Monday, October 3, 2011

Chicken, Apple, and Potato Bake

Don't you just love mornings where you stick your arm out the door to see what the weather is like and it's just chilly enough outside to need a light sweater? I know I do. It has been a wonderful week of sunny days and cooler temps here and it has really put me in the mood for a nice fall dinner. Like this Chicken, Apple and Potato Bake, for example. It's apple season and this recipe is a great way to use them. This meal is really easy to put together and you have several options for the types of ingredients you use. I chose chicken breast, Fuji apples, and red potatoes, but it would be just as well with chicken thighs, granny smith apples, and Yukon gold potatoes. You can use whatever you have on hand or whichever ingredients are your favorite. Serve this with your favorite green veggie and you're all set for a great meal on a chilly fall evening. Enjoy!

Chicken, Apple, and Potato Bake
Adapted from: Carrie Leber

3 cups chicken broth
1 cup apple juice
1 3/4 pounds Red Potatoes (or Yukon Gold), cut into quarters
2 Large Fuji apples (or other apple), cored, cut into quarters
5 tablespoons butter
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
6 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
3 teaspoons parsley

1. Combine first chicken broth and apple juice in a large pot and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer.
2. Add potatoes and apples to pot.  Cover; simmer until very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.  Using slotted spoon, transfer potatoes and apples to large bowl; add 3 tablespoons butter and toss with with salt and pepper. Pour broth mixture from pot into medium bowl; reserve pot. Transfer potato and apple mixture to a greased 9x13 casserole dish.
3. Preheat oven to 350F. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and 4 teaspoons thyme, and 2 teaspoons parsley. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in reserved pot over medium-high heat. Brown all of the chicken on both sides and place in the casserole dish.
4. Return broth mixture to same pot; Boil over medium-high heat until sauce is reduced to 1 1/4 cups, scraping up browned bits, about 3-5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and additional thyme and parsley. Spoon over chicken.
5. Bake uncovered until potatoes are crisp and chicken is cooked through, about 30-35 minutes.

Serves 4

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Snickerdoodle Cookies

I have another sweet treat for you! I know, where's the real food, right? Lately I have been trying out a lot of new recipes. Some have been winners, others...not so much. I have quite a few more new recipes on my list to try out, so I will definitely be sharing those with you soon, I promise!
I made these cookies for Ryan to bring to work with him. He's a police officer, and let me tell you those guys love it when I send cookies. Apparently they go great with the gallons of coffee they all drink every night. These were the first snickerdoodles I had ever made and they were so simple it's almost ridiculous. They came out perfectly, soft and chewy and cinnamon-y. I made sure to keep a few for myself, but just a few, they aren't exactly "diet" cookies after all. But if you're feeling indulgent or you need an easy cookie to make for a bake sale or school function, you should definitely go with these cookies. And stay tuned for some new savory recipes coming soon!

Snickerdoodle Cookies
Cookie Dough:
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
tsp salt
1 ½ cups sugar
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar

Cinnamon-Sugar Mix:
4 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and roll the cookie dough into balls.
3. Roll the balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
4. Place the rolled balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave as balls because they will flatten as they bake.
5.Bake the cookies at for 10 to 15 minutes. The bottoms should be light golden. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes. Move to a cooling rack to finish cooling. They will set as they cool.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Applesauce Spice Bars

I love Fall. It is my most favorite season. I love the colors, the flavors, and of course the cooler weather. Sadly, this wonderful season only lasts about a month here in Texas. We usually go from super hot to super cold with just that very short break in the middle which we all refer to as Fall. The super hot temps that we have had this summer are finally dropping, so I decided it was time to get a head start on some of those Fall flavors. These Applesauce Spice Bars were just perfect and so easy to make. Go ahead and celebrate the cooler weather with this easy dessert. If you have survived the type of summer heat that I have this year, you definitely deserve it.

Applesauce Spice Bars
Adapted from:

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup applesauce
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons margarine, melted
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, brown sugar and egg until smooth. Stir in applesauce. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon; stir into the applesauce mixture until well blended. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are golden. Cool in the pan over a wire rack.
4. In a small bowl, mix together the confectioners' sugar and margarine. Stir in vanilla and milk until smooth. Spread over cooled bars before cutting into squares.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baked Chicken Croquettes

I've been presented with a challenge lately, by none other than my 15-month old, Jacob. My once happy I'll-eat-any-pureed-thing-you-shove-in-my-mouth baby has turned into a head-shaking, tight-lipped, I-don't-like-anything-but-cheese-bread-and-grapes toddler. So I have been on a mission to create healthy foods that he will eat, and not know that the healthy stuff is in there. I found this recipe for Baked Chicken Croquettes over at and thought it sounded perfect for Jacob, as well as an easy dinner for me and my husband. I served them with an easy chicken gravy and some green beans (my veggie of choice) and it was a great meal for everyone. Jacob loved the croquettes so I know that it is something I will be making again!

Baked Chicken Croquettes
Adapeted from: SkinnyTaste

3 cooked chicken breast, chopped fine (I used a food processor)
3 potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
3/4 cup fat free chicken broth, divided
2 tsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
salt and fresh pepper
1/2 cup seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs
1 egg, whisked
olive oil spray (about 1 tbsp)

1.Preheat oven to 450°. In a large bowl, mash potatoes with 1/4 cup broth, salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Saute garlic, and onions in oil on low heat. Add parsley, salt and pepper and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add chicken, and remaining broth, mix well and shut heat off. Add chicken to mashed potatoes and using your clean hands mix well. Taste for salt and adjust if needed.
3. Measure 1/4 cup of mixture then form into croquettes. Place on waxed paper. Repeat with remaining mixture.
4. Dip each croquette in egg wash, then breadcrumbs and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet for easy cleanup. Spray generously with olive oil spray (about 1 tbsp worth). Bake in the oven about 15 minutes, or until golden.
Chicken Gravy

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (10 1/2-ounce) can chicken broth, undiluted
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Whisk in broth and remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 2 minutes or until mixture thickens.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Swedish Apple Cake

So, I've been doing so well with my diet and exercising the past couple of weeks that I've been hesitant to bake anything lately. However, I decided to reward myself today with this Swedish Apple Cake. I have had my eye on this recipe for awhile, and I am so glad I finally tried it, because it is superb. It isn't so much like a cake as it is more like a chewy cookie in cake form. The sweetness is just right, and I would imagine it would go really well with a scoop vanilla ice cream, if I was lucky enough to have some in my freezer. The ingredients are so simple, you probably have everything you need in your kitchen. No apples? No worries, the cake stands out all on it's own. So go ahead and bake this cake, with or without the apples, it's definitely a treat.

Swedish Apple Cake
Adapted from: O Pistachio

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 apple ,cored, and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease your baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
2. Melt the butter. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, if you're using it.
3. Working in a mixing bowl with the whisk, beat the eggs and sugar together until thick and pale. Stir in the vanilla, and then the melted butter. The mixture will be smooth and shiny. Stir in the dry ingredients.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Top with the apples, making a spiral pattern. Leave some space between each slice, so the batter can puff up between the wedges. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack.
5. Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes, or wait until it reaches room temperature, before you cut it into wedges to serve.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Baked Southwestern Eggrolls

One the best things about cooking at home is the ability to recreate healthy versions of your restaurant favorites. The Southwestern Eggrolls from Chili's are one of my most favorite restaurant indulgences. The calories, not so much. With this recipe I can finally enjoy them anytime I get a craving and not gain five pounds in one meal. These eggrolls are baked, not fried, and full of flavor. Ryan actually said that these were his most favorite recipe I have ever made. I think that's probably an exaggeration, but yeah, they are pretty dang good. The ingredient list for these looks a little daunting, but they are really very simple to but together. I used mostly frozen/canned vegetables and they came out delicious.  This recipe makes about 8-10 eggrolls, and are perfect for a meal on their own, but would also be a great appetizer for a crowd. Serve these with some avocado-ranch dressing and they will be sure to please.

Baked Southwestern Eggrolls 
Adapted from: Joelen

1 chicken breast, cooked and finely diced
2 tbs minced roasted red bell pepper  (I used the jarred version)
1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbs frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 tbs diced jalapeno peppers
1 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 tbs minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/3 tsp salt
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8-10 eggroll wrappers

Avocado-Ranch Dressing:
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1/2 avocado

1. So simple. Preheat oven to 300F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside. Combine all ingredients, except the eggroll wrappers and mix well.
2. Place about 2 tbs of filling the center of the wrapper and roll up. (Roll according to the package directions on your eggroll wrappers.) Place seamside down on the baking sheet. Lightly spray tops of eggrolls with cooking spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. While baking, mix together the avocado and ranch for your dip. Serve eggrolls warm with avocado-ranch dressing.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sweet Cornbread Muffins

There is no better accompaniment for red beans and rice than cornbread. In fact, my mom and my husband prefer to skip the rice altogether and use cornbread as a base instead. Me, I keep the rice and have my cornbread on the side, usually with a smear of butter (and sometimes a drizzle of honey, yum!). I used to be a diligent Jiffy mix user, but since we have recently been trying to get away from so many prepackaged foods, I set out to find the perfect cornbread recipe. After a few misses I finally found a winner over at Cooking on the Side. Her recipe is a sweet cornbread, which is the only way to make it, in my opinion. The recipe makes about 18-20 muffins, so there are plenty of leftovers to freeze, or make cornbread stuffing. Enjoy!

Cornbread Muffins
Adapted from: Cooking on the Side

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons honey

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or paper-line 18 to 20 muffin cups
2. Sift together flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine milk, eggs, vegetable oil and butter; mix well. Add to flour mixture; stir just until blended. Add honey and mix well. Pour into prepared muffin cups filling 2/3 full.
3. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool slightly. Serve warm.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Skillet Chicken with Tomato Cream Sauce

I don't often have accidents in the kitchen. Ryan would say I have the uncanny ability to "destroy the kitchen", but it's usually a pretty safe environment. However, today, I had a bit of a stupid moment. I'm not exactly sure what I did, all I know is that as my onions were simmering away, I went to add the chicken broth to the pan and next thing I knew my arm spasmed?...or perhaps something made me jump. Regardless what happened, the next moment I was covered head to waist in warm chicken broth. I can only imagine what it must have looked like, luckily though I will never know because I was the only one around to witness this embarrassment.
So, anyway, once I cleaned up from my "incident" I proceeded to finish cooking. Despite the mishap, this was actually a very easy to prepare. The sauce comes together quickly with just a few simple ingredients, and the chicken is pounded thin which also cuts the cooking time in half. You can serve in on top of any thin pasta such as spaghetti or angel hair pasta. The original recipe called for heavy cream, but I chose to use fat free half and half to cut calories, and I also used whole wheat pasta. I will definitely be making this recipe again,  but hopefully without any mishaps next time.

Skillet Chicken with Tomato Cream Sauce
Adapted from: 

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup fat free half and half (or heavy cream)
1 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, about 2 ounces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces angel hair pasta or linguine or spaghetti, cooked and drained

1. For sauce, saute the chopped onion and garlic in olive oil until softened. Stir in 1/2 cup chicken broth, wine, basil, and parsley. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cream, Parmesan cheese, and tomato paste. Continue cooking until the sauce is hot and cheese has melted.
2. Wash chicken and pat dry. Place between sheets of plastic wrap and gently pound until uniform in thickness. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the chicken in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth, cover, and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add tomato cream sauce, cover, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes longer, until chicken is cooked through. Serve with hot cooked pasta.
Serves 4.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Baked Potato Soup

You may be wondering why in the world I would choose to make potato soup in the middle of July? It's just too hot for soup, for sure. Well, I'll tell you, it's not cold here by any means, but it has been a wonderfully rainy day here in Texas, which is a much needed relief from the fierce drought that we have had this year. Of course, one day of rain has in no way resolved the drought, but it has been nice to watch and hear the rain falling today. So there you have it. There is nothing like a lazy rainy day to put me in the mood for some quick and easy Baked Potato Soup. Luckily enough, I had all of the ingredients in my kitchen, so in just 30 minutes, some rainy day soup was served. If you are lucky enough to be enjoying your own rainy day, you should definitely stay in and make some soup. Or even if it's not raining. It's pretty tasty either way.

Baked Potato Soup 

4 russet potatoes, cubed
4 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
4 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups milk
2 tbs light sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne, to taste
parsley, a sprinkle
shredded cheddar (optional)
cooked bacon, chopped (optional)
chives, chopped

1. In a large stock pot, melt butter with olive oil and cook onions and garlic until softened. Add potatoes, water, and bouillon cubes. Cover and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
2. With a potato masher, mashed the potatoes while still in the pot. Pour in the milk and mix to combine. You can add more milk if you like a thinner soup. Add 2 large tablespoons of sour cream and mix to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste, cayenne, and a sprinkle of parsley. Mix well and simmer on medium heat another 10 minutes until thickened.
3. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. Serve plain or with cheddar, bacon and chives.
Serves 4

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Berry-Apple Quick Bread

So I was thinking that a quick bread sounded good for breakfast this morning. I thought about making this Banana Cake, but I really wasn't in the mood for anything banana.. I had some bluberries in the freezer, and we always have applesauce around for my toddler, Jacob, so I made some adjustments to the banana cake recipe and came up with a Berry-Apple Quick Bread. It turned out really well, soft and light and just the right amount of sweetness. By pureeing the berries before adding to the batter, the flavor gets incorporated throughout the bread. You can substitute any berries you like for the blueberries, I'm thinking raspberries next time...

Berry-Apple Quick Bread

1/3 cup  unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup bluberries, pureed (or other berry)
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup  plain yogurt

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease an 9x5 inch loaf pan, set aside. Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda and set aside.
2. Put the butter, suger, brown sugar, and salt in a mixer bowl, and beat with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the berries, applesauce, and vanilla and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
3. Reduce the speed to medium low and beat in the egg until well incorporated. Turn the speed to low, and gradually add in the sifted flour mixture. Mix well, but don't overmix. Add in the yogurt, and mix until the batter has only a few remaining white streaks.
4. Transfer the batter into the greased pan and bake in the center of the oven for 40 minutes or until the tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool completely on rack.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Southwestern Tuna Melt

Okay, so, I will be the first to admit that the thought of a tuna fish sandwich for dinner doesn't exactly get me really excited. But that was before this recipe took canned tuna to a whole new level. I never would have thought of doing this to canned tuna. There is so much going on in this sandwich and it just works. It's creamy and spicy and cheesy....just awesome. I served it on top of some fresh-made pita bread, which just made this sandwich that much better. If you are searching for a way to spice up your canned tuna, look no further, you are here.

Southwestern Tuna Melt
Adapted from: Bitcin' Camero

For the mayo:
3 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 roasted poblano pepper*

For the sandwich:
2 whole wheat pitas
1 6 oz. can of white albacore tuna, drained
1/2 a 15 oz. can of black beans
1 tbsp. sliced pickled jalapenos (or fresh if you’ve got them)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tomato, sliced
1 small avocado, mashed

1. Begin by making the mayo. Place the poblano pepper and the mayonnaise in a small blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Combine the tuna, poblano mayo, black beans, jalapenos and salt in a bowl until evenly combined. Cut along the seem of the pita bread so that you’re left with a top and bottom (instead of a pocket). Place the bottom halves on a cookie sheet, then top them with the tomato slices and tuna. Place the pita tops on the cookie sheet alongside the sandwich bottoms.
3. Sprinkle the cheese over the tuna and place under the broiler for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and browned and the pita tops are toasted but not burned. Watch them while theyre under the broiler to make sure nothing burns.
4. Remove from the oven, and spread a generous portion of mashed avocado on the top bun. Place the two halves together and serve with tortilla chips.
Makes 2 dinner-sized sandwiches.

*To roast a poblano, simply place it on the top-most rack in your oven under a pre-heated broiler. Use tongs to rotate the pepper often, about every minute or so. It’s done when the skin is blistered and charred all around, about 8 minutes. Remove with tongs to a paper bag. Seal the paper bag and wait 5 – 10 minutes, then peel the charred skin off and remove the stems and seeds.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lemon Squares

Did you go to a barbecue this weekend? I know I did, what a better way to celebrate our Independence Day! We had some brisket and ribs, links, scalloped potatoes and baked beans. Yum! I was asked to bring a dessert, and I didn't think we needed anything heavy like cake or pie after all the meat and carbs. So I settled on Lemon Squares made with fresh squeezed lemon juice. They were just the right thing for a refreshing dessert after such a heavy meal. This was a simple recipe with a nice flaky crust and a sweet, yet tart filling. I used fresh lemons, but bottled lemon juice would be just fine. If you are looking for a fresh dessert to go with your barbecue this summer, try these Lemon Squares, they are very refreshing.

Lemon Squares
Adapted from: Erika's Kitchen
1 cup + 2 Tbs all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 6 small lemons)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x9-inch pan with baking spray, then line the pan with aluminum foil (this will make it easier to remove the lemon bars in one piece so you can cut them properly on a cutting board). Spray the aluminum foil with baking spray as well.
2. In a bowl, mix together 1 cup of the flour, 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, the melted butter, and the salt with a fork until a crumbly dough forms. Press the dough into the prepared pan so it covers the bottom and goes about 1/2 inch up the sides. Bake the crust about 15 minutes or until it just starts to turn golden.
3. While the crust is baking, whisk together the remaining 2 Tbs flour, eggs, granulated sugar, baking powder and lemon juice.
4. Pull the crust out of the oven, pour over the lemon mixture, and return the pan to the oven for another 30 minutes, or until the center no longer jiggles when you shake the pan. Cool the lemon bars in the pan for half an hour, then refrigerate at least two hours before cutting. This will help you get nice, even edges.
5. Lift the foil with the bars out of the pan, this will make cutting them much easier. Cut with a large knife into 16 even squares. Dust the lemon bars with the remaining 2 Tbsp powdered sugar before serving.
Makes 16 squares.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Chicken Pesto Lasagna Rolls

I know what you may be thinking. This dish looks like it might be a lot of work. I thought so too, but it's actually pretty simple. I came across this recipe at Foodie Bride a couple of weeks ago. Since pesto is my new favorite thing, I thought it would be a nice change from traditional lasagna, and a little lighter too. However, I put off making it right away because I thought it would be really time consuming. As it turns out, these lasagna rolls came together much faster than traditional lasagna. If you cook your chicken and shred it before hand, everything else comes together very quickly while your oven is preheating. Also, to shorten the process, I skipped the white sauce from the original recipe and just used more pasta sauce instead. This dish smelled great cooking in the oven and tasted even better once it was on the table. You can serve this with a garden salad and definitely some garlic bread. You'll need the bread to soak up all of the yummy sauce and cheese.

Chicken Pesto Lasagna Rolls 
Adapted from: Foodie Bride

1 cup shredded chicken
1 15 oz container of ricotta cheese (I used low-fat)
1/2 cup homemade or store-bought pesto sauce
6 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained (I used whole-wheat)
1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce, divided
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place 1/4 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of an 8x8 pan.
  3. In a bowl, stir together the chicken, ricotta, pesto, salt, and pepper.
  4. Spread 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture over each lasagna noodle and roll up. Place the roll in the prepared pan. Repeat for the remaining noodles.
  5. Spoon the remaining pasta sauce over the lasagna rolls and top with mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, until hot, bubbly, and the cheese begins to brown.
Makes 6 servings.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Doughnuts for Father's Day

You know you want one. I mean, who doesn't like fried bread covered in sugar? If you say you don't you're lying! And if you aren't lying, then you are definitely missing out. I made these doughnuts for my husband as a Father's Day treat, but they are easy enough to make whenever you have a hankering, albeit a little time consuming. It's a fun treat to make on a weekend when you have a few hours to devote to it. The dough is pretty basic, but you can mix it up with any toppings or fillings you like. I chose to make half of ours a plain sugar glaze and the other half chocolate glazed. My husband brought the extras to work (the recipe makes 2 dozen) and they were a big hit. Now go fry some bread!

Adapted From: Julievr

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups milk, warmed
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
5 cups bread flour
1/4 cup butter, softened
canola oil, for cooking
Sugar glaze (recipe below)
Chocolate glaze (recipe below)

1. In a small bowl, stir together the yeast and water and set aside for 5 minutes. (If it doesn’t get foamy, toss it out!) In a large bowl, stir together the milk, sugar and eggs; add the yeast mixture and stir until well combined. Add 2 cups of the flour and the salt and beat until well blended. Add the butter and beat until incorporated.
2. Add the rest of the flour gradually, stirring (or using the dough hook on a stand mixer) until the dough comes together and isn’t too sticky. Continue to beat with the dough hook or turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Cover and let sit for an hour, until doubled in size.
3. Roll or pat the dough out and cut into doughnuts or rounds (if you don’t have a doughnut cutter, use a round cutter or glass rim, then another smaller round cutter for the middle). Cover and let sit for a half hour to an hour, until they puff up again. (They’ll rise even more as they cook.)
4. Heat a couple inches of oil in a heavy pot until hot but not smoking (350 degrees if you have a candy thermometer). Gently cook the doughnuts in batches, without crowding, turning as needed until golden on both (or all) sides. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before glazing.
5. Dip each doughnut in the desired glaze and place on a cooling rack for to let the glaze set for about 15 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen.

Sugar Glaze
Adapted from: Bread and Roses

3 cups confectioners’/icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup cold water 

Mix all ingredients together in the bowl with a wisk. Set aside until doughnuts have cooled.

Chocolate Glaze
From: Forgiving Martha

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 - 3 teaspoons hot water

Add all ingredients except water into a bowl and microwave for 1 minute stirring occasionally until melted.
Add water until you have a consistency you like.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sausage and Cheese Balls

My goodness have I been a bad blogger lately! It's been almost a month since my last post. I don't have any excuses so I won't bore you with any. Now that I'm back, I will redeem myself with some yummy Sausage and Cheese Balls. You've probably seen this recipe before. I believe the original recipe is from Betty Crocker, but I have made a few adjustments to suit our taste. I had mine for breakfast dipped in syrup, of course, but you could also dip them in bbq sauce, ranch, or whatever you prefer any time of day. This recipe makes a ton, so you can definitely freeze the leftovers to enjoy later.

Sausage and Cheese Balls
Adapted from: Betty Crocker via Pennies on a Platter

3 cups baking mix, such as Bisquick
1 lb. reduced-fat pork sausage
2-4 cups shredded
cheddar cheese 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Using the paddle attachment, mix all ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer.  You can use a wooden spoon or your hands if you don't have a mixer. 
2. Roll into 1″ balls and place on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned.  Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce (optional), such as syrup, ranch, or bbq sauce.
3. To freeze:  Allow the sausage balls to cool completely, then store in a freezer bag for up to 1 month.  When ready to eat, warm on top of a paper towel in the microwave for 30 seconds per 3 sausage balls.  Or, warm in a preheated 350˚F oven for 10 minutes.

Yield: 6-7 dozen

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy

My goodness, how long has it been?! Way too long that's for sure. What a crazy but fun couple of weeks it has been. We celebrated my birthday one week and then we had my baby boy's first birthday party just a few days later. We also made a trip to the zoo and visited some relatives that we haven't seen in awhile.

(My little one at his first birthday party.)

It was great fun, but I am definitely ready to get back into my normal routine, part of which involves cooking. We've been living of sandwiches and frozen foods alot this month, but I finally got back in the kitchen today to try a new recipe - Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy. I cut the recipe in half for just two people, but you can easily double or triple for however many people you are feeding. Of course it's not chicken fried steak without mashed potatoes, so be sure to whip up some of those as well. And if you would like to balance out all of the "comfort" in this dish, you can add something green on the side, too. Enjoy!

Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy (for two)
Adapted from: Simply Delicious and The Pioneer Woman

2 tenderised steaks
1 large egg mixed with 3tbs milk
2 cups flour seasoned with 2tsp salt and 2tsp paprika
oil, for frying

2- 2.5 cups milk
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat a large frying pan/skillet to medium-high heat and add 2-3 tbsn oil.
2. Place the eggs and the flour in two separate shallow bowls/plates. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Place the steak first in the flour, then dredge in egg and then again in flour.
3. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side until crisp and golden. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
4. Prepare gravy: Reduce heat to medium. Sprinkle 2-3 tbsn of flour in the leftover cooking oil. Whisk continuously for 1-2 minutes until paste-like. Begin adding milk about a 1/2 cup at a time, whisking continuously. Let cook over medium heat until desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve (generously) over steaks and mashed potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes

3 medium russet potatoes, large diced
2 tbs butter
1/2 cup greek yogurt or light sour cream
1/4-1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil diced potatoes in water for 20-30 minutes, or until soft. Drain and move to a clean bowl.
2. While still hot, add butter to potatoes and mash everything together with a potato masher or fork.
3. Add yogurt or sour cream and milk and mix until creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with gravy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Crab Cakes

I think I've mentioned before that I'm not a huge seafood fan. Crab cakes, however, are my go to meal whenever the husband and I go out to a seafood restaurant. Unfortunately going out for seafood gets pretty pricey, so we usually reserve it for special occasions. Luckily, making crab cakes at home is easy! To make them more budget-friendly, I use canned crab meat, but if you're feeling spendy go ahead and splurge on the fresh stuff. Either way they are great with a fresh garden salad.

Crab Cakes

2 6oz cans crabmeat, drained, (or 12oz fresh)
3 tbs butter, divided
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 sleeve reduced-fat Ritz crackers, crushed
1 egg
1/2 cup low-fat mayo
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tbs seafood seasoning
few drops of hot sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add red bell pepper, green onions, and celery to the pan and saute for a few minutes until soft. Set aside to cool.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together egg, mayo, and all seasonings. Mix well together. Add the crushed Ritz crackers and mix well. Add in the cooled veggies and fold into the mix. Add the crab meat and fold in.
3. Shape the filling into 12 even portions. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat( I used a large electric skillet to save time). Add crab cakes to the pan and cook on each side for 2-4 minutes until crisp and cooked through. Remove from pan and serve alone or with a garden salad.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

French Dip Sliders

Wow! Where I have I been all week! To be honest it hasn't been much of a cooking week for me. We have been having leftovers and old recipes, nothing new or fancy. My little guy's birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks so I have been preoccupied trying to plan his party. I'm a big planner, I don't like to wait until the last minute to do things (that is unless you count housework....) so this party has been in the works for awhile. Now it's almost here and my baby boy will be one-year old! So stay tuned for some pics of the big cake smash! But until then, I do have a recipe for you. French Dip Sliders in your crock pot. I adapted the recipe from Our Best Bites that calls for a 2.5 lb roast; I have the tiniest crockpot ever so I scaled down the recipe to fit my pot, but you can always double my recipe if you have a normal sized crock pot. I also made some homemade french bread to use with these, but a store bough baguette cut into slider size would work just as well.

French Dip Sliders
Adapted from: Our Best Bites

1 lb eye of round beef steaks
1 medium onion, sliced
1 package dry onion soup mix
1 can beef broth
1 cup water
salt and pepper, to taste
french bread
sliced provolone or swiss cheese

1. Place beef steaks in the bottom of the crock pot. Add the sliced onions. Sprinkle dry soup mix over beef and onions. Add beef broth, water, and salt and pepper. Mix everything together. Cook in crock pot for 8-10 hours on low. ( You could also cook it 4-5 hours on high and then 3-4 on low.)
2. When meat shreds easily, remove the steaks from the pot and shred all of them. Top french bread with some sliced onions, shredded beef, and a 1/2 slice of provolone or swiss cheese. Ladle soup into bowls for dipping. Serve warm.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Crescent Breakfast Roll-ups

Oh, one of my favorite food combinations - bacon, eggs, and cheese between bread. It's my ultimate breakfast. I have had a can of crescent rolls in the fridge for awhile now and wanted to use it up this morning. Usually I use crescent rolls to make pigs-in-a-blanket, but I didn't have any little smokies, and really I wanted something a bit more filling anyway. So why not roll up my ultimate breakfast inside the crescents? It was a great combo. Yummy bacon, eggs, and melty cheese wrapped up in a buttery crescent roll. The best part? I used reduced fat crescents and reduced fat cheese, so each roll only comes out to around 150 calories! So I totally had two. I'm sure you could reduce the fat even further if you used egg substitute instead of real eggs. I love my real eggs so I don't think I'll be bending on that one anytime soon, but I'm sure they would taste great with the substitute. This is a totally versatile recipe, you could use sausage insted of bacon, or any kind of cheese you like. I am also sure they would freeze ok, but I haven't tried that yet. Experiment and see what you like best!

Crescent Breakfast Roll-ups

1 can reduced-fat crescent rolls
3 large eggs, beaten
salt and pepper, to taste
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
dash paprika
dash cayenne pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookies sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
2.  In a skillet, add eggs, salt and pepper. Scramble until just underdone (they will finish cooking in the oven). Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Open the can of crescents. Roll it out into a large recangle, with the long side facing you, and press all of the seams together. Once eggs have cooled, layer them evenly over the cresent roll dough. Then sprinkle the crumbled bacon and shredded cheese evenly over the eggs. Lightly sprinkle a few dashes of paprika and cayenne pepper over the top of everything.
3. Carefully roll everything up into a long cylinder and press the seams together when you get to the end. Slice into 8 even portions, and place seam side down on the greased baking sheet. (If you have any raw egg leftover, brush on top of the crescents.)  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sloppy Joes

Okay, so I know everyone loves their Manwich, but these sloppy joes are way better than anything out of a can. Nice and tomatoe-y with just the right amount of spice. I used lean ground beef, but you could also use ground turkey if you're not into beef. This would be a great dish to double and freeze half for a busy weeknight. We had ours on hamburger buns, but you could serve these on any type of sandwich bread or buns if you're in a pinch. Skip the canned stuff and try this recipe, you will definitely be able to tell a difference!

Sloppy Joes
Adapted from: Nifty Foodie

1tbs butter
1tbs olive oil
1 medium onion , diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic , minced
1 pound lean ground beef
dash cayenne pepper
1 tbs steak seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp tabasco sauce
hamburger buns

1. Heat oil and butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers and garlic and stir until coated with oil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion and peppers are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove vegetables from pan, and set aside.
2. To the pan add the beef, cayenne pepper, steak seasoning, and salt and pepper. Cook the beef over medium heat, breaking up meat with a spoon, until browned. Drain the meat to get rid of any excess grease and return to the pan. Return vegetables to the pan and mix with the meat. Before returning the pan to the heat, add brown sugar, tomato paste, ketchup, water, and tabasco. Return pan to heat. Simmer over medium heat until Sloppy Joe sauce is slightly thicker than ketchup, about 5-8 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Spoon meat mixture onto hamburger buns and serve.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

You will need to be careful with these. These shells are so delicious and perfectly bite-sized that you may have to physically stop yourself from eating them. Like I had to. This recipe from Joelen is super simple, albeit a little time consuming to fill all of the shells. It was completely worth the effort. I couldn't find the really jumbo pasta shells, so I used the biggest shells I could find, which are just the large shells - I think. I used about 2 cups of shells so whatever size shells you find, about 2 cups should do it. I did have a few leftover, but a few of them ripped so it all worked out. I served a green salad with ours to balance all the cheesiness...and to keep myself from eating the whole pan.

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells
Adapted from: Joelen

2 cups large pasta shells
water for boiling pasta
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
4oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese + 1/4 cup for topping
3 tbs prepared pesto
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1. In a large pot over high heat, boil water and prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Cook pasta shells only until al dente. The pasta will finish cooking when the dish is baked. Drain the pasta shells and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, except the 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping. Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in a baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells. Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Banana Cake

Or maybe it's banana bread. I'm not really sure. The recipe I used called it banana cake but it's also kind of like banana bread. Call it what you will, it doesn't really matter, it's just good. Once again I was looking for something to do with my extra overripe bananas and decided that they should be made into some sort of yummy dessert. I found this great recipe at Fresh from the Oven. I didn't really change anything except using whole wheat flour, but once I started eating the cake I thought it might be good with some walnuts or pecans sprinkled in. So I might try that next time. Either way, this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Banana Cake
Adapted from: Fresh from the Oven

1/3 cup  unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup  plain yogurt
1 cup chocolate chips, optional (recommended because they're delicious)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease an 9x5 inch loaf pan, set aside. Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda and set aside.
2. Put the butter, honey, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a mixer bowl, and beat with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the bananas and vanilla and beat on medium speed until the mixture looks lumpy.
3. Reduce the speed to medium low and beat in the egg until well incorporated. Turn the speed to low, and gradually add in the sifted flour mixture. Mix well, but don't overmix. Add in the yogurt, and mix until the batter has only a few remaining white streaks. Gently fold in the chocolate chips, if desired.
4. Transfer the batter into the greased pan and bake in the center of the oven for 40 minutes or until the tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool completely on rack.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Before our little munchkin came along, my husband and I used to go out to eat for nearly every meal. Yeah we were those people. I tried planning to cook, but we almost always ended up going out anyway. Now that I'm a stay-at-home mome, we are only able to go out a few times a month, so I've spent alot of time trying to recreate some of my favorite restaurant dishes in the kitchen. I found this recipe over at The Pioneer Woman, and it reminds of the Cajun Pasta from Red Lobster that I looove. It's not quite as creamy as the restaurant version, but it has a lot of spice and flavor. As with any homemade dish, you can control the ingredients to make it healthier, so I use low-fat heavy cream (when I can find it) and whole wheat pasta. If you haven't yet made the switch to whole wheat, pasta is a great place to start. The taste and texture are virtually the same, and it is much much more filling than regular pasta. You can adjust the spices to your liking, but be careful of your men in the kitchen...mine kept coming in and adding more spice to his liking. Needless to say, ours was super spicy.

Cajun Chicken Pasta
Adapted from: The Pioneer Woman

2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts,cubed
3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
1/2 box of whole wheat linguine
2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Butter
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 can Chicken Broth
½ cups White Wine
1 cup Heavy Cream
Cayenne Pepper To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Salt To Taste

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente, and set aside.
2. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook until done. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate, leaving pan on high heat.
3. Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Remove all vegetables from the pan.
4. With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes. Add vegetables back into the pan, and cook the sauce for 5-8 minutes until the cream starts to thicken the mixture. Add in chicken.
5. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy! Add drained linguine and toss to combine. Let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving. Sauce will thicken upon standing.

Makes 4 servings.