170 degrees).

3. Place chicken and vegetables on plates. Add alfredo sauce to skillet; heat through. Serve with chicken.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Layered Turkey & Mushroom Enchilada Casserole

This is amazingly delicious and easy. Makes about 6 -8 large servings. Great with spanish rice on the side.

30 CORN tortillas
1 28oz. can of Green enchillada sauce, Medium spicy
2 lbs. ground turkey
1 large package of fresh mushrooms, washed and cut into big chunks
1 packet reduced sodium taco seasoning
1 can green chilis, diced
1/2 cup water
8 oz. mexican blend shredded cheese.

preheat oven to 350.

brown turkey, drain. add mushrooms, green chilis, taco seasoning, and 1/2 cup water. simmer for about 5 -10 minutes.

in 9 x 13 dish, pour just enough of the sauce onto bottom so it's wet, (instead of greasing the pan)

layer 18 corn tortillas. I basically put 3 layers of 6

spoon meat mixture over top, using a spatula, pat down so it's as flat and compact as can be.

put remaining 12 tortillas on top, (two layers of six)

pour rest of can of sauce over top. SLOWLY. so it can find its way down into the pan.

cover with foil.

bake for about 35 -40 min, then remove foil, sprinkle cheese over top and broil on LOW for 5-10 min...till cheese on top is bubbly and starting to brown.

Let stand for about 10 min. before cutting. top with sour cream. ....add a few dashes of hot sauce....


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chicken & Cheese Tostadas

This is a quick, family friendly Tex Mex inspired dish. It's so good, and my kids gobble it up!

6 flour tortillas
1 packet (1.25 oz) taco seasoning mix
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-in pieces
1/2 cup water
2 cups chopped tomatoes, divided
2 cups shredded Cheddar or Mexican cheese, divided
6 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

PREHEAT oven to 400. Place tortillas in single layer on large baking sheet. Spray tortillas with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 tsp of seasoning mix. Bake 7 to 8 min or until crisp and golden brown.

MEANWHILE, mix chicken, remaining seasoning mix and water in large skillet. Bring to boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 min or until chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Add 1 1/2 cups of tomatoes. Cook until heated through, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cheese.

SPOON chicken mixture evenly over tortillas. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, remaining 1/2 cup tomatoes, the sour cream, and cilantro.

Makes 6 servings, 1 tostada each.

(Recipe courtesy of Kraft)

Mexican Casserole

A friend made this for me and it was DELISH! Both my kids scarfed it down too!

1 pound lean ground beef
1 (1.25 oz) packet taco seasoning
2 cups salsa
1 (16 oz) can black beans, drained
4 flour tortilla shells
1 (12 oz) can enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded Cheddar or Mexican cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef according to the directions on the taco seasoning packet. Stir in salsa and beans. Simmer 10 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.

3. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

4. Spread 2 tortilla shells in bottom of dish, and then spoon half the meat mixture on top of the tortillas. Spread half the enchilada sauce over the meat mixture. Then spread on toppings*, if any. Top with half of the cheese.

5. Repeat a second layer and bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

*You can make this one how you like it by using different toppings! Use sour cream, sliced black olices, green onion, and/or fresh tomato.

Other variations:
-Substitute other beans you have on hand -- chili, kidney, etc.
-Substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef.
-Add an additional can of beans instead of meat for a vegetarian meal.
-Add a can of drained corn to mixture while simmering.
-Serve with a side of guacamole or Spanish rice.

Thanks for the recipe, Christan!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Artichoke Chicken

My husband rated this a 9 out of 10, which is very rare. It tastes great, but is a bit sweet and rich, so pair it with some cooked veggies, rice, or pasta.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and Pepper
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and halved (I used canned artichokes and drained and quartered them)
1 c. dry white wine
1/4 c. honey
2 T. white wine vinegar
2 T. butter
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

Dust seasoned chicken breasts with flour. Saute in oil in a large nonstick skillet over med. high heat until brown, about 3 min. per side.

Add artichokes and saute 2 min, or until edges are lightly golden. Whisk wine, honey, and vinegar together, then pour over chicken. Simmer 3 min. to reduce slightly.

Finish with butter, then stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Noodles

Talk about a great way to sneak in veggies! This is a dish that's super kid-friendly and makes for a great comfort food!

2 c. sliced carrots
1 1/2 c. chopped onions
1 c. sliced celery
2 T. snipped fresh parsley (I use 2 t. dried)
1 bay leaf
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken tenders, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
2 10 3/4 oz. cans reduced fat and reduced sodium cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. water
1 t. dried thyme, crushed
1/2 t. black pepper
10 oz. wide noodles
1 c. frozen peas
Salt and pepper

1. In a 3 1/2 to 4 qt. slow cooker place carrots, onions, celery, parsley, and bay leaf. Place chicken on top of vegetables. In a bowl stir together soup, water, thyme, and pepper. Pour over chicken and vegetables.

2. Cover and cook on low setting for 8-9 hours or high for 4- 4 1/2 hours. Discard bay leaf.

3. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to pkg. directions; drain. Stir peas and noodles into mixture in cooker. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Crockpot Oregano Chicken

This recipe makes some delicious chicken with a Greek flair. I don't usually eat the vegetables because they're very salty, but they add great flavor to the chicken!

4 med. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T. cooking oil
1 med. fennel bulb, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
1 med. onion, cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. water
2 T. balsamic vinegar (I use regular, the recipe calls for white)
2 t. instant chicken bouillon granules
1 T. snipped fresh oregano or 1 t. dried oregano, crushed
1/4 t. crushed red pepper

1. In a large skillet brown chicken breasts in hot oil. Drain off fat. In a 3 1/2 to 4 qt. slow cooker combine fennel, onion, and garlic. Add the chicken breasts. In a bowl stir together the water, balsamic vinegar, bouillon granules, dried oregano (if using) and red pepper. Pour over all.

2. Cover; cook on low-heat for 5-6 hours or on high heat for 2 1/2 to 3 hrs. If using, stir in the 1 T. fresh oregano.

Mexican Chicken Chowder

This is a delicious soup that I dump in to the crockpot in the morning, let it cook all day, and serve it with a salad or sandwich for supper. It's also hearty enough that sometimes we eat it on its own! Cooking it in the crockpot all day leaves the chicken so tender and the jalapeno cheese adds just a little bit of a kick to it.

1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
1 11-oz. can whole kernel corn with sweet peppers, drained
1 10 3/4 oz. can cream of potato soup
1 4 oz. can diced green chile peppers
2 T. snipped fresh cilantro
1 1/4 oz. envelope taco seasoning mix (I use Taco Bell brand)
3 c. chicken broth
1 8 oz. carton dairy sour cream
1/2 of an 8 oz. pkg. Velveeta with jalapeno peppers, cubed

1. In a 3 1/2-4 qt. slow cooker combine chicken, corn, soup, undrained chile peppers, cilantro, and taco seasoning mix. Stir in chicken broth. Cover; cook on low heat setting for 4-6 hrs. or high heat for 2-3 hrs.

2. Stir about 1 c. of the hot soup into the sour cream. Stir sour cream mixture and cheese into the mixture in cooker; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Stir with whisk until combined.

Chicken Piccata

This dish looks very elegant, but it's not that hard and tastes delicious! This is the only reason I keep capers in my fridge :-)

4 chicken cutlets, pounded flat

Saute in:
2 T. vegetable oil

Deglaze with:
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 t. garlic, minced

1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. capers, drained
Sauteed cutlets

Finish with:
2 T. unsalted butter
Fresh lemon slices

Garnish with:
Chopped parsley

Season cutlets with salt and pepper then coat with flour. Add vegetable oil to a nonstick pan and heat over med. high heat.

Saute cutlets 2-3 minutes on one side. Flip the cutlets over and saute the other side 1-2 min. with the pan covered. Transfer cutlets to a warm plate; pour off fat from the pan.

Deglaze pan with wine and add minced garlic. Cook until garlic is slightly brown and liquid is nearly gone, about 2 min.

Add broth, lemon juice and capers. Return cutlets to pan and cook on each side 1 minute. Transfer cutlets to a warm plate.

Finish with butter and lemon slices. Once butter melts, pour sauce over cutlets.

Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve.

This recipe comes from Cuisine At Home magazine.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"Two Die For" Pecan Pies!

This makes two of the BEST PECAN PIES EVER!!!!

1 box light brown sugar
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 stick butter, melted
2 Tbl. spoons light corn syrup
2 Tbl. spoons water
2 cups whole pecans
2 frozen pie shells (reg. not deep dish)

mix first six ingredients, pour into shells, bake at 325 for 40 min. or till centers are set.

This is an easy recipe that makes an excellent pie!

top with fresh whipped cream. oh so good!

Chicken and Cornbread Stuffing Casserole

If you're looking for ways to use up leftover turkey, try using it in place of the chicken. This is super simple to assemble and is a great way to sneak in veggies!

1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 c. milk
1 pkg frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
1 med. onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. ground sage or poultry seasoning
2 cooked chicken breasts
1 1/2 c. corn bread stuffing mix
1/8 tsp. pepper
Paprika (optional)

1. Heat oven to 400. Spray 3-qt. casserole with cooking spray

2. Heat soup and milk to boiling in 3-qt. saucepan over high heat, stirring frequently. Stir in mixed vegetables, onion, and sage. Heat to boiling, stirring frequently; remove from heat.

3. Stir in chicken and stuffing mix. Spoon into casserole. Sprinkle with pepper and paprika. Bake uncovered about 15 minutes or until hot in center.

Crock Pot Mac N' Cheese

This is yummy for both adults and kids. It's so delicious-- but definitely not the healthiest thing on the menu :-)

8 oz. macaroni, slightly undercooked and drained
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 can evaporated milk
1 stick margarine or butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients and top with an extra cup of cheddar cheese. Do not stir. Cook on low for 3 hours.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Orange-Chicken Rice Bowl

This was so good, and super easy to make. I didn't think it had enough orange or sesame flavor, so next time I'll add some orange zest and more of the dressing (or just sesame oil). My husband and kids really liked it -- no leftovers!

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips/chunks
1/4 cup KRAFT Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing
1/4 cup orange juice
3 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables
3 cups hot cooked long-grain rice
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

HEAT large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add oil (I used peanut, you can use canola or vegetable) and chicken; stir-fry 5-7 min or until cooked through.

STIR in dressing and juice. Bring to boil. Add vegetables; cook 5-7 min or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

SERVE over rice. Sprinkle with nuts, if desired.

Recipe taken from

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sloppy Joes

I've never been a fan of sloppy joes, but these are really yummy and they couldn't be easier! I use extra mustard because I like it a little more tangy.

1 lb. ground beef
1 can condensed chicken gumbo soup
2 T mustard
2 T ketchup
a few shakes of dehydrated onion chips

Brown beef in a skillet; drain. Stir in chicken gumbo soup (do NOT add water)
Add seasonings. Simmer on low for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve on buns or over mashed potatoes. Makes 6-8 burgers.

Mojo Turkey Tacos

This is a great recipe to use up leftover turkey. When it's not Thanksgiving, I just use ground turkey breast instead. We never have leftovers it's so good! The kids eat the ingredients separately rather than as a taco, but they still eat it up.

1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp orange juice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp hot chili powder
1/8 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp sour cream
2 cups (about 12 oz) cooked, coarsely chopped turkey breast (or substitute 1 lb ground turkey breast)
8 (6-in) flour tortillas
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup Mexican-blend cheese
1/2 cup diced avocado

1. Using a whisk, mix first 7 ingredients (through sour cream) in a small bowl. Toss with the cooked turkey. Set aside.

2. Heat the tortillas according to package directions.

3. Spoon 1/4 cup of turkey mixture onto each tortilla. Then top each tortilla with 2 tbsp black beans, 1 tbsp salsa, 2 tbsp lettuce, 1 tbsp cheese, and 1 tbsp avocado. (This is how the recipe was written. I just put some of everything onto a tortilla, just to my tasting!)

4. Fold the tortilla around taco mixture and serve.

Recipe was taken from Health magazine.

Chicken Ravioli Soup

This is so delicious and filling! One of the best things about it is that it's chunky -- Lauren doesn't eat soupy things too well, so I could just scoop out the chunks for her to eat. Both the kids loved it too! It made plenty for us to eat, and just about as much in leftovers. It was also really easy to make.

2 tbsp olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 (10.5 oz) cans chicken broth
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, undrained
2 small zucchini, diced
1 (25 oz) pkg frozen cheese ravioli
2 tsp dried parsley
grated parmesan cheese

In Dutch oven, saute chicken in hot oil until no longer pink on outside, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, and zucchini; cover and bring to a boil. Add frozen ravioli; simmer, uncovered, about 7 minutes or until ravioli reaches desired doneness. Stir in parsley.

To serve, ladle into soup bowls; sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Potato-Leek Soup

This is one of my favorite soups! It's from California Pizza Kitchen, but sadly they've taken it off their menu. :( At least I can still make it at home! It's easy to make a double batch and freeze some for later.

1/2 pound leeks (cleaned, trimmed and sliced 1/4-inch; white part only)*
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, dried and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 cups water
2 tsp kosher salt
1 bay leaf
3/4 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 1/3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 tbsp chopped scallion greens (optional garnish)

1. Place half the leeks and all the potatoes, water, salt, herbs and spices in a 3-quart pot over medium heat. While the potatoes are cooking, cook the remaining leeks in olive oil in a separate pan over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add soy sauce to leeks after they begin to caramelize; they should not be crispy or black. Continue cooking, gently, until the leeks are a uniform caramel color.

2. Add the stock to the leek pan and carefully pour leeks and stock into the potato pot. Use a rubber spatula to recover all pan drippings and add them to the potatoes.

3. When the potatoes are soft and crumbly, remove the pot from the burner; remove and discard bay lead an d process the soup to a course puree. Return the soup to the pot, whisk in cream and half-and-half. Bring the soup to a gentle boil and remove from heat.

4. Soup may be served at once, garnished with chopped scallion greens or olives; or may be thoroughly chilled and served as vichyssoise.

*If you've never worked with leeks before here are a few tips. You don't get much white part on each leek. I think I usually use 2 leeks for the recipe. The easiest way to clean them is to slice them first, then put them in a bowl with some water. They grow in sand, so the sand will fall to the bottom. Scoop the leeks out before dumping the water.

Monday, October 27, 2008

3 ingredient healthy snack

This is a snack I've always eaten late at night when I'm craving sweets, and it totally does the job while keeping me on track.

One apple, cut into chunks
one handfull almonds or walnuts or both

just put the apple and nuts into a bowl, sprinkle with as much cinnamon as you like, and munch while watching a movie! It's really yummy and really good for you!

Gooey Pumpkin Cake

This is a yummy fall treat that is super-simple to make! It tastes like pumpkin pie and pecan pie rolled into one-- minus the crust. Delicious!

Servings: 10 - 12
1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz.)
1 can evaporate milk (12 oz.)
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1 package yellow cake mix (18.25 oz)
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup melted butter

Combine the pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar and spices in a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir until smooth.

Once blended, pour the batter into a greased 9-inch x 13-inch cake pan.

Scatter the dry cake mix evenly over the batter. Do not stir, just leave the cake mix sitting on top of the batter.

Top with the chopped pecans and drizzle with the melted butter.

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven for 50 to 60 minutes. The top with be golden brown and crisp when done.

Lemon Torte with Raspberries

This is a low-fat dessert that tastes amazing! It's light and fluffy and combines the flavors of lemon, raspberry, and angel food cake. You can use low-calorie lemon gelatin, but I use the real stuff. Enjoy!

1 4-serving size pkg. lemon gelatin
1/2 c. boiling water
1/3 c. frozen lemonade concentrate thawed
1 12oz. can evaporated skim milk
cubed angel food cake
2 c. frozen raspberries
1 T. sugar

Spray the bottom of an 8 in springform pan with nonstick spray, set aside.

In a large bowl, dissolve lemon gelatin in the boiling water. Stir the thawed lemon concentrate and the evaporated skim milk. Cover and chill for 1 1/2 hrs or until the mixture mounds when spooned.

After chilling, beat gelatin mixture with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 5-6 min. or until fluffy.

Arrange the cubed angel food cake in the bottom of sprayed springform pan. Pour gelatin mixture over the angel food cake cubes. Cover and chill 4 hours or until firm.

In a small bowl, combine the raspberries and sugar. Cover and chill 2 hours.

To serve, cut torte into wedges and spoon raspberries on top.

Serves 12

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lighter Caesar Salad

I love caesar salad, but don't love all the calories or that I can't eat the traditional dressing when pregnant! This one has no anchovies or raw egg. :) My kids both love salads, and eat this up.

3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 large head romaine lettuce
1 lemon, halved
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
garlic croutons

Combine olive oil, vinegar, Worcestershire, salt, and garlic in a jar. Cover tightly, and shake vigorously. Set aside. Wash and trim the romaine lettuce; tear into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour dressing over romaine; toss gently until coated. Squeeze juice from lemon halves over salad. Grind a generous amount of pepper over salad; sprinkle with cheese. Toss, top with garlic croutons and serve.

**You can make the dressing ahead of time. Don't toss with salad until just before serving.

Caprese Rice Salad

This is delicious, and great served next to some grilled or pan-seared chicken.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
6 oz whole milk mozzarella cheese, fresh, cut into chunks
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice

In a large serving bowl, combine 2 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, basil, tomatoes, mozzarella, salt and pepper. Set aside and allow to marinate while rice cooks.

Heat remaining 1 tsp olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and 1 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Toss rice with tomato mixture; serve warm or at room temperature. Yields about 3/4 heaping cup per serving (8 servings).

Bailey's Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted

5 pkgs cream cheese, room temp
1 3/4 cup sugar
5 eggs, room temp
1 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 cup chilled whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp instant coffee powder

- For crust: Preheat oven to 325. Coat a 9-in springform pan with cooking spray. Combine crumbs and sugar in bowl. Stir in butter. Press mixture into bottom and 1-inch up sides of pan. Bake until light brown, about 7 minutes. Maintain the oven temperature at 325 degrees.

- For filling: Beat cream cheese until smooth with an electric mixer. Gradually add sugar, then eggs one at a time, then Bailey's, and finally the vanilla. Sprinkle half the chocolate chips over crust. Spoon in filling. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Bake until cake is puffed, springy in the center, and golden brown, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool cake completely in refrigerator.

- For cream: Beat cream, sugar, and coffee powder until peaks form. Spread mixture over cooled cake. Garnish with chocolate curls, if desired.

** I should add that I place my springform pan on either a pizza pan or cookie sheet while baking. It makes it easier to handle!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wassail - a hot and yummy fall beverage!

2 quarts apple cider
1 pint cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp bitters
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole allspice
1 orange stuffed with cloves

warm in crock pot for about an hour till hot....
this is really yummy, and for the adults, you can add a little rum to your mug for a relaxing evening delight!

Kids feel "grown up" drinking this! he he he! ( minus the rum, of course!)

Baked Chicken Ruebens

8 boneless skinless breast halves
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
16 oz. can sauerkraut, drained
8 slices swiss cheese
1 & 1/4 cup thousand island dressing
1 TBL chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 325.

Grease baking pan. Place chicken in prepared pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Press out excess liquid in sauerkraut, then place over chicken. Top with swiss cheese and pour dressing over. cover with foil and bake 1 1/2 hours or till fork can be inserted into chicken with ease. Sprinkle with parsley and serve on rye!

My Moms Chicken Soup. ...the best 'ya ever had!

6 chicken breasts
8 carrots (nickel size slices)
8 lg. celery ribs, leafs and all, sliced thick
3 large onions chopped
1 bunch parsley chopped
1 bunch green onions , green part, too, chopped
5 chicken boullioun cubes
4 tbl. fresh basil
4 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a large soup pot, fill 3/4 with filtered water and a dash of salt; boil chicken till done. Remove chicken to cool; add veggies, boullioun and basil. Cook for 15 min. Cut chicken into bite size chunks and return to pot. Whisk eggs and cream together, bring pot to fast boil, and pour in egg mixture. Stir for 2 min. Simmer for 5 more min... Serve and enjoy. My son LOVES this so much! It makes a ton, and I usually freeze half for later!

Chick Pea Curry

Vegan and delicious!

2 tbl. olive oil
2 small tomatos chopped
3 lg. cloves garlic, minced
1 tbl. yellow curry paste
1 can chick peas drained
1 can coconut milk
2 tbl. soy sauce
1 med. onion chopped
1 tbl. brown sugar
1 tbl. lime juice
basil or cilantro

Heat oil; add onion, garlic and curry; stir fry till garlic is soft and curry disolves. Add peas, coconut milk, soy sauce... Bring to boil , cook 3-5 min. Add tomato, sugar and lime juice, cook 2-3 min. Stir in some basil or cilantro... Serve over rice. This is fabulous!

Makes 2 really big servings, or 4 smaller servings.

Sensational Salmon

Put 4 salmon fillets in large zip lock baggie w/small can of pineapple juice and 2 TBL. fresh lemon juice. Marinate 1-2 hrs. in fridge.

After marinating, throw away juice, heat oven to 400, grease baking dish.


2 TBL brown sugar
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp grated lemon rind
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Rub or press into salmon.

Bake uncovered 15 - 18 min.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Artichoke Dip

I've been making this dip since I was old enough to use a knife! It's so easy and so delicious! I doubled the recipe for my sister's baby shower and listened to everyone rave about it-- there was not a bite left!

1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
1 c. mayo
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Mix all ingredients and put in a small casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 25-30 min, until bubbly and brown. (The temperature/time is approximate. We usually stick it in the oven with other food we're making and adjust the time as necessary)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tex Mex Chicken Burgers

A little different burger, and healthier. It's so good -- my husband absolutely loved it! My kids did too, but I left the salsa off their burgers.


3 plum tomatoes
2 medium tomatillos, husks removed
1/2 red onion, halved
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced (you can leave this out)
Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste


1 1/2 pounds ground chicken (or turkey)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
4-5 hamburger buns
1 avocado, seeded and sliced
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Preheat the grill to medium high and oil the grill grate.

1. To make the chipotle salsa, grill the tomatoes, tomatillos, and onion until charred and cool, about 4-5 minutes. In a food processor, add the tomatoes, tomatillos, and onion and pulse until finely chopped. Pour into a bowl, stir in the garlic, cilantro, chipotle chile, and salt and pepper to taste.

2. In another bowl, mix the chicken, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, egg, cumin, and salt and pepper, until well-blended. Shape the mixture into 4-5 burgers.

3. Grill the burgers for 6 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Lightly toast the buns.

4. Top each burger with the salsa, an avocado slice, and a sprinkling of cilantro.

Chicken & Cream of Mushroom Over Egg Noodles

This is courtesy of Rachael Ray, and is SO yummy. My kids and husband love it! I serve some steamed broccoli alongside.

1 pound egg noodles
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 lbs thin-cut, boneless, skinless chicken or chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb cremini mushrooms, large ones cut into quarters and small ones cut in half
3 tbsp butter, divided
1 tbsp flour
2 cups chicken stock, divided
1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1-2 tbsp Dijon mustard
20 chives, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. Place a large, covered pot of water over high heat and bring up to a boil for the egg noodles. Season water with salt and cook the noodles according to package directions.

2. While the water is coming up to a boil, preheat a large skillet over high heat with 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the chicken, spreading it out in an even layer, and season with salt and pepper. Cook 3 minutes on each side.

3. In another large preheated skillet, heat remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and add the mushrooms. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Once the mushrooms have browned up, season them with salt and pepper.

4. Melt 1 tbsp butter in the mushroom skillet, then add the flour. Cook for 1 minute and whisk in 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, the heavy cream, and Dijon mustard.

5. While the mushroom skillet is coming up to a bubble, add remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock to the skillet with the chicken and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen up the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Transfer chicken and the liquid to the skillet with the mushrooms. Stir to combine, and cook about 1 minute more, or until thick.

6. Drain and then return the noodles to the pot and add the 2 tbsp butter, a little salt, pepper, chives, and parsley and stir to melt the butter.

7. To serve, divide the noodles between 4 serving plates, spoon the chicken and mushrooms over the noodles, and garnish with chives.

Italian Roast Beef Sandwiches

This is something super simple that everyone loves!

1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 pkg mushrooms (we like a lot of mushrooms!)
3 tbsp Italian dressing
6-oz pkg deli-sliced roast beef
Hoagie buns

Saute the green pepper and onion in some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper while cooking. After a couple minutes, add the mushrooms. Once all the veggies start to soften, add the Italian dressing and roast beef. Let it all cook and warm through. Serve on hoagie buns (it usually makes 5 sandwiches when we have it). You can add some provolone cheese if you'd like as well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chicken Tikka Masala

This is the best recipe I have found for this delicious Indian food. It's even better than a lot of restaurants. I have made changes to the recipe to fit my needs, and that is what I am posting. It actually recommends skewering the chicken and putting it on the grill, but I just make it in the skillet. It's a bit spicy, but it's actually one of Roman's favorite meals. Justin and I devour it, and it's even better as leftovers. Here is the recipe doubled:


* 2 cup yogurt
* 2 tablespoon lemon juice
* 4 teaspoons ground cumin
* 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
* 4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
* 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
* 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
* 1 onion, chopped in half then sliced in 1/4 in. pieces

* 2 tablespoon butter
* 2 clove garlic, minced
* 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
* 4 teaspoons ground cumin
* 2 teaspoons paprika
* 1-2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
* 2 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
* 2 cup heavy cream
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I usually omit)


1. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in chicken and onion, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. Preheat a skillet to medium-high heat.
3. Lightly oil the skillet and cook chicken and onion until juices run clear.
4. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and 1-2 teaspoons salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken and onion, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with Basmati rice.

Cheese and Broccoli Soup

A friend and former colleague of mine got this recipe from her mother-in-law. It includes tiny noodles, which makes it a little un-traditional, but it's delicious! It makes a lot, so you will have plenty of leftovers. Also, if you want it less chunky, pulse some of the broccoli in the food processor ahead of time.

Lightly brown:
2 T. oil
3/4 c. chopped onions
1/2 c. chopped carrots

6 c. water
5 chicken bouillon cubes

Bring to a boil

2 pkg. chopped broccoli (cooked)
4 c. thin noodles
1 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder

Cook 3 min.

6 c. milk
1 lb. Velveeta cheese (or Mexican Velveeta)

Heat until melted. Do not boil.

Chinese Chicken Salad

This is one of the best salads ever! When I was student teaching another teacher brought it every time we had a carry-in lunch. I looked forward to those lunches just for this salad! She used real chicken breast, I substitute canned to make it quicker.

1 large can chicken breast, drained and separated with a fork
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 small bunch green onions, chopped
small can chow mein noodles
small pkg. slivered almonds
2 T. poppy seeds

1/2 c. oil
4 T. sugar
2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 c. vinegar

Put all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Put all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend. Pour over salad and toss.

Corn Souffle

This is one of the best and easiest side dishes ever! My friend Sam gave it to me. I made two for Thanksgiving and we demolished them both. Yummy!

1 can whole corn, drained
1 can cream corn
1 stick butter
1 Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 (8 oz.) sour cream

Mix all ingredients together. Grease souffle dish. Pour corn mixture into dish. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Brownie Swirl Cheesecake

A friend of mine threw a cheesecake birthday party for another friend. She created mini-cheesecakes of all sorts of varieties. This one was my favorite, in its original 9-in. size. It combines brownies and cheesecake-- how could it be bad?

1 pkg (8 oz) brownie mix
2 pkg (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 c milk chocolate chips, melted
Whipped cream and mini chocolate kisses, optional

Prepare brownie mix according to pkg directions for chewy fudge brownies. Spread into a greased 9 in. springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (brownies will not test done). Cool for 10 min on a wire rack. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour over the brownie crust. Top with melted chocolate; cut through batter with a knife to swirl the chocolate. Bake at 350 for 35-40 min or until center is almost set. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool completely. Remove sides of pan; refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate kisses, if desired. Yield: 8-10 servings

Russian Tea

This is a super easy powdered drink mixture that I've been drinking since I was little. It's sweet, tangy, and has a good amount of spice (from cinnamon and cloves). It's great to keep on hand during the winter. It also makes great Christmas gifts for teachers, friends, etc.

1 c. unsweetened instant tea
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pkg lemonade
2 c. Tang

Mix the powder together and keep in a canister or container. Add two heaping teaspoons to 6 oz. of hot water (sometimes I add a little extra). Enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quick Sticky Buns

I feel like I'm giving a secret away because these are so easy -- but people don't know that! I make these often for a nice breakfast treat. So easy, so yummy, and everyone loves them!

You need enough butter to make 10 thin slices -- I think I usually use a little over 3 tbsp (3 pats per tbsp)
~ 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
1 tube refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

HEAT oven to 375.

DROP a piece of butter in the bottom of each of 10 compartments of a muffin tin. Sprinkle some brown sugar and, if desired, some pecans over the butter. Top each compartment with a biscuit.

BAKE until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven.

PLACE a baking sheet on top of the tin while the buns are still hot. Carefully flip the tin over, tapping the bottom to release the buns.

TRANSFER to a platter. Serve warm.

(I got this from a Real Simple magazine, but tweaked the recipe.)

Mixed Berry Smoothie

We make this for breakfast, and the kids always gulp it down.

2 cups cold milk
1 container (6 oz) low-fat yogurt (I use vanilla)
1 pkg (4-serving size) JELL-O strawberry flavor gelatin
1 cup frozen mixed berries (I used strawberries, blackberries, & raspberries)
2 biscuits large shredded wheat cereal, crumbled

PLACE all ingredients in blender; cover.

BLEND on high speed 15 sec or until smooth.

SERVE immediately.

** You can change the flavors as you like. I thought it was a bit gritty with the cereal in it, so you can leave it out.

Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings

This is a quick version of the favorite. My kids devoured it!!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
2 cups water
2 10-oz packages refrigerated biscuits
1 chicken bouillon cube

Combine all ingredients, except biscuits, in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours. 30 minutes before serving, tear biscuit dough into 1-inch pieces. Add to your slow cooker, stirring gently. Cover and cook on HIGH for an additional 30 minutes or until biscuits are fluffed up and cooked through.

Asian Chicken Salad

This is always a hit at parties as an appetizer. Or I could just sit and eat it anytime!

2 (13-oz) cans chicken breast, drained
3 scallions, sliced
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

1. Mix mayonnaise, soy sauce, and sesame oil to make dressing.

2. Combine remaining ingredients and add dressing. (If it seems a little thick, add a bit more mayonnaise.)

Serve on crackers.

Creamy Chicken Alfredo

My kids loved this chicken! I served it with egg noodles and a vegetable. There's enough sauce to cover the noodles.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 oz each)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp minced onion
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Place flour in a shallow dish or pie plate. Sprinkle chicken with salt; coat with flour. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken; cook, turning once, until golden, 2-4 minutes per side. Remove chicken from skillet; place in a 13x9 baking dish.

2. Heat butter in same skillet over medium heat until hot. Add garlic and onion; cook until garlic is fragrant and onion is tender, 1-2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add whipping cream, parmesan and pepper. Cook until sauce is bubbly and slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken in dish.

3. Bake chicken until done (180 degrees), about 8-12 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

Citrus Blueberry Blast

Instead of reaching for a milkshake, try this instead. It's fruity and delicious, and full of Vitamin C!

1 c. frozen blueberries
1/2 c. unsweetened vitamin C-fortified white grape juice
1 c. calcium-fortified orange juice
1 c. sparkling water

Place the blueberries, grape juice, and orange juice in a blender or food processor and process until the fruit is pureed and the mixture is well blended. Divide the drinks evenly and stir sparkling water into each and serve.

Note: This recipe came from Eating Well When You are Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff.

Nikki's 3 ingredient pumpkin bread!

I just made this's almost gone! The whole family loves it!


1 box carrot cake mix or spice cake mix
1 can pumpkin
1 egg

Mix all together and pour into greased loaf pan. I baked mine for 35 min. at 350.

I would say check it at 30 min, and possibly bake for 45 min., depending on oven and desired doneness!

Better than any pumpkin bread I've ever had.

Lazy Stuffed Cabbage

If you love stuffed cabbage, you're gonna LOVE this!

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
1 can tomato soup
1 can water
2 lb. cabbage, finely chopped

Cover bottom of 9 x 12 dish with cabbage. Sprinkle with uncooked rice. Brown ground beef & drain, sprinkle cooked beef over cabbage & rice. next sprinkle onion soup mix. Mix tomato soup with water and pour over all. Cover with foil and bake 1 hr. at 350.

This is a great recipe for fall and winter. Serve with crusty bread and butter. Delicious!

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Drop Cookies

Easy, fast, and delicious!

1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar ( I find that just over 1 cup seems perfect)
3 TBL hersheys cocoa

Mix all of above in saucepan to a boil, boil 4-5 min. Remove from heat.

Stir in 2 cups quaker oats and 2 TBL spoons peanut butter and 1/2 cup nuts.

Drop onto clean cookie sheets. Let cool in fridge. ENJOY!

You can leave out the peanut butter and nuts for more of a "fudgy" cookie!

4 ingredient gourmet Chicken Chili (or dip)

This is a crowd pleaser, and SUPER EASY to make!

1 LARGE jar great northern beans, don't drain.
1 reg. size jar of your fav. salsa ( I use Herdez MILD)
2 LARGE cans of chunked white chicken breast
8 oz. bag of your fav. shredded cheese ( I use pepper-Jack)

Put all in crock pot, cook on low till hot!

You can serve this in bowls, as a hearty "white chili", and top with sour cream and crushed tortilla chips, or, serve as a hearty dip with Fritos Scoops!

This won a chili cook off!!!!! Seriously!'s soooooo easy and sooooooooo good!

Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole

This takes me literally 5 minutes to assemble. So easy and so good!

1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/3 cup water
3/4 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice
2 cups fresh or frozen vegetables (I like the stew mixes)
1/2 tsp onion powder
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Stir the soup, water, rice, vegetables and onion powder in a 13x9" shallow baking dish.

2. Top with chicken. Season chicken as desired (I use salt & pepper). Cover.

3. Bake at 375 for 45 min or until done. Uncover and top with cheese. Put back in oven to let cheese melt.

** To make Italian: In place of onion powder, use 1 tsp Italian seasoning. Substitute 1/3 cup shredded parmesan for cheddar.

** To make Mexican: In place of onion powder, use 1 tsp chili powder. Substitute Mexican cheese blend for cheddar.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Easy Beefy Italian Skillet

This is one of our all-time favorite meals! It's so easy to make and so delicious! We've made it for company and they have really enjoyed it as well. You cook the pepperoni with the ground beef, so it cooks off a lot of the fat from both meats for you to drain. It's also very kid-friendly and yummy!

1 lb. ground beef
24 slices pepperoni
1 can tomatoes with garlic, oregano, and basil
1 green pepper, diced
2 pkg. beef flavored Ramen noodles, broken in half
1 c. water
1 c. mozzarella cheese

In a large skillet, combine the ground beef and pepperoni. Cook until meat is browned and then drain. Add tomatoes, water, and one seasoning packet from the Ramen noodles (throw the other one away). Bring to a boil and add green pepper and add noodles. Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the cheese and cover, cooking until cheese has melted.

Beef & Macaroni Bake

This is a delicious family-friendly main dish for any day of the week. Serve this macaroni and beef casserole with a fresh tossed salad for a full and hearty meal.


8 ounces elbow macaroni or small shells, cooked, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) tomatoes, undrained, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided


Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, celery, green and red pepper, and garlic. Continue to sauté the vegetables, stirring frequently, until the chopped onion is tender. Add ground beef and continue cooking, stirring, until beef is browned. Add the Cajun seasoning, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir to blend well and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked and drained macaroni and 2 cups of the shredded cheese, along with salt and pepper, as desired. Transfer to a lightly greased 13x9-inch baking pan. Cover with foil. At this point, the casserole may be refrigerated for a few hours or overnight.
Bake the covered casserole in a 350° oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly (if it is cold from the refrigerator, it may take longer). Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and cook, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes

Serves 6 to 8.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pesto Ravioli

Quick, simple, and delicious! Easy way to sneak in a few veggies.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup (about 6) baby carrots, sliced thin
1 (14-oz) can chicken broth
1 (9-oz) package refrigerated cheese-filled ravioli
1/4 cup pesto
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese, optional

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add pepper and carrots and saute for 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove vegetables from the skillet and set aside.

2. Pour broth into the skillet. Add ravioli and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes, or until ravioli are cooked. Using a large spoon, remove about 1/4 cup of the broth and discard. Return vegetables to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in pesto sauce. Top with grated parmesan before serving, if desired.

Mexican Rice and Beef

My kids both love this. It does get spicy with the pepper jack cheese, so use any mexican/cheddar cheese or a mixture to your taste. It's super simple to make, and has all the food groups!

1 lb lean ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup chunky, thick salsa
1 cup frozen corn
1 1/2 cups uncooked instant rice (I use brown)
Black pepper
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese (or cheddar, for less spice)

1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the chunk. Drain off any fat. Add taco seasoning mix, water, salsa, and corn; cook, uncovered, stirring until mixture boils.

2. Stir in rice and pepper; cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 6 minutes. (If you use brown rice, it might take a bit longer.)

3. Fluff rice-and-beef mixture with a fork. Sprinkle with cheese, cover, and let stand for 2 minutes, or until cheese melts. Uncover and serve, with lettuce and tomato if desired.

White Chili

Both my kids devour this chili!

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp chopped garlic
1 lb lean ground chicken (sub shredded rotisserie chicken or canned chicken)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chili powder, or to taste
1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 (15-oz) can great northern beans, rinsed
2 cups fresh baby spinach

1. In a large, deep-sided skillet, heat oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add onion, garlic, and chicken. Cook for 10-minutes, or until chicken is white. Stir to break up any chunks. (If I use rotisserie or canned chicken, I add the chicken in step 2.)

2. Add remaining ingredients, except spinach, and stir well. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium-low simmer, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes, or until thick and bubbly. Stir in spinach; cook 1 minute, or until wilted.

3. Serve with garnishes: sour cream, salsa, or guacamole.

Yields 4 (2 cup) servings

Stuffed Fiesta Burgers

This is another one from I made this for Roman's 2nd birthday party and everyone loved them!

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. (1-1/4 oz.) TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Taco Seasoning Mix
1/4 cup PHILADELPHIA Chive & Onion Cream Cheese Spread
1/3 cup KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese
4 hamburger buns, split, lightly toasted
1/2 cup TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Thick 'N Chunky Medium Salsa
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 8 slices

PREHEAT grill to medium heat. Mix meat and seasoning mix. Shape into eight thin patties. Mix cream cheese spread and shredded cheese. Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of the cheese mixture onto center of each of four of the patties; top with second patty. Pinch edges of patties together to seal.

GRILL 7 to 9 min. on each side or until cooked through (160°F.)

COVER bottom halves of buns with burgers. Top with salsa, avocados and top halves of buns.

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Grilled Chicken Fajitas
Serves 8-10, or great for leftovers
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Bottles/Cans Mexican Beer
1 Packs Taco Seasoning
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Green Pepper
1 Large Onion
Oil, Salt/Pepper
Flour Tortillas
Grated Cheese
Chopped Salsa
Sour Cream

Marinade chicken overnight in taco seasoning and beer (enough beer to cover the chicken). The next night, prepare fire on grill. Put chicken on grill. While chicken is grilling, cut all peppers in half lengthwise and gut (remove seeds and veins) and cut onion into large slices (circular). Sprinkle veggies with oil and season with salt and pepper. About 10 minutes prior to the meat being done, put the veggies on the grill. Once all is done cooking, slice into strips (veggies and chicken). Warm the tortillas and serve with cheese, sour cream, and chopped salsa for garnish.

Crunchy Pear Salad

This is one of my favorite salads to make for entertaining-- it's not hard, but it appears elegant and is always a crowd pleaser! You make the dressing, so you can control the amount of oil that goes in.

1 crunchy pear, halved, cored, and sliced thin
4 cups baby spinach
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1-2 T. olive oil
2 t. Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
Salt and black pepper
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese shavings (I just use shredded b/c it's easier)
1/4 c. toasted walnut pieces

1. Place the pear and spinach in a salad bowl and stir to mix.

2. Place the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, and shallot in a small bowl and whisk to mix, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the salad with enough dressing to coat evenly. Divide the pear salad between bowls and top with the Parmesan shavings and walnut pieces.

Penne with Chicken and Skillet Tomato Sauce

The sauce in this recipe tastes so fresh, and you mix the cheese with the pasta so it's almost like putting sauce over mac n cheese. It's very yummy, and you can use whole wheat pasta for an even healthier take.

1 lb. penne
2 T. olive oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into 1 in. pieces (I like to use tenders b/c they're quicker to chop
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried basil
2 c. grated parmesan, romano, asiago, provolone mixture (or just parmesan if you prefer)
1 T. dried parsley

1. Cook the penne according to pkg.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook it until no longer pin. Add the garlic and cook until the flavor releases, about 1 minute. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, oregano, and basil and let simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 4 minutes. Set the chicken sauce aside until the penne is ready, covering it to keep warm.

3. Drain the penne, shaking off any excess water. Toss the penne with the cheese and parsley. Divide between bowls and top with chicken sauce.

This recipe is my own version of one from the book, Eating Well When You're Expecting, which has a lot of great recipes (even for non-pregnant people).

Grilled Cheesy Tomatoes

4 tomatoes, cut in half
Salt (I use sea salt or kosher salt)
1/4 cup Italian Dressing
1/4 cup Parmesan/Romano/Asiago/Provolone Shredded Cheese

PREHEAT grill to medium heat. Place tomatoes, cut-sides up, in disposable foil pan. Season with salt; drizzle with dressing; sprinkle with cheese.

PLACE pan on grate of grill; close lid.

GRILL 15 min. or until tomatoes are soft and cheese is lightly browned.

Note: You can also make these under the broiler for about the same amount of time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

BBQ Salmon

I try to make fish once a week, and this was something that the whole family loved.

1/2 cup barbecue sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 green onion, minced
4 salmon fillets or steaks (1 lb) (you can substitute halibut or swordfish)

1. Preheat greased grill to medium-high heat.* Mix barbecue sauce, brown sugar and onions until well blended.

2. Grill salmon 4 min. on each side. Brush generously with the barbecue sauce mixture. Continue grilling 2 to 4 min. or until salmon flakes easily with fork, turning occasionally and brushing with the remaining barbecue sauce mixture.

3. Serve with hot cooked rice.

*You can also use your broiler -- place salmon on rack of broiler pan 3 to 5 inches and follow same cooking directions. I used my indoor grill.

Lighter General Tsao's Chicken

We love chinese food, but takeout can be both expensive and loaded with calories/fat. This is so yummy, and the plates are always cleaned!

3/4 cup canned chicken broth, reduced sodium
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp peanut oil
2 medium scallions, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or 1 dried chili pepper, minced
1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups cooked white rice, kept hot

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and ginger; set aside.

2. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions, garlic and pepper and cook 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes.

3. Add reserved sauce and simmer until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes.

4. Serve chicken and sauce over rice. Yields about 1 cup chicken and sauce and 1/2 cup of rice per serving (total of 4).

(Feel good about serving this dish -- it's only about 300 calories a serving!!)

Crunchy Chicken Salad

This isn't a favorite of my kids, although they like the difference of it. It is very yummy for moms!

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (3 ounces) Oriental-flavor ramen noodle soup mix
2 tablespoons sesame seed
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups cut-up cooked chicken
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
4 medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)
1 bag (16 ounces) coleslaw mix

1. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Stir in seasoning packet from noodles. Break block of noodles into bite-size pieces over skillet; stir noodles into butter mixture. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly; stir in sesame seed. Cook about 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until noodles are golden brown.

2. Mix sugar, vinegar, oil and pepper in large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and noodle mixture; toss.

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

Note: I found this recipe on and I changed a few things to improve upon the original recipe.

1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Reduced Fat Mozzarella Cheese
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese

Make It

HEAT oven to 400°F. Mix tomatoes, stuffing mix, water and garlic just until stuffing mix is moistened.

LAYER chicken (sprinkled with salt and pepper), basil, cheese and stuffing in 3-qt. or 13x9-inch baking dish.

BAKE 30 min. or until chicken is cooked through. Enjoy now or cover and refrigerate. To reheat, microwave each serving on HIGH 2 to 3 min.

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken

7½ hours 20 min prep SERVES 6

We serve this over some noodles and its delicious!!


  • 3 lbs chicken pieces
  • 1 (2/3 ounce) package Italian salad dressing mix
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter (divided)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 (10 1/2 ounce) can cream of chicken soup (I used the reduced fat kind)

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (I used Neufchatel cheese for a lighter version
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Small bag baby carrots
  • Noodles (for serving)


  1. Place chicken pieces in crock pot and sprinkle Italian seasoning over chicken. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons melted butter.
  2. Cook on low for 1 hour.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a sauce pan and saute onion and garlic. Add Cream of Chicken Soup, cream cheese, and chicken broth. Stir until smooth.
  4. Add this mixture to crock pot along with the carrots and cook on low for an additional 4-6 hours.
  5. Cook noodles according to package and serve with the chicken and carrots.

Caramel Apple Dumplings

So easy, and so yummy! Carter would eat the entire pan if I let him!

1 can crescent rolls
2 apples, quartered and peeled
8 caramels, cut in half
1 1/2 sticks butter (not margarine)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 12-oz can Mt Dew

In a pot start melting together the butter, sugar, and cinnamon until dissolved. In the meantime, roll an apple quarter and 2 caramel pieces in a crescent roll, fat end to little end. Place in a 9x13 pan. Once the first mixture is combined, spread it evenly over the apple-filled crescent rolls. Pour the Mt Dew over all. Bake for 45 minutes in 350 degree oven. Drizzle caramel and nuts, if desired.

Apple Pie Party Dip

Always a big hit with the kids!

Dip Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups peeled, cored, and diced apple
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp apricot preserves
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Chip Ingredients:
5 (6-in) flour tortillas
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp sugar

1. Combine all the dip ingredients in a bowl, then cover and refrigerate the mixture until chilled.
2. Brush the tortillas with butter, then cut then into wedges.
3. Arrange the wedges on a greased baking sheet, sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, and bake at 350 until golden brown, about ten minutes. Let them cool before serving. Serves 4-6.