Wednesday, December 16, 2009

S'mores Cookie Bars

Really yummy, really rich s'mores cookie bars. I love s'mores so much that when I saw this recipe on a blog, I knew I had to try it myself. This is my first cookie recipe I've been for Christmas. This weekend I plan to have a cookie-making extravaganza, so many more recipes will follow soon!

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (7 sheets of graham crackers)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt2 king-sized milk chocolate bars (e.g. Hershey’s)
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla.In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick.Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff.Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together).Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned.Cool completely before cutting into bars

*I crushed the graham crackers in a big zip lock bag with a rolling pin.

Source: Baking Bites

Hot Bean and Cheese Dip

This dip tasted like something right out of a Mexican restaurant! I think I've had something very similar at El Vaquero. While this is definitely not the healthiest dip, it is very delish! Use to dip with chips, veggies, bread, or whatever you'd like. This would be perfect for a football party or a cold winter day!

1 tbsp. olive oil½ onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced (optional, I left it out)
1 (14.5 oz) can refried beans
2 tbsp. sour cream
¼ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup cheddar cheese, in ½-inch cubes
1/3 cup pepper jack cheese, in ½-inch cubes

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and jalapeno, and sauté until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the refried beans and cook until smooth, stirring occasionally. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook until the cheese is melted. Transfer to a bowl and serve hot with tortilla chips.

Source: Annies Eats

Low Cal Artichoke Dip

I know the picture doesn't look that appealing, but the dip is actually pretty good. Chris really liked it, but he's also a big veggies and dip person...I'm still getting there. I made this dip and served it with broccoli, carrots, and cucumbers.

2 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
2 cups Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup mayonnaise (regular or low fat)
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
pinch cayenne pepper, to taste (I left this out...not a big cayenne fan)
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and whizz until smooth. Spoon into one or two shallow, oven-proof baking dishes. Bake the dip until golden on top and heated all the way through, about 15 minutes.

Source: Eating Well

Darling Chicken

This is an amazing chicken dish I found on another blog. It is sooo yummy and I'll definitely be making it again. It makes a really pretty presentation, plus the smell when the dish is cooking is fabulous.

1/2+ lb chicken breast, diced
1 lb rotini or cheese tortellini cooked (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced
1 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
1 cup pesto
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 T veg oil
Parmesan cheese

Saute chicken, garlic, and oil in a large sauce pan until chicken is cooked. Stir in tomatoes, peppers, pesto, and pine nuts. Remove from heat and mix in pasta (optional - I didn't use pasta to make this a low carb dish). Top with grated parm cheese.

Source: Use Real Butter

Crockpot Mexican Chicken

Very yummy, healthy, quick, and easy. You can't tell by the picture, but there's a lot of chicken under the bean, corn, and salsa mix on top.
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cans corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 jar salsa
Cheddar cheese (optional)
Rice (optional)
Put chicken on bottom of crockpot. Layer everything else on top. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Top with cheese when done cooking. Serve with rice.
Source: Crockpot

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I also combined a few recipes and added some of my own ingredients to this Minestrone recipe (quite the crafty cook, if I do say so). I wanted to make this a really healthy, veggie and bean packed minestrone, and I couldn't find one exact recipe I wanted to use. This turned out really well! It makes a very large batch though (it fill my crockpot to the top). Great for leftovers! I used a crockpot for this, so I'm not sure how you would make it without a crockpot. I'm assuming you'd cook it on medium high in a big pot on the stove for a few hours until the carrots are tender.

40 oz chicken or vegetable broth (or more if you think it needs it)
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed
1 can white kidney beans, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, entire can
1 onion, diced
1 package spinach, thawed with water squeezed out
3 c carrots
2 T garlic
2 T italian seasoning
2 T parsley
2 T basil
1 package rotini pasta (I used whole wheat)
Combine everything in crockpot except pasta. Cook on low 7-9 hours. Cook pasta at the end and add it to the crockpot mix for 30 minutes. Serve.

Roasted Chickpeas

I really like chickpeas and I have been on a big hummus kick recently, so I thought I'd look for new ways to make chickpea things. I found a similar recipe on a blog and thought I'd modify it a bit to make my own. I am not sure if I would make it again, but I'm not a big "nut" person either. These taste like honey roasted peanuts. Chris thought they were just OK (from the guy that eats everything, OK isn't very good).

2 T maple syrup
1 T red wine vinegar
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1 t nutmeg
1 can chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed and dried

Mix everything together except chickpeas. Mix in chickpeas. Spread on a baking sheet line with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes or so.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Taco Dip

I made this recipe for Taco Dip in addition to the recipe for the Mexican Corn Dip for a OSU vs Michigan party we had a work. Both are the perfect dip for the "game" crowd! This recipe isn't very healthy, but it's always one of the first things gone at parties. I got the recipe from a co-worker a few years ago, so unfortunately I don't have the source for this either.


1.5 lbs lean ground beef
2 packs taco mix
1 16 oz container sour cream
1 8 oz container cream cheese
2 packs Colby jack cheese (about 3 cups)

Brown hamburger and add 1 pack of taco mix. Add about a half a cup of water, but make sure it's not too runny.
In a bowl, mix sour cream, cream cheese, and 1 taco mix. Mix it until you can spread it on like icing.
Place hamburger in bottom on baking dish. Spread cream cheese mix over top. Add cheese until it's about a half inch thick on top.

Bake at 375 until cheese is melted.

Serve with chips, bread, or any dipping items you like.

Mexican Corn Dip

My friend Andrea made this dip for a party we had over the summer and everyone gobbled it up. I have made it a few times since then, and it's always so good! Recipes don't get any easier than this! It's the perfect party dip and fairly healthy too!

3 sm cans or 1.5 large cans of corn with red and green peppers
1 cup fat free sour cream
1/2 t ground cumin
3/4 cup mayo
2/3 cup green onion chopped
1 package low fat Mexican cheese
Mix all together and serve with nacho chips
(Source is unknown...but it may be from a Cooking Light mag...not 100% sure)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Greek Mediterranean Hummus Dip

This is definitely the go-to party recipe. I had this at a party, got the recipe, and can't stop raving about it. While not everyone likes hummus, this dip never fails to be a hit at parties. The dip doesn't taste hummus-y at all, yet it's still very healthy. I also made this for the baby shower and I had a few people ask me for the recipe. I love this dip with veggies or pita pieces. Not only is this dip yummy, it also has a very pretty presentation. (Sorry I forgot to take a pic of the dip before we started eating it hehe)

2 8 oz. package fat-free cream cheese, softened
2 T. Italian seasoning
3 T lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
3-4 cloves minced garlic
2 small container of classic hummus (I made my own...see previous posts)
1 container of crumbled feta cheese
15 or so cherry tomatoes, chopped
1.5 cucumbers, roughly chopped
a handful of pitted olives, sliced (I left this out since I don't like olives)
3 green onions, roughly chopped

Mix together the cream cheese, Italian seasonings and garlic. In a pie plate, spread the cream cheese mixture in an even layer. Drop spoonfuls of hummus on top and then spread to make an even layer. Sprinkle half of the feta cheese crumbles, then half the cucumber, then half the tomato then repeat. Finish with sprinkles of sliced olives. Top with green onions. Top with green onions. Serve with pita or tortilla chips or mixed veggies.

Blueberry Buckle

As soon as a make this recipe, I always have to grab a piece quickly before Chris gets his hands on it and it's all gone. I always make this recipe with whole wheat flour and it tastes just as good. I left off the topping this time to give it more of a healthy kick, but I'd highly suggest the topping - it's amazing! I've been packing it as breakfast all week for work and I really think it starts my day off better than my usual boring granola bar!

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups blueberries

To make the topping, crumble the sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter with a fork in a small bowl. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch square pan or a bread pan. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs, one at a time, and stir in the milk. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder into a separate bowl. Gradually stir it into the butter and sugar mixture. Wash and stem the blueberries. Fold into batter, then spread the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the topping over the batter.

Bake the blueberry buckle for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry. Let cool and serve.

Source: Family Fun

Tomato & Corn Whole Wheat Pasta

I forget the exact name of this recipe, but you get the jist of it by the title (note to self - find correct title). I whipped out my handy-dandy Martha Stewart "New Classics" cookbook for dinner the other night. I was in the mood for something with veggies and whole wheat pasta. Besides the chopping, this recipe was easy to make (I think chopping gets annoying pretty quickly). I used whole wheat pasta, but you could use white pasta as well.


2 T butter
6 tomatoes
1 medium to large white onion
2 T thyme
1 T coarse salt
3 ears of corn
1 package whole wheat pasta shells

Add 2 T butter to a large sauce pan with chopped onion. Cook about 6 minutes until onions are tender. Add 6 chopped tomatoes. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Add corn, thyme and salt and cook 6 more minutes. In the meantime, cook pasta shells in a separate pot of boiling water. Add cooked pasta to final mixture of tomatoes, corn and onion. Serve.

The BEST Sugar Cookies

These are honestly the best sugar cookies ever! They taste just like Cheryl's Cookies. The recipe is from a family friend passed way down to a bunch of people, and now I've got my hands on it! I made this the other day for a baby shower I went to. I iced them too, but I forgot to take a picture of them iced - oops! These are perfect for the holidays. I plan on making cookie bins to take in and pass out at work in the next month or so. My sister started that tradition about five years ago, giving cookie bins to her friends and my dad's co-workers. I hope I get the time to put together a quality assortment this holiday season!
Do you like the picture of my cookie icing helper?! He's so cute!

*This makes a lot. I halve the recipe!

1 c margarine or butter (4 sticks)
2 c sugar
4 egg yolks
1 c sour cream
1 teas salt
8 c flour
2 teas nutmeg
1 teas baking soda
2 teas vanilla

Cream butter, sugar, and egg yolks.
Add sour cream.
Mix in other ingredients.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 mins.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chicken Pesto Pizza

I am proud to say that this recipe is one of the best things I have ever made, if not THE best thing I have ever made! After Chris tried the pizza, he told me we should open a pizza shop haha! (WE?? I don't remember US making the pizza...I remember me making it and him sitting on the couch watching ESPN). While my cooking skills are nowhere near the professional opening a restaurant worthy, it was a nice compliment! It was just a few months ago when I was so discouraged with my horrid cooking skills that I was ready to throw in the towel and eat take out, frozen dinners, and ham steak every night. Now that I'm starting to enjoy cooking and the return results, I still do not enjoy the cleanup. So, being the crafty, witty wife that I am, I have convinced Chris that if I'm going to the trouble of making a meal for him, he should have to clean up after the mess (and believe me, the kitchen is a hot mess after I'm done...we are talking tornado here people). I still think he is getting the better part of the deal here because cooking definitely takes longer than cleaning up. Plus, Chris is used to picking up after my mess (a tragic result of my dad spoiling me and picking up after me my whole life). He's a wonderful cleaner-uper! Aren't spouses supposed to compliment each others weaknesses in the first place?!

I found the crust recipe on Annie's blog. Annie said it's the best pizza crust and boy was she right. I've made homemade pizza crust a few other times with different recipes and this crust was by far the best. This is going to be my go-to crust from here on out. I always get a little nervous when I make homemade pizza crust because I worry about the yeast rising properly and ruining the whole dough. I followed the recipe very carefully and had success. Yay! Since I am on a new health food kick, I substituted the white flour for whole wheat flour. The flavor was still great. I used the recipe to make two large crusts, but you could make three medium crusts with it instead. California Pizza Kitchen has a great chicken pesto pizza, so I tried to emmulate that recipe somewhat. This pizza was so good, the two of us ate an entire large pizza! Oink oink!

1/2 cup warm water
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface and hands
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl
Corn meal (optional) for dusting work surface

1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

(I Omitted steps 2 & 3 - see below method I used)
2. Process the flour and salt in a large food processor, pulsing to combine. Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube. If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.

3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by h and for a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough into a deep oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

Pizza Dough Kneaded by Hand
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead combine the salt and half the flour in a deep bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remaining flour, stirring until a cohesive mass forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic 7 to 8 minutes, using as little dusting flour as possible while kneading. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.

Pizza Dough Kneaded in a Standing Mixer (this is the method I chose)
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead place the flour and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the toppings of choice.

Toppings I used:
(in order)
Pesto (homemade - see previous entry)
Mozzerella cheese
Grilled chicken cut in slices (I used a Trader Joe's pre-cooked pack to save time)
Pine nuts

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or so.

Source: Annie's originally from Baking Illustrated

Monday, November 2, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

My final adventure with the food processor (and the most time consuming) was Butternut Squash Soup. Chris took me to The Worthington Inn for my birthday Friday, and I had the Butternut Squash Soup there. It was to die for! Therefore, I tried to find a recipe that mimicked the taste of The Worthington Inn masterpiece. After sorting through several recipes online, I found this one, and I turned out great! I was very pleased with the results, and I plan on making this again in the future. I doubled the recipe listed below and froze some of the soup for future dinners. I added fresh ginger and coriander to the recipe and it really added to it.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced carrots
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (I found it already cubed and cut at the store)
3 cups vegetable stock
salt and ground black pepper to taste
ground nutmeg to taste
*ground fresh ginger (I put in a good amount and it really added to the recipe)
*2 t coriander

Heat the oil and melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion in the butter and oil under tender.
Mix the carrots and squash into the pot. Pour in vegetable stock, and season with salt, pepper, ginger, coriander, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender.
In a blender or food processor, puree the soup mixture until smooth. Return to the pot and serve. Heat through, but do not boil. Serve warm with a dash of nutmeg.

Source: All Recipes


After I finished the hummus, I rinsed out the food processor and made a quick batch of hummus. This recipe was also out of my "New Classics" Martha Stewart cookbook. I double the recipe because I've heard you can keep this stuff for a few weeks or free it and use it later. I thought the recipe called for too much olive oil, so I reduced that a little bit. I plan on using the pesto sauce as a spread for lunch sandwiches this week, for a pasta dish I want to try, and for whole wheat chicken pesto pizza.
6 c packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 c pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
Coarse salt
1/2 c or so of olive oil
1/2 c parmesean cheese
Combine all ingredient in food process starting with basil and ending with the olive oil. Refrigerate, serve, or freeze.


My mother-in-law got me the food processor that I really wanted for my birthday (I know, dork alert), and I couldn't wait to use it. I came across several recipes that I couldn't make because they all required food processors. Chris and I go to get homemade hummus at least once a week at local restaurants, so I really wanted to start making hummus myself. No need to spend the money and take the time if you can do it at home very easily! I've heard hummus was easy to make, and the rumors were true! It couldn't have been much easier! (The hardest part was getting my new food processor assembled!) There are so many recipes for hummus out there, so I just picked Martha Stewart's basic hummus recipe because all of her food is delish. I got the recipe out of her "New Classics" cookbook. I plan on trying out several other recipes in the near future (I bought way too many cans of garbanzo beans).
2 (15.5oz) cans chickpeas/garbanzo beans (they are the same thing)
1/3 c of fresh lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 c tahini (I couldn't find this so I substituted it for 1 T nutmeg and 1 t cumon)
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1 1/4 t coarse salt
A few tablespoons of water to desired consistency
Drain and rinse chickpeas/garbanzo beans. Add all ingredients to food processor, starting with chickpeas. Store and refrigerate in an airtight container up to one week.

Health Food Kick!

I had a great weekend celebrating my 25th birthday and eating lots of homemade red velvet cake (thanks mom)! After consuming at least a forth of the cake in two days, I decided I need to start caring more about what I eat. I have found several great health food blogs that talk a lot about the importance of eating the right thing. It's not that Chris or I are trying to lose weight, I just think we have realized we need to care more about what we are putting into our bodies, especially with H1N1 and the cold season starting. We already exercise frequently, so at least we've got that part down pat! Now onto the healthy eating adventures...

Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are the best grocery stores in C-Bus, hands down. Whole Foods in a little too expensive to do 100% of our grocery shopping, so I opted to go to Trader Joe's, and it did not disappoint. Trader Joe's is ah-mazing! The prices! The quality! The healthy-ness! The free samples (oops)! The unique selection! I've been to Trader Joe's before, but I've never really bought an entire weeks worth of groceries there. Trader Joe's blows The Iggle and Wally World way far away. I took a picture (above) of a few of the things I bought.

We are at least going to try out this new healthy eating kick for two weeks and see how it goes...stay tuned for more updates on our adventures!

Margarita Pizza

Margarita pizza is Chris and my favorite type of pizza, so I thought I'd give it a shot and make one myself. I didn't follow a recipe for this, but I think next time I will. I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand too. The pizza was really basic, but really quick to prepare.

1 Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust (thin crust)
Olive oil
3 tomatoes cut into thin slices
Fresh mozzarella cheese cut into thin slices
Basil (one pack of the fresh stuff)

Pre-heat oven to directions on back of pizza crust roll. Sprinkle baking stone or cookie sheet with corn meal. Unroll pizza crust onto stone. Drizzle a light layer of olive oil on crust. Layer tomatoes and mozzarella cheese on top of crust. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake according to pizza crust directions. Add basil for last 4 minutes (not sooner or it will burn).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tomato Simmered Chicken

Ok, so I totally just made up the title of this recipe, because I sort of made the recipe up. A few years ago, I came across a similar recipe online somewhere. Between now and then, I've misplaced the recipe and have had to modify it to what I remember it to be. I was in the mood for something healthy since I had cookies for breakfast and a candy bar for lunch. Awful diet, I know! I also was in a little bit of a hurry, I remembered this recipe being quick, and I was correct! This dish is that easy token meal you can make when you need something nutritious and quick!

Pack of chicken breast tenderloins
1 can of diced tomatoes
4 scallions, cut into small pieces
3 T butter
2-3 t garlic salt
1 T salt
3 T Italian seasoning
In a large skillet or wok, add 2 T butter and chicken. In a separate smaller skillet, add 1 T butter and scallions. Saute scallions on low heat. Don't burn. Cook chicken in skillet until no longer pink in the center (about 10 minutes). Add entire can of diced tomatoes, both salts, Italian seasoning, and scallions. Cook over low heat for 7 minutes. Serve.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Pie

I have been obsessed with everything pumpkin this fall! All year, I have been waiting for an excuse to break out the pumpkin recipes, and I finally have one! The trees were particularly beautiful this weekend in our neighborhood, so I felt motivated to cook. I don't have any special pumpkin pie recipes, so I just used the one on the back of the Libby's pumpkin can. I bought a pie crust at the grocery (my next mission is to make my own crust). I didn't want to get ahead of myself and be overly ambitious with a 100% homemade recipe :) I was a little nervous about making a mostly homemade pie, but was presently surprised on how easy this recipe was.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
Whipped cream (optional)

MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. POUR into pie shell. BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.
Source: Libby's

Monday, October 19, 2009

Panini Sandwiches

Panini sandwiches are a weekend lunch favorite at the Day house. I've experimented with a several meats, cheeses, spreads, veggies, and breads. I have a panini iron, and if you don't have one, you need to get one! They make the best sandwiches ever. You can be a crappy cook, and with a panini iron, you can make anything taste good!

2-3 of your favorite meats (I used turkey and big peperoni)
Your favorite cheese (I used reduced-fat swiss)
Your favorite spread (I used pesto sauce)
Your favorite veggies (I used lettuce and tomato)
You favorite bread (I used whole grain homemade oatmeal)

Layer all ingreds except veggies on bread and assemble sandwich. Spray panini iron and heat sandwich to your desired "crunchiness". Remove sandwich and add veggies. Wa-la! Too easy!

Pumpkin Bread

I want to start this with a disclaimer - this pumpkin bread was not the most appealing thing (visually) that I have ever made. was very good! I ran into problems cooking the bread (it took longer than the recipe called for). I think I open and closed the oven too many times and the bread sunk slightly in the middle. I also made 4 mini loafs which turned out very well (too bad I didn't get a picture of those). I will definitely make this recipe again this fall, but this time I'll spray my pans better!
3 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7 x 3 inch loaf pans.
Mix oil, sugar, and eggs together in a large bowl. Mix in pumpkin puree and water. Stir together flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add to the pumpkin mixture, and mix until just combined. Divide batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 1 hour. Cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite fall treat by far is Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. I discovered them about 10 years ago when my sister was trying out recipes and made them for our family. Ever since then, my whole family has loved these awesome treats! Sometimes we will even make them at Christmas and give them out to friends and family. I love these cookies year-round, but there is something special about the fall that makes these cookies especially appealing. After eating a half dozen of these in one sitting (I know, oink oink!), I am ready to carve that pumpkin sitting on my front porch!


1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Mix in a large bowl, pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla. Blend well.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda. Stir into pumpkin mixture, add the milk. Blend well. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Use teaspoon to drop cookies on baking sheet. Bake 8 - 10 minutes.

*NOTE: Do not over cook these! Check frequently!

Source: All Recipes

Paula's Baked Ham & Cheese Chicken

I really like Paula Deen and I think she makes normal, everyday foods (unlike a lot of the tv food chefs). I have tried a few of her recipes already, and really enjoyed this one. Chicken and ham are my two favorite meats, so I knew this would be a hit even before I tried the first bite. The recipe is super easy (just like all of the others)! It tastes like yummy, cool weather comfort food. I really like the seasoning flavor as well. It's very lightly breaded, but very heavily yum-o!

4 chicken breasts (I used very big chicken breasts from a family-sized chicken pack)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Paula Deen House Seasoning (I didn't have this and left it out)
2 eggs, beaten
Hot sauce (only used a few shakes)
1 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Greek Seasoning, recipe follows
1 cup grated Parmesan
Olive oil (didn't use - see note below)
4 slices ham (I bought the small packs of mini ham steaks)
4 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (I used dried)
4 slices mozzarella cheese

Greek Seasoning: 2 teaspoons dried oregano 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons onion powder 2 teaspoons garlic powder

Dredge the chicken breasts in flour seasoned with House Seasoning, then dip in egg wash with hot sauce, to taste, then dredge in a mixture of bread crumbs, Greek Seasoning, and Parmesan. Brown the chicken on each side in a skillet with olive oil on medium-high heat. After frying, transfer chicken to a sheet pan. (**NOTE: I didn't fry the make it healthier, I just sliced the chicken in half and baked in at 375 degrees for 15 minutes**) Top with 1 slice of ham, 1 teaspoon chopped parsley and 1 slice of mozzarella cheese. Place in oven at 375 for 10-15 minutes, just until cheese melts and starts to get bubbly.
Source: Paula Deen

Mexican Chicken

I wasn't going to post this recipe because it was not my favorite, but Chris really like it, and one of his co-workers saw him eating it for lunch one day and asked for the here it is! I am not a huge fan of hearty creamy anything, and this dish is hearty and creamy.

1 10 3/4 -ounce can cream of chicken soup
1 10 3/4 -ounce can cheddar cheese soup
1 10 3/4 -ounce can cream of mushroom soup (I used another cream of chicken instead)
1 10-ounce can tomatoes
1 whole chicken, cooked, boned, and chopped or 4 cups leftover cooked chicken
1 package flour tortillas
2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
*I used the low fat version of the soups and cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, stir together the three kinds of soup and the tomatoes. Stir in the chicken.
In a greased 13 x 9- inch pan, layer the tortillas and the chicken mixture, beginning and ending with tortillas. Sprinkle the cheese over the casserole and bake for 30 minutes.

Source: Paula Deen

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fresh Green Beans

I'm always looking for tasty vegetable recipes, and thought this recipe for green beans looked perfect. The recipe is so stinkin easy...I even took a shortcut and bought a bag of pre-washed fresh green beans at the grocery (so I didn't have to take the ends of off green beans myself). It took me about 5-10 minutes from start to finish. Super easy. Super cheap. Super healthy.
1-2 shallots, well chopped (I used one but will probably use 2 next time because I loved the taste of the shallot. The original recipe calls for leeks but I have no idea where to find those at the grocery)
1/4 cup fresh dill, well chopped
3/4 pound green beans (or one bag), tops and tails trimmed and cut into 1-inch segments
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt (I used regular salt)
Start by boiling beans in hot water for a few minutes (or microwave in bag according to directions like I did).

In a large thick-bottomed skillet of medium-high heat add a generous splash of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and the shallots. Stir until the shallots are coated and glossy. Cook, stirring regularly until a lot of the shallots are golden. I stir every minute or two in the beginning, and more often as they brown using a spatula. Stir in the dill, and then stir in the green beans. Cook for a couple more minutes - just until the the beans brighten up. Turn out into a bowl or onto a platter and serve immediately.

Monday, October 5, 2009


With the fall already here and the unseasonably cool weather, I felt a big bowl of warm chili was the perfect dinner idea! Boy was I right! I've been looking for a great chili recipe and really enjoyed the one I tried. I was a little worried because Chris isn't a big chili eater, but this recipe has quite a few veggies for chili. He ended up loving it! (He's such a good sport!) To complete the meal, I went out and bought a loaf of homemade whole wheat bread at a local bakery. It was definitely the perfect compliment to the meal. Maybe in the future as my cooking skills improve, I'll be able to make my own bread! This recipe made a huge batch, which was perfect for us. I froze about 1/3 of it for future nights when I'm scrambling for dinner and put the rest in a container in the fridge for leftovers this week.

*Chris doesn't like super spicy, so I modified the recipe a little to make it less spicy. It still was fairly spicy though*

2 pounds ground beef chuck
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
3 (15 ounce) cans chili beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can chili beans in spicy sauce (I used medium sauce)
2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 green chile peppers, seeded and chopped (I left this out)
1 tablespoon bacon bits (I left this out)
4 cubes beef bouillon
1/2 cup beer
1/4 cup chili powder (I used about 1/8 cup or less)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I left this out)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 (10.5 ounce) bag corn chips such as Fritos® (optional)
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese (for topping)

1. Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground chuck and sausage into the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.
2. Pour in the chili beans, spicy chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, celery, green and red bell peppers, chile peppers, bacon bits, bouillon, and beer. Season with chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, oregano, cumin, hot pepper sauce, basil, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and sugar. Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve, or refrigerate, and serve the next day.
Source: Annie's Eats

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

This weekend I decided to stock up on food for the week (since I don't like cooking very often after working all day). I came across this great Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Annie's Eats. I'm always looking for good chicken recipes, and I'm always trying to think of something else for Chris to eat for lunch besides his usual turkey sandwich! (On a side note...I have another great chicken salad recipe that I'll post later. I can't decide which one I like better, but this one is definitely good)

I left out the pecans, and only put about half of the mayo and yogurt in (I don't like overly creamy or mayo-tasting chicken salad). I also made my chicken salad with shredded chicken since I like the texture better. (To shred chicken, just boil it in hot water for about 1.5 hours and shred with a fork after it's tender) Once again, I doubled the recipe so I have a large stash for the week!

*I really need to learn how to make these pictures look more appetizing!*

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

4 cups of cubed cooked chicken

1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

1 rib celery, finely diced

2-4 T finely minced shallot

1 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup light mayonnaise

1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt

3 T red wine vinegar

2 T minced flat-leaf parsley

1/2 t salt

1/2 t pepper

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Mix well until thoroughly combined. Serve.

Source: Annie's Eats

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Homemade Vanilla Fro Yo!

Even though last night was a cool fall night, I made homemade vanilla frozen yogurt. I found this recipe that looked really good, plus I have a Cusinart Ice Cream Maker that I needed to get some more use out of. This honestly was the easiest thing I have ever made. All of the recipes I make require little to no skillzzz! There are only 3 ingredients, but you must have an ice cream maker to do this. I'd recommend you get one if you don't have one. Also, it's a great wedding gift (that's how we got ours)!

Here is the recipe (also from 101 Cookbooks)

Frozen Yogurt (Similar to Pinkberry's in NYC)

3 cups Greek-style yogurt (you must use Greek-style or it won't work)

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together the yogurt, sugar, and vanilla (if using). Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Blend in ice cream maker until thick, which is about 15-20 minutes. Also, don't forget to freeze your ice cream maker before you do this (like me, DUH!)

*Put any additional add-ins you want like raspberries, blueberries, cut up candy pieces, peaches... I decided to leave mine plain and make yummo sundaes.

**This only makes about 3 servings. Double if you have more people (or big eaters).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Couscous & Apple Cake

I decided to get really ambitious on my first day of blog cooking and made 2 things! Couscous and Apple Cake (I got both recipes from the Cooking 101 website but modified them to my taste/cooking level a little bit). My overall rating was really high for the Couscous. I'll be making that again soon! Plus, the leftovers are delish (I probably should've doubled the recipe). The Apple Cake recipe was just ok (but I think I'm still getting used to the taste of whole wheat flower). I thought it was slightly bland, but I'm a huge sugar/sweet lover. Chris loved the Apple Cake and ate half the pan in one evening! I served the Apple Cake with pumpkin ice cream, and that definitely made it taste better :)


Extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspon of salt
1 shallot, minced
1 box of couscous (follow microwave instructions so it's cooked)
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach
1/3 cup pesto
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 cup roasted cherry tomatoes**

In a big skillet or pot heat the olive oil and salt over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallot and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the couscous and corn and cook until hot and sizzling. Stir in the spinach and cherry tomatoes. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the pesto and pine nuts. Mix well so the pesto is spread throughout.

Serves 4 - 6.

** To roast cherry tomatoes: Heat oven to 350F degrees. Cut each tomato in half and arrange in a large oven-proof baking dish. Mix together a big splash of olive oil, a spoonful of brown sugar, and a few pinches of salt - pour this over the tomatoes. Gently toss them a bit, making sure they all get coated, finishing with each tomato facing cut-side up. Place in the oven and bake for 45 mintutes or so, until the tomatoes are shrunken and sweet.

Apple Cake

Mine looks a little like Apple Poo...

2 cups crisp red apples, cut into 1/4 cubes (peel on)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Spray one 9-inch square baking dish or tart pan, you can also bake it in a 9x13 pan but really keep a close eye on it after 20 minutes - it will be quite thin.
Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar and salt in a large bowl. And in a separate smaller bowl whisk together the eggs and the buttermilk. Whisk in the melted butter. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the flour mixture and stir until barely combined - try not to over mix. Now fold the apples into the cake batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, pushing it out toward the edges. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cake is just set and a touch golden on top. Underbake it a little bit for best taste.

Serves about 12.

Source for both: 101 Cookbooks

About My Blog

After sharing numerous cooking stories with my family and friends about my recent adventures in the kitchen, I have received feedback that I should start a blog sharing my trials and tribulations. After getting married a little over a year ago, I decided it was time to stop eating Lucky Charms and mac & cheese for every meal. My husband is a typical "man's man" as he likes to say, and therefore claims he doesn't know how to cook (as a sidebar, I'd like to note that I've tried teaching him to simply boil water and add noodles several times and he still hasn't grasped that concept, although, he is pretty good at grilling). Welp, things didn't go to plan and after the first year of marriage, I averaged cooking about 1 meal every few weeks. We both got tired of eating ham steak (yes, that's a real product sold in your local grocer) and turkey sandwiches. that we are onto year 1+, I have really decided to get shizzle done and master this cooking thing.

I have never been interested in cooking or baking, but I definitely LOVE eating good food. I have a good appreciation for food, and really enjoy eating things when they are prepared well. Growing up, my mom and sister were the definite chefs in the house, and I was completely content enjoying whatever they made (minus a few "special" meals). Therefore, I went to college pretty much unable to cook and not willing to learn how to cook.

Now, on my journey to become domesticated (you heard me!), I am learning how to master the kitchen (or at least make something that resembles something edible)! I am using this blog to take you all on my adventures in the kitchen. I hope to offer good incite on easy cooking ideas and also share some good recipes with everyone. Even though didn't start cooking (successfully) until recently, I have several cookbooks and am always looking for new, yummy recipes.

My husband and I are both into healthy eating, so many of the recipes I blog about will be partly organic and/or healthy. I have a HUGE sweet tooth, so I'm sure there will be many dessert recipes as well :) I'm going to be making fairly simple recipes with ingredients we've all heard of (I hate when I get a good recipe and have no clue what the ingredients are).