Sunday, October 2, 2011

Brown Sugar Chicken

Recipe From: "A Year of Slow Cooking" Blog

Ingredients & Directions: Click the link above.

Rating: So yummy and sweet!
Warming Up: Warms up well.
I made a half batch and used chicken tenders, diet soda, and lite soy sauce.
I added baby carrots for the last hour (needs to be longer next time).
My serving suggestion is to eat it over acorn squash...a small laddle of the sweet liquid over the whole thing meant I didn't need brown sugar on my squash. :)
I also suggest reading all the comments on her blog, there are a lot of great ideas and modifications.

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

I made this recipe in late spring/early summer, and am just now getting it posted. Enjoy!

Recipe From: Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients & Directions: Click link above.

Rating: Yummy!
Warming Up: The patties warm up fine.
I don't care for the taste of arugula, so I used different toppings.
Use any leftover pitas to make Pita Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumber, and Herbs.

Pita Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumber, and Herbs

I made this recipe in late spring/early summer, and am just now getting it posted. Enjoy!

Recipe From: Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients & Directions: Click link above.

Rating: Tasty
Warming Up: It's a salad - no warming up necessary, but store the pita pieces separate if you have leftovers so they don't get soggy.
I used wheat pitas.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wow! 5 months...

Can't believe it's been 5 months since my last post...and I even have new recipes to tell you about! Maybe now that summer is done and I have weekends "free" I'll do a better job. Please be patient with me, I promise to do better. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Squash Burger? Don't Mind if I Do!

A few weeks ago a friend and I took a day trip to Madison. Around lunch time I called my brother and asked him where we should eat (since he knows not only great restaurants in the area, but my food preferences too). He suggested Bluephies and we were on our way.

Located in a strip mall setting, the first thing we noticed when we entered was the brightly colored atmosphere and the gigantic desserts in the case at the entryway. The servers even wear shirts that say "I work here." :) What a great start to lunch!

The menu is AWESOME! There are so many selections that I wanted to try, but eventually decided on the squash burger - described as having goat cheese, squash, and polenta and topped with pesto. Burgers come with fries or soup, but the server didn't bat an eye when I asked to substitute broccoli. My friend decided on the Bowling Alley Burger, and substituted sweet potato fries.

This is what arrived at our table:
Back: Bowling Alley Burger with Sweet Potato Fries   Front: Squash Burger with Broccoli

The colorful atmosphere was matched now with our colorful plates of food. We both immediately loved our choices and took our time enjoying our meal. My squash burger was so moist and the mozzarella cheese, pesto, and tomato toppings added great flavor. The broccoli was grilled, adding to its tasty flavor.

Anyway, I'd been dreaming about having another since I had the burger that day. I was also trying to figure out how to make one at home. Then, I found myself in Madison again this past weekend - how could I not stop and pick one up? Sure, it was completely out of the way from anywhere I was going, but would I be closer anytime soon? So, on the way out of town I called ahead and picked up an order to go. That night, at home, I warmed up the burger and broccoli and enjoyed the tasty meal from the comfort of my couch.

I'll be returning to Bluephies again...I'm still planning on making a version at home (and will post the recipe when I do), or maybe I need to buy the Bluephies cookbook next time I'm in Madison...all I know is that my mouth is watering just thinking about this burger while I type this post. :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Squash Mac 'n Cheese

My grandfather was a chef (his pictures joins mine in the header of this blog) and made the best homemade mac 'n cheese I've ever had. But, like many chefs, he didn't write down many recipes and I have been trying for years to match the recipe I had on sleepovers to my grandparents' house (his mac was SO good I'd pick at it and eat it cold all night). While the following recipe doesn't even come close to matching his, I truly believe that my appreciation of a good bowl of mac 'n cheese started with my grandpa, whose laughter and cooking I continue to miss.

(On a side note, my house smells like his would while his mac was baking - more than any other version I've made.)

Recipe Adapted From: Skinny Bitch in the Kitch

1 pound wheat elbow macaroni
2 10 oz packages frozen, pureed winter squash
Bubbly and delicious!
2 cups skim milk
4 oz shredded, reduced fat cheddar cheese
2 oz shredded, reduced fat marble jack cheese
4 oz fat free cream cheese
1 1/2 tsp powdered mustard
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 c wheat bread crumbs
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish.
  2. In a pan, bring water to a boil, add salt, and cook the macaroni according to directions.
  3. In another saucepan, over medium heat, combine squash and milk. Stir and break up the squash, eventually bringing it to a simmer.
  4. Remove sauce from heat and add cheeses, mustard, and pepper.
  5. When the pasta is done, drain, and add to the sauce.
  6. Transfer everything to the baking dish.
  7. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Top the pasta with this mixture.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 2-3 minutes, until the top is browned.
Rating: one of my favorites!
Warming Up: warms up as well as any other pasta dish

  • I don't tend to buy the frozen squash for this recipe, and instead use leftover acorn squash I bake for a different meal.
  • I have never found wheat bread crumbs, so I make my own with wheat bread in my food processor. This time I also put chunks of Parmesan in the food processor with the wheat bread instead of using shredded or ground Parmesan.
  • For pasta I use rigatoni because I think it does a great job of sucking up the cheese.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Upside-Down Pizza Remix

This weekend I decided to revisit the Upside-Down Deep Dish Pizza recipe. I really liked the original way of making it, but thought I'd switch it up a little this time.

The changes I made:
  • added green onions to the meat and cooked them a little before adding the sauce
  • mixed low-fat ricotta cheese with the broccoli instead of using mozzarella on top
  • used refrigerated crescent sheet instead of pizza crust
  • added sliced tomatoes and a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese to the top before baking
This version did need to bake longer - I'm not sure if it was the crescent rolls topping or the tomatoes on top, but I think I ended up baking at 375 for 35-40 minutes, just check on it while it's baking.

This time the dish was equally as delicious and I used the extra crescent sheet to experiment with appetizer options. Maybe I'll have to do a post about that sometime soon. :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lettuce Tacos

A few weeks ago I went to PF Chang's with my brother and his wife. When we were there we had some delicious lettuce wraps. On the way home I thought, "I could make tacos the same way." Tonight was the night I did.

ground turkey
taco seasoning
green onions
reduced fat cheddar cheese
lettuce (I used green leaf)

  1. Brown ground meat. Add sliced green onions. Cook until onions are semi-soft.
  2. Follow directions on taco seasoning.
  3. Wash lettuce leaf and pat dry.
  4. Top with meat mixture, cheese, and any other taco toppings you like.
  5. Wrap lettuce around inside ingredients before eating.

Rating: pretty good, just have to get your brain around the fact that there's no shell
Warming Up: just warm up the meat like you would a normal taco...should warm up fine.
  • I feel that this recipe has a lot going for it:
    • It's healthier than the normal alternative, and if you don't like it the first night you still have everything you need for a nice taco salad.
    • The lettuce leaves seem to fit less meat and filling than a taco shell (well, I suppose that depends on the lettuce you use), so there's more calories saved.
    • Lettuce tacos are a little messier than normal ones, so maybe you'll eat less because you won't want to get too messy.
    • Also, since you're saving some fat, calories, carbs, etc., there's room for dessert. :)
  • Next time I'll probably pair it with Apple Straws - one of my new favorite snacks. (I feel a future blog entry coming on...)
WW PointsPlus*: the only points here are the cheese and meat mixture so it depends on how you make it and what additional toppings you use.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Potato Chowder

One of my favorite soup recipes. Easy to make and delicious - a winter time stand-by.

Recipe From: my Weight Watchers leader, Kathy

2 bags Ore-Ida Hashbrown Potatoes (cubed, southern style) - 8 cups total
3 cans low sodium chicken broth
1 can reduced fat cream soup
8 oz fat free cream cheese
1 can corn (optional)
onion to taste
seasoning to taste

Open, pour, simmer (about 2 hours), stirring occasionally.

Rating: tasty
Warming Up: never have a problem warming this up for lunch
  • I use cream of celery soup, the recipe call for cream of chicken. I also use green onions.
  • This soup looks interesting as it cooks, but trust me...the potatoes break down and everything comes together to make a great, thick chowder.
  • This makes a lot of chowder, so I typically make a half batch. Making a full batch is fine too, this chowder freezes well.
  • Even more delicious when served with a little reduced fat cheddar cheese on top. I also think you could easily turn this in to a "stuffed baked potato soup" by adding bacon bits, broccoli, etc.
WW Points*: 3 points per cup

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Game Day

Today's a pretty big day across the country,
and especially here in Wisconsin
- Super Bowl Sunday
complete with our Green Bay Packers!

I'm sure there are countless Super Bowl parties that will be taking place later today, so I thought I'd post some of my favorite standby recipes for a party. Most parties will include finger foods that are easy to eat while watching the game, cheering, and talking with friends. Maybe some will have mini-kabobs (that I've made a couple times myself - with or without meat), or different types of tart cups (another delicious recipe I've tried). I'm also sure there will be plenty of bowls of salsa and chips, countless numbers of chicken wings, and numerous veggie trays (that I hope don't get neglected) eaten today.

Meeting Donald Lee & Allen Barbre
Above I noted two recipes I made at different parties, and the next five posts are additional recipes that would be great for Super Bowl Sunday or any party that you're planning. There are a couple for finger foods, a couple desserts, and there's even a beverage one. Most are not the most healthy items, but we all need a day to indulge.

Go Pack Go!

Cheese Dip / Spread

Recipe From: my friend Mandy

8oz cream cheese
8oz yellow cheese spread (cheddar)
8oz cheese whiz
1/4 tsp garlic powder 

Combine all ingredients. Whip until fluffy.

Rating: good stuff!
  • Mandy serves this with pretzels. I do that too, but have also found it to be quite tasty on beer bread.
  • Since most of the ingredients come in 16oz containers, this is an easily doubled recipe. If you don't need that much for your party, it also freezes.

Cranberry Feta Pinwheels

Recipe From: a magazine that I can't remember the title of - sorry!

8oz whipped cream cheese (soft)
1 cup (8oz) feta cheese crumbles
1/4 cup green onions
1 pkg (6oz) craisins
4 tortillas 

  1. Combine cheeses and onion.
  2. Stir in craisins.
  3. Spread 1/2 cup on each tortilla and roll up.
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for an hour.
  5. Cut in to slices and serve.
Rating: yummy!

  • Using reduced fat cream cheese and wheat tortillas help this recipe have lower fat.
  • I have also added deli sliced turkey on top of the cheese spread before making the rolls.

Oreo Balls

When I first had these, my friend and I were trying to figure out what they were made of, I thought they were brownies because they are so moist.

Recipe From: my friend Molly's aunt-in-law

1 pkg Oreo cookies
1 8oz cream cheese
White chocolate, or white chocolate chips

  1. Grind Oreo cookies in blender or food processor, a few at a time.
  2. Pour into bowl and add softened cream cheese. Mix well (using your hands is the best method).
  3. Form into balls and place on a cookie sheet. Refridgerate about an hour.
  4. Melt white chocolate.
  5. Dip each ball into melted chocolate, place on waxed paper lined cookie sheet until coating as hardened.
Rating: really good!
This recipe has become one that my family requests for our gatherings.
Try this once and you may get hooked too.
  • I commonly make this with reduced fat Oreos and reduced fat cream cheese - no one can tell the difference and it's slightly healthier.
  • Shake colored sugar sprinkles on the balls while the chocolate is still soft for a customized party addition. I have done red and blue for the Fourth of July or red and green for Christmas - you could even make them the colors of your favorite team.
  • This recipe is easily doubled, etc. to make enough for your party.

Cool & Creamy Chocolate Fondue

Recipe From: my friend Mandy, it's a Pampered Chef recipe.

Rating: yummy!
  • Enjoy with any kind of fruit, graham crackers are tasty with it too!
  • Use low fat or fat free whipped cream to make this a little healthier.
WW PointsPlus*: According to nutritional information on the recipe, 2 Tbsp = 2.

Banana Slush Punch

I originally had this recipe at a school dinner. My students made it for the annual parent dinner, it's delicious, but needs to be made ahead of time - you can't just throw this one together.

Recipe From: There are lots of variations out there, but this one seems to be the one I know. 

Rating: tasty, hard to stop drinking it

  • As the recipe says, this can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Could probably be easily tweaked to include the "adult" portion of a slush drink.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Amish Friendship Bread

A few weeks ago I thought, "A loaf of Amish Friendship Bread sounds really good right now." For those of you familiar with that type of bread, you may be saying to yourself, "Yeah, it's good, but passing on the starter bags you make is hard." To that I say, "I know, but I typically make more than one batch of bread, making for less new starter bags." :) The other problem was finding a starter bag... BOOM! This week there was a bag in the lounge at work. I swiped it up and took it home, ready to feed and burp it until I was able to turn it in to a great loaf of bread.

Then, my excitement got the better of me because I figured out I wasn't going to be able to bake it on day 10 - I had class that night. So, I Google-searched about baking it on day 9 and found some great stuff about this delicious treat, like two blogs that have put a great spin and some laughter to the whole thing. I also knew that the recipe that comes with it isn't the only kind that has to be made. Since many websites say "the recipe is forgiving," I searched for different variations. I found some great websites with excellent ideas, (seriously, search and you'll find all kinds of ideas) but picked two from this one and decided to go for the lemon and orange cranberry in addition to the regular recipe that came with my bag of bread goo

Tonight was the night to bake it (even though it's technically day 9). The only problem was that I should have double checked my pantry before I went grocery shopping. I knew I needed pudding and egg substitute, and assumed I had everything else. I ended up being short on egg substitute and oil. But, holding to the thought that "this recipe is forgiving," I proceeded. I followed the directions for making the new starter bags, made 2 bags and then put what was meant to be the other two starter bags in bowls (1 cup each). This left me with three batches of starter goo.

I made one batch of regular cinnamon, one of lemon poppyseed, and one orange cranberry. This is where it got interesting... I decided to use what egg substitute I had and divide it 3 ways. For the oil, I was planning on using 1/2 oil and 1/2 applesauce anyway, but with the shortness of oil it just ended up being 1/4 c oil and 3/4 c applesauce. (Also, the lemon variation recipe called for an additional cup of milk. I did not do this because the batter seemed fine without it.)

As I type this blog all 6 loaves are in the oven and my house smells DELICIOUS! (a positive outcome to the length of time they are taking to bake tonight) I plan on keeping the mini-loaves out for snacks and breakfasts, and will freeze the larger loaves for another day.

Also, here are a couple other things I've learned this week:
  • The starter bag CAN be frozen, but you'll have to do your own search to find out what to do.
  • You can make a smaller batch, resulting in NO bags to pass on. I remember seeing one site that said at each "feeding" just add 1/2 cup of the ingredients and then complete the recipe. (of course, now I can't find it when I want to)
  • Lots of people make this bread, and opinions vary widely. I, for one, love it!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Turkey Chili

Today was the perfect day to make chili - a big football game on tv and frigid temperatures outside. My recipe for chili changes almost every time I make it, but does have some common ingredients. Below is today's version. (amounts are in italics because that's what changes each time) Also, I tend to "eyeball" the measurements. I don't like a lot of beans in my chili, so today's version had a total of about one can between the two types.

1 lb ground turkey
5 green onions, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (with onion and garlic)
1/2 can low sodium black beans
1/2 can chili beans (medium sauce)
12 oz low sodium V8 juice
Emeril's Southwest Seasoning
other spices to taste

I am a big fan of "less dishes to do, the better," so I make this in one pan.
  1. Brown ground turkey, adding spices as desired. (I've found that the ground turkey in a tube falls apart more easily, making it perfect for this recipe. I add garlic at this point - because I add garlic to basically everything.) Drain meat, if needed.
  2. Add green onions, tomatoes, and beans. Stir, cooking for a little bit, letting everything get incorporated.
  3. Add juice and Emeril's Seasoning (to taste), stir. 
  4. Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally. (Today I let it cook until the game was over - about an hour and a half.)
  5. Serve with condiments you like. (for me: light sour cream and cheddar cheese, today: beer bread on the side.)
Rating: I tweak the recipe every time, but it's always tasty!
Warming Up: always warms up nicely.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies...

Sorry I have not been posting lately, I guess the holidays kept me busier than I thought they would. :)
Below this post are two new recipes that I had / tried during that time. Please enjoy!

Speaking of the mom and I spent a day baking A LOT of cookies. We made five kinds of cookies and two types of bars (one is below). I don't remember ever spending a day like that with my mom before, it was really fun, and we got to enjoy our work when it was done.

One of the types of cookies we made was an idea I got from a friend at a different cookie baking event this holiday season. (She got the idea from one of her parenting magazines.) When the cookie is done it looks like a cute reindeer.

Form your favorite peanut butter cookie dough into a rounded triangle-like shape and bake the cookie. Put chocolate covered pretzels for the antlers (this is important because the chocolate melts and acts like a glue to keep the pretzel on) and use a dollop of frosting to place mini M&Ms for the eyes and a regular M&M for the nose. Super cute and super yummy!

Kit-Kat Bars

Recipe From: my mom, who got it from a friend

2 sticks of butter
1/2 c white sugar
1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c milk
1 packet finely crushed graham crackers (about 2 cups)
Club style crackers

1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c butterscotch chips
2/3 c peanut butter

  1. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. Line bottom with single layer of crackers.
  3. Combine butter, sugars, graham cracker crumbs, and milk in a saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly and watching carefully.
  4. Spread half of the sauce over the crackers.
  5. Place another layer of crackers over the sauce.
  6. Spread the rest of the sauce over that layer of crackers.
  7. Arrange a third layer of crackers on top. Set aside.
  8. In a saucepan combine both kinds of chips and peanut butter over low heat. Stirring constantly until smooth.
  9. Spread melted peanut butter mixture over the top layer of crackers, covering completely.
  10. Refrigerate until sauce is hardened. Cut carefully in to bars with a sharp knife.

Rating: Delizioso! Probably my new favorite sweet, but not for everyday eating. :)

  • I layed the middle layer of crackers opposite direction from the other two layers, so cutting wouldn't just be on the cracker lines.
  • Could make this healthier if you used reduced fat crackers.

Chicken Parmesan Bundles

Recipe From: Kraft Food & Family Magazine

Please click on the above link for ingredients and directions.

Rating: Yummy!
Warming Up: warms up well, may want to cut the bundle in half first though
(Ok, I didn't actually make this one, but I picked the recipe. My mom and her husband made the bundles and they were delicious!)
  • We used fresh broccoli instead of spinach. This recipe lends itself to a lot of variations.
  • You could make it healthier with using more veggies, less cheese mixture. Or, as they point out on the recipe, use reduced fat cheeses and crackers.