Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ben and Jerry's Oreo Mint Homemade Ice Cream

Last summer, I found Ben and Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book, at a thrift store for 50 cents. Of course I bought it! But, for some reason, I hadn't used it until THIS summer. Boy, were we missing out! But, now that we have made two different ice cream recipes from this book, I plan on making every recipe from this book!

First off, I am a huge Ben and Jerry fan! I used to buy pints on a regular basis when I was in college. Love the stuff. I just hated how expensive it was. Oreo Mint happens to be Chris and I's favorite, FAVORITE flavor, so for Father's day that is what I made. It tastes just like the pint I used to buy at the store. It is unreal how tasty it is. Not to mention, how easy it is to make. So, thank you Ben and Jerry for sharing your secrets and now YOU must go make this ice cream for your family!

2/3 cup coarsely chopped Oreo cookies
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy or whipping cream (I used heavy whipping cream)
1 cup milk (I used 1% and it was great)
2 Tsp. pure peppermint extract

1. Place the cookies in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
2. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend. Add the peppermint extract and blend again.
3. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.
4. After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it is done) add the chopped cookies, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.

Makes generous 1 quart (I think it was more like 2 quarts)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pesto Pizza with Pine Nuts and Feta

THIS.IS.AMAZING.PIZZA! Oh man, Chris was so skeptical when I told him what was for dinner, and mind you, he LOVES him some PIZZA! But now, after tasting, and consuming 2/3 of the pizza, he LOVES this! I was in heaven. I had to restrain myself not to eat the entire thing. Really good and filling. Oh man, I cannot wait to make this again and again and again!

1 batch pizza dough
1 1/2 cups shredded chicken (I used the Lemon Garlic Chicken*, recipe follows)
4 oz feta cheese
1/2 red onion, cut in slivers
1-2 large tomatoes sliced (I used grape tomatoes cut in half)
Shredded mozzarella (to your liking)
Toasted pine nuts (to your liking)

Preheat pizza stone (I preheat my oven and pizza stone at 475 degrees for at least 45 minutes before baking the pizza so the stone is nice and hot). Roll out prepared pizza dough and place on pizza peel (or on pizza pan if you aren’t baking it on a pizza stone). Top pizza dough with the pesto, spreading liberally to outer edges of dough. Layer on additional toppings to your liking (I like to reserve some of the toppings and put them on top of the final layer of cheese) and bake for 8-10 minutes until nicely browned.

*Lemon and Garlic Grilled Chicken

Juice of 1 lemon, approximately 3 tablespoons
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic, about 2 medium cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound chicken breasts (I use chicken breast tenderloins)

Combine all marinade ingredients. Place chicken in a ziploc bag and pour marinade over chicken. Seal bag and place in fridge overnight. Grill (or cook in frying pan). Serve with sides of your choice or cut into bite sized pieces and add to desired recipe

( Note: If you cut your chicken into smaller, bite-sized pieces and then marinate it, you can get away with only letting it marinate for 5 or 6 hours instead of overnight.

Often, I will double the marinade and chicken and grill it all up and freeze the extras to use later.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Zuchinni Bread Two Ways: Whole Wheat and Chocolate

I had some zucchini I had to use up this week, so of course, I wanted to make zucchini bread. I have never been too fond of the recipes I have, so I went searching. Well, on Sister's Cafe, I found two different kinds. One made with whole wheat flour and one that has cocoa powder in it to make it chocolaty. I wanted to try both, so I made both. Since they make at least two loaves, I froze one loaf of each kind for later consumption. Both are equally delicious! But, if I would have to choose, of course, I would go for the chocolate one. The chocolate one almost tastes like those big, chocolate muffins from Costco. And, the whole wheat one is truly my favorite. Chris LOVED both kinds and so did Lexi. So, I guess, it is up to you which one to try or if you are like me, you will just make both to give some variety to your life. But, seriously, this Summer make these, they are delcious!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla

2 cups grated zucchini
2 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cocoa (I use dutch process)

*For extra chocolatey-ness, add a big handful of chocolate chips –however many you like!

Preheat oven to 350. Pour batter into greased (or use nonstick cooking spray) and sugared loaf pans Sugaring is just like flouring a pan–but do it with sugar. It makes for a delightfully sweet and crispy crust.
Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes
Note: I first made it in one 9 by 5 loaf pan and it took about 1 hour instead of 40-45 minutes. But then, the next time, I put the batter into two 9 by 5 loaf pans and that time it took me about 40 minutes, so I guess just be careful with the time.

Remember, when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, it is done!

Zucchini Bread

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup canola oil
3 tsp vanilla
2 cups zucchini, shredded

Stir and add:
2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder

Pour into two bread pans sprayed with pam ( I used Baker's Joy). Bake at 325 for about 1 hour.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blackberry Cobbler

Chris loves cobbler in the summertime. As for me, I could take it or leave it. So, I don't prefer to make it that much.

Well, last night, I was craving sweets and Chris was too! So I thumbed through the Pioneer Woman cookbook, I got for Christmas, and fell upon this recipe for Blackberry Cobbler. I happened to have everything on hand, so I made it. I halved the recipe though, since it was just Chris and I. This cobbler was super easy and was super delicious! We loved it! I loved it! I think it converted me to liking cobbler. We put a dollop of homemade whipped cream on top and it was a perfect summery, Sunday, treat! I am planning on making this throughout the summer but switiching up the berries. So excited to have a cobbler recipe we both love!

Source: Pioneer Woman
Serves: 8


1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, melted
1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup self-rising flour (do NOT use all purpose)
1 cup milk ( I used 1% and it was great)
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, or blueberries, peaches, raspberries, and so on

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease a 3-qt. baking dish with butter
Place the stick of butter in a microwave safe dish. Heat for 30-45 seconds until melted
In a medium bowl, whisk 1 cup of the sugar with the flour and milk
whisk in the melted butter
rinse the blackberries and pat them dry
pour the batter into the baking dish. sprinkle the blackberries evenly over the top of the batter
sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over the blackberries
bake for 1 hour (mine took less because I halved it) or until golden brown and bubbly
when 10 minutes of cooking time remain, sprinkle the remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar over the top
serve with whipped cream or ice cream!

Monday, May 16, 2011

I'm just A Wannabe Mel! Lunch Sandwich, Dinner Entree, and "Healthy" Dessert Highlighted

Okay,so it is official. I am addicted to one specific blog and that blog is I feel like we are best friends, even though we have never met, she lives in Wisconsin, and I just blog stalk her. Okay, that makes me sound creepy, but I seriously LOVE all of her recipes that she posts. When I started this blog, I was in search of the BEST recipes for food and yea, I found them, they are all located on

I have decided that instead of just copying and pasting her blog, I will just tell you what it is I have been loving from that blog lately, and you can go straight to the source and check it out yourselves! Once you stumble upon her awesome pictures and amazing descriptions and perfect detailed instructions, you too might be addicted as well!

People tell me I am a pretty good cook, and honestly, it is just because I am a wannabe Mel!

Recipes we have Devoured Lately:
I ate this for lunch 4 days last week for lunch and it was awesome! I was so sad when the bread and meat ran out! I will definately be eating this again, soon! Very soon!

1. Smoked Turkey Brie and Apple Panini (

This was our dinner tonight, and oh my goodness, it was just tasty! Love it!

1. Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter (

This was our family night treat, and I didn't feel as guilty eating some because they have oats and are made with whole wheat flour! So good for you, right? Even Lexi was saying as she was eating them, I love eating healthy, Mom! Oh yea, cookies can be healthy :)

1. Whole Wheat Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (

Monday, May 9, 2011

Crispy Oven Baked Chicken

This comes from Kitchen Cafe, of course. This chicken is juicy, tender, crunchy and just downright delicious. If you are craving a healthier version of fried chicken, this is the winner, baby! My husband made this for me yesterday for mother's day. We served it with mashed potatoes and peas and it was a perfect meal that was easy enough for my hubs to cook :) I loved the garlic flavor, it really made it shine and anyways, I want to eat this again, soon. It was that good.

*Note: If you don't have a food processor to make fresh bread crumbs, you can try using a blender and pulsing the crumbs or try using panko bread crumbs (usually found in the Asian foods aisle). If you are using a food processor, you can also add the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to the bread crumbs and pulse to combine to create an even finer crumb.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
3 garlic cloves, finely minced (see garlic tutorial here)
2 thick slices whole wheat bread (for about 2 cups fresh bread crumbs)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Combine butter and garlic in an 8- or 10-inch skillet. Heat over medium heat until the butter has melted. Pour the butter/garlic mixture into a shallow pie plate or similar dish and cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor, tear the bread into large chunks, and pulse until the bread is ground into crumbs. Pour the bread crumbs into a shallow pie plate or shallow bowl and toss with the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

Dip each chicken breast in the melted, cooled garlic butter. Transfer to the bread crumb mixture and turn until coated on all sides. Arrange the chicken in one flat layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle any of the remaining melted butter over the chicken. Bake the chicken until it is lightly browned and just cooked through, 40-50 minutes. The baking time will depend on the thickness and size of the chicken you are using.

Don't overcook or the chicken will be dry.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tres Leches Cupcakes

To end our Cinco de Mayo fiesta, I made Tres Leches Cupcakes. I have made a Coconut Tres Leches cake before, which is utterly amazing, but it is labor intensive and for a weeknight dessert, I wasn't in the mood to exert that much effort, but I so badly wanted a little bit of Tres Leches cake. So, when I found a recipe for these cupcakes, I knew I had to try them. I am so glad I did. These were great! They were light and yummy! I could have eaten all 24, but don't worry, I didn't. I might have had more than one though, oops! But, they look beautiful and they taste great! Make them today!

Recipe by Our Best Bites

8 oz. evaporated milk

1 can sweetened condensed milk

24 white cupcakes (I just used a box mix, but you could make homemade if you are cool like that)

1 pint whipping cream, divided

3-4 Tbsp. Hershey’s Caramel Syrup

Sliced fresh fruit (like strawberries, mangoes, and kiwis, optional)

Juice of 1 lime (optional: I didn't do this, but I did put a slice of strawberry on top)

Bake cupcakes according to recipe directions in FOIL LINERS. This is extremely important because it helps contain the milk mixture.

After cupcakes have cooled, use a bamboo skewer(I used a chopstick) to poke several holes in each cupcake. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and 3/4 c. of whipping cream. Use a ladle to pour the milk mixture over each cupcake. There might be some runover. Such is life with tres leches cupcakes. Place the cupcakes in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, beat the remaining 1 1/4 c. of whipping cream until medium peaks form. Gently fold in the caramel syrup and pipe or dollop the whipped cream on each of the cupcakes. If desired, toss the sliced fruit with the lime juice and top the cupcakes with the sliced fruit. Serve on a small plate with a dessert spoon.

Hint: I made these cupcakes four hours before we ate them and they were perfect. Chris ate them 6 hours after I made them and he said they were divine, so the longer they sit the better! I wouldn't do overnight, though, they might get too soggy.

Chipotle's "Skinny" Cilantro Lime Rice

First off, Happy Cinco De Mayo!

My family and I normally go out to a Mexican restaurant for Cinco de Mayo, but after last year, waiting for hours to get a table at one of only like 2 Mexican restaraunts in this state, and the fact that my hubs has night classes this semester, we decided to stay home and cook our own Mexican dishes. I also didn't want to blow my diet completely, so I went to a wonderful source, She did not disappoint.

I decided we would re=create burrito bowls from one of our favorite fast food Mexican joints, Chipotle. For me, the rice is my favorite part at Chipotle, but I have never found a recipe that tastes close to it...until now that is. This recipe tastes EXACTLY like the real thing AND it is not too bad for you, either! Double win here! Really, it tastes like I bought it from Chipotle, it is that good.

We topped this rice with romaine lettuce, sweet barbacoa pork, black beans, reduced fat Mexican cheese, avocado, salsa, and homemade tortillas. It was just as good as getting Chipotle, and it was half the fat and calories. I loved every bite of it! Oh, how I love Mexican food! I cannot wait to make this rice again for another mexican fiesta night, since we have a ton of pork left over, bummer right?

Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 4 • Size: 3/4 cup • Old Points: 4 pts • Points+: 5 pts
Calories: 201.0 • Fat: 3.4 • Carbs: 37.4 • Fiber: 0 • Protein: 4.0 g

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.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chicken Rollatini with Spinach alla Parmigiana

This sounds fancy, but it couldn't be simpler to make, BUT it TASTES fancy! This is so yummy! And, it looks gorgeous as well. I love that I almost feel like I am eating Chicken parmesan, but without the side order of guilt. This is a marvelous meal. Chris even told me as he was eating it, that he is glad I have decided to stop making "healthy" food. No joke, I fooled him, because this is healthy! We served it with a salad and homemade ranch dressing and it was a perfect, satisfying meal.I cannot wait to make it again.

Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 8 • Serving Size: 1 stuffed breast • Old Points: 4 pts • Points+: 5 pts
Calories: 194.7 • Fat: 7 g • Protein: 24.2 g • Carb: 7.2 g • Fiber: 1.5 g

8 thin chicken cutlets, 3 oz each
1/2 cup whole wheat Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
6 tablespoons egg whites or egg beaters
5 oz frozen spinach, squeezed dry of any liquid
6 tbsp part skim ricotta cheese
6 oz part skim mozzarella
olive oil non-stick spray
1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and dry cutlets, season with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450°. Lightly spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.

Combine breadcrumbs and 2 tbsp grated cheese in one bowl and 1/4 cup egg beaters or egg whites in another.

Shred or finely chop 1.5 oz of mozzarella cheese and combine with remaining grated cheese, spinach (make sure you squeeze it dry), 2 tbsp egg beaters, and ricotta cheese.

Lay chicken cutlets down on a working surface and spread 2 tbsp of spinach-cheese mixture on each cutlet. Loosely roll each one and keep seam side down.

Dip chicken in egg mixture, then in breadcrumbs and place seam side down in a baking dish (no toothpicks needed). Repeat with the remaining chicken. When finished, lightly spray with olive oil.

Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven, top with sauce then cheese.

Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 3 more minutes. Serve with additional sauce on the side and grated cheese.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bananas Foster Topped Overnight French Toast

With all this "dieting" going on around here, I have been missing out on my favorite breakfast foods. French toast definately tops that list! Well, when I found this recipe on I knew I had to try it. So, I made this yummy thing for dinner last week. And, I was amazed! It did not taste "healthified" at all! It was so delicious! This was my first experience with Challah bread, and I am so glad that I have half a loaf left, because this bread is amazing and is really what makes this recipe better than good! It was so sweet, that you could easily make this for a dessert and serve it to a crowd. The topping is irresistible! Crazy good this stuff is. Anyways, this definitely hit the spot for my craving and I am definitely going to be making this again soon. Yum!

Gina's Weight Watcher Recipe
Servings: 8 • Serving Size: 1 slice with bananas • Points: 6 pts • Points+: 8 pts
Calories: 294.8 • Fat: 4.9 g • Protein: 10.5 g • Carb: 59 g • Fiber: 1.6 g

cooking spray
10 oz Challah bread, sliced 1 inch thick (Hawaiian or Brioche would work)
2 large eggs
1 cup egg substitute(I used egg beaters)
1-1/2 cups fat free milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup agave or white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Meyers rum or rum extract (optional)

Banana Topping:
1 tbsp light butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp Meyers rum or 1 tsp rum extract (optional)
4 medium ripe bananas, sliced

Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, egg substitute, milk, vanilla, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, agave or sugar, salt and rum until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight for best results.

Preheat oven to 350° F. and bring bread to room temperature.

Bake uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile while it's baking, in a large deep sauté pan melt light butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and rum and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add a few drops of water if needed and let sauce simmer about 2 minutes. Add sliced bananas and remove from heat. Keep covered until french toast comes out of the oven.

When french toast is cooked, divide among 8 plates and top with bananas. Enjoy!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy BBQ Pot Roast

This is a fantastic Sunday dinner! I served this tonight with the mashed potatoes I just posted and it was a meal made in heaven. We put the gravy that is made over the potatoes, and it was divine! I love using my slow cooker for the main course, because it is so easy and it makes the roast simply fall apart because it is so tender and juicy. I loved this! We have leftovers, which is good, because I am going to use the meat to make BBQ sandwiches, later in the week, yum! Make this roast, it will make your family very happy, and it will make you appear to be a chef!

*Note: I used to avoid recipes that called for browning the meat before adding it to the crockpot. Unnecessary, I thought! But I've since changed my ways, realizing that a quick sear in a hot pan can add a delicious dimension of flavor that is well worth the extra few minutes. Also, the leftovers of this roast, combined with some BBQ sauce make phenomenal BBQ beef sandwiches

*Serves 8-10
4-7 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed of large areas of fat
1-2 tablespoons saute spice (equal parts garlic powder, salt and black pepper)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 can root beer (if you use a brand other than A&W, please don't tell my husband)
1 can red chile enchilada sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce (I like the Tapatio brand)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup of water or milk

Pat the roast dry with a paper towel; then rub the saute spice all over the roast. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet(I used my cast iron skillet) or pot until it is shimmering. Brown the roast on all sides in the hot oil, for about 1 minute on each side. The oil should be hot enough to get the roast nicely browned without burning it.

Transfer the roast to a 4-8 quart slow cooker.

In a bowl, combine the root beer, enchilada sauce, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce and pour over the roast. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours.

Remove the roast, reserving juices in the slow cooker. Tent the roast with foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water/milk, stirring well until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the juices in the slow cooker. Cook, uncovered, on high for 15 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Serve sauce over roast with mashed potatoes or any other sides that float your boat.

The Best Mashed Potatoes

This is now my go-to for mashed potatoes. These are wonderful! They are creamy, and pure potato-ey good! I love them. The sour cream is really the key to great mashed potatoes, in my opinion. Thank you to Sisters Cafe for this recipe, it is delish!

Serves 4-6 as a side dish, can easily be doubled

3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/4 lb. butter (which is 1 stick, or 1/2 c. butter – if it’s not an important occasion, sometimes I skimp on this and just add a couple tablespoons)
1/2-1 c. milk(I added 3/4 cup and it was the perfect consistency, I used 1% milk)
1/2 c. sour cream(I used light with great results)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes until very tender. Meanwhile heat the butter and milk in small sauce pan (or in microwave). Drain potatoes. While still hot, place the potatoes in a big bowl. Slowly add the milk and butter mixture, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Mix until the potatoes are mashed but not completely smooth.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Brownie Pillow Cookies

While in High School, I worked at this cute, little bakery called, Bread Basket. Among the breads and things sold there, one of my favorite cookies were these chocolate chip cookies with a brownie in the inside. They were heavenly! I have missed them so much. Well, I went on to Bakerella, looking for something entirely different I might add, and I happened to stumble upon this recipe for Brownie Pillow Cookies. Guess what? They are exactly what I loved at Bread Basket. After trying these cookies, tonight, I definitely had a blast from the past experience happen.

These are so, so good! My family loved them, I loved them! They are winner cookies for sure. They are ginormous cookies though, so invite people over to share! I promise you will love these.
source: Bakerella

1 package brownie mix (I made homemade brownies, but I actually think a box would be better, they would be thicker. Our favorite box brand is Betty Crocker).

1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 oz. bag miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Make brownies according to package and let cool. Cut about ten 1 inch squares. Enjoy the remaining brownies. (I used a pan about 8 X 8)

For the chocolate chip cookie dough, beat butter with a mixer until creamy.

Add brown sugar and beat until smooth.

Add eggs, yolk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a medium bowl and stir together with a wire whisk.

Add flour to butter mixture and beat until combined. Stir in mini chips.

Let dough chill covered in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (I would reccommend at least 2 hours if you have the time, the dough needs to be stiff)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Use a measuring cup to scoop batter by the 1/2 cup. Since it’s chilled, you may need to pack it with a spoon. Then use the spoon to remove the dough from the cup and place it on parchment paper. Work quickly so the dough remains chilled or either prepare one cookie at a time so the rest of the dough remains cold.

After the dough is on the parchment paper, make an indention and place a 1 inch square brownie in the center. Press the brownie down gently and work the remaining dough around the brownie. You can use your hands to shape the dough into a ball.

During this step, I found it easier to use a piece of parchment paper as a work surface since the dough can get sticky and then I used another piece of parchment paper for the baking sheet. If your dough gets too soft, you can chill the rolled dough balls for a few minutes right before baking.

Prepare six cookies at a time using a large baking sheet (15 X 20) and bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes. Return the remaining dough to the refrigerator until time to bake the second batch.

Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes about ten cookies using a little less than a 1/2 cup of dough for each cookie.

If your cookies start to get too brown before they are done baking, you can place a sheet of aluminum foil over top for the last few minutes. (I didn't need to do this, mine were perfect after 18 minutes).

Coconut Chicken Salad with Warm Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

This.Is.Fantastic! The coconut breaded chicken screams summer and the salad with tomatoes and cucumbers are a nice compliment to the chicken. The dressing is yummy! The only thing I will say is, next time I make this, I will definately double the dressing recipe, Chris said his salad was too "dry."

This is really perfect, for the warmer months ahead, and they better be ahead here in MI, and I will definitely be making this again, Soon!

Note: Double the dressing recipe
Double Note: Shrimp instead of chicken would also be divine

Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 3 • Serving Size: salad with 2 chicken tenders • Points: 8 pts • Points+: 8 pts
Calories: 397.6 • Fat: 11.0 g • Protein: 26.8 g • Carb: 32.5 g • Fiber: 4.4 g • Sugar: 10

6 (about 12 oz) chicken tenderloins
6 tbsp shredded coconut
1/4 cup panko crumbs
2 tbsp crushed cornflake crumbs
1/3 cup egg substitute or egg whites
pinch salt
olive oil spray
6 cups mixed baby greens
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1 large tomato, sliced
1 small cucumber, sliced

1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp white vinegar (balsamic would work too)
2 tsp dijon mustard

Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients; set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine coconut flakes, panko, cornflake crumbs and salt in a bowl. Put egg whites or egg beaters in another bowl.

Lightly season chicken with salt. Dip the chicken in the egg, then in the coconut crumb mixture. Place chicken on a cookie sheet lined with parchment for easy cleanup. Lightly spray with olive oil spray and bake for 30 minutes turning halfway, or until chicken is cooked through.

Place 2 cups baby greens on each plate. Divide carrots, cucumber, tomato evenly between each plate. When chicken is ready slice on the diagonal and place on top of greens. Heat dressing in the microwave a few seconds and divide equally between each salad; a little over 1 tbsp each.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Asparagus and Ham Risotto

I love risotto, it is downright delicious! This is a yummy, healthy risotto that you can feel good eating and feeding to your kids. Lexi even ate this! That should tell you this really is good! It is such a perfect dinner. Yum!

adapted from

This fed Chris and I and Lex with leftovers

4 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 2 medium leeks)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
3 ounces diced cooked ham (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used reduced fat and it was great)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm.

Cook asparagus in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water until the peas are no longer warm to the touch.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in rice; cook 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Add ham to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in peas, cheese, and pepper. Serve immediately.

NOte: The original recipe calls for 8 oz sugar snap peas, but we substituted asparagus, because my hubby does not like sugar snap peas, but either or would be fine.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Decadent Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

Again from Kitchen Cafe, this pie is pure bliss! Chocolate and peanut butter are definately my favorite sweet combo, give me a reese peanut butter cup and I am in heaven. Well, this pie is like eating a huge reeses with a graham cracker crust! It is awesome! It is very rich though so a little piece goes a long way. I had to use so much self control to only eat a little piece, though. Oh, my I cannot wait to make this again. So So good.

Graham Cracker Crust:
12 to 14 whole graham crackers, crushed (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups crumbs)
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Dark Chocolate Layer:
¾ cup heavy cream
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Peanut Butter Mousse Filling:
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups milk
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup creamy or chunky peanut butter

Topping and Decoration:
Sweetened whipped cream
2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Prepare the crust: Preheat the oven to 350. In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter, stir until well blended. Using the palm of your hand, press the moistened crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9- or 10-inch pie plate. Bake in the center of the oven for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the crust turns lightly golden. Set the pie crust on a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare the chocolate layer: In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until it just comes to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until melted and smooth. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust, smoothing it over the bottom and slightly up the sides. Freeze for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chocolate layer is firm.

Prepare the mousse: In a heavy medium-size saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add ½ cup milk and whisk until smooth. Add the remaining milk and the egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk constantly until the custard comes to a boil. Still whisking, boil for 1 minute until very thick. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and peanut butter. Pour the mousse into the baked pie crust. Chill for 1 hour, or until firm. Before serving, decorate the pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and mini chocolate chips, if desired.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

I really should change my blog name to, Wannabe Kitchen Cafe, because I love her blog and almost cook from it exclusively. This is another amazing recipe. It was my first attempt at homemade BBQ sauce, and I think it is my last, this was so so so good! Really, it was amazing and easy to do. I do not know if I will ever buy BBQ sauce again, even my beloved, Sweet Baby Rays. We put this on our pulled pork sandwiches, which was phenomenal, but it can be used on whatever calls for BBQ sauce. make it, you will love it too, I am sure of it.

Makes about 7 cups of barbecue sauce

2 cups ketchup
2 cups tomato sauce
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cups unsulphured molasses
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
4 teaspoons hickory flavored liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, mix together all the wet ingredients and then add the seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken as it simmers (and then as it cools). I try to plan ahead and simmer for at least an hour. Use the sauce to brush onto meats the last ten minutes of grilling or for any other recipe where barbecue sauce is used.

Once cooled, the sauce can be frozen. Thaw in the refrigerator and use as needed.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Low Fat Baked Onion Rings is an amazing blog and I am so glad I found out about it! This is also from Gina's blog, along with the last like 4 things I just posted and these are fantastic. Chris loves onion rings with a nice juicy burger, but since I have been dieting we have not been eating greasy fried rings. But, when I stumbled upon this recipe I knew I had to give it a shot. Honestly, Chris was skeptical, but when he tasted these babies he was in heaven. These are so good. Be careful though, they are so addicting. I am glad the serving size is huge, but I again had to practice self control on these babies. Perfect with a burger these are guilt free and delciious! Make them a lot! Trust me.

Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 2 • Serving Size: 1/2 • Old Points: 1 pt • Points+: 2 pt
Calories: 74.7 • Fat: 0.6 g • Carb: 14.7 g • Fiber: 1.6 g • Sugar: 1.7 g • Protein: 2.9 g

1 medium onion, sliced into 1/4 inch rings
2 1/4 cups low fat buttermilk
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Italian seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup crushed corn flake crumbs
salt to taste
olive oil baking spray (I just drizzled Olive oil over them)

Place slices of onion in a shallow dish. Pour the buttermilk over the top and let them soak for about 1 - 2 hours, refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Combine panko, bread crumbs and corn flakes in a large dish, season with salt.

Dip each soaked onion ring into the crumb mixture; coat well. Place rings onto two cookie sheets. Lightly spray with oil. Bake about 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Avena-Healthy Oatmeal Shake

I made this for Chris and I's breakfast this morning, and we were quite satisfied. We both loved this so much! Chris said it tasted like Horchata to him and I just thought it was dang good and a fun way to get more oatmeal into my body. It was easy to make and was so filling. I was worried I would be hungry too fast but it held me until lunch. I will definately be making this for breakfast again and I want to see if I can get Lexi to drink this too, we will see. Enjoy!

Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 4 • Size: 1 cup • Old Points: 2 pts • Points+: 3 pts
Calories: 123.9 • Fat: 1.8 g • Protein: 6.8 g • Carb: 21.3 g • Fiber: 3.2 g

1/2 cup quick oats
2 cups water
1 cup fat free milk
1 cup ice
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinammon

Cook oats and water in a small pot for about a minute or two, stirring often until it becomes thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and let it cool a few minutes.

In a blender add milk, sugar, cinammon. Add oats and ice. Blend on high until very smooth. Chill in refrigerator or pour in a glass over ice. Enjoy!! Makes 4 cups.

Roasted Cauliflower

Oh baby, this is a good side dish. I served this with the pork chops and mushrooms and shallots and it was the best meal ever! The cauliflower is so good, I had to control myself not to eat the entire pan! Also, this is easy and once again, healthy for you. Chris is not a cauliflower fan, but he said this was too good to be cauliflower. He ate a bunch of this stuff. So, make this and you will not be disappointed.

Note: I halved this for my family.

Servings: 6 • Serving Size: 1 cup • Calories: 94 • Old Po gints: 3 pts • Points+: 3 pts
Calories: 126 • Fat: 10.5 g • Carbs: 5.9 g • Fiber: 2.5 g • Sugar: 0 • Protein: 2.8 g

6 cups uncooked cauliflower florets (about 1 large) cut small
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt and fresh pepper
juice of 1/4 lemon
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Combine cauliflower, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper well so all the florets are coated and seasoned. Place in a large shallow roasting pan and place in the center of the oven.

Roast for about 25-35 munites, turning florets occasionally so they are evenly cooked. Remove from oven and top with Parmigiano Reggiano and additional salt and pepper if needed.

Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Shallots

I made this for dinner tonight served with roasted cauliflower (post next) and roasted asparagus, and I have to say it was one of the best dinners we have had in a while. This was so so so good! Chris loved it! I loved it! Heck, our vegetarian daughter even gave the chops a bite. Wahoo! The key is not overcooking the chops, so they do not dry out. But, oh man, these are definately worth making. And, did I mention they are healthy? That is right, good for the body and soul. I love it when tasty food is good for me.

Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 4 servings • Serving Size: 1 chop • Old Points: 4 pts • Points+: 5 pts
Calories: 179.9 • Fat: 9.5 g • Protein: 18.5 g • Carb: 4.3 g • Fiber: 0.9 g
Adapted from Food and Wines
1 tsp butter (I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
4 pork loin chops (with bone), 1 inch thick, trim all visible fat
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped shallots (I couldn't find shallots, so I substituted red onion and it was fine)
1 cup fat free chicken stock
10 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp chopped, fresh parsley

In a large frying pan heat the butter over moderately low heat. Season pork with salt and pepper. Raise heat to medium and add the chops to the pan and sauté for 7 minutes. Turn and cook until chops are browned and done to medium, about 7-8 minutes longer. Remove the chops and put in a warm spot.

Add shallots to the pan and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the stock to deglaze the pan, stir in the mustard, 1 tbsp parsley, then add mushrooms, season with fresh pepper and cook about 3 minutes, or until mushrooms are done. Put the chops on a platter and pour the mushroom sauce over the meat, top with remaining parsley.

Note: Food and Wines says it is ok if the pork chops are pink in the center. Trichinosis is killed at the relatively low temperature of 150°. I use a thermometer to check the center and usually leave it until it hits 160°. Don't overcook or they will become dry.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Italian Meatball Subs, All Homemade

I made these for a family in our ward who moved into a new house, and although I haven't heard if they were a hit over there, they sure were a hit at our house. This is Chris's favorite sub that he gets at Subway and so this homemade version was right up his alley. It was even better than Subway, were his exact words. You must serve these on the french bread rolls that I posted today and you must serve them with provolone cheese. Yummo! We loved this little gems. I hope you do too.
Of course, this recipe comes from Kitchen Cafe, love her!

*Note: When I make these, I often prepare and bake the meatballs earlier in the day. To reheat, I place the meatballs in the pot with the simmering sauce and let them warm up together.

*Makes 25-30 meatballs/about 7-9 sandwiches

1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs or crushed saltines
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan or mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey

To dredge the meatballs:
1 1/2 cups flour in a shallow baking dish

For the sandwiches:
1 recipe French Bread Rolls, shaped into sub rolls and baked according to the recipe
Sliced mozzarella or provolone cheese

In a large bowl, mix all of the meatball ingredients together EXCEPT the meat. Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes so the breadcrumbs/crackers can soak up the liquid a little bit. Add the meat and mix well with your hands until all the ingredients are combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease the foil. Form golf ball-sized meatballs and dredge them in the flour until lightly coated. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet about one inch apart. Bake for 20 -25 minutes until the meatballs are completely cooked through.

When the meatballs come out of the oven, let them sit for about 15 minutes. Gently scrape off any fat and place the meatballs in a 9X13-inch baking dish (or similar size). Pour the hot tomato sauce over the meatballs.

To assemble the sandwiches, slice the buns in half. (If desired, lay the buns flat open on a baking sheet and top one side with cheese - toast in the oven for 4-5 minutes at 400 degrees until the buns are toasted and cheese is melted.) Place 3-4 meatballs on each bun and top with desired amount of sauce. Serve immediately with lots of napkins.

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar (this helps cut the acidity of the tomatoes)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes on low. Keep warm until the meatballs are finished baking.

Chicken and White Bean Enchiladas with Creamy Salsa Verde

These were filling and delicious! My mom and brother came to visit and since my mom is trying to be more health conscious, like me, I decided to try out more recipes from I am glad I did! These were really good and satisfied my craving for enchiladas. They were easy to make and tasted great! I will be making these again for sure.

Chicken and White Bean Enchiladas with Creamy Green Chile Sauce
Servings: 8 • Serving Size: 1 enchilada • Old Points: 4 • Points: 5
Calories: 230 • Fat: 7.3 g • Protein: 20.4 g • Carb: 28.7 g • Fiber: 12.2 g

Chicken and White Bean Filling:
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup minced white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles
15.5 oz can Navy beans (or Cannellini beans)
8 oz cooked shredded chicken breast
1/3 can water
1 chicken bullion
1 tsp cumin

Green Chile Enchilada Sauce:
1 tsp butter
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 tbsp flour
1 cup fat free chicken broth
7 oz can chopped green chile
2 jalapeños, chopped (I used jarred)
1/2 cup light sour cream
3/4 cup reduced fat Mexican cheese
8 medium low carb tortillas
chopped fresh cilantro or scallions (or both!)

Preheat oven to 375°.

For the Filling:
In a medium pan, heat olive oil on low. Add onions, garlic and saute until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add green chiles, beans, water, bullion, and cumin. Mix well and cover. Simmer on low 15 minutes. Remove cover, add chicken and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until it thickens and liquid boils down. Set aside.

Green Chile Enchilada Sauce:
In a large nonstick pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and starts to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add flour and stir well. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth. Whisk until the sauce becomes smooth. Cook over medium heat until the sauce boils and thickens, about 4-5 minutes. Add green chiles, jalepeños, and salt to tatse. Cook another minute then remove from the heat. Stir in the sour cream.

Spread about 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish. Fill each tortilla with 1/3 cup of the chicken/white bean filling. Roll the tortillas and place seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Continue filling remainder of the tortillas.

Pour the enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Top with cheese. Cover with aluminum and bake 20-30 minutes, until the enchiladas are hot and the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with fresh cilantro or scallions.

The Ultimate Cheesecake

My husband requests plain cheesecake with raspberry sauce every year for his birthday, it never changes. He likes what he likes. I always make the cheesecake that is already posted from, but since we had family in town, I wanted to see if I could find an easier way to make a fantastic cheesecake. I turned to none other than Kitchen Cafe. She uses Tyler Florence, food network chef's, recipe and says she loves it. Since she and I tend to like the same type of food, I thought I would give it a try. Everyone agreed that it was amazing. My mom likes it just as much as the other one I make, and this one was so much easier, so I think I will make this one more often. It is creamy and decadent and is cheesecake perfection. I love the lemon zest, it added just a little something extra special and with the raspberry sauce, it was amazing! So, you can make both of these recipes and decide for yourself which one you like better.

3 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 40 squares)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, zest finely grated
1 pint sour cream, room temperature

To prepare crumb crust: In a mixing bowl, combine the crust ingredients together with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan (I use a 10-inch springform pan b/c it is all I have and it works great) with non-stick cooking spray. Firmly press the mixture over the bottom and 1-inch up the sides on the pan, use your fingers or the smooth bottom of a glass. Refrigerate the crust while preparing the filling.

To prepare filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute just until smooth and free of any lumps. Gradually add the sugar and beat until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to slowly beat until combined. Stir in the vanilla and lemon zest. Blend in the sour cream. The batter should be well mixed but not overbeaten. Overbeating incorporates too much air and will cause the cake to puff when baking, then fall and crack when cooling. Pour filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 50-55 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle slightly, it will firm up after chilling. Be careful not to overcook! Do not do a toothpick test in the cake’s center, this will make a crack. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours to set up. Demold and transfer to a cake plate. Slice the cheesecake with a thin, nonserrated knife that has been dipped in hot water and wiped dry after each cut.

There is no need to bake this in a waterbath, it comes out perfect without it. I do leave mine in the oven after I turn it off with the door cracked open for at least 30 minutes to avoid cracks.

French Bread Rolls

I have now made these rolls twice and each time they were utterly fantastic! I first made them last sunday to use for the bread on our italian meatball subs, which was great and will be posting that sandwich recipe in a minute, and then I made them this week when my mom and brother were visiting, and although they were supposed to be used for the sloppy joes I already posted, we just ended up eating them instead. But, the point is these are great rolls! They are no-fail and I love that too! Make these for making sandwiches or just because and you will be happy you did.

Makes about one dozen rolls

1 1/2 cups warm water
3/4 tablespoon instant yeast (or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour, give or take a few tablespoons

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl by hand, combine the warm water, yeast, sugar, oil, salt and 2 cups of the flour (if you are using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, let the yeast proof in the warm water and sugar for about 3-5 minutes until it is foamy and bubbly before adding the oil, salt and flour). Begin mixing and continue to add the rest of the flour gradually until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Judge the dough not by the amount of flour called for in the recipe but in how the dough feels (see a tutorial on working with yeast here). The dough should be soft and smooth but still slightly tacky to the touch.
Knead the dough in the stand mixer or by hand until it is very smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer or 8-10 minutes by hand. Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled (this usually takes about an hour).
Lightly punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly greased countertop. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and form the dough into round balls. Place the rolls on a lightly greased or silpat-lined baking sheet about an inch or two apart. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap taking care not to pin the plastic wrap under the baking sheet or else the rolls will flatten while rising. Let the plastic wrap gently hang over the sides of the pan to fully cover the rolls but not press them down. Let the rolls rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.

*Freezable Option: I almost always make a double or triple batch of these rolls. Once they are baked and cooled, I place them in a zipper-lock freezer bag and put them in the freezer. I either take them out a few hours before I need them or I take them out frozen and microwave them for about 2-3 minutes on 70% power.

Another Amazing Sloppy Joe Recipe

I have already posted a sloppy joe recipe that I love LOVE LOVE! But, when my mom and brother were here visiting, I made Kitchen's Cafe version and I love it just as much. I don't know if it is better, so I want to keep both on this blog, so you have two different variations to make. This particular recipe makes a lot, so it is great to make the whole batch, use what your family can eat, and then you can freeze the rest. These were supposed to be served on the French Bread Rolls, that I will post in a minute, but due to the day getting away from me and no flour in the house, we had to buy some instead. But no matter what you put this on, it is delicious!

*Makes 8-12 sloppy joes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 ½ pounds ground beef (I used extra lean ground beef and it was still delicious)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2/3 cup smoky BBQ sauce (or whatever BBQ sauce is in your fridge)
½ cup ketchup(I used low sugar)
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup soy sauce (I used low sodium)
Freshly ground black pepper
8 to 12 rolls

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the beef and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until it is finely crumbled, the liquid boils off and the meat begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Drain the grease off the meat and onions. Stir in the tomato paste, and keep stirring until the meat is coated. Add the BBQ sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, soy sauce, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. You can make the sloppy joe meat up to 2 days in advance and reheat it over low heat or in the microwave.

Wrap the rolls in aluminum foil and warm in the oven for about 10 minutes. Serve the sloppy joes hot with the warmed rolls.

*Freezable Meals: The leftover sloppy joes can be frozen. I store it in a freezer-safe container and then thaw in the refrigerator prior to serving. I reheat on medium-low heat in a saucepan on the stove.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Strawberry, Pinenuts, and Feta Salad with a Zesty Lemon Dressing

I made this for lunch today and Chris and I each loved it! It reminded me of Spring and how I want MI to have Spring SOON! This salad so got me in the spirit for warmer weather and sunshine. The dressing is light and refreshing and yummy! We served it will roasted chicken and it was one delicious lunch. I will definately be making this salad again, maybe for Easter, we will see. Anyways, you must make this for a quick, healthy, satisfying lunch, you will not be disappointed, I promise.

Thanks Sisters Cafe for another amazing recipe
Note: I halved the salad and dressing recipe, since there was only two of us and it made a nice sized portion. So, I would say if you make recipe as it, it would probably feed 4-5 adults as a side salad.

3T fresh lemon juice
3T sugar
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp grated lemon rind
1/4 cup canola or light olive oil

3 cups fresh spinach
1 cup fresh strawberries ,sliced
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
Feta cheese to taste (I used Gorgonzola, because that is what I had, and it tasted good still)

In blender combine lemon juice, sugar, mustard, grated lemon rind and oil. Pulse until mixture is combined , thickened and sugar is dissolved.

In a large bowl, toss together spinach, strawberries, nuts and feta. Toss with enough dressing to coat.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Slow Cooked Black Eyed Peas with Ham

I made this for dinner tonight, and as it was sitting in the crock pot, Chris wasn't so sure he would like this healthy, inexpensive meal. He also didn't think it would fill him up. Well, I am happy to report that He and I loved this dish. We served it over brown rice and it was so yummy, hearty, and it was very filling. It is a healthy twist on a Southern dish and it really is comfort food, which is good since there is still snow on the ground here in MI. Anyways, this meal is inexpensive as well, which is always a bonus. And, because it cooks in the slow cooker, it is easy to assemble and makes the house smell so good! So, try this one out.

Source: Skinny Taste, a new favorite healthy food blog

Servings: 8 • Serving Size: 1 cup • Old Points: 3 pts • Points+: 4 pts
Calories: 161.4 • Fat: 1.6 g • Protein: 9.3 g • Carb: 29.2 g • Fiber: 6.7 g

8 oz smoked lean ham steak, diced (or a ham bone would be perfect)
1 pound dried black-eyed peas, rinsed and soaked overnight
2 bay leaves
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 tsp chili powder (I used chipotle)
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
salt to taste
1 tsp ground black pepper

Soak peas overnight in 6 cups of water. The next morning, drain peas and add to slow cooker. Add 4 cups of water, bay leaves and ham. Cover and cook on high 6 hours or until the beans are tender.

After 6 hours, in a large frying pan, add oil and sauté onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, and tomato until soft, about 6 minutes. Add to the slow cooker and season black eyed peas generously with salt, cumin, chili powder and black pepper. Cover and cook on high 1 to 1 1/2 more hours. Discard bay leaves and serve.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

THE Cornbread and Fluffy Honey Butter

I have posted a cornbread recipe before, and although I still love that one, THIS one is even better! I have now been making this one a lot, in fact, I made it tonight to take to our ward's chili cook off and it was gone within seconds of me placing it on the table. The honey butter is a must with this, it is the best honey butter I have ever had! My family loves this cornbread. It is so good, in fact, I don't think I will ever have to make another recipe again!

½ cup cornmeal
1 ½ cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cup milk

Add dry ingredients, make a well and add oil, butter, eggs, and milk into the center. Stir until just mixed (batter will be runny - don't be alarmed!). Bake in an 8” square pan at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. This doubles perfectly for a 9X13-inch pan.

Honey Butter:
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff

Whip all together with an electric mixer and serve at room temperature (can be refrigerated and softened).

From My Kitchen Cafe (

Slow Cooked Apple Butter

This smells and tastes amazing! You can spread this on toast, eat it on pancakes/waffles, or put it in oatmeal like I have done this past week. This makes your house smell divine and although it is so simple, thanks to the slow cooker, it does take time so be sure to watch the amount of time on the recipe. I am going to make lots of this in the fall and can it for the winter months next year. Man, I am in love with this stuff.

Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 16 • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons • Old Points: 1 pt • Points+: 3 pts
Calories: 88.5 • Fat: 0.3 g • Protein: 0.2 g • Carb: 24.5 g • Fiber: 2.2 g

2.5 lbs (6 large) apples, peeled, cored, finely chopped (I used gala)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Place the apples in a slow cooker. Top with sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg and mix well.

Cover and cook on low 10 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.

Uncover and puree with an immersion blender (I don't have an immersion blender, so I used my food processor and it worked great). Cook on high uncovered 1-2 hours.

Spoon into sterile jars, or containers and refrigerate.

Makes 2 cups.

Cinnamon Apple Spiced Oatmeal

This entire week, I have been eating this oatmeal. Let me tell you, it is good and satisfying, especially for the cold, wintry weather we have been having still. I am not normally an oatmeal kind of person, in fact, I used to say I hate oatmeal. But, this recipe has changed my mind. This oatmeal reminds me of Fall and has such a wonderful flavor, I have no problem eating the entire bowl. I love it and the fact that it is heart healthy and full of fiber and protein and no salt makes me love it all the more.

P.S. The homemade apple butter is what makes this oatmeal so fantastic! It is easy to make and is a must. I will post the apple butter recipe next!

Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 1 • Serving Size: 1 bowl • Old Points: 4 pts • Points+: 6 pts
Calories: 228.7 • Fat: 2.5 g • Protein: 5.2 g • Carb: 50.2 g • Fiber: 5.6 g
1/3 cup uncooked quick oats (I use 1/2 cup uncooked)
2 tbsp apple butter
dash of cinnamon
1 tbsp low fat granola

Cook oatmeal in water according to package directions. Pour cooked oatmeal in a bowl and top with apple butter, granola, cinnamon. You can add a little skim milk if you like your oatmeal thinner. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cheese Rolls with Buttery Parmesan Crust

I think the title alone makes these sound so wonderful, but I just want you to know that these are a different, fantastic twist on a normal dinner roll. The melty cheese in the center is such a special treat. And, the topping was dangerously delicious. I only had one, but let me tell you, it took a lot of self-control to not eat all 15 of these bad boys. They are light and buttery and so amazing. Oh, I am in love with this dinner roll. Okay, I am done, still dieting Heidi, keep saying that.

*If you double the recipe, don't double the amount of yeast - it should stay the same as in the original recipe**

4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5-6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

8 ounces cheddar or pepperjack cheese, cut into 15 cubes

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Italian-flavored bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

For the dough, combine all the ingredients and mix and knead until you have a soft, elastic dough (don't add too much flour - the key to soft dinner rolls is a soft dough!). Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover, letting rise in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.

Prepare a 9X13-inch pan by lightly greasing the bottom and sides with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Deflate the dough and divide into 15 pieces. Shape the pieces of dough into rounds and punch a cube of cheese from the bottom up into the center of each piece. Pinch the dough tightly together to close the bottom. Place the rolls, pinched side down, in the prepared baking pan. Cover and let rise again for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until nearly doubled.

While the rolls are rising, melt the butter and stir in bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the rolls have risen, brush the tops with the egg yolk beaten with water. Sprinkle tops of rolls liberally with the bread crumb mixture. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops of the rolls are nicely browned. Remove from the pan immediately and cool on a rack. Serve warm.

From My Kitchen Cafe (

Tricolor Pasta Salad

I love pasta salad, but I am in love with this one. This was a huge hit with my friends. I almost forgot I was dieting and would have eaten the entire thing myself, except I remembered I should be careful :) This is so good! The basil pesto and pinenuts just add so much flavor and jazz up an ordinary pasta salad. This would be great served as a side dish for a BBQ and I also think you could add some grilled chicken to make it a main dinner course. But, however you want it, just make it! It will change the way you view pasta salad.
from My Kitchen Cafe (

1 12 oz. package Pasta Rotini, tri colored, cooked and drained
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 can black olives, sliced
¼ cups red onion, finely diced
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
6 fresh basil leaves, cut into strips
4 tablespoons basil pesto
2/3 cup creamy Caesar dressing
2 teaspoons sauté spice (equal parts black pepper, salt, and garlic powder)
½-1 cup toasted pine nuts

Cook pasta and coat with Caesar dressing while warm. Add the rest of the ingredients (minus the pine nuts) and toss. Top with toasted pine nuts.

Note: I served mine at room temperature, but Chris ate it straight out of the fridge and said that was good too!

Honey Lime Fruit Salad

I know, I know, you don't really need a recipe for fruit salad, I mean you just throw fruit in a bowl right? But, let me tell you something. Once you make this fruit salad, you will never eat it another way again. What makes this special you might be wondering? Well, what makes this stand out is the fresh taste of lime zest, the sweet, subtle hint of honey, and the poppy seeds not only make it look as pretty as a picture, it lends a good texture as well. Really, this fruit salad was so good! I cannot wait for the summer months where I can make this over and over and over. It is very refreshing and I felt like it was summer when I was eating it, even if outside shows me different :)

*Note: This fruit salad is best served right away (or at least within an hour of making) because the strawberries tend to stain the light colored fruit. It doesn't affect the taste at all but is a slight bummer for presentation.

*Serves 4

1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks, drained well
1 can mandarin oranges, drained well
2-3 ripe kiwi, peeled and sliced into thick half moons
1 cup green grapes, halved
1 cup strawberries, quartered
Zest from one lime, about 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon poppy seeds (optional)

Combine the fruit in a medium-large serving bowl. Add the lime zest and poppy seeds, if using, and gently toss. Drizzle the honey over the fruit and again, gently mix until the fruit is evenly coated with the honey. Serve.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Melanie's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies: My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie

These are truly the best chocolate chip cookies. EVER. After making these, you can throw all your other recipes out! I know I have posted another chocolate chip cookie recipe that I claimed to be the best, but I now stand corrected. These are the best. I even made a different recipe today for Lexi's birthday treat in nursery, and when Chris tried one, he said they were good, but not as good as these bad boys! I made these this week for my activity day girls and they LOVED them! So did some of their moms. These are just absolutely the best. I have nothing else to say. Use good chocolate chips, though. I like the Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips the best, they are big and when they melt in the cookie they become gooey and out of this world! So, make these and you can thank me later :)
submitted by Brittany at

1 cube (1/2 cup) butter, softened *not melted!*
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Mix butter, shortening and sugars - do not over mix. (he key to this recipe is minimal mixing - try it with a wooden spoon instead of a mixer.) Add vanilla and eggs. Sift together dry ingredients and add them next. Mix until everything is combined. Add one package of milk chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Take them out when they are barely brown. Serve fresh out of the oven with milk... YUM!

Hints: DO NOT OVERBAKE AT ALL! The bottoms and sides should be just a hint of brown, remember, an underbaked cookie is always better than an overbaked one.
Minimal mixing is crucial to success. I use the wooden spoon as suggested and just barely mix until everything comes together. It works like a charm.

Pizza Burgers and Homemade Healthy Marinara Sauce

These are terrific! The patty is like a huge meatball, smothered with cheese, and topped with yummy marinara sauce all on a wheat bun. Does that sound diet? Let me tell you, no one is deprived when eating this meal. It is delicious! We eat this for dinner and we just love it. This is another Biggest Loser recipe.

1 lb. 96% lean ground beef
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 tsp. salt
3 oz low fat mozarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Main Event Marinara sauce (recipe follows) or other low-fat, lower sodium, low-sugar marinara sauce
4 whole grain or whole wheat hamburger buns, split

Preheat a grill to high heat.

In a large bowl, mix the beef, oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and salt until well combined. Divide the mixture into 4 equal patties.

Grill the burgers for about 2 min per side for medium rare, or until desired doneness. About 1 minute before they are done, divide the cheese slices among the tops and let melt.

Meanwhile, spoon the sauce into a medium microwaveable safe bowl. Microwave on low until hot, 30 t0 60 seconds. Place the bun halves, cut side down, on an upper grill rack or away from direct flame for about 20 seconds, or until toasted.

Place each bun bottom on a serving plate, toasted side up. Place the patties, cheese side up, on top of bun bottoms. Spread 2 tbsp. sauce on each bun top, flip atop the patties, and serve.

Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 304 calories, 32 g protein, 27 g carbs, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 68 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 605 mg sodium

Main Event Marinara Sauce

This is so yummy and good for you. I now make this for everything. We put it on spaghetti, penne, you name the pasta, we have done it. We put it on the above mentioned pizza burgers. I use it on the baked ziti recipe from the BL cookbook, and everything else you would use marinara sauce for. The whole family loves this. It freezes well for a long time and stores in the fridge for about a week. Once you make a batch, you can use it on just about anything.

olive oil spray
1 cup minced yellow or white onion
2 Tbsp. freshly minced garlic
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp no salt-added tomato paste
2 tsp honey
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt to taste, optional

Spray a medium nonstick saucepan with the olive oil spray and place over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just becoming tender (they should not brown), 4 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and with a wooden spoon stir in the tomatoes, water, tomato paste, honey, oregano, basil, and pepper flakes, until well combined. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 1 hour. Season with salt, if needed.

Makes 7 (1/2 cup) servings; about 3 1/2 cup sauce

Per serving: 63 calories, 3 g protein, 15 g carbs, less than 1 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 156 mg sodium

Last Two BL Breakfast Recipes: Ham and Asparagus Omelet/Mushroom-Swiss Omelet

I love omelets! Normally, they are not healthy for you at all. But, thanks to the BL cookbook, I can diet and still eat an omelet, once in a while. These are my two favorites. I eat them a lot for breakfast. Very warm and again filling. It is important to me to eat filling food when I am "dieting" so that I do not crave what I cannot have. And, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so start it off right, with a warm delciously nutritious omelet!

Ham and Asparagus Omelet

olive oil spray
1 oz 97% or 98% lean ham steak cut into small cubes
1/3 cup chopped asparagus spears
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1/2 tsp. freshly minced garlic (sometimes i omit this and it tastes just fine)
4 large egg whites
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste

Place a small nonstick skillet over med heat. Lightly mist with olive oil spray. Add the ham, asparagus, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until asparagus is crisp-tender and the onion is tender. Remove from the pan and cover to keep warm.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites with a fork until they bubble lightly. Season with salt and pepper.

Place a small nonstick skillet over med heat ( I use the same skillet I cooked the ham mixture in to save me from washing too many dishes in the morning). Lightly mist pan with olive oil spray (I sometimes use nonstick cooking spray instead). Add the egg whites and cook, lifting the edges with a spatula as they start to set and tipping the pan to allow the uncooked whites to run underneath, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until almost set (mine only take 2-3 minutes, so watch it carefully). Flip the omelet. Sprinkle the ham mixture over half of the omelet. Flip the bare half over the filled half and transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving
Per serving: 125 calories, 21 g protein, 7 g carbs, 1 g fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 527 mg sodium

Mushroom-Swiss Omelet

olive oil spray
1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 tsp. freshly minced garlic
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
4 large egg whites
3/4 oz (1/3 cup) finely shredded or thinly sliced light swiss cheese (I use Sargento brand and I buy the thin slices, one slice is equivalent to 3/4 oz).

Place a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Lightly mist with olive oil spray. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender and any excess moisture is evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs whites with fork until they bubble lightly.

Place a small nonstick skillet over med heat. lightly mist with olive oil spray. Add egg whites and cook, just the way you did for the ham omelet. Flip omelet. Arrange the mushrooms and cheese evenly over half of the omelet. Flip the bare half over the filled half and continue cooking until the cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired, and serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving
Per serving: 131 calories, 23 g protein, 3 g carbs, 3 g fat, 8 mg cholesterol, trace fiber, 323 mg sodium

Spinach, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Wrap

Here is another BL breakfast recipe, it actually is so easy I feel weird even calling it a recipe. But, I love these. So so good.

1 (7 1/2 inch) low-carb, whole wheat, or multigrain tortilla
olive oil spray
3 egg whites
1 oz (1/2 cup) finely shredded Cabot's 75% Light Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup fresh spinach leaves, stems removed

Place a small nonstick skillet over med-high heat and add the tortilla. Heat tortilla in dry pan until just warm, about 30 seconds per side.

Using the same skillet, spray a small amount of olive oil spray to cover the bottom of pan. Using a fork, whip your egg whites until a little foamy. Add egg whites to the pan with the olive oil, and cook as you would scramble eggs. Do not overcook, egg whites that are overcooked become rubbery.

Place the warm tortilla on a plate. Sprinkle the cheese in a 3 inch strip down the center of tortilla to about 2 inches from bottom. Top with half of the egg whites, the spinach leaves, then the remaining whites. Fold up the bottom so that the bare part is over the filling. Fold the sides into the center over the egg and serve.

Banana Cream of Wheat

I LOVE the Biggest Loser! Years ago, I purchased the Biggest Loser Family Cookbook, and honestly, did not use it much. Well, for the past two months, I have made almost every single recipe in the book. All of them have been yummy, but I wanted to share some of Chris and I's most very favorite. And, if you want the rest, you just might have to go purchase the book :) With the help of these recipes and exercise I have lost 24 lbs and still counting. So, it works! These recipes hardly taste "diet-like" and are filling.

This first one I am sharing is for breakfast. If you think you don't like cream of wheat, like I have been saying for years, you might change your mind. This recipe fills you up too! Even Lexi eats this for breakfast when I make it. It is warm, and hearty, and overall good. Not to mention, it is easy to make, it takes no time at all to have a warm and satisfying breakfast waiting for your family to gobble it up. Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 204 calories, 4 g protein, 46 gram carbs, trace fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 123 mg sodium)

4 cups water
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 cup uncooked original (2 1/2 minute) Cream of Wheat
1 cup mashed, ripe banana (about 2 small bananas)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
8 packets (.035 each) sugar substitute (I used Splenda)
4 Tbsp. crunchy, high fiber, low-sugar cereal (I used Grape Nuts)

Place water and salt in a medium nonstick saucepan and bring to a boil. Add cream of wheat, stirring constantly until well blended. Return to boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat and add the banana, cinnamon, and sugar substitute. Stir until well combined.

Divide among 4 bowls. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the crunchy cereal over each and serve.

Orange, Red Onion, Gorgonzola and Arugula Salad

In an effort of trying to lose weight this year, I have been cooking more health-fully! I have been placing my Paula Deen cookbooks on the shelf, (love you paula, but my body doesn't always) and I have been finding more nutrionally sound meals. From what I have found, I have not been disappointed and the food is yummy. So, I want to share my all time favorite recipes that are not only delicous, but good for you.

I made this recipe today, and oh boy, it was one of the best lunches I have had in a while. Delicious! It comes from a food blog entitled, Ginna's Skinny Recipes ( My friend, Michelle, introduced this blog to me and so far it has not disappointed me. The blog is all based off of weight watchers points, but since I am not following weight watchers, I like the fact that she includes calories and fat, fiber etc. as well. So whether you are following weight watchers or not, these recipes are perfect for the person trying to be smart when eating.

Now back to the salad. This salad instilled a love of arugula in me. I have never had it before, that I can recall, and now, I love it! It is a peppery green that is so yummy and tasty and jazzes up the spinach in this salad. Yum! I also now love Gorgonzola cheese thanks to this salad. The oranges didn't hurt either, and paired with the red onions, which I cannot eat enough of, this was the perfect salad. The simple to make dressing was out of this world! All the favors blended very well together and it has kept me full! It was the perfect lunch.

The recipe makes one generous serving, but can easily be doubled, tripled, etc. to feed a crowd as a side dish or starter course. I would also imagine, to make this a good dinner, you could add some grilled chicken. Enjoy!

Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 1 • Points: 5 pts
Calories: 241.7 • Fat: 13.7 g • Protein: 9.4 g • Carb: 22.2 g • Fiber: 4.0 g

1 small orange, peeled, chopped
3 tbsp crumbled gorgonzola cheese (blue cheese works great too)
sliced red onion (to taste)
2 cups baby arugula and spinach mix
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
salt and fresh pepper

In a small bowl combine oil, balsamic, honey, salt and pepper and whisk well.

In a plate or bowl add baby greens. Top with oranges, onion and gorgonzola. Drizzle vinaigrette over the top and enjoy!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Almost-Famous Molten Chocolate Cake

First off, it sounds kind of complicated and even though the directions are a bit lengthy, I promise this is not hard to make at all! And, the result is fantastic! I made this for Chris to finish off our Death by Chocolate Valentine Day yesterday and this dessert did not disappoint. We LOVE the Chili's molten lava cake and this recipe was a knock-off of that, and it did taste quite similar. This dessert also looks fancy and it looks so pretty when you open it and the warm chocolate sauce just oozes out, oh, that is heavenly. So, make this for someone you love right now, seriously, this is good stuff!

Recipe found from Food Network Magazine

For the Cakes:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 tablespoons melted, 4 tablespoons at room temperature)
1/2 cup natural (not Dutch-process) cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the Fillings and Toppings:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Caramel sauce, for drizzling
1 pint vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the cakes: Brush four 1 1/4-cup brioche molds (or use 10-ounce ramekins or jumbo muffin cups) with the 2 tablespoons melted butter. Dust the molds with cocoa powder and tap out the excess.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Bring the milk and 3/4 cup water to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat; set aside.

Combine the vegetable oil, 4 tablespoons room-temperature butter and the sugar in a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl and beater as needed. Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder and the vanilla; beat 1 minute on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl. Add 1 egg and beat 1 minute on medium-low speed, then add the remaining egg and beat 1 more minute.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture, then the hot milk mixture. Finish mixing the batter with a rubber spatula until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the molds, filling each slightly more than three-quarters of the way.

Transfer the molds to a baking sheet and bake until the tops of the cakes are domed and the centers are just barely set, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack; let the cakes cool until they pull away from the molds, about 30 minutes.

How To Assemble the Cake:

Make the Filling: Microwave the chocolate, cream, butter and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until the chocolate starts to melt, 1 minute, 30 seconds. Let sit 3 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Reheat before using, if necessary.

Use the tip of a paring knife to gently loosen the cakes from the molds, then invert the cakes onto a cutting board.

Use the knife to cut a 1 1/2-inch circle on the top of each cake, cutting almost to the bottom.

Hollow out the cake with a spoon; save the scraps. Wrap the cakes with plastic wrap and microwave until steaming, 1 minute.

Drizzle plates with caramel, then unwrap the cakes and place on top. Pour about 3 tablespoons filling into each cake.

Plug the hole with a cake scrap. Save or discard any remaining scraps.

Top each cake with a scoop of ice cream. Spoon more chocolate sauce on top, spreading it thin so it hardens into a shell.

Chocolate Waffles

For Valentine's Day, I made a lot of chocolatey goodies, requested by husband, I am starting to think my diet and change of cooking is starting to get to him, he has been requesting sugar a lot lately. Anyways, I made these chocolate waffles for our special breakfast and both he and Lexi loved them. Chris told me it tasted like he was eating a brownie that I had cooked in the waffle iron. Lexi said it was fun to eat dessert for breakfast. I think it might have been sweet and chocolatey, huh? So, we served ours with buttermilk syrup, homemade whipped cream, and these absolutely delicious raspberries. Chris was in heaven and it was only 8:30 in the morning. I will definately make these again, and I think they would be an excellent dessert item too. So enjoy, and credit goes to Alton Brown from the Food Network.

7 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 3/4 ounces sugar, approximately 3 tablespoons
1.5 ounces cocoa powder, approximately 1/2 cup
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 whole eggs, beaten
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
16 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
4 ounces chocolate chips, approximately 3/4 cup
Vegetable spray, for waffle iron

Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions. (To get it crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside, crank up your waffle iron to high heat).

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl beat together the eggs and melted butter and vanilla, and then add the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir in the chocolate chips just until combined. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Ladle the recommended amount of waffle batter onto the center of the iron. Close the iron top and cook until the waffle is crispy on both sides and is easily removed from iron. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sugar Gems

Even though I am dieting, and staying completely away from sweets, I could not let the month of Valentines go by without making sugar cookies. Sugar cookies are hands down my favorite cookie of all time. It has to be soft and it has to have lots of good frosting. So, these were pretty torturous to make, since I could not sample. BUT, Chris and Lexi love them! Chris said it literally melted in his mouth. Lexi, while eating, kept saying, "Mmmmmm....Mmmmmm" So, I know they have to be fantastic sugar cookies! It makes a lot, so I froze about three dozen so that I am not tempted. Also, the frosting Chris said was divine! He actually used the word, divine. So, there you go, try these and tell me what you think. And, when dieting is over, I will definately have to make these again.

from The Sister’s Cafe

Cream together:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup oil
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
5 cups flour
1 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Mix all ingredients well. Roll into golf size balls and place on cookie sheets. Flatten with bottom of glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes, (mine only took about 10 minutes. Do not overbake. They should not have too much browning on the bottom, when in doubt, use your nose, if you can smell them, they are done). Cool and frost with sugar gem frosting.

Sugar Gem Frosting
2-2 ½ cups powdered sugar ( I used 2 1/2 cups and I think it was a good choice)
½ cup oil
2 tsp flavoring (almond, vanilla, coconut, etc.) – I used coconut flavoring and it was delicious!I also only had 1 tsp, so that is all I put in and the coconut flavoring was very subtle, not overpowering. I almost think 2 would have been too much)
3-4 Tbsp milk
Coloring if wanted
Mix well and add a little more milk or powdered sugar to get the right consistency.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Old Fashioned Coconut Cream Pie

Okay, so I did not actually eat this pie myself, but it got rave reviews. I made it yesterday for my hubby, who has been kind of complaining about my "diet" food and also for neighbors. My neighbor came over like one hour after giving it to him and he said, "Oh my gosh, Heidi. I don't even like pie but this was amazing! I died and gone to heaven." Those were direct quotes. My husband, whom this is his favorite pie, said it was BETTER than MARIE CALLENDARS. It could have been because he has been dieting with me for a month and this is the first dessert to touch his lips in a month or he could have been sincere. Anyways, I have heard it is amazing! It was also so simple to make, totally worth it.

*Makes one 10-inch pie. (My pie plate was 9 inches and it was fine)

1 can coconut milk (can be found in the Asian foods section)
Half-and-half or heavy cream (enough to add to the coconut milk to make 3 cups)
3 egg yolks
¾ cup white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup flaked coconut, toasted*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 recipe graham cracker crust (below)
Fresh Whipped Cream, lightly sweetened

In a medium saucepan, combine half and half, coconut milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Mixture will become very thick. Remove from heat, and stir in ¾ cup of the toasted coconut, coconut extract and the vanilla extract. Pour into baked and cooled pie shell and chill 2-4 hours or until firm. Top with whipped cream and the remaining ¼ cup of toasted coconut.

*To toast coconut, spread coconut on rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake at 325 degrees, tossing often, until lightly toasted, about 12-15 minutes.

Graham Cracker Crust
12 whole rectangular graham crackers
1 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Finely crush graham crackers in a food processor or in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin. Pour crumbs into a bowl and add sugar, stirring to combine. Drizzle butter over the top and mix with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened.

Press the crumbs evenly in the bottom and up the sides of a 9- or 10-inch pie plate. Bake for 13-15 minutes until the crust is just barely beginning to brown. Remove from oven and cool completely before filling.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chili Verde (Mexican Stewed Pork)

This is utterly, amazing! I only had a little bit, because I am dieting, but Chris could not get enough. Really, really good is all I have to say. Chris put this in a tortilla with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, romaine lettuce, diced roma tomatoes, avocadoes, and sour cream. He loved, LOVED it! I had it on top of a romaine salad with tomatoes and a little bit of reduced fat ranch dressing and it was delicious that way as well! It would be good inside enchiladas, really, anything it would be good on. It makes a ton, but freezes well, so I think it is worth making the whole batch. I did the crock pot method, so I cannot vouch for the oven method, BUT Mel over at Kitchen Cafe is like my food celebrity, I trust her, so I am sure either or is fine. I love how I act like I am personal friends with this lady, but seriously, all of her food is so good. Enjoy!
from My Kitchen Cafe (

*Note: don't even think about skipping the step of reducing the sauce. It is absolutely essential to the flavor of the sauce! Just make sure to plan ahead - the roast takes 8-9 hours on low in the crockpot (or 3-4 hours in the oven) and an additional 30 minutes to reduce the sauce.

*Serves 8-10

2 tablespoons canola oil
5 pounds boneless pork roast, trimmed of as much fat as possible
Salt and pepper for seasoning roast
2 yellow onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed
1 (15 oz.) can green enchilada sauce
2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chiles
2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 beef bouillon cube (or 1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon black pepper

Cut the roast into 3-4 large chunks. Season the pork generously with salt and pepper on all sides. In a large heavy pot, ( I used my cast iron skillet and it worked well) the oil over medium heat until the oil is shimmering and hot. Add the pork, being careful not to crowd the pot (brown the pork in shifts, if needed). Brown the pork on all sides until golden and well-browned, about 30 seconds to a minute on each side. Leave the roast in the pot and add the onion and garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Place the pork and garlic and onions in the slow cooker (read below for oven-roasting method). Stir in the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours. After the roast has cooked for the allotted time, remove the roast. Shred it into bite-size pieces and set aside, covered with foil to keep warm. Pour the remaining liquid and ingredients from the slow cooker into a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil on the stove, and simmer vigoriously over medium-low or medium heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking or burning, until the mixture considerably reduced and thickened. Add the pork roast and sauce back to the slow cooker. Stir to coat the pork with the sauce. Turn the crockpot to low or high and allow the pork to heat through again. Serve with warm tortillas and desired toppings, such as sour cream, cheese, avocados, lettuce, tomatoes.

Oven-roasting Instructions: When beginning the recipe, make sure to use an oven-safe pot for the browning (such as a large enameled cast-iron pot). Follow the recipe up until the point of adding the pork to the slow cooker. Instead, keep the pork in the oven-safe pot. Add in all the other recipe ingredients plus 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine. Cover the pot and cook in the oven at 300 degrees for 3-4 hours. When finished cooking, remove the roast as directed in the above instructions. Follow the recipe to reduce the sauce.