My Holiday Menus

Here are some of the recipes we'll be eating this week and weekend...

dijon ham
Our Family Dinner (just me, my hubby and our 3 kiddos)
Brownies and Peppermint Ice Cream

brie bites
Family Game Day hosted at our house
Meat, Cheese and Crackers
Veggies and dip
Peanut Butter M&Ms

24 hour salad
Christmas Eve Dinner (with all my fam)
Prime Rib and Grandfather's Creamy Horseradish Sauce
Yorkshire Pudding (I need to get this recipe from my Grandma)
Mom's Twice Baked Potatoes
Mom's Rolls
Dessert (I'm not sure what we're having this year!)

spinach bacon quiche 1
Christmas Day Brunch (my FAVORITE of ALL holiday meals!)
Scrambled Eggs
Gingerbread Waffles with homemade Buttermilk Syrup
Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
Hot Chocolate with toppings

Roasted Parmesan Green Beans

roasted green beans
This is the other side I chose for our holiday dinner from Gina's Skinny Taste. I have decided that pretty much anything roasted is going to be delicious :-), and these were too! Much, much better than the typical green bean casserole in my book, but I've never really liked it to be anyway (shhh).

12 oz green beans, trimmed (make sure they are dry)
2 tsp olive oil
kosher salt + fresh cracked pepper to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tbsp shredded parmesan

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum for easy clean-up.
Lay green beans out on the baking sheet and drizzle oil over them.
Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and toss to evenly coat.
Spread them out on the sheet so that they all lay flat and place on the lower third section of your oven.
Bake 10 minutes, shake the pan to turn; bake 5 additional minutes.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Skinny Scalloped Gratin Potatoes

skinny gratin potatoes
Since we have all our big holiday meals at this time of year with extended family, I decided to do our own mini-Christmas dinner last week. I didn't have a lot of time, so I wanted to keep it simple and I wanted the sides to be fairly light since they are my favorite part of any meal and I knew I would be the one eating all the leftovers :-). I found 2 great sides, both on Gina's Skinny Taste. This first one was amazingly delicious! You would never know it was made with such light ingredients! I like the top of my gratin potatoes very golden, but make them your way!

olive oil spray
6 medium peeled yukon gold potatoes, sliced 1/8-inch-thick
2 tbsp light butter, melted
salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 oz (3/4 cup) shredded reduced fat Cheddar (I used about 1 1/4 cups, mostly 2%, but with a little FF and regular mixed in as well)
1 cup fat free milk
1 bay leaf
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp thyme

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray an 11 x 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, butter, salt, garlic powder and fresh cracked pepper.
Arrange half of the potato slices in the baking dish; top with 1/4 cup cheese. Add the remaining potatoes.
In a small saucepan, bring milk, thyme, bay leaf and nutmeg to a boil; pour over potatoes.
Top with remaining cheese and bake uncovered, for 45 - 50 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Chicken Soup

spicy sweet potato soup
This is super yummy soup comes from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I L-O-V-E-D it! I've realized I'm not great at describing the meals I make other than saying whether or not I loved them, but this one I really did :-)! It was filling, had just enough spice, a great combination of flavors and is pretty healthy too. I couldn't wait to have leftovers for lunch the next day! Although I haven't loved the cooler temps we have had recently, I am glad I can enjoy a great bowl of soup without sweating!

1 tablespoon butter
1 red onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
7-8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, or use about 3-4 cups of shredded, cooked chicken (I used 2 cans chicken)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/- inch pieces
1 can (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used 1/2 t)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

In a large pot (4 or 5 quarts), melt butter over medium heat and add onions. Cook, stirring often, about 5-6 minutes, until softened. Add bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook 5-6 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. Add remaining ingredients (don’t add the cooked chicken, if using, you’ll add it near the end), stir well, and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for about 40-45 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through. If using cooked chicken, stir it in at this point and let it heat through. Discard bay leaves and serve.

Greek-Style Pork Chops

greek style pork chops
greek style pork chops 2
Not the best pictures (I'm ready for another time change so it doesn't get dark so early!), but it actually looked much better in person and it was really delicious!
This recipe came from Cooking Light is super low in calories, yet still full of flavor! The kids LOVED the pork and I LOVED the cucumber salad. We had leftover tzatziki sauce and just used that...perfect!

* 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 4 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops
* 3/4 cup plain fat-free Greek-style yogurt
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
* 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
* 1 1/2 cups diced plum tomatoes (about 2 medium)
* 1 cup diced seeded cucumber
* 1/2 cup diced red onion
* Cooking spray

1. Combine 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, oregano, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and garlic in a zip-top plastic bag. Add pork to bag, and seal. Marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature, turning after 10 minutes. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon oil, yogurt, 1 tablespoon dill, and 1/8 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk. Cover and chill. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, and onion. Sprinkle tomato mixture with 1/8 teaspoon salt; toss to combine.

2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove pork from bag, and discard marinade. Sprinkle both sides of pork evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add pork to pan, and cook for 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove pork from pan, and let stand for 2 minutes. Place 3/4 cup tomato mixture on each of 4 plates, and top each serving with 1 pork chop and about 3 tablespoons yogurt mixture.

Thankful Cookies

thankful cookies 1
My oldest, Ella, spotted this recipe in the November issue of The Friend and couldn't wait to make them. They ended up being a great activity with minimal clean-up which I loved. We used chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and marshmallows for the filling and were only sad that we didn't have more pie crusts to make even more!
thankful cookies 2

1 egg
1 teaspoon water
1 package uncooked piecrust
Choose any of the following filling ingredients:
chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut-butter chips, mini marshmallows, canned raspberry or cherry pie filling

1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
2. Heat the oven to 375ºF.
3. Beat egg and water together in a small bowl.
4. Sprinkle a little flour on work surface. Spread out piecrust, and use a rolling pin to flatten it until it is about 1/8 inch thick.
5. Use any large cookie cutter to cut as many shapes as possible.
6. Spread 3–4 tablespoons of chips or pie filling on half of the cut shapes. Leave 1/2 inch around the edges uncovered.
7. Brush the edges of the shapes with egg mixture. Place a second shape on top, and press the edges together to seal.
8. Brush the tops of each filled cookie with egg mixture. Sprinkle the cookies with sugar.
9. Use a spatula to move the cookies to a baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes. Let cookies cool for several minutes before moving them.

Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki

chicken gyros 1
(this is mine in the gluten-free pizza crust for lunch the next day, it was too dark the night we ate them to get a good picture in the flatbread)
This recipe (from Favorite Family Recipes) has been on my "to make" list for quite sometime. I kept putting it off thinking it seemed like a lot of work, but was surprised at how easy it all came together when I finally made them. I LOVED these! They are light and crisp and such a wonderful combination of flavors. I used a gluten free pizza crust cut in half as my flat bread while the rest of the family used the real thing. The pizza crust (I used an Udi brand one) ended up being a perfect substitute. Leftovers for lunch the next day were just as good and we used the tzatziki sauce on another dish later in the week. I think I will be making these for my next lunch get together!

3/4 c. balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 of a lemon)
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Tzatziki Sauce (cucumber sauce):
1/2 c. seeded, shredded cucumber
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. sour cream
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp. Montreal seasoning (I substituted some extra dill, garlic powder and coriander)
kosher salt to taste
pepper to taste

4 slices of soft flatbread or pitas (or gluten free pizza crusts :-)

heart of romaine lettuce, cut into slices
red onion, thinly sliced
tomatoes, sliced
kalamata olives (didn't use)
banana peppers (pepperoncinis), sliced
crumbled feta cheese

In a small bowl mix all marinade ingredients. Cut up chicken into cubes (for skewering) and place in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade over the chicken, seal, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

In the meantime, combine cucumber and kosher salt and let sit for a few minutes. In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt, sour cream, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, rice vinegar, and olive oil. Season with garlic, fresh dill, and Montreal seasoning. Squeeze the cucumber to remove any excess water; stir into sauce. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Skewer chicken (remember to soak your skewers if they are wooden) and place on grill over medium-high heat, turning 1/4 turn every couple minutes. When chicken is cooked through and juices run clear, remove from heat. (I used my grill pan)

Place flatbread on the grill, and cook for about 90 seconds, until warm, turning frequently to avoid burning. Arrange chicken (removed from the skewers of course), lettuce, onion, tomato, olives, and banana peppers on the flatbread. Top with tzatziki sauce and feta cheese.

Sourdough Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

mom's stuffing
This is the stuffing my mom brought to our Thanksgiving dinner and everyone loved it. I didn't personally get to try it, but Mike commented to me about really liking it and if it was good enough for him to do that, then it was GOOD! She found the recipe on Picky Palate and said the only change she would make is to use a little less bread the next time around.

1 lb Sourdough Loaf, cubed
12 oz baked cornbread, cubed
14 Tablespoons butter (1  3/4 sticks)
1 large onion, diced (about 1 1/2 Cups)
1 bunch of celery, chopped (about 3 Cups)
3 large carrots, chopped (about 2 Cups)
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped (about 1 1/4 Cups)
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 1/2 Cups chicken broth
1/2 Cup fresh chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme (or 1 T fresh)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 lb Jimmy Dean Sage Sausage

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Place cubed sourdough and cornbread onto a large jellyroll baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes, until lightly toasted.  Remove from oven.
2.  Melt butter into a large dutch oven or large rimmed skillet over medium heat.  Saute onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms for about 10 minutes or until veggies turn tender.  Stir in garlic and cook for another minute then pour in chicken broth, parsley, rosemary, sage,  thyme, salt and pepper.  Stir and reduce heat to low to simmer.
3.  Brown sausage in skillet, drain if necessary then add to vegetable mixture.  Place bread cubes into a large bowl and slowly pour mixture over cubes gently stirring throughout to ensure all pieces get coated.  Taste a couple pieces and season with additional salt and pepper according to taste.  I added a few more pinches of kosher salt and pepper at this point.
4.  Divide stuffing into a 9×13 inch baking dish and a 11×7 inch baking dish.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until just golden brown on top.  Should still be nice and moist.  Remove from oven and serve!
12 servings, each dish

Creamed Bean Casserole

creamed beans
This is a dish my Grandma makes for our special occasion dinners and I always LOVE it! In fact I love it so much I have avoided getting the recipe because I knew I didn't want to know what was in it to make it so delicious :-)...and I was right. Sometimes we have to live a little though and holidays are definitely the right time, so make this to go with your Christmas dinner and you won't regret it!

Ingredients & Directions:

1 small bag frozen baby peas
1 bag frozen cut green beans
2 bags frozen baby lima beans
*Cook, DRAIN, salt and pepper

8 oz whipping cream
8 oz mayonnaise
3/4 c grated parmesan cheese
*Whip the cream and then fold in mayo and cheese.

Mix the beans and the creamy mixture together and place in an 8x8 dish.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

pumpkin cheesecake
Years ago I tried a sample of a pumpkin cheesecake at Costco and fell in love :-). This year I decided to try making my own and was surprised at how easy it was! The other good news is that this is a much more manageable size so I wasn't tempted to keep eating it for days and days and days! I once again went to for this holiday hit. It got rave reviews from everyone at dinner!!!

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2.In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1 cup of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside.
3.Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.
4.Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Cover with whipped topping before serving.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin pie
This year for our big Thanksgiving feast I was in charge of bringing the pumpkin pie and the mashed potatoes. I ended up making a traditional pumpkin pie and also a pumpkin cheesecake, which I'll post the recipe for soon. I love pumpkin pie! It's so yummy warm with vanilla ice cream and as far as pies are concerned one of the healthier options out there. The other reason I love pumpkin pie? It's sooo easy to make! I found this particular recipe on and it was perfect!

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk (I used FF)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust (this is a good one!)

1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
2.Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Brown Rice and Black Bean Casserole

brown rice and black bean casserole
(the end of my busy picture season is wrapping up so I'll hopefully be back to more frequent posting soon!)
This is a perfect meal for fall and winter! It's has the cheesiness I love in casseroles, but without the guilt because of all the added veggies and lowfat cheese. I saw this recipe on Peachtree Cooking and luckily I loved it enough to eat it for lunch and dinner for days in a row...the rest of my family were not fans :-). I would still make it again though! I think I would use a low-fat cheddar on top that melts a little easier and just use the swiss mixed in with the casserole itself.

1/3 cup brown rice
1 cup vegetable broth (I used chicken broth)
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/3 cup onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, chopped or thinly sliced
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced (I used 1 can chicken)
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 tsp. cumin
Salt, to taste
Cayenne Pepper, to taste
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4 oz.) can green chilies
1/3 cup carrots, chopped small
2 cups shredded swiss cheese (I used 2% swiss slices and shredded them)

Directions:Mix the rice and chicken broth in pot on stovetop, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 45 minutes, or until rice is tender. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a medium-sized casserole dish (I used 9x9). Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the onion until tender. Mix in the zucchini, chicken, and mushrooms. Season with cumin, salt and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir until zucchini is lightly browned and chicken is heated through. In a large bowl, mix the rice, onion, zucchini, chicken, mushrooms, beans, chilies, carrots, and half of the swiss cheese. Transfer to the baking dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Cover casserole dish loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.

Crock Pot Country Chicken

chicken bake
I was excited to try this recipe because the potatoes in a roast are my favorite part and this dish (from Real Mom Kitchen) gave me those, but in a healthier way. It was super simple but still delicious!

◦8 Yukon gold potatoes, halved or quartered depending on their size (I used red)
◦6 carrots, cut in half lengthwise and cut into large pieces
◦2 celery ribs, sliced
◦4-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
◦3 Tbsp. cornstarch
◦1 1/4 cup chicken stock, cold or room temp
◦2 tsp honey dijon mustard
◦1 1/2 tsp. dill
◦1 tsp salt
◦pepper to taste

1.Spray the crock pot with non stick cooking spray.
2.Place the vegetables in the bottom of the crock pot followed by the chicken breast.
3.In a bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and chicken stock until well blended.
4.Then whisk in the mustard, dill, salt, and pepper until blended.
5.Pour the mixture over the vegetables and chicken in the crock pot.
6.Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Quinoa Black Bean Salad

quinoa black bean salad
This recipe comes from Our Recipe Box and made for some delicious lunches for me last week! A couple days I ate it plain and one day I melted some cheese on was delicious both ways. I like to have something healthy and tasty ready to eat at lunch time and this was a perfect solution!

1 cup Quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water (I used chicken broth)
1-2 Limes
Olive Oil

Lettuce or Spinach
Avocado, diced
Red or Green Peppers, diced
Tomatoes, diced
Black Beans, rinsed

Rinse quinoa well under cold, running water. You'll need a fine, mesh strainer for this or you can place a paper towel in a colander. Quinoa has to be rinsed because it has this funny taste/scent if you don't. (the quinoa I use comes rinsed already so I skipped this step)
Pour rinsed quinoa into 2 cups of boiling water and turn down the heat to medium. Cook for about 10 minutes and then turn off the heat and let it sit. When you turn off the heat it might look oatmeally, but give it 15+ minutes and it will become light and fluffy. Transfer quinoa to a large salad bowl.
Chop cilantro and throw into quinoa. Squeeze fresh lime into quinoa mixture. Add salt and olive oil to taste.
The rest of the ingredients can be thrown into the quinoa, according to personal preference. (I added 1 red pepper, tomatoes, ` can black beans and avocado)

Mexican Chicken Stuffed Peppers

mexi chicken stuffed peppers
I knew I would love these when I saw them on Cassie Craves! Initially I was also excited about the fact that it was also a crock pot meal, but then the day I had this on the menu got crazy and I forgot about it. So, I ended up using 1 can of chicken instead and mixing the other ingredients in a saucepan. They still turned out delicious!

3 chicken breasts
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
1 package taco seasoning
4 cups salsa, divided
4 large bell peppers, any color
Shredded Mexican-blend cheese

1. Put chicken breasts, black beans, corn, taco seasoning and 2 cups salsa in the Crock pot. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Shred chicken with two forks and mix well.
2. Using a sharp knife, halve peppers and pull out all the seeds and ribs. Stuff each pepper half with chicken mixture.
3. Spread 1 cup salsa on the bottom of a baking dish. Place peppers in dish and top with remaining 1 cup salsa. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until peppers are soft.
4. Top with shredded cheese and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Chipotle's Barbacoa Beef on Cilantro Lime Rice

chipotle shredded beef and rice
This is another recipe from Skinnytaste...a new favorite recipe spot for me! Slow cooker meals are always a hit for me and this one was AMAZING! I love Chipotle and this definitely hit the spot. We served it on the Cilantro Lime Rice (recipe below) with the Corn Salsa on top, burrito bowl style. Delish!

3 lbs beef eye of round or bottom round roast, all fat trimmed
5 cloves garlic
1/2 medium onion
1/2 lime, juice
2-4 chiptoles in adobo sauce (to taste)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground oregano
1/2 tsp ground cloves
salt and pepper
3 bay leaves
1 tsp oil
1 cup water

Place garlic, onion, lime juice, cumin, oregano, chiptoles, cloves in a blender.
Trim all fat off meat, cut into 4 inch chunks. Season with salt and pepper and brown on high heat in 1 tsp oil. Add liquefied spices, water, bay leaves and simmer on low two hours in a pressure cooker. (If you are making this in a regular pot, you will have to double the cooking time to at least 4 hours or more, covered on low flame and add more water from time to time to make sure it doesn't dry out.)
Once cooked and the meat is tender, remove the meat and place in a dish. Shred it with two forks, and reserve the liquid for later (discard the bay leaf). Return the shredded meat to the pot, adjust salt and cumin (you may need to add more) to taste and add some of the reserved liquid back. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes to let the flavors penetrate.
For the Slow Cooker...
Sear meat on high heat in a pan with 1 tsp oil or oil spray. Place all ingredients in your crock pot and cover. Cook low for 8 hours. After 8 hours, shred pork using two forks and combine well with the juices at the bottom. Remove bay leaves and adjust salt and cumin (you will probably need to add more). Let it cook another 15-30 minutes. Super easy!!

Cilantro Lime Rice
1 cup extra long grain rice or basmati rice
1/2 lime, juice of
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
3 tsp vegetable oil

In a small heavy pot, add rice, water, 1 tsp oil and salt. Boil on high until most of the water evaporates. When the water just skims the top of the rice, reduce to low and cover about 15 minutes. Shut off flame and keep covered an additional 5 minute.
In a medium bowl, combine chopped cilantro, lime juice, rice and remaining oil and toss until completely mixed.

Chipotle Corn Salsa

chipotle corn salsa
This recipe from Skinnytaste is great plain with chips or as we had it, on top of their Barbacoa Beef.

4 cups (20 oz) cooked sweet yellow corn, cut
2 vine ripe tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 scallion, diced
1-2 jalapeños, diced (remove seeds unless you like it really spicy)
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 1/2 limes, juice of
chipotle chili powder, to taste
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients and refrigerate for about an hour. Makes about 6 cups.

Halloween Chex Mix

halloween chex mix
This was definitely a big hit...even amongst the candy corn haters (like myself :-). Easy and festive and yummy! I'm sure we'll be making another batch before Halloween arrives.

8 oz. white chocolate baking bars, coarsely chopped
4 cups Corn or Rice Chex cereal (we used corn)
2 cups bite-size pretzel twists (we used gluten-free pretzel sticks)
1/2 cup raisins (optional, we left out because they didn't seem to go in the mix)
1 cup candy corn
1/4 cup Betty Crocker orange and black candy decors (I KNEW I had these in the house, but couldn't find them so we used some Halloween sprinkles instead)

*In large microwavable bowl, microwave chopped baking vars uncovered on high 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until melted and smooth. (I melted out chocolate in a pan on the stovetop)
*Gently stir in cereal, pretzels and raisins until evenly coated. Stir in candy corn and decors.
*Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool and let chocolate set. Break into chunks.

Easy Cheesy Alfredo

creamy alfredo
I really, really love pasta in creamy sauces. I thought this was a great lower fat option with tons of flavor (plus I could use gluten free noodles for me!). And like I mentioned before, that Rosemary Ranch Chicken that The Recipe Club suggested putting on top was seriuosly divine. I mixed steamed broccoli in with it all and LOVED it!

1- 8 oz. package cream cheese (I used 1/3 fat kind)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup margarine (I used 4 T)
1/2 cup milk (I used 1% and added some extra to thin out the sauce a bit at the end)
8 oz. fettuccini noodles, cooked & drained (I used gluten-free spaghetti noodles)
fresh parsley for garnish

In a large sauce pan stir together cream cheese, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, margarine & milk over medium heat until smooth. Pour over noodles & top with the rest of the parmesan cheese
**Top with Rosemary Ranch Chicken!!!**

Beef, Potato and Quinoa Soup

picture and recipe from Skinny Taste
This soup was deliciously different and healthy too. It was filling and super easy to make. Definitely a keeper!!! (my picture did not do it justice and I didn't want it to deter people from trying it!)

2 tsp olive oil
6-7 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp Badia Sazon with Annato (I used some paprika and chili powder)
1/2 lb beef, cubed into small bite size pieces (I used beef tenderloin)
5 cups water
beef bullion
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp yellow bell pepper, diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup cooked quinoa
6 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Saute oil in a large pot, add scallions and garlic and sauté until soft over medium heat, about 3 minutes. Add tomato, cumin, sazon with achiote, 1/4 cup cilantro and cook another 2 minutes. Add beef, water, bullion, carrot, bell pepper, salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low about 1-1/2 hours, until meat is tender.
Add potato and cooked quinoa and cook an additional 25 minutes. Add remaining chopped cilantro and serve.

Rosemary Ranch Chicken

rosemary ranch chicken
I made this chicken to go with the alfredo we had last night, but the chicken itself was sooo good I thought it deserved it's own post because we will definitely be making this on its own in the future. I found it on The Recipe Club and we all absolutely loved the unique flavor of the marinade...seriously delicious!!!

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup good ranch dressing
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon white sugar
4-6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Mix all top ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir until sugar is disolved. Place chicken in a gallon size Ziplock bag. Pour marinade over chicken. Squish bag around until all chicken in coated. Refrigerate until ready to use at least 30 minutes, preferably a few hours or overnight (I only had time to let it marinade 1 hour). Grill on the BBQ or in the oven on broil. (I used a grill pan)

Noodle & Co.'s Thai Peanut Saute

thai peanut saute
I love peanut sauce! This recipe from Favorite Family Recipes is a replication of a Noodle & Co dish and although I don't know how it compares to the original, I really loved this version. I only wish I had added more broccoli, so add more than you think you'll want to be safe. The bean sprouts were my favorite part, adding a nice crunch!

1-2 Lbs. chicken, cut into thin strips
vegetable oil (to saute)
1 Tbsp Sriracha chili sauce
juice of 1 lime
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
3-4 shakes soy sauce
salt & pepper (to taste)
16 oz. (1 pkg.) linguine noodles (I used gluten-free spaghetti noodles)
**peanut sauce (see below)
2-3 limes, sliced
The following are all to taste, add as much or little as you want
-shoestring carrots (I just used the packaged kind)
-broccoli florets, chopped (I wish I would have put more, be generous with it!)
-green onion
-peanuts (chopped)
-bean sprouts

In a large skillet, saute chicken in oil, Sriracha, lime, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, salt & pepper. While chicken is cooking, prepare the linguine (to al dente) and make the peanut sauce. After the chicken is cooked, remove from the skillet and wrap in foil to keep warm. Re-oil the skillet, add vegetables and saute (except for the bean sprouts, add those a few minutes before serving so they are still nice and crunchy and don't get overcooked). Add the chicken and bean sprouts to the skillet, cover, and reduce heat. Drain noodles and toss with a little olive oil (to keep the noodles from drying out and sticking together). Now there are 2 ways you can finish the dish: 1. mix the sauce with the noodles and TOP with veggies & chicken OR 2. you can add the noodles and sauce to the skillet with the vegetables and toss until everything is well coated with sauce. Garnish with peanuts and limes. (I did option 2, which wasn't as pretty for pictures, but delicious)

c. chicken broth
6 Tbsp. (heaping) creamy peanut butter
2-4 tsp. Sriracha chili sauce -- more or less depending on hot hot you like it
3 Tbsp. honey
6 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. fresh minced ginger
4-5 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

Combine chicken broth, peanut butter, chili sauce, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until sauce becomes smooth and well blended

Easy "Healthy" Pumpkin Cupcakes

pumkin cupcakes 
So, these little cupcakes from The Daily Dish, really are pretty healthy for you! And with only 2 ingredients in the actual cupcakes themselves, they couldn't be any easier either! I'm going to use a little less pumpkin next time to see if it makes them a little fluffier, but overall these were great and a great kick off to our pumpkin treats! (we made these cookies this weekend...LOVE!)

- 1 box of spice cake mix
- 2 (15 oz) cans of pumpkin (I'm just going to use 1 1/2 cans next time)
- 1 container of cream cheese frosting, for topping
- Pumpkin pie spice, for topping (optional)
**don't add the eggs/oil suggested on the back of the cake mix box**

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together your spice cake mix and cans of pumpkin.
3. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes (or follow the instructions on the back of your box).
4. Once a fork comes out clean, remove the cupcakes from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before frosting.
5. Frost the cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting, and top with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice on each one. Grab a plate, and enjoy!

Tomatillo Chicken Soup

tomatillo chicken soup
YUUUM!!! This is my new favorite! I recently re-organized my recipe binder (which was full of recipes ripped out of magazines) and added this one, from the Nov 2010 Better Homes and Gardens magazine) to our menu this week. Now when I went to make it at 5pm I realized it was a crock pot recipe, woops. I just sauteed the peppers, celery and onion in a large pot first and used a can of chicken. I let it all simmer about 20 minutes and it was still delicious, so I can only imagine it's even better in the crock pot. It was tangy with a little heat and sooo delicious! I was planning to eat out for lunch today but was so excited about these leftovers that I didn''s that good!

* 6 medium tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
* 1-1/2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
* 1 32-oz. box chicken broth (I used low-sodium)
* 1 medium green sweet pepper, chopped
* 1/2 cup chopped red onion
* 1 stalk celery, chopped
* 1 4-oz. can diced green chiles
* 2 Tbsp. snipped fresh cilantro
* 1 fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced*
* 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
* 1 Tbsp. lime juice
* 2 tsp. chili powder
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tsp. salt
* 1 tsp. ground black pepper
* Dairy sour cream, chopped green onion, chopped red sweet pepper, sliced jalapeño peppers, snipped fresh cilantro, and/or tortilla chips (we topped with monterrey jack cheese and tortilla strips)

1. Chop three tomatillos. Place remaining tomatillos in blender. Cover; blend until smooth. In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker combine pureed and chopped tomatillos, chicken, broth, sweet pepper, onion, celery, chiles, cilantro, jalapeño, cumin, lime juice, chili powder, garlic, and 1 tsp. each salt and pepper.
2. Cover; cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or high for 3 to 3-1/2 hours. Remove chicken; let stand until cool enough to handle. Shred chicken; return to soup. If desired, top with sour cream, additional chopped red sweet pepper or jalapeño peppers, snipped cilantro, and/or tortilla chips. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Servings Per Recipe 4, Calories 247, Protein 42g, Carbohydrate 10g, Fat total 4g, Cholesterol 101mg, Saturated fat 1g, Dietary Fiber, total 3g, Sugar total 4g

Tex-Mex Buttermilk Chicken Tenders

tex fried chicken
After a few nights of more adventurous dinners I often try and throw in a more classic meal that I know the whole family will love. Most of the time it will be one of our tried and true favorites, but this week I tried these chicken tenders from Rachael Ray's magazine. Dipping the tenders twice really gave them a great coating of batter and they turned out pretty AND tasty. I loved the spice mix! I didn't make the corn on the cob this time, but included it in the recipe below because I do want to give it a try the next time we make the chicken.

4 cups vegetable oil, for frying
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning (I used smoky sweet pepper seasoning)
Juice of 2 limes and 2 teaspoons grated peel, plus wedges for serving
2 cups buttermilk
2 1/2 cups flour
2 pounds chicken tenders
Salt and pepper
4 ears corn
Hot pepper sauce, for passing at the table

Directions:1.In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. In a bowl, combine the chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, poultry seasoning and lime peel. In a shallow bowl, combine the buttermilk and half of the spice mixture. In another shallow bowl, combine the flour and the remaining spice mixture. Season the chicken tenders with salt and pepper.
2.Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the corn and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain, then dress with the lime juice.
3.While the corn is working, using tongs, dip the chicken fingers in the buttermilk, then coat with the flour; repeat for a second coating. Working in batches, add the chicken fingers to the skillet and cook until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain on a rack.
4.Pass the hot sauce at the table for drizzling on the corn. Serve with the chicken fingers and extra lime wedges.

Cheesy Zucchini Enchiladas

zucchini enchiladas
This is another recipe from Skinnytaste and it was another delicious one! I will admit that though I was initially really excited about these (zucchini + enchiladas was a fun new combo to me), as I started preparing them I got a little nervous. They are really simple when it comes to ingredients and I was worried that they were going to be bland and no one would like them, including me. Luckily I was wrong. They were full of flavor and absolutely delicious, especially with fresh avocado on top!

* cooking spray
* 1 tsp olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 2 medium scallions, chopped
* 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
* 2 medium zucchinis, grated
* kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
* 1 1/2 cups grated reduced fat mexican blend cheese
* 4 Large La Tortilla Factory Low Carb tortillas (I just used 6 plain corn tortillas)
* chopped scallions
* chopped cilantro
Enchilada sauce:
* 1 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 tbsp chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, optional for more heat (I used 1 T of the liquid in jar, but not the actual peppers)
* 1 cups tomato sauce
* 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
* 1/4 tsp ground cumin
* 1/2 cup fat free vegetable broth (I used chicken broth)
* kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the enchilada sauce: in a medium saucepan, spray oil and sauté garlic. Add chipotle chile, chili powder, cumin, broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium nonstick skillet, sauté garlic and scallions in olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes; add zucchini, salt and pepper to taste and cook about 4-5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup cheese; mix well.
Divide zucchini between in each tortilla, roll and place seam side down in baking dish.
Top with enchilada sauce (you might not use all) and remaining cheese and bake until hot and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.
Serve with chopped cilantro, scallions, and reduced fat sour cream if you wish. Enjoy!!

Tuscan Tomato Soup

tuscan tomato soup
I personally loved this soup! I just wish I had a good blender to get things to a nice, smooth consistency because the rest of the family was a little put off by the texture. The flavors were amazing though and it was super simple to put together! (recipe from The Recipe Club) Now if our weather would just cool down so we could really enjoy more soups!

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
5 cups diced and seeded tomatoes (or you can use 3 14 oz. cans drained diced tomatoes)
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 cup basil pesto
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a medium large soup pot.
Add onions and cook over medium-low heat until completely translucent.
Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
Add chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
Add whipping cream. Add pesto.
Blend to desired consistency with hand blender, food processor or blender.
Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
*Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese and homemade sour dough croutons!
** recipe makes 1 gallon of soup

Basil Chicken w/ Coconut Curry Sauce

basil curry chicken
This is another great recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. She said there had been mixed reviews of this recipe but that she still really liked it, so I was curious to see what we thought of it and Mike and I both LOVED it! Just be warned that you'll want to open some windows in your kitchen to air it out after you make it :-).

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1 medium red onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 cups hot cooked rice (I used jasmine)

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Place in medium bowl. Stir together curry, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and chili powder. Sprinkle over chicken, tossing to coat evenly. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
In a large nonstick frying pan, stir onion, basil, garlic and peppers in hot oil over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add chicken and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 5-6 minutes until no longer pink.
Combine coconut milk and cornstarch and whisk well to combine. Carefully add to skillet, whisking vigorously. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in ginger. Cook and stir for another minute. Serve over hot rice.

Crock Pot Sausage Pasta Sauce

crock pot sausage spaghetti sauce
Hooray for another crock meal! I found this recipe on Gina's Skinny Taste, which I found out about from The Daily Dish...I love the new discovery of awesome recipe blogs! This recipe had a lot of things going for it...the crock pot, 4 ingredients, kid friendly, and of course yummy too. We had this on Sunday and it was such a perfect meal because it was super fast to throw in the crock pot before church and then was already to eat when we got home. I ate mine over gluten-free penne pasta and the rest of the family had it over spaghetti noodles.

* 1 lb lean chicken Italian sausage, casings removed (I couldn't find these so I just used Italian turkey sausage)
* 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
* 5 cloves garlic, smashed
* 28 oz tuttorosso crushed tomatoes (my store didn't have this brand, so I used the store brand)
* fresh cracked pepper

Brown the sausage in a large skillet, breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon. When sausage is browned, drain if needed and add to crock pot.
Clean skillet with a paper towel and set flame to high; when hot add oil. Add garlic and cook until golden but do not burn; add tomatoes and garlic to crock pot along with fresh cracked pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
If you wish, take an immersion blender and blend the sauce a 2-3 seconds to break the sausage up into smaller pieces to combine with the sauce.

French Dip Sandwiches

french dip sandwiches
I've been trying to have at least one crock pot meal planned for the week because our Tuesdays and Wednesdays can get pretty crazy and it really helps our evenings go more smoothly. After seeing a recipe on Melissa's Bargains for French Dip Sandwiches recently they were on my mind already and then as I was searching blogs for crock pot meals I saw this recipe on Our Best Bites and added it to our menu for the week. It was probably one of the easiest meals I have ever made and it was one of the most well received too. EVERYONE ate it and loved it! 

1 2.5-3 lb. beef roast
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
2 1-ounce packages dry onion soup mix
2 c. water
2 cans beef broth
6-8 large buns (I say more like 12-15 if you want enough for all the meat)
Swiss, provolone, or mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced. (we used provolone)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and rub roast with salt and pepper.
When very hot, carefully place roast in pan and sear on all sides. You're not cooking the meat, you're just browning it quickly on all sides to add flavor and seal in the juices.
Place in crockpot and sprinkle with onion soup mixes. Pour water and beef broth over roast.
Cook 8-10 hours on low or cook 4-5 hours on high and another 3-4 hours on low. It's hard to screw this part up; basically, the longer it cooks, the more tender it will be. But you know it's done when you pop a fork in it and the meat just falls apart. When meat is ready, shred with a fork.
Place meat in crusty rolls. Top with cheese and broil open-faced in the oven or toaster oven for a few minutes, until bread is golden and cheese is melted.
Ladle juices into small cups for dipping and enjoy!

Funfetti Cake Mix Cookies

funfetti cookies
I was looking for a fun, easy treat to make with the kids and saw these on Our Recipe Box. They were seriously THE easiest cookies ever! The kids loved helping me roll the dough into balls and of course really loved eating them. I want to try this trick with some other cake mix flavors!

1 box Funfetti Cake Mix (18 oz)
1/3 c. oil
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, combine cake mix, oil and eggs. Stir until thoroughly moistened. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. With the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar, flatten balls to 1/4 inch thickness.
Bake for 6-8 minutes until edges are light golden brown. Cool one minute then move to cooking rack.

Easy Asian Stir-Fry

easy veggie stir fry
This recipe was in the Sunday paper's Parade magazine not too long ago. It uses all my favorite veggies (asparagus, broccoli and zucchini) so I had to give it a try. It was surprisingly flavorful despite being pretty much veggies and soy sauce. I loved it and I loved that I felt good eating it! (and it makes lots, so be prepared for leftovers!)

1 each green, orange and red bell pepper (I used yellow instead of green)
2 large zucchini
1/2 onion
1 head broccoli
15 asparagus spears
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil (I used sesame oil)
2 T soy sauce (I used low-sodium)
salt and black pepper
(I also sprinkled some ground ginger on it)


1. Chop or slice all of the vegetables into bite size pieces.
2. Lightly oil a wok or skillet; heat over low until very hot.
3. Add the garlic; saute to a golden brown.
4. Add all the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste. Increase the heat to medium and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until the veggies are crisp-tender.
5. Add the soy sauce and stir well to blend.
6. Transfer to a large bowl, adjust season and serve with rice (I used jasmine rice).

Zucchini Risotto

zucchini risotto
This was another recipe I found on Delicious Dishes. It is such a bummer when recipe sites you like stop posting, but at least you can always go back through the old ones! This was really yummy and could easily be a main course meal. I served it with some chicken just because I knew it wouldn't work as a meal for my family, but I would have been fine without anything else. I love zucchini and I love risotto so it was a great combination for me!


1 cup arborio rice
2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper

In heavy saucepan, saute rice in butter stirring constantly.
Add onion, red pepper, and garlic salt. Saute until onions and peppers are tender.
Add 1 cup chicken stock, stirring frequently.
As the liquid cooks down, continue adding 1/2 cup stock at a time until all the stock is used and the mixture is creamy. Keep stirring!
Add zucchini.
Stir in milk.
Fold in cheese.
Top with fresh ground pepper.
Serve immediately.

Oven Kalua Pork

kalua pork
I found this recipe on Delicious Dishes and made it with the intention of freezing half of the meat for a future meal...I love it when I can do that (it's so nice having meals on hand for busy weeks)! This pork was super easy to make and had a great, yummy flavor to it. I was wanting some sort of sauce with it though and would definitely figure out something next time for that. I think we will use the leftovers for pulled pork sandwiches! (and I'm sure you could do this in a crock pot if you wanted to leave it cooking for longer)

1/2 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 small piece of fresh ginger root, crushed (or 1 tsp. ground ginger)
1 clove garlic, minced
5 pound boneless pork roast
1 tsp. liquid wood smoke flavoring

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, salt, Worcestershire sauce, ginger and garlic. Mix well. Lay 3 sheets of aluminum foil out, one on top of another. Place roast in center of aluminum foil; rub with soy sauce mixture and sprinkle with liquid smoke. Fold all 3 sheets of aluminum foil over top of roast and secure tightly. Place wrapped meat in a baking pan. Roast at 375 for 5 hours. Shred the pork before serving.
** Recipe from the Lion House Entertaining Cookbook**

3 Recipes: Grilled Beef Skewers, Sun-Dried Tomato Relish, and Summer Squash and Chive Pancakes

beef kabobs plus more
When I saw this yummy dinner on The Daily Dish, I instantly knew I wanted to try it! I love all kebabs and the squash and chive pancakes sounded awesome! The pancakes were our favorite part of the dinner and we'll definitely make them as sides for other dishes in the future. The beef had an awesome flavor (even though I only marinated it for 2 hours) and it was a perfect combo with the relish. The relish was my least favorite part of the meal, I think I'm just not used to the strong flavor of the sun-dried tomatoes, but I did love the way the 3 things complimented each other. Plus, it all looked so fancy together which is always fun :-)!

Summer Squash & Chive Pancakes

- Canola oil spray
- 2 cups of cooked yellow squash, crushed (from about 3 1/2 yellow squash)
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp of baking powder
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese
- 3 tbsp of fresh chives, chopped
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- A pinch of ground black pepper

1. Place the squash in a large pot. Fill with water making sure to cover the squash completely.
2. Bring the pot to a boil and cover, cooking until soft.
3. Once soft, drain and set to the side to cool for a few minutes while you chop the rest of your ingredients.
4. After the squash has cooled down a bit, add them to a food processor and pulse until crushed.
5. Place the squash in a large mixing bowl with the egg, egg white, flour, baking powder, garlic, Parmesan cheese, chives, salt, and pepper, and mix until smooth.
6. Spray the bottom of a large griddle pan with canola oil and place the burner on medium heat.
7. Take 1/4 cup of the batter (per 1 pancake) and drop it onto the griddle. Use the book of a spoon to slightly flatten them and cook for a few minutes until golden brown on the bottom side.
8. Once the bottom has cooked, flip the pancake and cook the other side until golden brown.
9. Set the finished pancakes aside on a platter and repeat with the remaining batter until all 12 pancakes are made. Serve and enjoy!

Grilled Beef Skewers

- 2 lbs of beef of choice, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Pinch of salt
- Skewers (I use metal)

1. In a resealable bag or glass container, combine the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, salt & pepper with the beef. Refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours.
2. Once the beef is done marinating and you are ready to begin cooking, place a grill pan on medium-high heat (or preheat your gas or charcoal grill).
3. Remove the meat from the marinade and begin placing the cubes on a skewer
4. When the skewers all set, place on the grill pan for about 4 minutes on each side.
5. Arrange the skewers on a plate and serve along side the relish below.

Sun-Dried Tomato Relish

- 1/2 small red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup of oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
- 1/2 cup of frozen (thawed) corn (or 1 ear of corn kernels removed if you are using fresh)
- 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (I omitted because the tomatoes were already plenty oily)
- 1/2 of an avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
- 1/4 cup of feta cheese crumbles
- Ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a small to medium-sized bowl, combine the onion, tomatoes, corn, and olive oil.
2. If you are prepping this in advance, refrigerate these ingredients until ready to serve.
3. Just before serving add the avocado and feta cheese before mixing all of the ingredients together. Add the ground black pepper to taste.
4. Serve the relish alongside the beef skewers, and enjoy!

Artichoke Mushroom Lasagna

artichoke mushroom lasagna
I don't think I've ever been so behind on posting recipes before...I like to get them up here as soon as I make them. But life has been SO busy that it just has been low on the priority list. This lasagna was a hit though...even with Mike who is not a big pasta (or meatless dish) fan. In fact, he even had leftovers of it the next day...and he's not a leftovers guy either, so that says TONS!!! I used gluten-free noodles and loved it! (recipe from Taste of Home apr/may 2011)

* 1 pound sliced baby portobello mushrooms
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 cans (14 ounces each) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
* 1 cup chardonnay or other white wine (used white cooking wine)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 1/4 cup butter, cubed
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used cornstarch)
* 3-1/2 cups 2% milk
* 2-1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
* 1 cup chardonnay or other white wine
* 9 no-cook lasagna noodles (I used gluten-free and cooked them before assembly)
* 4 cups (16 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

* In a large skillet, saute mushrooms in butter until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the artichokes, wine, salt and pepper; cook over medium heat until liquid is evaporated.
* For the sauce, in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Stir in Parmesan cheese and wine.
* Spread 1 cup sauce into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Layer with three noodles, 1-2/3 cups sauce, 1 cup mozzarella and 1-1/3 cups artichoke mixture. Repeat layers twice.
* Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake, uncovered, 15-20 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

Chilled Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies

chocolate cereal cookies
I saw these yummy guys in All You magazine quite awhile ago, but the kids and I just got around to giving them a try. They were a big hit! They were easy to make, gluten-free, and surprisingly delicious! We will definitely be making them again and again!

* 2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
* 1/4 cup honey
* 1/4 cup light corn syrup
* 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
* 1/4 cup chocolate chips
* 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
* 3 cups corn flakes, lightly crushed

* 1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Place a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add coconut and toast, stirring constantly, until light golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; let cool.
* 2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine honey, corn syrup and peanut butter. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring, then remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips and cocoa.
* 3. Continue stirring until chocolate chips have melted, then stir in cereal and toasted coconut until well coated. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet and refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.


I have tried snickerdoodles, but I have never made my own, so when a volunteer was needed to make some for my book club meeting came up last week I thought it was a perfect opportunity to give them a try! I went to a blog that is known for yummy desserts but quite a few of the reviews of her snickerdoodles said they were spreading too thin when baking. Since baking is not my specialty I decided not to risk and went to instead. This recipe from Beth Sigworth had awesome reviews (I did tweak it a bit after reading through some comments)! I was so proud that they turned out so beautiful...AND tasted awesome too! They were a hit!
(now I need to attempt a gluten-free version!)

* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 1/2 cup shortening
* 1 1/2 cups white sugar
* 2 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
* 1 teaspoon baking soda (make sure it is fresh!)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 3 tablespoons white sugar
* 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 390 degrees F.
2. Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
3. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
4. Bake 8 minutes (you don't want to over-bake), or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp

My oldest Ella loves shrimp, I mean really LOOOVES it! I have an aversion to raw meats in general though, so the thought of raw seafood has always really freaked me out...and I therefore have never prepared it at home, except for the occasional fish dish. When figuring out what to make for our back to school dinner I saw this (on The Pioneer Woman Cooks) and knew Ella would love it, so I decided it was about time to give it a try, for her sake :-). It wasn't actually bad at all, although de-shelling the shrimp to eat them was a pain and I think the recipe would still be delicious if they already had their shells off, so that's what we'll do next time. And there will be a next time!

* 2 pounds Raw Shrimp, Deveined, Shells On
* 2 sticks Cold Unsalted Butter Cut Into Pieces
* 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
* 4 cloves Garlic, Peeled
* 1/4 cup Fresh Parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
* 1 whole Lemon, Juiced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse frozen shrimp to separate, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
In the bowl of a food processor, add cold butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt, parsley, and red pepper. Pulse until combined. Sprinkle cold butter crumbles over the shrimp.
Bake until shrimp is opaque and butter is hot and bubbly.
Serve with hot crusty bread. Peel and eat the shrimp, then dip the bread into the butter in the bottom of the pan.

Peanut Butter Cup Trifle Dessert

pb trifle
Ella and I were browsing food blogs looking for a yummy dessert for our back to school dinner and she kept picking out really fancy cakes, that frankly scared me! Then we saw this Peanut Butter Cup Trifle on The Sister's Cafe and were sold! I remembered I bought a trifle dish at my last Pampered Chef party and still needed to break it in. And the dessert? It was DELICIOUS!!! I mean, how can you go wrong with brownies, PB cups, and a creamy peanut butter layer?! It was a perfect recipe for little helpers to assist with as well. SOOO good...and SOOO easy!

9×13 pan of brownies, cut into 1 inch pieces (can easily sub in gluten free brownies!)
5.1 oz instant vanilla pudding
3 cups milk
½ cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla
8 oz container thawed whipped topping (Cool Whip), divided (I used lite)
20 peanut butter cups, crumbled (buy in a 8-pack. Not the bite-sized)
5-6 peanut butter cups to garnish.

Combine pudding and milk. Beat for 2 minutes. Add peanut butter and vanilla, beat until smooth. Gently fold in 2 cups cool whip.
Layer in trifle dish ½ the brownies, ½ the crumbled peanut butter cups, ½ the pudding mixture. Repeat. Top with cool whip and peanut butter cups. (Or shaved chocolate curls) Chill until serving.
pb trifle 1

Pioneer Woman's Spicy Beans

spicy beans
This recipe came up on The Pioneer Woman Cooks while I was planning Ella's Mexican-inspired birthday dinner, so they were a perfect fit! They were great for a party because I could prepare them the day before and they were also delicious, which is a must. I was slightly traumatized when I had to buy a ham hock, but I think I'll get over it eventually...maybe after eating some more yummy beans :-).

* 4 cups Dry Pinto Beans
* 1 whole Ham Hock
* 1 whole Onion, Diced
* 2 whole Red Bell Peppers, Diced
* 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
* 2 whole Jalapenos, Sliced
* 2 teaspoons Salt, More To Taste
* 2 teaspoons Chili Powder (optional)
* 2 teaspoons Black Pepper, More To Taste

Rinse beans under cold water, sorting out any rocks/particles.
Place beans in a stock pot with the ham hock and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for 2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure the water level is fine. Add more water as needed (I had plenty).
Then throw in diced onion, red bell pepper, garlic and jalapeno. Cover and continue cooking for another hour or two, remembering to check the water level.
Add salt, chili powder and pepper, then cover and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until beans are lovely and tender. Serve with cornbread as a meal, or spoon on top of nachos, tacos, etc.

My Kodak Photo Book

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, with KODAK Gallery, to create a photo book. Having just returned from my trip to Oregon for a roommate reunion, I thought it would be the perfect subject for my book!
The process of making the book through Kodak was really simple and within an hour, I was ready to order my finished product! I just uploaded the photos from my trip (you can even upload them from your facebook page), picked a page layout and dragged and dropped in the pictures. You can view mine here.
I can't wait to get it!
Kodak Gallery is also providing an exclusive offer to my readers; 40% off a medium hardcover or a large Photo Book. Just go to HERE to make your book. The offer expires 8/31/11.
yam stew
And just a reminder of the yummy dishes we made for each other while we there...