Monday, December 27, 2010

The Best Chicken Noodle Soup

Has it really been 2 months since my last post? Wow, I didn't think it was that long. While I have still been cooking up new recipes, I have not had the time to get on here with my updates.

I have made this recipe several times since my blog absence. It is a combination of my Sister and Brother's Chicken Soup Recipe. It is easy, good and soul warming. :) Leftovers are even better!

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion; diced
2 cloves garlic; crushed
4-6 stalks of celery; washed and chopped
4-6 carrots; peeled and chopped
5-8 red skinned potatoes; washed and chopped small

6 Tablespoons Chicken Soup Base (it comes in a jar and can be found near the chicken stock )
2 1/2 quarts water

1 lb pasta noodle of choice (my favorite Acini de Pepe - small dots)
1 rotisserie chicken (white meat shredded)
1/2 to 3/4 bag of frozen spinach
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan

In a large soup pot, add olive oil over medium-high heat. Once warmed, add onions, garlic, celery and carrots. Cook until onions are translucent. Add chopped potatoes and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Continue cooking for 3-5 minutes. Add soup base and water. Stirring constantly to dissolve soup base.

Add shredded chicken and continue stirring and heating through.

Meanwhile, boil a pot of water and cook the pasta noodles per package directions; drain and set aside.

The last few minutes before serving, add the frozen spinach. Stir until warmed through. Adjust seasonings.
Top with grated Parmesan and enjoy.

Note - when storing leftovers, keep pasta noodles separate from soup.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bowtie Lasagna

I came across this recipe at the Tasty Kitchen blog and had to try it. Wow - it was good and I whipped it up in 20 minutes. YUM!

1 lb ground chuck
1 package bowtie noodles
1 jar (your favorite) pasta sauce (or homemade if you have time)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 cloves garlic; crushed (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup sour cream

Cook noodles according to package directions.
Meanwhile, cook meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat; drain and return to skillet.
After noodles have cooked; drain and add to cooked meat. Drizzle with olive oil. Add sauce, garlic, seasonings, cheese and sour cream. Fold together and allow all to combine and melt together, over low heat for about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
That's it. :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

Recently, I was at my favorite bakery in town buying a loaf of fresh bread when I smelled this sweet cookie. I usually would not buy coconut macaroons - I just never think about them. These cookies smelled so good that I had to buy one. Immediately after we devoured the cookie, Chad said I need to learn to make them. So, I did. I found an EASY recipe here and they were so good!

1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325.
In a small bowl, combine the coconut, sugar, flour and salt. Stir in the egg whites and vanilla; mix well.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Spicy Peanut Chicken with Vegetables and Rice

My new favorite way to eat chicken! I could eat this one every week - it is that good! The spicy peanut sauce recipe came from my talented cousin. If you are worried about the spice, leave out the cayenne pepper.

Spicy Peanut Sauce
4 tablespoons hot water
4 tablespoons peanut butter - smooth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

In a bowl, whisk hot water over the peanut butter to smooth out the consistency. Then, add remaining ingredients and whisk together till well combined.

1 lb chicken breasts; cubed
2 red peppers; chopped
1/2 large, white onion; chopped
1 bag frozen broccoli (I bought the steam bags and steamed in microwave - then drained before using)
2 scallions; chopped
Cooked brown rice
1 1/2 tablespoons oil (peanut works best, but vegetable will work)
Salt and pepper

In a wok or large skillet, add 1 tablespoon oil and heat over medium-high. Add cubed chicken; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until chicken is cooked through. Add 2 spoonfuls of peanut sauce to chicken and toss to coat. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add remaining oil to pan. Then add chopped red peppers and onions. Cook for 3-5 minutes until tender. Add steamed broccoli and scallions. Toss back in the chicken and adjust seasoning,

Serve over cooked brown rice and top with additional peanut sauce.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mexican Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas

Ok - these carnitas were awesome! Chad was eating the leftovers for lunch everyday; he could not get enough of them. Very flavorful and easy if you prep the night before. I found this recipe on Gina's Weight Watchers blog and made a few adjustments. Great blog with tasty low-fat recipes. Make these this week! You will not be disappointed! 

2 1/2 lb pork shoulder blade roast, lean - with all fat removed
6 cloves of garlic; cut in slivers
Homemade taco seasoning (found here
3/4 cup 99% fat free chicken broth
1 small can diced chilies 
2 bay leaves
A few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
Salt and Pepper

Season pork salt and pepper. In a medium pan over medium-high heat, brown pork on all sides for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. (This step is not necessary, but adds a lot more flavor!)

Using a sharp knife, insert blade into pork and cut small holes. Insert garlic slivers throughout pork. Season pork with taco seasoning all over.  

Pour chicken broth in crockpot, add bay leaves and diced chilies. Place pork in crockpot and cover. Cook on low for 8 hours. After 8 hours, shred pork and remove any bones. Combine well with the juices, remove bay leaves and adjust seasonings. Let cook for another 15-30 minutes. 

Serve with corn tortillas (warmed over a gas stove is best), fresh cilantro, lime juice and light sour cream. I would also recommend light, shredded Monterrey jack cheese, salsa and avocado. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Michigan Salad with Cinnamon Raisin Croutons and Cherry Maple Vinaigrette

A new restaurant opened in town called Twisted Rooster. Their menu is guided by locally grown product offerings and has a twist on every meal. We have been there a couple of times now and love the food! I have to say that their house salad is awesome! The croutons are made with Cinnamon Raisin Bread! I knew I had to recreate this one at home and I am so glad that I did.

For the salad:
1 bag mixed greens (I did a combination of spinach and romaine)
1 Granny Smith Apple; diced
6-8 Strawberries; sliced
1 package Dried Cherries (I had leftovers that I have been using in cereal!)
1 small bag Pecans; toasted
Blue cheese crumbles; as much as you want

For the croutons:
6 thick slices of cinnamon raisin bread; cubed
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
2 Tablespoons brown sugar

For the dressing:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon cherry juice
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Cover a baking sheet with foil.
Melt butter in a large skillet and add the bread cubes; toss to coat.
Sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar over bread cubes; toss to coat again. Spread cubes on the baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes or until firm. Allow to cool.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients.

Combine all salad ingredients, toss with dressing (as much as desired) and top with croutons.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Garlic Lime Chicken over Mexican Style Orzo

I saw this recipe for grilled garlic lime chicken and knew I had to make it. If you are looking for a flavorful and easy chicken recipe, try this one. 
I made (what I am calling) a Mexican style orzo pasta to go with the chicken. YUM! No recipe to source here as I made it up myself. I can't wait to make this one again. 

Garlic Lime Chicken
3-4 cloves of garlic; minced
1 lime; zested and juiced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; pounded and halved

Combine garlic, lime zest and juice, olive oil and salt. Whisk with a fork to combine. Add chicken to the dish and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. 
Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Grill the chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

Mexican Style Orzo
1 package orzo
1 cup reduced fat feta cheese
1 can reduced sodium black beans; drained and rinsed
1 can Ro*tel (diced tomatoes with chilies)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper

Cook orzo according to package directions; drain. Return to hot pan and add feta, black beans, Ro*tel, olive oil and lime juice. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper. 

Top Mexican Style Orzo with Garlic Lime Chicken and Avocado slices. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicago style dogs with Charm City Corn

This recipe was not intended to go up on the blog, but I am glad Chad had me take a picture of his plate before we ate. He must have known it was going to be a good one. Corn on the cob in the summer is classic and this recipe gives it a new spicy kick. 

Charm City Corn - recipe found here
2 cups water
1 cup milk
4 ears of corn
4 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
Salt and pepper
Dash of hot sauce

Bring water, milk and a pinch of salt to a boil in a large pot. Break ears of corn in half; add to the pot and cook until crisp-tender about 5 minutes, then drain. In the same pot, melt butter, Old Bay Seasoning and a dash of hot sauce. Toss the corn in the spicy butter and season with salt and pepper. 

For our Chicago style dogs, we used only the best hot dogs - Hebrew National. Cooked according to package directions (I like to boil and lightly grill). Place cooked dogs in a whole wheat bun and top with sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, sliced pickles, diced onion, mustard and pepper. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Turkey Burger Pitas with Tahini Sauce

Fast and flavorful turkey burger recipe adapted from Cooking Light - September 2010 edition. 

1/2 cup plain 2% Greek-style yogurt
1 Tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove; minced
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 Tablespoons parsley; finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 lb ground lean turkey
Cooking spray
2 whole wheat pitas, cut in half
Tomato slices

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. 
Combine onions, parsley, salt, onion powder and turkey in a large bowl. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2 inch- thick patty. 
Heat a grill pan or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray and add patties to the pan. Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until done.
Line each pita half with patty (I sliced cooked patties in half), tomato slices and tahini sauce. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Turkey Taco Salad

I found this recipe on my Everyday Food Ipod app; you can find the original recipe here. I love this app because there is a new recipe sent to me everyday. I have saved several and this one has been sitting saved for awhile. This week was a great time to use it. YUM! We both loved it. 

1 lb ground turkey; lean
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion; diced
1 small zucchini; diced
1 can black beans; rinsed and drained (I added these)
1 red bell pepper; ribs and seed removed and diced
1 1/2 cups green salsa
Salt and pepper
Romaine lettuce
1 1/2 cups Fritos (recipe calls for tortilla chips, but Fritos sounded better) 
1 cup small cherry tomatoes; halved
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent (about 5-7 minutes.) Add turkey; cook, stirring often until starting to brown (another 5-7 minutes.)

Add zucchini, bell pepper, black beans, and 1 cup of salsa; cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and let cool. 

In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with Fritos, tomatoes, remaining 1/2 cup salsa and 2 tablespoons oil. Transfer to serving dishes and top with turkey mixture and cheese. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Berries and Cream Cheesecake

I started making this cake 3 years ago. Chad's birthday was coming up and I asked him what kind of cake he wanted me to make. He requested "Blueberry". Odd request, but then I stumbled upon this recipe in EveryDay with Rachael Ray's magazine and thought it was perfect! It was a huge hit with everyone and now I make it every year for his birthday. It is a perfect Summer cake; light and full of flavor. 

2 Tablespoons sugar
Grated peel of 1 lemon, plus 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup blueberry preserves
3/4 cup blueberries, plus more for garnish
3/4 cup chopped strawberries, plus more for garnish
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
Two 12 ounce pound cakes, sliced 1/3 inch thick (Meijer sells pre-sliced pound cake which works well)

In a small saucepan, bring 1/3 cup water, granulated sugar and the lemon peel to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. 

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water, the preserves and the berries and cook over medium heat, stirring until thickened, about 15 minutes. Let cool. 

Meanwhile, using a mixer, mix together the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cream cheese mixture. 

Line the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with a layer of pound cake slices, cutting to fit as needed. Brush with the lemon syrup and spread half the berry sauce on top. Spoon half the cream cheese mixture over the berries. Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients. 

Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight. Release from the springfoam pan and top with more berries before serving. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Garlic Chicken and Spinach Gnocchi

Vacation and work have been keeping me busy, but I am back. And I have a lot of blog updates coming....

1 - 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; diced
1 package shelf stable gnocchi
2 cloves of garlic; minced
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the gnocchi according the package directions. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Then add diced chicken and cook until lightly browned.
Add minced garlic and cook until softened; 2-3 minutes. Add remaining olive oil, butter, drained gnocchi and salt and pepper. Cook until the gnocchi are golden brown on the bottoms. Use a spatula to gently flip the gnocchi. Add the spinach, tossing frequently and cook until wilted; about 3 minutes.

Easy weeknight meal that is satisfying.
Recipe adapted from Delish.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chicken Stuffed with Spinach, Feta and Pine Nuts

I have made a feta stuffed chicken before, but this recipe from Cooking Light caught my eye. Why didn't I think to add spinach and pine nuts with the feta? Either way, I am glad I found this recipe. The spinach is a great addition. We both enjoyed it! We paired with a couscous salad with diced cucumbers, tomatoes and feta cheese.

5 ounces fresh spinach
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled fat free feta cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach to pan; cook until spinach wilts, tossing constantly. Place spinach in a colander; press until barely moist. Wipe pan clean.
Combine spinach, cheese, nuts, juice and garlic. Cut a horizontal slit through the thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket. Stuff 3 tablespoons filling into each pocket. Seal with toothpicks. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until brown. Add broth to pan (if ovenproof) or to ovenproof dish with chicken.
Cover and place in oven.
Bake for 15 minutes or until done.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Whole Wheat Penne Pasta with Turkey and Zucchini

I feel a little silly posting this recipe. Mainly because it is a regular dish in our house and I feel it is too easy to blog about. Regardless, I posted it. This dish includes two of our favorite ingredients: pasta and turkey. (As you can see from the label counts on the side of the blog!) We love this pasta dish!

1 lb whole wheat penne pasta (I prefer the Barilla brand for whole wheat)
1 lb. ground turkey; lean
1/2 white onion; diced
3 cloves garlic; minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 zucchini; ends trimmed and chopped
2 - 14.5 oz cans petite diced tomatoes; drained (I like to drain, because I think the juice makes the sauce too thin.
1 - 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil - fresh would be great, but I was out.
Salt and pepper
Fresh parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt and add pasta. Cook till al dente; drain.
Meanwhile, brown turkey in a pan over medium-high heat. Once cooked through; drain and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, warm oil over medium- high heat. Add garlic and onions. Cook till tender then add zucchini. Season with crushed pepper flakes and pepper. When zucchini is tender, add tomatoes, tomato sauce, cooked turkey, oregano, basil and salt. Lower heat to medium-low and adjust seasonings.
Allow sauce to cook for 5-10 minutes.
Top pasta with sauce and parmesan.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tomato , Brie and Basil Pasta

I am a cheese lover and Brie is one of my favorites! My friend Ali posted this recipe on her blog and I had to make it. It tastes like a grown up version of mac n cheese. We both loved it!
Ali found the recipe from Sunset magazine and the recipe couldn't be easier. We are gearing up for vacation and I was trying to clean out my fridge, so I decided to add a few more ingredients and change things up.

1 lb. whole grain pasta (I think shells work best)
4 oz brie cheese; sliced
1 quart cherry tomatoes; halved
2 cloves garlic; minced
1/2 white onion; minced
1/2 cup olive oil
8 ounces of fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves; chopped
3/4 cup reserved pasta water
Salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions.
While pasta cooks, warm olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook for a few minutes until the onions are tender. Add spinach leaves and lower heat. Stir until leaves start to wilt, then add tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
Right before draining pasta, reserve 3/4 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and return to pan. Add spinach and tomato mixture to pasta and stir in cheese and basil. Keep stirring till cheese melts. If pasta looks too dry, add some reserved pasta water. I added about 1/2 cup, but added the other 1/4 cup before I stored the leftovers.
That's it! Easy and delicious!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Black Bean, Avocado, Cucumber and Tomato Salad

I have been looking for lighter dinner options for the warm Summer months and came across this dish. Wow, this was so good! Chad (my where's the meat eater) loved it too. I paired with rotisserie chicken breast which I chilled the night before. I think next time, I might include warm pita bread with hummus and make little sammies. This would also be a great salad to bring to a party!

1 seedless cucumber; diced
2 Roma tomatoes (or home grown); diced
2 Haas avocados; diced
1- 15 ounce can black beans; drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons red onion; diced (I left this out because I forgot to buy one - but I didn't miss it)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro;  minced
2 limes; juice of
Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Keep in fridge till ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from here - Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes. 

Servings: 10 • Serving Size: 1/2 cup  Points: 2 ww pts
Calories: 126.9 • Fat: 5.7 g  Protein: 5.0 g  Carb: 16.0 g  Fiber: 6.7 g   

Monday, August 2, 2010

Buffalo Style Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are always a hit and this version was no different. Using ground turkey and whole wheat buns helped to lower the fat and calorie count. Another winner in my book!

1 lb ground turkey, lean
1 carrot; peeled and diced
2 celery stalks; washed and diced
2-3 cloves of garlic; minced
1 yellow onion; diced
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup hot sauce (or more or less to your taste)
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste (I buy the paste in a tube and store in my fridge)
1/3 cup chicken stock
Whole wheat buns
Blue cheese crumbles
Broccoli Slaw

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey and break up with a wooden spoon. When the turkey is no longer pink, drain. Return to pan and add carrots, celery, garlic and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Stir together and cook for another 7-8 minutes.

While the mixture continues to cook, make the sauce. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and chicken stock. Pour sauce over turkey mixture and stir together. Lower heat to medium-low and add tomato paste. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Toast the buns in toaster and build your sloppy joe. Top with blue cheese crumbles and broccoli slaw (for a little crunch).

You may have noticed that our ratings haven't been showing up lately.... this is because we both got a little tired of rating each meal. I decided that if we both like it, I will post it. We both REALLY liked this one. Give it a try!

Recipe adapted from A Little Ditty (my talented friend Ali's talented sister, Kristen) and the Food Network's Rachael Ray.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rotisserie Chicken and Tomatoes with Guacamole

Let me start by saying, this was not supposed to be a blog post. I have been quite busy with work and Summer that I have not had time to create weekly meal plans. All of our meals have been repeats (which are great), just nothing new to post on here. I was inspired to make Mexican last night and I wanted to keep it simple and fresh. Sorry for the picture quality, like I said - I was not planning on posting this one. It was too good not to though, so I snapped away with my phone camera. 

1 rotisserie chicken; skin removed and breast meat shredded
1 can Ro*tel tomatoes
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 lime
1 can fat-free refried beans; warmed on the stove
2 ripe avocados
2 Roma tomatoes; diced
1 jalapeno; seeded and minced
1 garlic clove; minced
Salt and Pepper
Corn tortillas

In a medium sauce pan, combine shredded chicken, Ro*tel, onion powder, garlic powder and chili powder. Squeeze half of lime over chicken and warm over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes. 
In a small bowl add 1 avocado and mash with a fork. Add tomatoes, garlic clove, jalapeno and salt and pepper. Mix to combine well. Squeeze remaining half of lime over guacamole. 
Warm corn tortillas. Spread each tortilla with refried beans and top with chicken mixture and guacamole. I sliced another avocado and added that on top as well. (I am an avocado nut!)
I had cheese and salsa out, but we didn't use either ingredient and didn't miss them. 

Recipe created by me. 
We both LOVED this recipe. It had just enough heat and was so flavorful and easy to make. I could make this one every week and be happy. Try it! 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shredded Mexican Chicken Tacos

Ok, these tacos are amazing! I will be making these again and again.

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 (4 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup salsa
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning or 2 1/2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning
2 garlic cloves; minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
Hot sauce (to taste)
Avocado; diced
Cherry tomatoes; chopped
Shredded Mexican blend cheese
Romaine lettuce; chopped
Corn taco shells

In a medium sauce pan, add chicken breasts and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil; add salsa, taco seasoning, garlic and chili powder. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Start pulling chicken apart with 2 forks until shredded. Cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add hot sauce to taste. You can also add a little water if sauce is too thick. Cook until chicken is fully cooked.

Prepare tacos and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Stephanie Cooks.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I will never buy taco seasoning again. This recipe is so easy and I can control the flavor and salt content. 

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all spices together and store in an airtight container.

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

And the winner is.....

Congrats Ali! And thank you everyone for entering and following me! 

More recipes to come....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

100th Post and Giveaway...

I can not believe this is my 100th post! 
What better way to "celebrate" then to have a blog giveaway. I have won my share of giveaways over the last few months and feel it is time to pay it forward. 

Just because she is my favorite author and any chance to increase awareness of her books....I am giving away her latest book! 
Enter to win Emily Giffin's new book - Heart of the Matter.

Lately, I have been addicted to Bravo and all the Real Housewife shows. I am not sure what took me so long to start watching, but now I can't stop. I love Bethenny Frankel's character. She just cracks me up! 

So, if you already bought Emily's book..... I will give the winner Bethenny's book The Skinnygirl Dish. 

Giveaway is open to United States residents only. 
I will select a random winner sometime on Tuesday, July 20th. 

3 chances to enter the giveaway: 

1 - Leave a comment on this blog post. Include your email address if it is not included in your profile. 
2 - Become a follower; then leave a comment and let me know. If you are already a follower; leave another comment.
3 - Post a link to this giveaway on your blog and leave me another comment to let me know. 

Good luck and happy blogging!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Figgy Sundae

If anyone knows Chad, you know he loves ice cream! Lately, I have been trying to ignore his requests for something sweet after dinner, but then I came across this recipe from the Food Network magazine. I had to try it because it used one of my favorite toppings - Nutella! I love that stuff! Once in awhile, it is good to indulge, right? 

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used slivered almonds)
1/2 cup Nutella
1 pint rum-raisin ice cream (next time I would try another flavor)
6 Fig Newton cookies, sliced
Fat Free Reddi Wip

Toast the nuts over low heat in a small pan.
Warm the Nutella in the microwave, until it has the consistency of hot fudge (about 1 minute). 
In small bowls, layer ice cream with sliced cookies, toasted nuts and Nutella. 
Garnish with whipped cream. 

Recipe from July's edition of the Food Network Magazine. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Feta- Orzo Stuffed Tomatoes w/ Beef Kabobs

There is nothing I love more than tomatoes in the Summer! When I found this recipe for stuffed tomatoes, I had to try it. We both LOVED it. Very easy and flavorful. I will be making this one again and again.

1 cup cooked orzo, cooled
2/3 cup finely chopped bell peppers (I used red)
1/2 cup reduced- fat feta cheese crumbles
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 can garbanzo beans; drained and rinsed (I added these to the recipe)
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon peel
1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 large tomatoes
Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients  except tomatoes.
Cut the top off each tomato and scoop out the seeds and inner membranes. Stuff tomatoes with the orzo mixture and serve.

Makes 4 servings. Per servings: 179 calories, 8 g fat, 7 g protein, 18 g carbs.
Recipe adapted from Women's Health Magazine/ July 2010 edition.

(For the Kabobs)
Your choice of meat - cut in bite size pieces
2 red bell peppers - cut in similar size
1 sweet onion - cut in similar size
1/2 cup olive oil
2 smashed garlic cloves
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Combine oil, garlic, parsley, crushed red pepper and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add meat. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat grill or grill pan. Skewer meat, red pepper and onions. Cook until vegetables turn tender and meat is cooked to your liking.

Recipe adapted from me.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Breakfast Pita

Whole wheat pita bread; sliced in halves
Almond butter
Slivered almonds
Bananas; sliced thin
Apples; cored and sliced
Strawberries; sliced thin

Mix together bananas, apples, strawberries and blueberries (or fruit of your choice.)
Toast pita slices in a toaster. Spread toasted pita with almond butter. Top with fruit, almond slivers and a drizzle of honey.

Easy, healthy and oh so yummy breakfast! I made this for family that was in town and they all loved it.

Recipe from Meijer.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Asparagus, Snap Pea and Avocado Pasta

1 lb asparagus; ends trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 lb sugar snap peas; strings removed
1 lb whole wheat penne; 1 cup reserved pasta water
1 lb chicken breast; pounded thin
4 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic; minced
1 ripe avocado; diced
1/2 cup parsley; chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat till cooked through. Set aside.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water and season with salt. Add asparagus and cook until bright green about 2 minutes. Add snap peas and cook for 30 seconds. Scoop out vegetables and transfer to a bowl.

Return water to a boil. Add pasta and cook till al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain noodles.

In a pasta pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add asparagus, snap peas and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing veggies until crisp and tender about 2 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter, parsley, avocado, cheese, cooked pasta and reserved water. Toss to combine.

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food.
This is a light and flavorful pasta dish. I never thought to add one of my favorite foods, avocado, to pasta. It was awesome! We both LOVED this dish. I can't wait to make it again.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Spinach Dip with a kick

1 box frozen, chopped spinach; thawed and drained of excess water
1 8 oz block cream cheese; softened
1 can (14-15 oz) Ro*tel tomatoes (diced tomatoes with chili's)
1 package Guacamole mix

Combine all ingredients together. Serve with chips, pita or veggies.

This recipe is so easy and the best spinach dip I have ever tasted. It has a great spice to it and is different from the norm. A co-worker shared this with me and I have been hooked ever since.
Excuse the picture quality - I forgot to snap a picture till there was only a little left. :-)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cherry Bars

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cup cherry preserves

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9 x 9 x 2- inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over the edges of the pan.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, sugar, pecans, lemon peel and baking soda. Stir in the applesauce and oil; mix well. If necessary, knead by hand to combine. Measure 1 cup of the oat mixture; set aside. Press the remaining oat mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
Carefully spread the preserves evenly over the hot crust. Sprinkle with the reserved oat mixture; pat gently into preserves. Bake about 30 more minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Using the edges of the foil, lift the uncut bars out of the pan. Cut into squares.

Recipe adapted from a State Farm magazine. :-) Chad cut the page for me to make.
We both really enjoyed these bars!
Nutrition facts per bar: 147 cal, 4 grams fat (0 grams sat fat), 0 mg chol, 1 gram protein, 1 gram fiber.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Browned Butter Banana Bread

1 stick butter
2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 bananas
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 inch loaf pan.

In a medium saucepan over high melt the butter. Once it is melted lower the heat to medium and swirl the butter around the pan instead of stirring it. It will take about 5 minutes for it to brown. Occasionally swirl it. You will notice when it turns brown because it literally, turns brown. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool while getting everything else ready.

In a large bowl sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl whisk the eggs then add the mashed bananas, vanilla and the semi-cooled butter.
Add the liquid to the dry mixture. Mix just until incorporated, don’t over mix. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes, until it is browned on top and a fork inserted comes out clean. Cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan before cutting and serving.

Recipe adapted from Sing For Your Supper. 
Instead of throwing away my bananas (like I always end up doing), I decided to try a new banana bread recipe.  I am so glad I tried this one... loved it! 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Italian Morgue Sauce

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic; minced
1 can 28 oz Whole tomatoes; I prefer San Marzano
1 1/2 teaspoons mint flakes
Salt and pepper - to taste

In a medium bowl, combine oil and minced garlic. Add can of tomatoes. Crush tomatoes with your hand. Stir in mint, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with fresh bread and cheese. Also great on steak and chicken!

I am not sure the exact orgin of this recipe, as it has been in our family for years. We love it!
**Spelling may be wrong, please correct me if you know.  :-)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Breakfast Pizza

1 lb sausage (Bob Evan's or Jenni-O Turkey Sausage)
2 cans crescent rolls (Pillsbury Recipe Creations work best because there are no seams)
2 cups frozen hash browns; thawed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

A cookie sheet with edges that are larger than 9 x 13 works best. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Roll crescent rolls onto cookie sheet to cover bottom; leaving small edges on top and closing all seams. Cook and drain sausage. Mix with hash browns and cheddar cheese. Spread over crescent rolls.
Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour evenly over sausage mixture. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

This is a great recipe to make ahead and keep in the fridge till needed. Perfect for company!

Chad's rating: 10/10
Amy's rating: 10/10 - you really can't go wrong with this one.

Recipe adapted from a co-worker.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mushroom and Gorgonzola Pizza

1 container fresh mushrooms; cleaned and sliced
1/2 cup onion; diced
1 cloves garlic; minced
1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts
Olive oil
Pizza crust; I bought a whole wheat already prepared crust

Saute garlic and onions in olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook for a few minutes and then add the mushrooms. Saute a few minutes longer until the mushrooms are soft.

Drizzle olive oil over the pizza crust. Top with mozzarella. Then add the mushroom mixture; careful to drain off excess oil. Finally add the gorgonzola, parmesan and pine nuts.

Bake in a 450 degree preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.

Chad's rating: 9/10
Amy's rating: 10/10 - YUM!

Recipe from my good friend, Ali: found here. She used fresh pizza dough (which I was too lazy to make) and asparagus.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Turkey Sausage Kabobs

1 lb. hot turkey sausage links
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 yellow onion
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper

Prepare a grill or grill pan over medium high heat. Arrange the sausages and cook for 10-12 minutes; turning every couple of minutes. Remove them to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes; then cut them into bite size pieces. The sausage will not be cooked completely, it will finish cooking on the skewers.

While sausage is cooking, core and slice the peppers into bite size pieces. Do the same with the onion.
In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard and Italian seasoning.

When you are ready, heat the grill pan over medium-high heat. Thread the sausage, peppers and onions onto the skewers. Brush them with the oil and vinegar mixture and season with salt and pepper.
Grill the skewers on both sides or until they are cooked completely (about 6-8 minutes.)

Chad's rating: 9.5/10
Amy's rating: 9.5/10

Recipe adapted from Food Network.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Creamy Taco Mac

1 lb. ground lean turkey
8 oz whole wheat elbow noodles + 1 cup reserved pasta water
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 packet mild taco seasoning
3 oz light cream cheese
1 cup light sour cream
Salt and pepper
Cheddar cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according till al dente; drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water. 
Meanwhile, brown ground turkey over medium heat till no longer pink; drain. Return to pan and add taco seasoning and diced tomatoes. Allow to simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta, reserved pasta water, cream cheese and sour cream. Give it a good stir until cheese is melted and incorporated. Simmer over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Stir in cheddar cheese right before serving. 

Chad's rating: 10/10
Amy's rating: 10/10 - Easy weeknight meal that is a healthy take on Hamburger helper. :-)

Recipe adapted from Delish

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Garlic Lemon Chicken Kabobs

3 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4 inch pieces

In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 8 hours).
Prepare grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
Thread the chicken onto the skewers and discard excess marinade. Place the kabobs on the grill or grill pan; cover. (I used a grill pan and covered the pan with foil.)
Cook until the chicken is opaque throughout, about 8-12 minutes; turning once or twice during cooking.

Serve with tzatziki sauce and warm pita.

Chad's rating: 9/10
Amy's rating: 10/10 - I love tzatziki sauce and paired with these kabobs was delicious!

Recipe adapted from Annie Eats blog and William Sonoma.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Beach Berry Drink

8 fresh Organic blackberries; for each serving
1/4 ounce Organic lemon juice
1 1/2 ounce Organic vodka
1/4 ounce Agave Nectar

In a mixing glass, muddle blackberries with lemon juice.
Combine remaining ingredients in mixing glass. Transfer to a shaker that is filled 2/3 with ice.
Shake vigorously 8-10 times.
Strain mixture over fresh ice into rock glass.

This recipe only makes 1 drink, so I would triple! Very refreshing and yummy!
Recipe from Loews hotel bar - San Diego's signature drink.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Healthy Tex Mex Turkey Tacos

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion; diced
4  garlic cloves; minced
1 lb. ground lean turkey
1 package taco seasoning (I used a Hot & Spicy flavor) 
1 red bell pepper; seeded & chopped
1 jalapeno pepper; seeded & chopped
1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn 
1/3 cup light Mexican beer (or water)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10-ounce) can Ro*tel; drained (or Mexican-style tomatoes)
1-1/2 cups of salsa
1/2 small can chipotle chiles; drained & chopped 
Corn Tortilla shells
Avocado, tomato, reduced fat Mexican-blend cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with olive oil.
Add the onion and cook 3 minutes.  Add garlic to skillet and cook 2 minutes more or until slightly soft.
Turn heat up to medium-high and add turkey; stir to crumble the turkey. Add taco seasoning and combine. 
Add red pepper and jalapeno pepper to the pan and cook for 3 minutes.
Stir in corn and next 8 ingredients (corn through chiles). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes.
Warm shells according to package directions and fill. 
Serve with avocado, cheese and tomatoes. 

Chad's rating: 9/10
Amy's rating: 10/10

Recipe was adapted from here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Grilled Steak with Baby Arugula Salad

1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
4 (4 ounce) flat iron steaks (I used 2 sirloin steaks)
1 lemon, halved
1 scallion, diced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 package baby arugula
1 seedless cucumber, diced
1 package mushrooms, chopped
Shaved Asiago cheese

Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Rub thyme, salt and pepper over each side of steaks. Add steaks to hot pan; cook until desired temperature. Remove steaks from pan. Add lemon halves, cut side down, to pan; cook 3 minutes. Cut steaks across the grain into thin slices.

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and salt and pepper in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over arugula. Add cucumber, scallions and mushrooms; toss to coat.

Arrange on plates and top with sliced steak and grilled lemon half. Top with shaved cheese.

Chad's rating: 9/10 - Would like to add Garbanzo beans next time.
Amy's rating: 9.5/10

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light June issue.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Emily Giffin

For those that don't know, I won a contest from Emily Giffin! Details here.
Emily is a New York Times Bestselling Author of 5 of my favorite books (all of her books!) Her latest book, "Heart of the Matter" was released on May 11th. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced, authographed copy from Emily before the trip. I LOVED this book and it is possibly my favorite Giffin book to date. Although, I may be biased since I have been all hyped up from excitement! If you have not bought this book yet, RUN out and buy it. I do suggest reading Emily's books in order though. So start with "Something Borrowed"; which is being made into a movie starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski right now!

The contest included airfare, 2 night stay at - the brand new - Loews Hotel in Atlanta, gift card for $150 at Bistro Niko and VIP access to Emily's Launch party. My lucky +1 (Erica) and I had an amazing trip and no surprise the best part was meeting Emily! 

Erica and I walked into the VIP party and probably looked out of place. I say this, because we just were not sure what to do with ourselves and at this point there were only a handful of people in the room. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spot Emily. She had her camera out snapping pictures and laughing with friends. I couldn't get over how normal she was and I didn't even met her yet! For some reason, I was expecting bodyguards to usher her into the room. As I was being entranced by all of this, Stacie Hanna - Emily's promotion planner - came up to us and Erica said "This is Amy, she won the contest!" Thanks to Erica, because I couldn't talk at the moment. Stacie was sweet and kept saying she was so glad that we came - who would turn down this invitation?!?! Stacie walked us over to Emily and then it all became real. Emily was all excited and gave me a big hug. She asked us what we were up to so far in Atlanta, talked a little bit about the contest, introduced us to people and complimented our dresses/shoes. Which by the way, Emily looked amazing! After we talked for a few, we started taking pictures. With my camera, another photographers' and even Emily's. She knows her way around a camera! 
After pictures, she signed books for the few lucky people that we bought books for. While she signed, we talked about "Something Borrowed" hitting the big screen. She dished about the cast and her time on set. Emily even gets to make a cameo in the movie! 
The crowd started to grow and we decided to share Emily with everyone else. :-) Erica and I mingled around the party meeting new friends. Towards the end of the night, we decided to get in line so we could again thank Emily and say goodbye. We took more pictures and chatted for a bit telling Emily that we already bought tickets to see her when she comes to Grand Rapids in June. Emily said "we will be like best friends by then." 

Emily is the one of the sweetest people I have ever met.  She is grounded, friendly, funny and so very personable. Which makes me an even BIGGER fan. I will never forget this trip!

Me with Emily and her new cover!

Yummy Cake!

Me, Emily and Erica

More pictures are on my facebook page and a few "PR Photos" here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pasta with Asparagus

1 lb Farafalle pasta (bow-tie noodles)
1 bunch fresh asparagus; ends trimmed and chopped in small pieces
1 pint grape (or cherry) tomatoes; washed and halved
1/3 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic; minced
Salt and pepper
Fresh Parmesan

Boil a large pot of water. Salt water and add pasta; cook till al dente.
Meanwhile, warm oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add asparagus and lower heat to medium. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened; stirring occasionally.
Add tomatoes and pasta. Turn off heat and stir together. Top with Parmesan.

Chad's rating: 10/10
Amy's rating: 10/10

This is a family favorite recipe that I have been meaning to post on here for awhile. So easy and tasty!
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