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.