Wednesday, November 5, 2008


It's been awhile. I know, I know, I'm a bad Blogger. What's even worse is I'm coming back and blogging about a yummy, fun treat... and since it's all in good fun, there's no need for nutritional information, right?

I get the regular emails from Food Network and I happened to be bored at work one day so I checked out the Halloween special. This recipe caught my eye. I didn't want to hand out candy to the neighborhood hellions, but the neighbor kids are sweet. They deserved something. How perfect!

I set off to make these creepy crawlies only to find that pull and peel black licorice is almost impossible to find. I had to cut regular licorice. I must confess that the only spiders that had legs were the ones that went to the neighbor boys... the ones that stayed home were legless. We don't like black licorice anyway, so that worked well!

The caramel was delicious, but it spread WAY too much. I let it cool longer than the recipe said, in hopes that it would solidify a bit, but no such luck. Eh well. A yummy, gooey, creepy crawly mess!

Pecan-Caramel Spiders
Source: Food Network
Serves 30


1 1/2 cups toasted pecans
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, in pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces thin black licorice strands, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
Chocolate curls or jimmies, optional


-Line 2 baking sheets with waxed paper and lightly spray with nonstick spray.
-Mound 30 small clusters of pecans (3 or 4 pecans each) spaced a couple inches apart on the pan.
-Warm the cream over low heat and keep warm while you cook the sugar.
-Combine the sugar and corn syrup in a deep pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.
-Stop stirring, raise heat to medium-high, and simmer until the sugar reaches the hard crack stage, (305 degrees F on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes).
-Whisk the butter and salt into the sugar mixture.
-Gradually pour in the cream and vanilla (be careful, the mixture will bubble up).
-Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar reaches soft ball stage (240 degrees F on the thermometer, about 5 minutes more).
-Immediately remove from the heat and cool for a minute.
-Ladle a couple tablespoons of warm caramel over some of the nut clusters, to make the spider bodies.
-Quickly press 6 pieces of licorice into the warm caramel to make the legs.
-Repeat with the remaining caramel and licorice. If caramel hardens, warm over very low heat. ) Let spiders cool 15 minutes.
-Melt the chocolate using either a microwave or double broiler.
-Spoon about 1 tablespoon of melted chocolate on top of each spider.
-Sprinkle with jimmies or chocolate curls, if desired. Let cool until firm.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Spice is Nice

We love spicy foods. Love them. This recipe appeared in my inbox and was immediately saved. We don't keep snapper in the house, but tilapia was a very nice substitution. Yet another fast, easy meal that's a keeper! The fish was nice and flaky with a nice twist to our normal broiled tilapia.

Baked Tilapia with Chipotle Butter
Source: Cooking Light
Serves 4


1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 (6-ounce) tilapia
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely minced


-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Combine first 4 ingredients and sprinkle evenly over fish.
-Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
-Bake 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
-While fish bakes, combine butter and chile.
-Spread butter mixture evenly over baked fish.


Calories 175.9
Total Fat 4.5 g
Cholesterol 90.3 mg
Sodium 251.3 mg
Potassium 333.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate .5 g
Fiber .1 g
Protein 31.6 g

If he wags his tail...

...they must be good!

In my quest to make Jackson his own dog treats, I came across a new recipe for rather simple dog biscuits. I love coming across recipes with everyday ingredients, especially since I make a lot of these treats late at night and they're not pre-planned very well. This made a LOT Of treats, but froze relatively well. The only thing about them is that they have a tendency to grow a bit of mold (ick!), even when in an air-tight container, so they're best stored in the fridge.

Everyday Biscuits
Makes 100 1" square treats

2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons dry parsley
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons honey
1 egg
5-6 cups whole wheat flour

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-In a mixer bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand 10 minutes.
-Insert the beater for the mixer and stir in parsley, garlic, broth, honey, and egg.
-Gradually mix in flour. After approximately 2 cups, switch from the beater to a dough hook. Continue adding flower until you have formed a stiff dough.
-Shape the dough into a ball, and roll to 1/4-inch thick.
-Cut dough into desired shapes for biscuits.
-Transfer to ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1/4 inch apart.
-Bake for 30 minutes.
=Remove from oven and turn over.
-Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on both sides.
-Let cool completely before storing.


How many ways can you make stuffed shells??

I'm on version three now, and while this is probably my least favorite, it's still a decent meal. Perfect for Fridays during Lent or another night when you want a meatless meal. The sauce is quite thin, which I didn't care for, but the actual shell itself is pretty good. Next time I make these I need to adjust the sauce to make it thicker! I did freeze half of these and they did very well. I'm starting to love these cook once, eat twice meals!!

Tuna Filled Shells
Source: Allrecipes
Serves 6 (2 shells each)


12 Jumbo Pasta Shells
5 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
1 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 celery rib, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 slices white bread, crumbled (I used 1/4 c bread crumbs)
1 (12 ounce) can light water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 cup reduced-fat ranch salad dressing
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


-Cook shells as directed on the box.
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Meanwhile, combine the flour, milk, dill and salt until smooth.
-Boil flour mixture and stir constantly for 2 minutes or until thickened.
-Pour 1-1/4 cups of sauce into a 2 quart baking dish and set aside.
-Sautee celery and onion in a skillet until tender.
-Add bread, tuna, salad dressing and cheese. Mix well.
-Fill cooked shells with tuna mixture and place open side up in a baking dish.
-Drizzle remaining sauce on top.
-Cover and bake until bubbly, approx. 25-30 minutes.


Calories 299.7
Total Fat 10.5 g
Cholesterol 31.2 mg
Sodium 529.6 mg
Potassium 333.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 27.9 g
Fiber 1.5 g
Protein 22.8 g

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops

Yummmmm. When a lot of people think of this recipe, they think of Giada's version. I decided to do a slight twist and bake them to eliminate the EVOO. The result? A nice, yummy pork chop! This meal is perfect for the nights when you need something quick and easy.

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops
Source: Food Network (see link above), with customization
Servings: 4

1 lb. Pork Chops
1/4 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Egg (I used Egg Beaters)

-Mix parmesan cheese and bread crumbs in a bowl. Pour onto a plate for easy coating.
-Whisk egg if needed, dip each of the 4 chops into egg.
-Coat each chop with the bread/cheese mixture, place in baking dish.
-Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through.


Calories 292.1
Total Fat 15.6 g
Cholesterol 71 mg
Sodium 338.2 mg
Potassium 557.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 5.4 g
Fiber .3 g
Protein 30.5 g

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Cheesy Goodness

Who knew that something so easy could be so good? This is the perfect quick meal and the leftovers reheat well. It is originally a Weight Watchers recipe, but the possibilities of modifications are endless. I have heard of people adding broccoli, taking out the chicken all together, etc. We have just made the original recipe, maybe some day I'll get a little more adventurous and creative! I apologize for the poor picture, next time I make these I need to remember to get a good one!

Cheesy Chicken Cups
Source: Weight Watchers
Servings: 10

1 can buttermilk biscuits (10 biscuits)
1 cooked chicken breast cut into small pieces
1 can Healthy Request cream of chicken soup
3/4 C. fat free shredded cheddar cheese
1 t. dried parsley flakes
1/2 t. black pepper

-Place each biscuit into a muffin pan.
-Press the biscuits into the holes (and up the sides) to form cups.
-In a bowl, combine chicken, soup, cheese, parsley, and pepper. Mix well.
-Spoon evenly into cups.
-Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes.


Calories 121.3
Total Fat 4.1 g
Cholesterol 22.5 mg
Sodium 440.7 mg
Potassium 8.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 12.1 g
Fiber .2 g
Protein 8.9 g

Clone of a Cinnabon

I needed another use for my stand mixer besides dog treats and the typical meatloaf and potatoes. I came across a recommendation for this recipe and needless to say we were not disappointed! I've made these twice now, and where it says butter, you really do need to use butter. I ran out the second time I made these and they weren't nearly as good. They're a far cry from a healthy breakfast, but a delicious treat every once and awhile!

These have been adapted to not use a bread machine. Please click on the link below for the version using a bread machine. Also, I have frozen these individually and when ready, thawed them in the fridge and baked them the next morning. They are delicious, but not quite as good as fresh ones! I typically will make the dough on a Saturday afternoon, refrigerate the individual rolls and bake on Sunday morning.

Clone of a Cinnabon
Source: Allrecipes
12 Servings

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

-Dissolve yeast in warm milk, let sit for 10 minutes.
-Slowly add in eggs, margarine, salt, and sugar. Mix well.
-Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, and when the dough gets to be somewhat thick, switch to the dough hook to finish mixing and kneading.
-Let dough knead for approximately 5 minutes or until a firm ball is formed.
-Remove bowl and cover; let dough rise in a warm area for approximately 1 hour.
-After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
-In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
-Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle.
-Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture.
-Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls.
-Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. (At this point you may refrigerate.)
-Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. If rolls have been refrigerated, this may take longer.
-Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
-Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
-While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
-Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.


Calories 499.6
Total Fat 15.6 g
Cholesterol 25.1 mg
Sodium 362.7 mg
Potassium 218.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 81.5 g
Fiber 2.2 g
Protein 9.5 g

Finding Nemo!

Not the fish, but the dog treats! It was time to switch things up a bit, poor Jackson was getting a tad sick of the first treats I made. Although he loves peanut butter, the poor guy needs some variety too... how about some apples mixed in!

Thank you Kayte for the recipe!!

Nemo's Nibblers
Makes 60 1" square treats

1 cup rolled oats
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth)
3/4 lb raw apples, minced
1 cup water

-Place oats and whole wheat flour in mixing bowl.
-Add peanut butter and minced apples.
-Blend together and add water.
-Keep adding enough water until a thich batter is produced.
-Place on floured counter and roll out, about 1/2 inch thick.
-Cut out into shapes with desired cookie cutter.
-Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until cookies are crisp.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Best Muffins...Ever.

Hands down, these take the grand prize. I could've eaten every last one of them! I had some blueberries and I was sick of fruit salad, so why not put them in a muffin? These truly are to die for :)

To Die For Blueberry Muffins
Servings: 8

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg (I used Egg Beaters)
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
-Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
-Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder.
-Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup.
-Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries.
-Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

-Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

(based on modifications)

Calories 343.8
Total Fat 11.7 g
Cholesterol 16.1 mg
Sodium 288.1 mg
Potassium 92.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 56.9 g
Fiber 1.5 g
Protein 4.4 g


Calzone fillings are never ending; my favorite so far is BBQ chicken! So easy and yummy... how can you not like it?

BBQ Chicken Calzone Filling
Source: MrsAllmyer, the Nest
Servings: 4


-1/2 a medium onion chopped
-3 slices of bacon (I use turkey bacon)
-5 chicken tenders (or 2 small breasts)
-3/4 cup BBQ sauce
-Handful of cilantro chopped
-1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)

-In a large skillet prepare the bacon until crispy then set aside.
-To the skillet add the chopped onion, then the chicken, then half of the BBQ sauce.
-When the chicken is done use a fork to shred.
-Add remaining BBQ sauce, cilantro and crispy bacon (crumbled).
-Lay out the pizza dough and cut in 2.
-Spread the shredded chicken mixture over half of one of the dough pieces.
-Top with shredded cheese then fold the other half of dough over.
-Use a fork to seal edges. Repeat for second calzone.
-Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes.

(based on modifications, does not include crust)

Calories 230.3
Total Fat 7.2 g
Cholesterol 52.3 mg
Sodium 705.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 24.1 g
Protein 16.9 g

Kickin' it Up

The grill is a wonderful tool... and when you can find good meat on sale, that's even better! This is a great recipe for those who like easy, fast, tasty meals on the grill.

Kickin' London Broil with Bleu Cheese Butter
6 Servings (5 oz.)

3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon fresh chives (optional)
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 (2 pound) beef flank steak
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

-Preheat the grill for low heat.
-In a bowl, mix the blue cheese, butter, and chives. Set aside.
-In a separate bowl, mix the black pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.
-Rub the steak with olive oil.
-Coat both sides of the meat with the spice mixture, and rub in by hand or press with a spatula.
-Lightly oil the grill grate.
-Place meat on the grill, and cook 10 to 15 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. (Grill to rare or medium rare for best flavor.)
-Remove from grill, and slice lengthwise into thin strips.
-Top with a large dollop of blue cheese butter, and serve.

Calories: 336.5
Fat: 21.8g
Carbs: 1.3g
Sodium: 598.1mg
Protein 32.5


I have a new hobby: making treats for my four legged child! Jackson has definitely changed our lives, I can't imagine not having a dog now! How can you resist this sweet face?

There is no way I could make these without the help of my handy dandy stand mixer, that's for sure... I have modified the directions to be for the mixer. The treats call for so much flour and tend to be dry. The good thing about Jackson is he'll eat just about anything... even slightly crispy! I figured it would be best to start out with peanut butter treats since that's his favorite.

Peanut Butter Doggie Bones
Source: Sugar and Spice
Makes 60 1" square treats


2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup low-fat milk


-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-In the mixer bowl, combine dry ingredients.
-Slowly add milk and peanut butter, mixing well.
-Knead with the dough hook until well blended and the dough forms a large ball.
-Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out shapes.
-Place on a greased baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until lightly brown.
-Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Twist on Pizza

Ok, so it's rolled. The pepperoni and cheese bread is easy to make and break away from the regular old pizza routine. It's great because it allows dipping and endless possibilities for ingredients. We chose to dip it in pizza sauce which completed our unique pizza experience. This recipe is so versatile that it could be thinly sliced and served as an appetizer.

Pepperoni and Cheese bread
Source: Amber's Delectable Delights

1 roll refrigerated french bread dough OR 1 loaf frozen bread dough (thawed)
20 pieces Pepperoni (I used turkey pepperoni).
6 oz. Mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
Egg wash (1 egg white, water)
Italian Seasoning (as desired)

-Preheat oven to 350.
-Roll out bread dough and sprinkle with mozzerella and parmesean cheeses, place pepperoni (as much as desired) on top of the cheese.
-Carefully roll the bread dough into a cylinder shape.
-Pinch ends and top to seal.
-Brush top and sides of loaf with egg wash.
-Top loaf with Italian Seasoning
-Make a few diagonal slices in top of loaf for air to escape while cooking.
-Bake at 350 for 20 min.
-Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.

(based on modifications)

Calories 405.7
Total Fat 12.7 g
Cholesterol 54.3 mg
Sodium 1245.9 mg
Potassium 139.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 45.5 g
Protein 27.0 g

Chicken Cordon Cassserole

There's one thing I absolutely dislike doing when it comes to chicken: rolling it. There never seems to be a good way to roll it and get all of the ingredients to stay neatly inside. Whoever thought of this idea is brilliant... let's make a casserole out of chicken cordon bleu!

I have made this two ways, once with the cream cheese and once with Laughing Cow Light Garlic and Herb in place of the cream cheese. Both are delicious, but we prefer the Laughing Cow version.

Chicken Cordon Casserole
Source Unknown
Serves 2

8 oz chicken, pounded to about 1/2 inch
2 slices of swiss cheese, cut in half
2 tbsp cream cheese (I use Fat Free)
2 slices lean thin sliced deli ham
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/8 cup chicken broth

-Spray a casserole dish with a non stick spray.
-For the first layer lay out half the chicken. Sprinkle with a small amount of breadcrumbs.
-For the next layer spread cream cheese over 2 swiss cheese halves and lay over chicken.
-On top of the swiss cheese lay out ham.
-Next is another layer of chicken, topped with bread crumbs and another slice of swiss cheese.
-Pour a small amount of chicken broth around the edges so they don't dry out.
-Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. Check to be sure that the BOTTOM layer of chicken is cooked thoroughly.

(based on modifications)

Calories 326.8
Total Fat 10.5 g
Cholesterol 99.4 mg
Sodium 1125.7 mg
Potassium 130.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 12.7 g
Fiber .5 g
Protein 43.8 g

Enchiladas with a Twist

Who doesn't love some good Mexican? Enchiladas are typically a pretty involved meal to make, but I knew when I found this recipe I had to try it. My husband makes this meal each time it's on the menu... it's a little messy but absolutely delicious!

Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Ranch Sauce
Source: Unknown
Serves 12

1 can (10-3/4 oz size) condensed cream of chicken soup (I use Healthy Request)
1 cup sour cream ranch dip (Premade or dry mix with fat free sour cream)
2/3 cup chopped green onions
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
3/4 cup purchased buffalo wing sauce
12 flour tortillas (6" size)
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese


-Heat oven to 350F.
-Spray 13x9" glass baking dish with cooking spray.
-In medium bowl, mix soup, dip and 1/3 cup of the onions.
-In large bowl, mix chicken and buffalo wing sauce until coated.
-Spoon 2 Tbsp soup mixture down center of each tortilla; set remaining mixture aside.
-Reserve 1/2 cup cheese for garnish.
-Top each tortilla with about 1/4 cup chicken mixture and scant 1/4 cup cheese.
-Fold sides of tortillas over filling; place seam side down in baking dish.
-Spoon remaining soup mixture over filled tortillas. (When we make this, some of the chicken mixture goes on top as well)
-Cover tightly with foil.
-Bake 40-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
-Remove from oven. Uncover; sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup cheese and remaining 1/3 cup onions.
-Return to oven; bake uncovered about 5 min longer or until cheese is melted.

(based on modifications)

Calories 211.9
Total Fat 7 g
Cholesterol 39.8 mg
Sodium 770.9 mg
Potassium 220.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 19.4 g
Fiber 1.2 g
Protein 17.4 g

Peanut Butter and...


This peanut butter cream cheese dip is not only easy but addictive! I have it at least twice a week with my apples as a snack... YUM! Serve with apples or bananas.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Dip
16 servings (2 tbsp/serving)


1/2 cup reduced-fat peanut butter (I use Smart Balance)
8 oz package fat free cream cheese, softened
4 tbsp Sugar
1/4 cup fat free soy milk (vanilla flavored)
1 tsp real vanilla extract


Mix all ingredients well and enjoy!

(based on modifications)

Calories 76.9
Total Fat 4.3 g
Cholesterol 2.5 mg
Sodium 114 mg
Potassium 52.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 5.3 g
Fiber .5 g
Protein 4.3 g

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cream Cheese Chicken

Cream cheese and chicken? I made a funny face when I first heard of this, but man is this an easy and delicious meal! This is perfect served with rice and steamed or roasted veggies.

When I brought this in to work the next day, I had 3 people ask me if it came from the back of a Campbell's can. No... sorry! I told them it was as about as easy as opening up that can but tasted much better :)

Cream Cheese Chicken
Source: MaryEllen, The Nest
Serves 3

3 chicken breasts, trimmed and kept whole or cut into strips or chunks
1 can chicken broth, separated
4-8 cloves garlic
red pepper flakes
4 oz cream cheese (I used FF)
1.5 tbs flour
2 tsp white wine

- Put chicken in large pan with a little bit of olive oil
- Add red pepper flakes and pressed garlic (I used minced)
- After 1-2 min, add white wine to deglaze the pan and then add ¾ can chicken broth
- Bring to a boil then simmer 20-25 min until chicken is cooked
- Remove chicken and place in a covered dish; keep warm
- Mix flour with remaining broth and add to pan; mix
- Add cream cheese, mix until thick and bubbly
- Pour sauce over chicken

(based on modifications)

Calories 172.4
Total Fat .7 g
Cholesterol 61.7 mg
Sodium 932.9 mg
Potassium 39 mg
Total Carbohydrate 7.4 g
Fiber .4 g
Protein 33 g

Stuff 'em, Take II

Who ever knew the jumbo pasta shells could be so versatile? I came across this recipe in someone's blog and knew it was going to be a good change from the typical pasta with sauce. I was a little skeptical, but these were really, really good. Definitely one to make again. I baked half and froze half, following the directions in the first stuffed shells post.

Creamy Stuffed Shells
Source: Melissa's Magic in the Kitchen
Serves 6 (2 shells each)


12 Jumbo Pasta Shells
1/2 lb 93% lean ground beef
1/2 lb Jimmy Dean Reduced Fat sausage roll
4 oz cream cheese (I used FF)
6 oz sour cream (I used FF)
1/2 c shredded part skim mozzarella cheese (plus 1/4 c for topping)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste


-Cook shells as directed on the box.
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees
-Meanwhile, brown hamburger and sausage, add spices to taste.
-Drain meat well.
-Add cream cheese, sour cream and mozzarella cheese.
-Mix well.
-Fill cooked shells with mixture and place open side up in a baking dish.
-Sprinkle remaining mozzarella on top.
-Bake until cheese is melted, approx. 15 minutes.


Calories 318.8
Total Fat 13.6 g
Cholesterol 61.8 mg
Sodium 493 mg
Potassium 103.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 22 g
Fiber 1 g
Protein 26.7 g

The other Best Friend

Ever since I really got into baking and cooking in the middle of 2007, my dream was to have a Kitchen Aid mixer. I was in awe of the things I could make with it that were just really too labor intensive to make by hand. Our kitchen is just so small that there was no place to store it, so I held back the urge to get one. The other thing is that these suckers are expensive, so it would be nice to save for one.

Flash forward to December 2007 and an amazing deal on I happened to be looking through their Friday sales when I came across the Pro600 Series for $209.99. What? $210 for the BIG mixer? NO WAY. I talked to my husband and the deal was if I would keep it in the basement, I could get one. There was just no room in the kitchen to store one... that was the biggest thing.

All I can say is WOW. What on earth did I do before this White Wonder came into my life? Just a few things I have made with this machine:

-Dog Treats
-Pizza Dough

I will happily carry the 31 lbs. of powerful machine up and down the stairs each time I use it. I don't have a problem with that... the time and effort it saves me are well worth it!!!

The Infamous Cookie

Chocolate chip cookies have so many variations if you take the time to search through recipes. I can honestly say I have never made any other chocolate chip cookie besides my dad's recipe. He loves chocolate chip cookies. I used to make them so much growing up I had the recipe memorized and could make them in my sleep.

The trick to making cookies is to get them to that desired doneness. For my husband, his desired doneness is just baked long enough there's a slight crunch to the outside, but you can still have some of that doughy softness when you bite in. Mission accomplished with my Pampered Chef baking sheet and 12 minutes on 350 degrees!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: My dad
Yield 36 cookies


1 cup Butter Flavored Crisco
2 eggs (I used Egg Beaters)
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 c Sugar
1 c Brown Sugar, lightly packed
2 tbsp Vanilla
2 1/4 c Flour
1 12 oz. bag Chocolate Chips


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Beat the Crisco and the eggs until well mixed.
-Add the salt, baking soda, and both types of sugar.
-Mix well.
-Fold in the chocolate chips.
-Slowly add flour and mix thoroughly.
-Drop by spoonful onto a cookie sheet
-Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

(based on modifications)

Calories 158.7
Total Fat 8.3 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 109.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20.6 g
Fiber .8 g
Protein 1.6 g

A Girl's Best Friend

What would that be?

The Crock Pot. Now, it's a tossup between whether this or my lovely KA mixer is my best friend, but today's decision is the crock pot. There are some days where life just gets in the way of being able to cook for 45 or even 15 minutes. The solution? Toss stuff in the crock pot, press some buttons, and dinner's done. There's a reason why it's called "fix it and forget it"!

I have a whole Word document full of crock pot recipes which I skimmed through last weekend while planning my menu for the week. I needed a beef recipe and came across this one. Honestly, it was a little bland... I need to go find the recipe for the fabulous chili my husband made while we were camping a couple months ago and figure out what spices I can add to this. I'll make it again, but with a twist!

Chili Pasta Bake (8 points)
Source Unknown
Makes 7 (1 cup) servings


1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef (I used 1 lb.)
1 cup chopped onion
2 (14 oz.) cans tomatoes with juice, mashed (I used 2 cans of diced tomatoes, no salt added)
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. dried whole oregano
7.5 oz. tomato juice
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 1/4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup grated Monterey Jack (or med. Cheddar) cheese


-Scramble-fry ground beef in nonstick frying pan until browned.
-Drain well.
-Transfer to 3 1/2 qt. slow cooker.
-Add next 8 ingredients.
-Stir well.
-Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hrs. or on HIGH for 2 1/2-3 1/2 hrs.
-Sprinkle cheese over top. Cook on HIGH for 10-15 min. until cheese is melted.

Based on Modifications

Calories 253.3
Total Fat 9.9 g
Cholesterol 54.1 mg
Sodium 555.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20.4 g
Fiber 1.9 g
Protein 21.2 g

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Special K Bars

My stepmom introduced my family to these amazing bars several years ago and I had always wanted to get the recipe, but never had a reason to make them... until now. We had a cookout at our house and I had a box of Special K in the pantry. How convenient! These are to die for, definitely good if you need that sugar fix. Just a warning... these are not diet friendly!!! :)

Special K Bars
Family Recipe
Yield 24 bars


1 cup Sugar
1 cup Light Corn Syrup
1 pinch Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup Crunchy peanut butter
3/4 cup Chocolate chips
3/4 cup Butterscotch chips
6 cups Special K Cereal


-Bring syrup, sugar, salt and vanilla to a boil.
-Remove from heat.
-Add peanut butter and cereal separately.
-Spread in greased 9 by 13 pan.
-Melt chocolate chips and butterscotch chips over low heat. Be sure to stir constantly so the chips don't burn.-Spread over the top.


Calories 239
Total Fat 9.6 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 136.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 36.5 g
Fiber 1.5 g
Protein 4.6 g

Stuff 'em!

A little twist on lasagna and pasta goes a long way! These stuffed shells are a little tedious to make, but I made all 12 and froze half of them individually before bagging them all up. They thaw well, cook well... who doesn't love some good pasta?!

Chicken Stuffed Shells
Source Unknown
6 Servings (2 shells/serving)


12 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
2 teaspoons oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces diced, cooked chicken
1 (15 ounce) container fat free ricotta cheese
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 (28 ounce) can low fat marinara sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for topping


-Heat oven to 400 degrees.
-Spray large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
-Cook pasta shells according to directions and drain.
-Cook chicken as desired (I used the George Foreman and seasoned it with Penzey's Italian Seasoning) and shred.
-Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
-Combine chicken and garlic, cook for 3-5 minutes.
-Remove from heat and stir in ricotta, breadcrumbs, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
-Spread 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.
-Fill cooked shells with chicken mixture and place filled sides up in baking dish.
-Pour remaining sauce over shells.
-Bake covered with foil for 15-20 minutes, remove foil and continue baking until filling is lightly browned.
-Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.


Calories 289.1
Total Fat 6 g
Cholesterol 34.1 mg
Sodium 927.7 mg
Potassium 6.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 39.7 g
Fiber 1 g
Protein 20.8 g

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An encounter with yeast

Yeast is a scary animal. Most people hate dealing with it. For some reason, I don't mind it... yes, I'm weird like that. There is nothing more exciting to me than to see the dough rise and know I at least did something right. Hey, it may not taste the greatest, but at least I got my dough to rise!

Yet again I was on the cooking board (surprise, surprise!) and Amber posted this recipe. I figured it would be the perfect side to any dinner, I need to give it a shot! I had to do the kneading by hand... but it worked. The directions below are for a mixer, but everywhere it says mix with a mixer it's easily done by hand. Who couldn't use a good arm workout??!

I also shaped the rolls and froze half of them before allowing them to rise. Thaw the dough in the fridge and let rise as noted below if you're taking them from the freezer.


A couple hints on getting dough to rise:
-I've found it rises best in the oven. Heat the oven to 150 or 200 degrees, then turn it off. Put the covered bowl in the oven and let rise.
-If it's dry in your house, simmer some water on the stove (don't bring to a boil) and pour into a cake pan. Put the pan under the bowl in the oven and let the dough rise.

Enjoy :)

Dinner Rolls
Amber's Delectable Delights
Yield 16 rolls


1/2 cup water
1/2 cup warm milk
1 egg (I used Egg Beaters)
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup butter, softened (for topping rolls)

- Place water and milk in microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute or until liquids reach (110 degrees F/45 degrees C).
-Pour liquids into mixer bowl; add sugar and stir to dissolve.
-Add yeast and let set for 10-20 minutes to proof (the mixture will be foamy).
- Attach the bowl to the mixer and mix on low speed adding the salt, 1/3 cup butter and egg.
-Once well mixed add in the flour 1/4 cup at a time.
-Remove the paddle attachment and attach the dough hook.
-With the mixer; knead the dough for 5-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and shape into desired shape.
-Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for an hour.
-Gently brush the tops of the rolls with half of the remaining softened butter.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and bake the rolls for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
-Upon removing the rolls from the oven brush them with remaining softened butter.

(based on modifications)

Calories 172.6
Total Fat 7.2 g
Cholesterol 18.4 mg
Sodium 157.4 mg
Potassium 60.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 22.8 g
Fiber .8 g
Protein 3.9 g


There's nothing better than a good bowl of soup on a cold, dreary day. I came across this recipe on a cooking board I frequent, but when I looked at the ratings on Cooking Light I was a little skeptical. I knew I could trust the girls who posted the recipe, so I gave it a shot.

Talk about a good potato soup! This was extremely easy to make and made quite a bit. A one cup portion is very filling. Definitely one I'll make again!

Baked Potato and Broccoli Soup
View Original Recipe
7 (1 cup) Servings


1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 (14 1/4-ounce) cans low-sodium fat-free chicken broth, divided
3 cups peeled, cubed potato (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 (8-ounce) block 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
7 teaspoons shredded 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
7 teaspoons fully cooked bacon pieces
7 teaspoons chopped green onions

-Whisk together flour and 1/3 cup chicken broth until smooth.
-Combine remaining chicken broth and next 3 ingredients in a Dutch oven.
-Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
-Gradually stir in flour mixture.
-Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes.
-Stir in milk and 8 ounces shredded cheese.
-Cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese melts.
-Top each serving of soup with 1 teaspoon cheese, 1 teaspoon bacon pieces, and 1 teaspoon chopped green onions.

Note: Use freshly shredded cheese for best results.


Calories 223
Total Fat 7.9 g
Cholesterol 31 mg
Sodium 667 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20.3 g
Fiber 2.6 g
Protein 17.3 g

Monday, January 21, 2008


Ahhh, spaghetti and meatballs. I had never made homemade sauce before, but we LOVED this sauce. It is a staple now. Both the sauce and the meatballs freeze very well, which is a definite plus! I freeze the meatballs individually then package them up, and for the sauce it's frozen in quart size bags, which are perfect for a quick 2 person meal.

Traditional Italian Sauce
Source: Unknown
8 (1/2 cup) Servings


1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Onions
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/4 cup red wine
2 Cans Diced or Crushed Tomatoes (14oz each)
1 Can Tomato Paste (6 oz)
2 cups chicken or beef broth
1 cup water (omit for thicker sauce)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried Oregano
2 TBS Chopped Fresh Basil
3 TBS Chopped Fresh Parsley
Salt & Pepper
2-4 Tbs butter

-Heat the EVOO in a large saucepan.
-Cook the onions until soft.
-Add the garlic, and cook until it is fragrant.
-Add the wine and cook until it has almost evaporated.
-Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, water, and seasonings.
-Bring to a light boil.
-Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
-At end of cooking, add butter 1 Tbs at a time to round out the flavors and cut the acidity, tasting as you go.


Calories 106.4
Total Fat 4.8 g
Cholesterol 3.1 mg
Sodium 1067.2 mg
Potassium 248.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 13.7 g
Fiber 2.5 g
Protein 1.9 g

Courtesy of MrsWindyCity, the Nest
32 Meatballs, 4 per serving


-1/4 cup bread crumbs
-1/3 cup milk
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1/2 onion, finely diced
-2 Tbsp flat leaf parsley chopped
-1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
-1 lb. ground beef (I use 93% lean ground beef)
-1 egg (I use egg beaters)
-1 tsp salt
-ground pepper
-1/2 tsp. dried basil
-1/4 cup parmesan cheese

-Preheat oven to 400*
-Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions, a pinch of salt, and cook about 2-3 minutes before adding parsley and garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes more and set aside to cool.
-Meanwhile, combine breadcrumbs and milk in large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
-After 10 minutes, add the onion mixture, beef, egg, parmesan, salt, basil and pepper to the bread crumb bowl.
-Mix well, but not for too long or you will toughen the meatballs.
-Form into 1-1.5" balls and place in a pan coated with cooking spray.
-Bake in oven for about 15 minutes or until done.
-Add cooked meatballs to pasta sauce and simmer a little, while pasta is cooking.

(based on modifications)

Calories 242.2
Total Fat 19.7 g
Cholesterol 48.6 mg
Sodium 323.8 mg
Potassium 200.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 4.0 g
Fiber .3 g
Protein 11.8 g

Beans, beans...

I admit. I don't like to eat my veggies. I have the most awful time getting in vegetables throughout the day. I first tried this recipe at Christmas 2006 and fell in love. Up until then, I had hated green beans. Leave it to garlic to add the zing I need! This can also be made up to a day ahead and stored in the fridge. Don't put the bread crumbs on until ready to bake.

Baked Garlic Green Beans
2 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
1 1/2 cups frozen cut green beans, thawed
1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon butter, melted

-In a small bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.
-Add the beans; toss to coat.
-Transfer to a greased 3-cup baking dish.
-Combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and butter; sprinkle over beans.
-Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.


Calories 172.5
Total Fat 13.1 g
Cholesterol 2.0 mg
Sodium 651.5 mg
Potassium 19.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 11.0 g
Fiber .3 g
Protein 3.4 g

Leftover Wonders

The london broil left some leftovers... what better than to use them up in a salad? The juciness of the meat allowed for no salad dressing to be needed.


2 cups mixed greens
4 oz. leftover London Broil (original recioe: )
1/8 cup crumbled feta

Mix and enjoy!

Calories: 324.9
Fat: 16.2g
Carbs: 11.1g
Protein 28g

Chicken Bruschetta

Who doesn't love an easy meal? Chicken, tomatoes, garlic... yum! I love regular bruschetta, so when I came across this recipe courtesy of MrsAllmyer on the Nest I knew I had to try it! I served it over some spaghetti, using the extra tomato mixture for sauce.

Chicken Bruschetta
Courtesy of MrsAllmyer, the Nest
3 servings


12 oz. chicken, pounded out to about 1/4-1/2 inch in thickness
1/4 cup flour
1 egg lightly beaten (I used egg beaters)
1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 can petite diced tomatoes (drained with liquid reserved)
handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 cups cooked Angel hair pasta


-Bread just the top of the chicken tenders - dredge in flour, dip
in egg, coat with bread crumbs.
-Place the chicken breaded side up in a casserole dish lightly sprayed with olive oil.
-Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
-Start a pot of boiling water.
-While the chicken is baking, drain the diced tomatoes and set the liquid aside.
-To the tomatoes add the fresh basil, crushed garlic cloves, salt and pepper.
-Drizzle with olive oil and let rest for about 10 minutes (or until chicken is done).
-While the chicken is cooking and the tomatoes are resting, drop the angel hair pasta in boiling water.
-After the first 15 minutes pull the chicken out and sprinkle with half of mozzarella cheese.
-Put back in the oven on broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and breading is crispy.
-Top the chicken with the tomato mixture and put back in oven until the tomatoes are heated through.
-Serve with angel hair pasta and sauce.
-To make a sauce for the angel hair, put half of the tomato mixture in a
food processor and added the reserved liquid from the can and just heated

(based on modifications, includes pasta)

Calories 531.1
Total Fat 10.4 g
Cholesterol 77.1 mg
Sodium 858.1 mg
Potassium 163.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 62.7 g
Fiber 5.1 g
Protein 45 g

Pizza Pizza!

Who doesn't love a good pizza? I found this recipe on Cooking Light and was a little skeptical at first, especially since I couldn't remember ever having something that wasn't a "traditional" pizza. This is now one of our favorites... it's easy to make, pretty healthy, and best of all... absolutely delicious! This recipe makes 1-16" pizza or we have divided it into 3 mini-pizzas and frozen one. It freezes well!

Garlic Chicken Pizza
8 servings


2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (16-ounce) Italian cheese-flavored pizza crust (such as Boboli)
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
1 cup chopped plum tomato
1 cup chopped mushrooms (I only used 1/2 cup, my husband doesn't care for them)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions (I omitted)


-Preheat oven to 400°.
-Combine first 3 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk.
-Place crust on a baking sheet; brush vinegar mixture over crust.
-Top with chicken, tomato, and mushrooms; sprinkle with cheeses and green onions.

Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheeses melt.

(based on modifications; does not include crust)

Calories 89.2
Total Fat 3.6 g
Cholesterol 27.6 mg
Sodium 219.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 2.4 g
Fiber .3g
Protein 11g