Friday, March 14, 2014

Creamy No-Cook Mints

It's St. Patrick's Day next week! It's a holiday I don't really relate to because we're not Irish, we don't drink and I think Leprechauns are silly... BUT, I'm all about making yummy green food!

These mints taste a lot like butter mints, they are super simple to make and they won't heat up your kitchen. These would be really cute in pink or blue for a baby or bridal shower. Or, leave them white and sprinkle with colored sugar for Christmas or holidays. Serve in mini cupcake liners or candy cups or on a small tray. Recipe from Cupcake Rehab. Makes 24-30 one-inch mints. Recipe is easy to double. 

3 ounces light cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon mint extract (I used peppermint extract)
2 drops green food coloring (or color of choice)
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
superfine sugar (can sub regular granulated sugar)

Place cream cheese, extract and food coloring in bowl. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until smooth. Continuing on that speed, gradually add powdered sugar and mix about 1 1/2 minutes, or until mixture becomes very stiff.

To make mints, shape mixture into 3/4 inch balls. Roll in superfine sugar and place on waxed paper coated in superfine sugar. Press them lightly with back of fork to flatten and to form ridges. Store mints tightly covered in the fridge. They also freeze well.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Swig {Knockoff} Sugar Cookies

I was preparing to make sugar cookies for Valentine's Day, when I came across a friend's post on Instagram. She had just visited St. George, Utah for the weekend and had posted about Swig's famous sugar cookies that I've heard so much about. I have never tried them, but I found a recipe online and made them as a dessert for my kids' lunches this week.... Then I made them again today... for Valentine's Day... which is this weekend! They are SO good! Now, I'm going to hide the rest of them in my freezer so I don't eat any more!

I like them for 2 reasons: They aren't overly sweet and I don't have to roll out the dough and cut them into shapes. Kind of lazy of me, but these do the trick. I even added some Valentine's sprinkles and VOILA... Very festive (easy) sugar cookies!

So, until I actually get to try a sugar cookie from Swig, these are my favorite little sweet treat.
Recipe slightly adapted from Tastebook (added vanilla & decreased salt in frosting). 
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

COOKIES:
1 cup butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbs. water
2 eggs
Dash of almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1 tsp. salt
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Cream together butter, vegetable oil, sugars, water, eggs, almond and vanilla extracts. Combine dry ingredients and slowly add to butter mixture. Mix until everything is combined. Your dough should be a little crumbly and not sticky at all.

Roll a golf ball sized ball of dough and place it on your cookie sheet (I used a cookie scoop). Now it's time to give these babies their signature rough edge. Put 1/4 c. of sugar in a dish (this is in addition to the sugar listed above). Stick the bottom of a glass in it. This is going to be your cookie press.

Firmly press it into the center of your dough ball. You want your dough to spill out over the sides of the glass. If there is a lip, it's even better.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 8 minutes. I like to take mine out just before they begin to brown and let them cool for 1-2 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. Once they are cool, put them in the fridge.

FROSTING:
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup sour cream
About 1 (2 pound) package of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-4 Tbs. milk
red food coloring (optional)

Start by creaming together butter, sour cream and salt. Slowly add powdered sugar. When it gets too thick, add a splash of milk.

Alternate this process until your frosting is the desired consistency. Add 1 drop of red food coloring and whip on high for 1 minute. Frost cookies when cool and store cookies in the fridge until ready to serve.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oatmeal Cream Pies

I didn't grow up eating Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies, but I do remember eating them last summer in Lake Powell and I can see the appeal. The soft, slightly spicy cookies are sandwiched around a layer of marshmallow cream! These knockoff cookies tasted even better than the boxed variety and my family loved them. I had NEVER purchased a bottle of marshmallow creme before making this recipe, and if you'd rather substitute a buttercream frosting, THIS version would be great too. Recipe from Recipe Shoebox

Soft Chewy Oatmeal Cookies:
   1/2 cup butter, softened
   1/2 cup shortening
   1 1/4 cups sugar
   3 Tbs. molasses
   2 large eggs
   1 tsp. vanilla extract
   3/4 tsp. coconut extract (can use less if you don't care for coconut flavor)
   1 3/4 cups + 2 Tbs. all purpose flour
   1 cup oats, ground slightly in blender (don't skip the blending--it really makes the texture)
   2 tsp. cocoa powder
   1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
   1 tsp. baking powder
   1/2 tsp. baking soda
   3/4 tsp. salt
   1 tsp. cinnamon
   1/4 tsp. nutmeg
   1/4 tsp. ginger

Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting:
   1/2 cup butter, softened
   1/2 cup shortening
   1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
   1 jar (7-ounces) marshmallow creme

COOKIES:
In a medium bowl, whip together butter, shortening, sugar, and molasses on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, and coconut extract. Beat together. Add flour, blended oats, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Beat together until just mixed.

Form about 2-tablespoons of dough into balls (I didn't make them quite this big) and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until they look slightly underdone. Take care not to over-bake, as they will lose their fabulous chewy texture. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

When cookies are completely cooled, place a large spoonful of marshmallow frosting on the flat side of a cookie and sandwich together with another cookie.

FROSTING:
Whip together butter, shortening, and powdered sugar. When smooth and fluffy, add the jar of marshmallow creme and whip together until well combined.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

I have a thing for anything coconut and curry and this recipe satisfies both of those favorites. My kids and husband adored this dinner and they all asked for seconds. If you don't like shrimp, chicken would be delicious in this dish. It seemed like a lot of spice to me as I was making it, but believe me, it's perfect! Serves 6. 
Recipe very slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe (reduced salt). 

For the shrimp marinade:
     1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
     1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
     1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
     2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
     1-2 pounds large or extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
For the sauce:
     1 tablespoon canola oil
     1 medium red or yellow onion, finely chopped
     1 teaspoon ground pepper
     1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, from about a 1-inch peeled piece of ginger
     1 teaspoon kosher salt
     2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
     2 teaspoons ground coriander
     1/2 teaspoon turmeric
     1 teaspoon curry powder
     1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
     1 (15 ounce) can coconut milk, light or regular
     1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Hot cooked rice for serving, if desired

For the simple shrimp marinade, toss the shrimp with the salt, pepper, cayenne and lemon juice in a resealable large bag or in a bowl. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat until rippling and hot. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the pepper, ginger, salt, garlic, coriander, turmeric and curry powder. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture is very fragrant and the onion is soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the undrained tomatoes to the pot and cook, stirring and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, for about 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring often. Add the coconut milk, stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the shrimp and any accumulated juices from the marinade. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the shrimp are curled, lightly pink and cooked through, about 2-4 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. Serve over hot, cooked rice, if desired.

Egg, Bacon and Broccoli Bake

We liked this savory casserole, stuffed with broccoli, peppers and bacon. 
Serves 6. Recipe slightly adapted from Kraftrecipes.com

4 green onions, chopped, divided
6 corn tortillas (6 inch), cut in half
2 cups small broccoli florets
3/4 cup finely chopped red peppers
8 slices cooked bacon, chopped
8 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream, divided
1 cup finely shredded cheese (such as cheddar-Jack or Mexican)
Salsa (optional)

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Reserve 1 Tbsp. onions for later use. Place 6 tortilla halves on bottom of 8-inch square pan sprayed with cooking spray; cover with remaining onions, broccoli, peppers and bacon.

Whisk eggs in medium bowl; stir in 1/3 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup cheese. Pour over ingredients in pan; top with remaining tortilla halves and cheese. Cover.

Bake 45 min. or until knife inserted in center comes out clean, uncovering after 30 min. Sprinkle with reserved onions. Serve topped with remaining sour cream & salsa.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love to try new recipes and to mix it up, but my husband would choose basic chocolate chip cookies every time! To satisfy my need to branch out, I tried {and loved} these soft cookies. The addition of sour cream lends a cake-like texture to an otherwise "typical" cookie. I doubled and adapted the original recipe, because making just 2 dozen cookies (and half bags of chocolate chips) is a waste of time, in my opinion. They also freeze very well. Makes 4 dozen cookies. Recipe from marthastewart.com

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks, or 3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream 

2 cups chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. 


Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with sour cream, and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Cover, and freeze for 10 minutes.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a cookie scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until centers are set and cookies are pale golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes.

No-Cream Pasta Primavera

If you're looking for a healthy dinner that's full of fresh vegetables and bursting with the flavors of lemon, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs, this is your dish! My kids loved it and it would be elegant enough to serve to company. Serves 6. Recipe very slightly adapted from allrecipes.com.

1 (12 ounce) package penne pasta ( I use Dreamfield's low-carb pasta)
1 yellow summer squash, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned (I used the whole pepper)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
5 spears asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil*
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley*
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add penne pasta and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente; drain.

In a bowl, toss squash, zucchini, carrot, red bell pepper, tomatoes, green beans, and asparagus with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and Italian seasoning. Arrange vegetables on the baking sheet, and roast 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until tender.

Heat remaining olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Stir in the onion and garlic, and cook until tender. 

Mix in cooked pasta, lemon zest, basil, parsley, and balsamic vinegar. Gently toss and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with roasted vegetables and sprinkle with Romano cheese to serve.

*I LOVE fresh herbs, but if you want to substitute dried basil and parsley, use 1 1/2 Tablespoons of each.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Marinated Grilled Chicken with Barley Corn Salad


We recently purchased a new grill and have been grilling up a storm. It's amazing the cooking possibilities it opens up. This, in my opinion, is the perfect summer dish: Fresh ingredients with lots of flavor; great dish for entertaining. I realize as I'm posting this that I should have posted it earlier. Hopefully it is still grilling weather wherever you are. If not, keep this on the back burner for next summer. 

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
3/4 cup medium barley
2 cups fresh or frozen-then-thawed corn kernels
1-1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup minced red onion
4 slices cooked thick or center cut bacon, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
salt & pepper to taste 
Tomato Vinaigrette: 
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon red onion
salt & pepper to taste
Directions:
1-Cook barley with a pinch of salt according to package directions. Drain when barley is tender to make sure all excess water is removed. Place into a large bowl to cool slightly.
2- Make the Tomato Vinaigrette: Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a food processor or blender, then process until smooth. Place 6 Tablespoons of the vinaigrette into a plastic bag and set the remaining aside. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt & pepper, then add it to the bag with the vinaigrette and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
3-Meanwhile stir corn, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and bacon into the cooled barley. Add enough of the reserved tomato vinaigrette to coat and stir well. Gently fold in avocado then season with salt & pepper to taste. Place into the refrigerator.
4-Heat a grill to high and grill chicken for 4-5 minutes a side, or until cooked through. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes off the grill, then divide salads onto plates and top with grilled chicken.

recipe from:  Iowa Girl Eats

Grilled Balsamic Glazed Chicken



This is our favorite recipe for grilled chicken.  I like it so much that I braved 95 degree heat with 70% humidity to grill this for dinner last week. We have been eating it pretty much once a week all summer. If you don't have a grill you could use a grill pan on your stove. Don't forget to serve a side of the warm balsamic sauce for dipping along side the chicken. So good! 

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. In a sauce pan, combine balsamic vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Stir then simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by about 1/3.
  2. Season chicken by lightly sprinkling it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. Heat your grill or grill pan to medium heat and place the meat on the grill. Use a pastry brush to brush each piece of chicken with some of the balsamic bbq sauce.
  4. The chicken will need to cook until it reaches 160 degrees which was about 8 minutes on each side. As the chicken is cooking, brush each side with sauce every few minutes.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked through, allow to rest for a few minutes before serving. Be sure to serve the remaining warm balsamic bbq sauce for dipping.
Adapted from Giada De Laurentis

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cookie Tutorial

I've always liked to cook, but I really love to bake! My Mom often made freshly baked cookies for us when we were growing up and now I equate the smell of warm cookies to comfort, home and smiling kids. The cookies that remind me of my Mom are her Applesauce Chocolate Chip Cookies, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Good & Chewy Cookies or Oatmeal Chipper Cookies. She always jokes that she should have blue fur and googly eyes!
I love putting a homemade cookie in my kids' lunches for school and we almost always have cookies on hand for unexpected company, late-night homework sessions or an after-school snack. Making cookies as often as I do has helped me figure out what works best, so I thought I'd share some helpful tips to take your cookies to the next level of AMAZING:)
  1. Use a cookie scoop. This simple tool will make your cookies look uniform in size. I have medium and a small scoops that I love from Pampered Chef, but I've also seen good scoops at Wal-Mart, Target and some grocery stores. My medium cookie scoop is also my secret weapon when making muffins, as it measures the perfect amount of batter for the muffin tin.
  2. Use parchment paper, if using a metal cookie sheet. It keeps your cookie sheet clean, keeps cookies from sticking and eliminates the need for cooking spray. Costco sells a large roll that will last for years, but you can also find it at the grocery store. Parchment paper is magic as a pan liner when making brownies or bar cookies as well. Simply lift the paper with the baked brownies onto a cutting board and you can easily cut them into neat squares. I also use parchment paper when making a favorite recipe, Oven Omelet Roll.
  3. My first choice of cookie sheet is actually a baking stone like this one from Pampered Chef (I have nothing to do with the company, but I love several of their products). When I bake multiple batches of cookies, the cookies baked on the stone turn out more uniform, don't burn cookies on the bottom (as metal cookie sheets tend to) and stay softer even longer than cookies baked on a metal sheet. 
  4. Chill the cookie dough, if possible. Even if you stick the cookie dough in the fridge (or freezer!) while you heat up the oven, it will help. Chilled cookie dough holds its shape better and the cookies tend to bake up fluffier and won't go flat. 
  5. Bake cookies in the top half of your oven. In my ovens, I use the second spot from the top for the oven rack. This helps prevent the cookies from burning on the bottom, and speaking of that...
  6. Always set your oven timer for less time than the recipe says and don't over-bake the cookies. I like to take them out of the oven just before the cookies begin to brown and let them sit on the cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes before removing them with a metal spatula to cool on a cooling rack. 
  7. Let the cookies cool completely before storing them in an airtight container. I use a piece of parchment paper in between the layers of cookies so they don't stick together. 

Well, I hope that inspires you to make a hot batch of cookies:) We have 
so many good recipes here to try! Happy baking!!!

Bacon-Topped Petite Turkey Meatloaf

This meal thrilled my whole family for 2 reasons: First, this meatloaf is flavorful and not dry and second, it's topped with BACON! Winner! I've made this 4 times and it literally gets cheers from my kids & the hubby when I serve it. Recipe slightly adapted from skinnytaste.com

3/4 cup grated zucchini, all moisture squeezed dry with a paper towel
2 Tablespoons onion, minced
2 Tablespoons red pepper, diced 
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1 large egg
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1.3 pounds 93% lean ground turkey
5 slices center-cut bacon, cut in half
2 1/2 Tablespoons barbecue sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a petite loaf pan with oil (If you don't have one, a muffin tin would work) and set aside.

In a large bowl (I use my stand mixer with the paddle attachment), mix the zucchini, onion, red pepper, breadcrumbs, BBQ sauce, egg, paprika and salt. Add the turkey and combine just until mixed through. 

Divide meatloaf mixture evenly between 5 loaves and smooth tops with a spoon. Place 2 bacon halves over each loaf and top each with 1/2 Tablespoon additional BBQ sauce.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until cooked through. Serves 5. 

Nutritional information per loaf: *Calories: 259 *Fat: 10 g *Carbs: 17 g *Fiber: 1.2 g. *Protein: 25 g *Sodium: 940 mg.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Boston Brown Bread


If you've ever eaten at The Cheesecake Factory, you've probably tasted their DIVINE brown bread they serve as an appetizer. I was looking for a similar recipe and found this slightly sweet and definitely delicious bread that my whole family loves! Makes one (9 x 5") loaf. 
Recipe from allrecipes.com

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan, knocking out excess flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and brown sugar. Mix in molasses and buttermilk until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for one hour, or until done. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, and then remove from pan. Cool completely before slicing.

Fresh Apple Cookies

I am shocked it's been so long since anyone has posted a recipe here! I use this blog for meal planning every week and I'm grateful for a collection of amazing recipes. THANK YOU readers for not losing hope! We still have about 150-300 readers each day. Now that school has started for my kids, I will be posting all the fun recipes I made over the summer. I'm starting with this one because it seems like a great cookie for FALL! They taste a lot like a Snickerdoodle cookie, but with fresh apples! Recipe from my friend Marlynn Avery.

1/2 cup shortening (I sub butter)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 apple, peeled and grated 

Roll cookies in: 
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream shortening and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Add vanilla, flour, soda, salt and baking powder. Grate apple and mix in. Roll into 1 inch balls. Dough will be moist. Roll balls in cinnamon mixture and bake on greased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 25-30 cookies.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Roasted Potatoes, Chicken Sausage and Peppers

My cute Mother-in-law gave me this wonderful recipe from skinnytaste.com. I love that it only uses one pan and it could be a meal all by itself. I have served it with a green salad or with a slice of french bread, but it's hearty and filling enough to stand alone as well. I used the Aidell's Chicken & Apple sausage that I can find at Costco.

  • 1.5 pounds (about 3 large) potatoes, russet or new (I used Yukon Gold)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered, layers separated
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeds removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. chopped rosemary (fresh or dry)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • olive oil spray
  • 1 pound Italian chicken sausage, each link cut into 6-7 slices (I used Aidell's Chicken & Apple Smoked sausage)
Cut the potatoes into small 1" x 1/2 inch pieces. These take the longest to cook so cutting them small ensures everything cooks evenly. Preheat oven to 375°. Spray one large non-stick baking sheet, or two small ones with olive oil spray to prevent the potatoes from sticking.

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, onions, peppers, olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic powder. Mix well to be sure everything is coated with oil and seasoned evenly. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and place in the center of the oven; bake for 15 minutes.

Use a spoon to toss so nothing sticks or burns.

Add the sausage to the baking sheet with the potatoes and vegetables and bake, tossing once or twice for 25-35 minutes, or until your potatoes are cooked through. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your potatoes and sausage, keep an eye so they don't burn.


4 servings: 324 calories per serving, 11.4 g. fat, 23 g. protein, 33 g. carbohydrate, 4 g. fiber
WW Points +: 8

Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken

It's getting HOT here in Southern California and I love using my slow-cooker when it's too warm to turn on my oven! This recipe is simple and the chicken turns out so moist, sweet and flavorful. We all really loved this one and I hope you will too! Recipe from couponsforyourfamily.com

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 6 Tablespoons water
Sesame seeds

Line a crock pot with a Reynold's Slow Cooker liner for easy clean up. Season both sides of chicken lightly with salt and pepper and put into slow cooker.

In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil and garlic. Pour over chicken.

Cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours, or just until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from crock pot but leave the sauce. Dissolve 4 teaspoons of cornstarch in 6 tablespoons of water and pour into crock pot. Stir to combine with sauce.

Replace lid and cook sauce on high for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces (it should fall apart with a fork), then return to pot and toss with sauce before serving. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice or noodles. Serves 4-5.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fruit Salsa & Baked Cinnamon Chips

My family has made this recipe for as long as I can remember. It's an impressive snack to serve at a party and easy to customize to your taste. The "recipe" is just a guideline, so feel free to use fruit that's in season or whatever sounds good to you:) I'd recommend making the Cinnamon Chips a few hours ahead of time so they get nice and crisp.  

Baked Cinnamon Chips:
Flour tortillas (I think thick, store-bought tortillas work best)
softened butter or butter spread
cinnamon & sugar, mixed

Line 2 baking sheets with tin foil and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread each tortilla with butter using a rubber spatula and sprinkle generously with cinnamon & sugar. Cut into 2 inch strips using a pizza cutter. I cut either end into a long strip, then cut each strip in half. Then, I cut the remaining piece into strips and then into thirds (SEE PHOTO BELOW). 
Arrange on prepared baking sheet in single layer and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just beginning to brown. Here's the slightly TRICKY part: These are best when they are crisp, but they are not good when they burn! Keep a close eye on them so they don't get too brown. 

While one pan of tortilla strips is baking, get the next pan ready to go.

When baked, remove tortilla strips from the oven and cool on the pan or remove to a baking sheet. As I mentioned, these are great if they sit out for a few hours before serving so they get a little crisp. 
Fruit Salsa:

strawberries, hulled and chopped
blackberries, coarsely chopped
apples, diced (I use a combination of green and red apples and I leave the skin on)
fresh oranges, peeled, sectioned and coarsely chopped
kiwi, peeled and diced
pineapple (fresh: peeled and chopped) or (canned: tidbits, well-drained)
mango, peeled and chopped

Drain fruit well and combine. I usually add a little brown sugar or powdered sugar. Serve as soon as possible or refrigerate until serving.

Skinny Baked Zucchini Sticks

This is a yummy snack or appetizer that we can't get enough of! These zucchini sticks are baked instead of fried and they are a fun way to eat your vegetables. Recipe from skinnytaste.com

3 medium zucchini sliced into 3" x 1/2" sticks
1 large egg white
1/3 cup seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs
2 tbsp grated Pecorino Romano cheese
cooking spray
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt
fresh pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a small bowl, beat egg whites and season with salt and pepper. In a ziplock bag, place breadcrumbs, garlic powder and cheese and shake well. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

Dip zucchini sticks into eggs then into bread crumb and cheese mixture, a few at a time and shake to coat. Place the breaded zucchini in a single layer and spray more cooking spray on top. Bake at 425° for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with 1/2 cup marinara sauce for dipping.

Servings: 3 • Size: 1 zucchini (sauce extra) • Points+: 3 pts • Calories: 121.9 • Fat: 2.4 • Carbs: 21.0 g • Fiber: 6.0 • Protein: 6.7 g

Amish Baked Oatmeal

This is another version of baked oatmeal from my friend Kaly Batson. 
We love the baked apples on top! Serves 9.

3 cups oats (I used instant)
3/4 cup white sugar
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a glass 9" casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Combine all ingredients and pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until set in the center. Top with milk & sugar, berries or Baked Apples Topping.

Baked Apples Topping:

3-4 apples, peeled and sliced
Dab of butter or spray butter
cinnamon & sugar

Place apples in a glass dish and top with butter  and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for about 2 minutes. 

Nutritional info (9 servings, without apples):
・494 calories ・16 g fat ・113 mg cholesterol ・619 mg sodium ・77 gms carbohydrate ・5.3 g dietary fiber ・14 g protein

Baked Oatmeal

My sister-in-law Kari gave me this recipe for a yummy, healthy, hot breakfast. It is apparently a Weight Watchers recipe, though I couldn't find the exact recipe online to include the link. Serves 9. 

2 3/4 cup Old-Fashioned oats (or 2 1/14 cup Quick oats), uncooked
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cups raisins or any combo of dried fruit
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/3 cups skim milk
4 egg whites, lightly beaten or 1/2 cup egg substitute
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9" glass pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients (oats through salt) and mix well. In medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients (milk through vanilla). Mix both combinations together and pour into prepared pan. Bake 40-50 minutes or until center is set and firm to touch. Cool. Top with milk or yogurt or eat alone. (We ate ours HOT). Store leftovers in fridge.

Makes 9 squares @ 2 WW Points+ each.
Nutritional info: ・213 calories3.5 g fat ・1.9 mg cholesterol ・334 mg sodium ・43 g carbohydrate ・3 g dietary fiber ・8 g protein

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

This is a delicious, filling casserole that's low in carbs and high in fiber. My whole family really liked it! I found this recipe at skinnytaste.com (originally adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen). Makes 10 servings.

2 cups cooked brown rice 
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 pound 95% lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 Tablespoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian Paprika
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 heads green cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite dice tomatoes with juice
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
2 cups low-fat mozzarella cheese (such as Sargento)


Cook brown rice and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Heat a large frying pan on medium heat; add ground beef and cook until it's browned and cooked through, breaking it apart as it cooks. Remove ground beef and set aside.

In the same pan, add 1 tsp. olive oil, chopped onion and cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, dried thyme, and paprika and cook about 2 minutes more. Then add the diced tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, and ground beef. Add water to the pan. Simmer until it's hot and slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes.

While it simmers, cut cabbage in half, cut out the core, and remove any wilted outer leaves; chop the cabbage coarsely into 1 inch pieces.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large frying pan or dutch oven; add the cabbage and cook over medium-high heat until the cabbage is wilted and about half cooked, turning it over several times so it all wilts and cooks. Season with salt and fresh-ground black pepper.

When the meat and tomato sauce mixture has cooked and thickened a bit, stir in the 2 cups of cooked rice and gently combine.

Spray a 10 x 13" glass casserole dish with non-stick spray and the layer half the cabbage, half the meat mixture, remaining cabbage, and remaining meat mixture. Cover tightly with foil and bake 40 minutes, or until the mixture is just starting to bubble on the edges.

Remove foil and sprinkle on cheese. Bake uncovered an additional 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starting to slightly brown. Serve hot.

Freezer friendly if you have leftovers. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then either microwave until hot or heat in the oven in a glass dish covered with foil.



Servings: 10 • Serving Size: 1/10th  • Weight Watchers Points+: 7 pts Calories: 250.9 • Fat: 11.3 g • Protein: 16.9 g • Carb: 23.8 g • Fiber: 5.5 g • Sugar: 2 g  • Sodium: 459 mg (without salt)  

    Wednesday, March 27, 2013

    Pumpkin Waffles with Warm Buttermilk Syrup

    I cannot over-emphasize how AMAZING these waffles and this syrup are. I seriously think they are the best breakfast ever! The waffles are flavorful, with the perfect amount of spice and they bake up somewhat crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. I've made them twice and I CRAVE them! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! 

    I did double the waffle recipe to yield 8 full-size Belgian waffles (pictured above), cut the butter in half and compensated by adding a little more milk. We had plenty for our family and enough leftovers for the next day's breakfast. Recipe from my friend Paige Smedley.

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 Tablespoons baking powder
    1 Tablespoon cinnamon
    1 Tablespoon sugar
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    4 eggs
    1 3/4 cups milk
    1 cup pumpkin puree
    6 Tablespoons butter, melted
    1 Tablespoon vanilla

    Mix dry ingredients together and set aside. Separate egg yolks (reserve egg whites) and beat yolks slightly. Add milk, pumpkin, butter and vanilla to the yolks. Add to dry mixture. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and fold gently into mixture (do not over mix). Spoon into greased waffle maker per maker directions. Yield: 8 full-size Belgian waffles

    BUTTERMILK SYRUP
    The syrup will double in size when you stir in the baking soda, so make sure your pan is big enough. Recipe from my friend Polly Yoho.

    1 cup buttermilk
    1 cup sugar
    1/4 cup butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda

    Add buttermilk, sugar and butter to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and immediately add vanilla and baking soda. Serve warm over waffles, pancakes or German pancakes. 

    Yield: 1 3/4 cups syrup.

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

    Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Bacon

    I credit my husband for introducing me to Brussels sprouts, because I don't recall eating them before we got married. I think they are delicious and that they needlessly get a bad rep! How many movies have you seen where a kid refuses to eat his Brussels sprouts? Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables and are closely related to cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower... Vegetables which might not scare you at all. 

    This recipe is simple to make and seems elegant. Besides, when you add bacon and cranberries, even your kids will like them:) Recipe from my friend, Paige Smedley.

    salt
    about 16-20 Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed
    2 slices bacon
    1/2 red onion, diced
    2 Tablespoons butter, divided (I omitted)
    1/2 cup dried cranberries (such as Craisins)
    3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
    1 teaspoon brown sugar
    Freshly ground black pepper

    Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat.* Generously salt the water and add the Brussels Sprouts. Simmer until just tender, about 5 minutes. (*I actually steamed them in the microwave since they came in a steamer pack.) Do NOT overcook. Drain well, then slice in half.

    Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the bacon until browned and crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

    Leave the bacon fat in the pan and add the red onions and 1 Tbs. butter, if necessary (I omitted the butter). Sauté until onions are translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the cranberries and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the red wine vinegar and brown sugar and cook until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. 

    Add the halved sprouts to the skillet and stir to coat with the vinegar mixture. Add the remaining Tablespoon of butter (I omitted). Stir in the crumbled bacon. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to a bowl to serve. Serves 4-6 (3 to 5 full sprouts each).

    30-Day Bran Muffins

    My Mom made these for us over the holidays and I've been craving them ever since! These high-fiber muffins make a great breakfast or snack, the muffins freeze well and the batter stores in the fridge for up to 30 days! My Mom often makes a few at a time so they are fresh and hot out of the oven. What's not to love about that? I love them with raisins, but I have one child who prefers them without. We love them with butter and honey. Either way, they are delish! 

    There are SO many very similar recipes online.  My Mom uses one from the Favorites cookbook. 

    This recipe (below) makes about 8 dozen muffins (use the biggest bowl you have to mix!), so if you'd like to make a half batch, here's the recipe for 4 dozen: Spark People

    4 cups Kellogg's All-Bran cereal (looks like little sticks)
    2 cup boiling water
    1 cup margarine
    2 1/2 cups sugar
    2 eggs, beaten
    5 cups flour
    5 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoons salt
    4 cups (1 quart) buttermilk
    2 cups Bran Flakes cereal (such as Post Bran Flakes)
    1 (15 oz. box) seedless raisins, optional (or dried cranberries. Fresh blueberries would be great too!)

    Combine All-Bran and boiling water in a large bowl. Cream margarine and sugar, and add to bran. Add eggs. Mix dry ingredients, and add alternately with buttermilk, then add Bran Flakes. Stir in raisins (or dried cranberries or fresh blueberries) if desired just before baking.

    Keeps up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator. I use a large cookie scoop to get just the right amount of batter.

    Bake in muffin cups at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.


    Nutritional information per muffin (without raisins): 134 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 3.5 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrate, 2.8 grams dietary fiber, 18.5 mg. cholesterol, 251 mg. sodium


    Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze

    My family loves banana bread, so when I found this recipe for yummy banana bread, with a twist, I was really happy. This recipe comes from Cooking Light and the only change I made is suggesting some substitutions for the rum. I hope you'll love this banana bread with a hint of lime & coconut as much as we do!

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup butter, softened
    2 large eggs
    1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
    1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
    3 Tablespoons dark rum (or substitute rum extract or milk)
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
    1 tablespoon flaked sweetened coconut
    1/2 cup powdered sugar
    1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice

    Preheat oven to 350°.

    Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, rum (or rum extract or milk), and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Stir in 1/2 cup coconut. 

    Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Check at about 35 to 40 minutes and cover with a tin foil tent to prevent over-browning, if necessary. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. 

    Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring with a whisk; drizzle over warm bread. Cool completely on wire rack.1 loaf makes 16 slices.


    Nutritional InfoEach slice provides: 193 calories, 4.6 grams fat, 2.9 grams protein, 35 grams carbohydrate, 1.1 grams fiber, 35 mg. cholesterol and 179 mg. sodium.
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