Monday, December 1, 2008


I think this is an official menu item at every western Pennsylvanian graduation party - at least that was the experience Justin and I had back home. Anyway, I was surprisingly unable to find a recipe, so this is how I made it tonight.

12 oz rigatoni noodles, cooked & drained
4-6 slices bacon
1 lb ground beef
1 can Hunts stewed tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 regular size jar Ragu Parmesan & Romano spaghetti sauce
handful of shredded mozzarella
3-5 slices provolone

1. Cook the noodles, but undercook them a little b/c they will cook more in the oven & you won't want them mushy & overcooked.

2. Cook the bacon & remove from the pan, then cook the ground beef in the bacon fat. Once the ground beef is cooked, drain off all the fat (we are just going for the underlying bacon flavor here, not the actual bacon...)

3. Add the stewed tomatoes to the pan & break up with a potato masher. Stir in the oregano and Ragu. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes.

4. Combine the sauce & noodles. Stir in a handful of mozzarella and put in 2-quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 about 30 minutes. Top with slices of provolone and bake for 10 more minutes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipes

Everyone has certain recipes of the standard Thanksgiving dinner foods that are their favorites. I have yet to have to make Thanksgiving all on my own, but the 3 following recipes are ones I always volunteer to bring b/c they are my favorites & it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without them!

Sweet Potato Casserole

One tall, 40 oz can of yams or sweet potatoes, drained
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup softened or melted butter

Combine all ingredients, mix & put in greased 9x13 pan or glass baking dish. Cover with topping mixture and bake @350 for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

1 cup coconut
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup flour

Combine in medium bowl with pastry blender or a couple of forks

What I do: Sometimes I can't find a 40 oz can of sweet potatoes, so I use 2 of the large cans ( once I actually do my shopping for Thanksgiving I will update with the actual size of the can)

Source: This is definitely my favorite thing for Thanksgiving (not counting dessert, but this is almost dessert anyway). I even eat the leftovers cold the next day. Again, the recipe my mom always uses that I think she got from her old friend, Shirley.

Banana Cream Pie

5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 TB cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups milk
4 TB butter, cut in pieces
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 bananas
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 pie crust, baked & cooled
whipped cream

Prepare ice bath & set aside
To make the custard:
1. In medium bowl whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch & salt
2. In medium saucepan, bring milk just to a boil. Remove from heat and temper the egg mixture(whisk in about 1/2 cup of hot milk into egg mixture to warm it up, then gradually add the egg & milk mixture to the milk in the pan - this just prevents the hot milk from "scrambling" the eggs)
3. Place over medium high heat & bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until thick. Once it starts boiling, use a whisk and stir constantly for about 1 minute.
4. Remove from heat and whisk in butter pieces one at a time until melted. Add vanilla & whisk until smooth.
5. Strain through a fine sieve into medium bowl, put over ice bath to cool. Stir occasionally. At this point you can cover it and save it for the next day - place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to preven a film from forming on the surface.
6. Slice 2 bananas 1/4 inch thick. Add lemon juice & toss to coat. Arrange in the bottom of pie crust. Spread cooled custard over bananas & smooth the surface.
7. Cover, with plastic wrap touching the surface of the custard and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
8. Top with whipped cream just before serving. Serve with slices of remaining banana.

Source: My Aunt Kathy used to make banana cream pie every year for Thanksgiving, this recipe is the closest to my memory of it that I have tried, and I think it was either from a baking class at school or found on the internet. Its more work than a boxed-pudding mix "banana cream pie," but its worth it

90 Minute Rolls

4-5 cups flour
3 TB sugar
1 tsp salt
2 pkg yeast ( 1 pkg = 2 1/4 tsp)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter

1. Combine 3 1/2 cups flour, sugar and salt in mixer bowl.
2. In another bowl dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.
3. Combine milk and butter, warm to 120 degrees. Add milk & butter mixture to yeast.
4. Gradually add liquid mixture to flour mixture in mixer bowl 1/2 cup at a time. Then add remaining 1/2 - 1 1/2 cups of flour as needed.
5. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth & elastic.
6. Put in greased bowl and grease top, then cover with warm, damp towel. Place bowl in a sink of warm water and let rise 15 minutes.
7. Punch down & shape dough into 24 rolls (about the size of a golf ball), place in a greased 9x13 pan, cover and let rise in 90 degree oven 15 minutes until double.
8. Bake 12 minutes at 425. Turn out onto cooling rack after removing from oven.

What I do: I use about 1 1/2 cups wheat flour and the rest white. I have never actually made these in 90 minutes. I can't set my oven to 90 degrees, so they just rise on the counter and that takes more than 15 minutes to get them to double, depending on how warm the kitchen is.

Source: this is the recipe my mom always used. I'm not sure where she got it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

S'more Cookie Bars

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

1. 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.

2.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.

3.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).

4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars

*Note: 3/4 cup crumbs is approx 7 full-sized graham cracker sheets, whizzed in the food processor until fine.

What I did: These are as good as they look....I didn't change anything, but if you have a 9x9 pan instead of an 8x8, that might be better, b/c the crusts did seem a little thick, but then you would need more chocolate too... either way I guess.
Source: In my blogsurfing I came across this excellent site (the picture is from there also). There are lots more things I want to make from here, but I will have to hold off.

Layered Turkey Enchiladas

1 lb. turkey breast tenderloin, cut in bite-size strips
1 16-oz. pkg. frozen sweet peppers and onions stir-fry vegetables
1 10-oz. can enchilada sauce
1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
9 6-inch corn tortillas, halved
1 8 oz. pkg. Mexican blend shredded cheese (2 cups)
lime wedges (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375. In extra-large skillet cook turkey in 1 tablespoon hot cooking oil over medium heat 4 minutes or until no longer pink. Add frozen vegetables, enchilada sauce, and cranberry sauce. Bring to boiling. Sprinkle salt and pepper.

2. In 2-quart baking dish layer one-third of the tortillas, then one-third of the cheese. Use a slotted spoon to layer half the turkey-vegetable mixture. Layer one-third tortillas, one-third cheese, remaining turkey-vegetables (with slotted spoon), and remaining tortillas. Spoon on remaining sauce from skillet; sprinkle remaining cheese. Bake 15 - 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let sit a few minutes before serving. Serve with lime and cilantro.

What I did: I used chicken instead of turkey and flour tortillas instead of corn. I also didn't halve the tortillas? I hate fruit chunks, so I used cranberry sauce with no chunks. The stir-fry mix was a little hard to find, but I ended up using a mix that came in a clear bag (can't remember the brand) that had the peppers & onions, but celery too. you could just chop up a bunch of peppers and onions...

Source: Layered Turkey Enchiladas

Monday, October 27, 2008

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken

12 mulitgrain saltine crackers
1/4 cup parmesan
2 TB fresh parsley (or 1 TB dried)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp each salt & pepper
1/4 cup buttermilk
4 bonelesss skinless chicken breasts

1. Crush crackers in a resealable bag, add parmesan and spices. Shake to combine. Pour into shallow pie plate.
2. Place buttermilk in another shallow pie plate. Pat the chicken dry, dip in buttermilk, then coat both sides of chicken in cracker mixture.
3. Place chicken on rack on baking sheet and bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately

What I did: make the buttermilk, instead of buying it. (to make 1 cup buttermilk you put 1 tsp vinegar in measuring cup and fill with milk to 1 cup. let stand a few minutes) so for 1/4 cup buttermilk use 1/4 tsp vinegar & fill to 1/4 cup with milk. If you didn't have saltines you could probably use any other cracker

Source: Family Circle magazine nov.1.08

Roasted Broccoli

This is the best way to have broccoli! Even Logan says, "I want more blocky"

Get a full head of fresh broccoli. Wash it & cut off only an inch or 2 of the stem. Then cut it longways so it looks like a bunch of tall trees. Spread them out on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. So good, the florets get all crispy and nutty-flavored.

Microwave Brownies

(This is another dangerously quick and easy microwave recipe)

2/3 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
- melt the butter, mix in the sugar and let it cool a little

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Sift together and add:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup instant hot chocolate mix
1/2 tsp baking powder

Stir in chopped nuts, if desired
Put in a greased 9 inch glass or stone pie plate

Microwave on high 4 1/2 - 5 minutes

What I do: its a lot of butter - you can cut down on it...and if your microwave doesn't have a turntable, you will need to rotate the pan a couple of times. we don't usually have hot chocolate mix, so i use the Nesquick chocolate milk mix

Source: my mom had a microwave cooking cookbook - this was a regular at FHE growing up

Microwave Caramel Popcorn

2 bags microwave popcorn (3.5 oz bags)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda

1. Pop the popcorn, dump into a bowl, then transfer the popcorn by hand to a second, large bowl. (this leaves all the unpopped kernels behind in the first bowl)
2. Combine the sugar, butter & corn syrup - microwave on high for 2 minutes, stir and microwave again for 2 minutes.
3. Whisk in baking soda, keep whisking until its all mixed well.
4. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat evenly

**Two bags of popcorn is too much, but one is not enough - so set aside about half of one of the bags for anyone who doesn't want caramel on their popcorn

Source: We had the Young Women make this super-easy recipe for personal progress and Angela provided the recipe

Chicken Won-ton Salad

1/4 cup oil
4 tsp vinegar
4 TB sugar
1 tsp salt
2-3 chicken breast cooked and cubed or shredded
1/2 head of iceberg, chopped
1/2 head of romaine, chopped
10-15 fried won ton wrappers
1 can Water Chestnuts
1 bunch of green onion
chopped peanuts

1. To make the dressing, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar and salt.
2. Combine remaining ingredients in large bowl.
3. Pour dressing over and mix well, serve immediately after adding dressing.

What I did: Instead of frying the won ton wrappers, I sprayed them with Pam, and baked them on a cookie sheet at 350 until they were crispy. Just keep an eye on them b/c they will look fine one second and be burned the next. I also just used a bag of chopped romaine from the store and left out the water chestnuts.

Source: another yummy salad from Angela

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chicken & Sweet Potato Bake

2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 TB olive oil
1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 TB butter
1 TB flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup orange or pineapple juice
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 box cornbread mix
1 egg
1/3 cup milk

1. Boil the sweet potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, cook the chicken in the olive oil with the salt & pepper.
3. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the butter, melt. Add the flour with a whisk and cook for about a minute. Whisk in the stock and juice, cooking until thick, about a minute. Add bbq sauce, scallions, peas, chicken and sweet potatoes. Stir gently until combined.
4. Transfer to casserole dish and mix cornbread mix according to directions on box. Spread over mixture in casserole dish.
5. Bake at 400 (or suggested temp on cornbread mix) about 12-15 minutes until cornbread is baked and golden brown.

What I did/Source: This was originally Rachael Rays "chicken thigh pie" but that doesn't sound very good, so I changed the name and the chicken. I did make it with chicken thighs, but they just seemed greasy so in the recipe above I changed it to chicken breasts. I used Jiffy cornbread mix. Justin said it needed more chicken, less sweet potato, so that is also reflected in the recipe above. And I just used the juice from a can of fruit cocktail instead of orange or pineapple juice.

Pumpkin Bread

15 oz pumpkin
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups sugar

In separate bowl, combine:
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger

1. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing until just blended.
2. Pour into 2 greased & floured bread pans.
3. Bake 60-70 minutes at 350 until toothpick comes out clean

What I did: I used a little less than 1 cup of oil and I used canola instead of vegetable. I like to have enough flavor in pumpkin stuff, so the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves & ginger were rounded measuring spoonfuls, I just didn't level them off. I also sprinkled chocolate chips on the top which made it look pretty, but ended up being kind of messy to eat. Next time I would just stir a few in before pouring in the pans, but not too many.

Taco Burgers

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 jalapeno seeded & chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 TB chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 scallions, chopped
salt & pepper
large white or wheat tortillas
taco sauce
shredded cheese
shredded lettuce
1 tomato, chopped

1. Combine meat, jalapeno, garlic, spices, scallions, s/p. Shape into hamburger patties (4-5).
2. Cook patties in a pan or on the grill until done.
3. warm the tortillas, place lettuce, tomato, taco sauce & cheese in center of tortilla. Top with burger. Fold the tortilla around the burger. To serve, cut on a diagonal.

What I did: I only used about 1 lb of meat and cutting them on the diagonal kind of made them fall apart, so you might just want to wrap it up in the tortilla and eat it. I mixed up the meat and formed the patties before church, then after church we just had to grill them and dinner was ready really quickly.

Source: original recipe Rachael Ray's "taco pockets"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mexican Polenta Pie

Justin didn't really like this b/c, apparently, he doesn't like polenta. But I really liked this, so I'm posting it.

1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TB olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
3 TB chili powder
1 TB cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
15 oz can black beans rinsed & drained
14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup salsa
2 16oz tubes refrigerated cooked polenta
2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese
2/3 cup fresh chopped tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 375. In a large skillet cook onion, garlic, green pepper in the oil. Add turkey, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Cook until turkey is no longer pink. Add beans, undrained tomatoes, and salsa. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer 15 minutes.

2. In a greased 9x13 baking dish cut 1 tube of polenta into 1/2 inch slices, laying out into the pan. Halve remaining polenta lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices; set aside. Sprinkle 1 cup cheese over polenta in the dish. Top with meat mixture. Arrange sliced polenta on top, sprinkle with remaining cheese & chopped tomatoes. Bake for 35 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with cilantro. Let stand 15-20 minutes before serving.

What I did: This recipe makes a lot, so you might want to make it in 2 pans and freeze one. I saved a few bucks & made the polenta myself (bring 3 cups salted water to a boil. Stir in 1 cup yellow cornmeal with a whisk. Remove from heat & stir until thick & no lumps. Spread in greased 9x13 pan. Cover and let cool in the fridge until firm. Cut into squares to use in the recipe. This comes out about an inch thick in the pan so I cut some of the pieces in half for the top. Or you could just spread the polenta in a sheet cake pan instead of a 9x13 then it wouldn't be so thick).


Potato & Ham Casserole

1 medium onion, chopped
2 TB butter
2 TB flour
2 TB dijon mustard
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 of an 8 oz cream cheese, cut up
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded (4 oz)
1 TB chives or green onions
1 1/2 lbs Yukon gold or red potatoes, cut in thin wedges
8 oz sliced Black Forest Ham or country ham, coarsley chopped
1/2 cup crushed bagel chips

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 2 qt baking dish

2. For the sauce: in medium saucepan cook onion in the butter over med. heat about 5 min, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour & mustard. Add milk all at once, stirring. Cook & stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to low. Whisk in cream cheese until melted. Gradually add Gruyere, stirring till melted. Add green onions or chives.

3. In a bowl, combine potatoes, ham & sauce; toss gently to combine. Transfer to baking dish.

4. Bake, covered, 1 hour or until potatoes are tender. Uncover & stir gently. Sprinkle with crushed chips and remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered 10-15 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with herbs.

What I did: I used a cheddar-jack blend instead of Gruyere and I don't think I remembered to add the chives or green onions. My mom used to make something like this, but with peas. So I added some frozen peas at the end, instead of the extra cheese & bagel chips, but I'm sure they would be good. And I don't think I cut my potatoes small enough b/c I baked it at 375 and it took like an hour and a half before the potatoes were soft.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Baked Chicken Chimichangas

2 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 TB olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 TB chili powder
16 oz salsa
1/2 tsp ground cumin
10-inch flour tortillas (about 6) warm before filling if they are stiff
1 can refried beans
olive oil, for basting
sour cream

1. In large saucepan, saute onion & garlic until tender. Add chili powder, salsa & cumin. Remove from heat, add chicken and let cool.

2. Heat oven to 450. Grease rimmed 15x10x1 baking pan.

3. Working with one tortilla at a time, spoon a heaping tablespoon of beans down the middle. Top with about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture. Fold up bottom, top and sides of tortilla and roll up. Hold together with toothpicks if necessary. Place chimichangas in pan seam side down, spaced a couple of inches apart. Brush all sides of chimichangas with oil.

4. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crisp, turning every 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream and guacamole.

What I did: The recipe originally called for a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to be added with the cumin & chili powder. Justin and I have never met a savory food with cinnamon in it that we liked. We believe it should be reserved for sweets. But add it if you like. I also used canola oil instead of olive oil b/c I wasn't sure how the flavor of olive oil would go with this. I used fat free refried beans & lite sour cream. Next time I will serve it with some shredded lettuce along with the sour cream. Leftovers are great reheated in the oven so they are crispy. I also bought small tortillas by mistake, so it made a bunch of small chimichangas instead of six big ones. Although they were a little harder to roll up, this might be better if you have kids who will want their own instead of part of a big one.

Source: Insider's Recipes Master Edition

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pepperoni Pizza Burgers

I had this one on my list of things to make and it kept getting put off b/c I wasn't all that excited about it, but it turned out being pretty good.

1 lb lean ground beef
2 oz pepperoni, chopped (I used the less-fat turkey pepperoni)
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 8 oz jar pizza sauce
1/2 tsp dried basil or oregano, crushed
salt & pepper
hamburger buns, split & toasted
shredded mozzarella cheese

1. In a medium mixing bowl combine ground beef, pepperoni, egg, bread crumbs, 2 TB of the pizza sauce, basil or oregano, S & P. Mix well. Shape into 6 patties

2. Grill burgers directly over medium coals for 14-18 minutes or until center reaches 160, turning once halfway through grilling.

3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining pizza sauce. Place burgers on bottom half of buns, top with sauce and some mozzarella cheese.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bowties with Lemon, Sun-dried Tomatoes & Spinach

1/3 cup sun-dried tomato halves (not oil-packed)
1/2 cup boiling water
8 oz farfalle pasta (bowties), cooked according to pkg
1 tsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
3 TB lemon juice
2 TB butter
6 oz fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup parmesan
1 TB fresh oregano

1. Place tomatoes in small bowl, soak in boiling water 10-15 min. until soft. Remove tomatoes, reserving liquid. Slice tomatoes into thin strips.
2. Heat oil in large skillet over med. heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper. cook 2-3 minutes.
3. Increase heat to high. Add broth, lemon juice and reserved soaking liquid. Bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced to about 1 cup.
4. Reduce heat to low & add butter. Stir in tomatoes and spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Add pasta, stir to coat. Sprinkle with cheese & oregano.

What I do: This is one of my old stand-bys, but I add chicken (cook in step 2 with garlic & remove from the pan after its cooked. Add to pan again with the pasta) Also, instead of sun-dried tomatoes I usually use the roasted red peppers that come in a jar. Slice them into strips and use the liquid out of the jar). I haven't made this in a while, but I think I usually end up adding some extra broth.

Pumpkin Pie Crunch

1 16 oz can solid pack pumpkin
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 pkg yellow or butter flavored cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butter, melted
whipped topping

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9x13 pan.
2. Combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt in large bowl or mixer. Pour into pan.
3. Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture. Top with pecans. Drizzle with melted butter.
4. Bake for 50-55 min or until golden and toothpick comes out clean.
5. Cool completely and serve with whipped topping. Refrigerate leftovers.

What I did: The only thing different from how I wrote out the recipe is the butter. I did melt a whole cup of butter, but as I was drizzling it over the top I couldn't help thinking it was a LOT of butter and didn't end up using the whole cup. So if you want to cut back you could probably even use only 1/2 cup. I have made and tasted several similar recipes, but always thought it could be better. This one is my favorite and the one I'll stick with.

Source: The Shook Family Cookbook, but I made some changes

Thursday, August 28, 2008


No, its not healthy, but its easy to put together and get on the table and everyone likes it.

Refrigerated pizza dough (the kind that comes rolled up in the tube that pops open)
provolone cheese slices
Italian seasoning
spaghetti sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Unroll the pizza dough into a rectangle. Place about 3 slices of ham on the dough, spaced out across the dough, then 2 or 3 slices of salami, then some pepperoni and then the cheese. Sprinkle on some Italian seasoning.
3. Roll up the dough, kind of like making cinnamon rolls, and pinch the seam and ends together. Place on greased cookie sheet, seam side down, and bake about 30 minutes, until golden brown.
3. Let stand a few minutes before slicing. Use the spaghetti sauce as dip.

What I do: Sometimes I have used turkey and you can basically put whatever in it depending on what you like, this is just what we usually do. I've used mozzarella, but provolone is better. It seems that making one isn't quite enough for our family, but 2 is plenty, enough for lunch the next day too. Don't let it burn, but you'll want to leave it in long enough that the dough in the middle will be cooked.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Chicken Pineapple Fajitas

8 6-inch flour tortillas
4 1-inch slices pineapple
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 small, red or orange peppers, seeded, cut in strips
2 tsp Jamaican Jerk seasoning
1/8 tsp pepper
1 TB cooking oil
fresh cilantro
fresh lime juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap tortillas in foil
and heat in oven. Meanwhile, coat a 12-inch nonstick
skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high. Add
pineapple slices; cook 4 to 6 minutes, until browned,
turning once. Remove. Cut pineapple into bite sized pieces.

2. Cut chicken in strips; toss with sweet peppers; jerk
seasoning, and pepper. Heat oil in skillet; add chicken and
peppers. Cook and stir over medium-high 4 to 6 minutes,
until chicken is no longer pink.

3. Remove from heat. Combine with pineapple and serve on warmed tortillas with chopped cilantro and lime juice.

What I did: I used pineapple tidbits, from a can instead of fresh. I couldn't find the Jamaican jerk seasoning, so I just made it w/o. It probably would have been even better with it. Justin requested sour cream, so you could add that too.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens Dinnertime

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spinach-Pasta Caesar Salad

3-4 grilled chicken breasts (marinated in Newmans Own Low-fat Sesame Ginger dressing)
1 lb pasta, cooked
6 oz bag fresh spinach
1 cup craisins
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 can artichoke hearts, drained

Combine for the dressing:
1/2 cup Newmans Own Low-fat Sesame Ginger dressing
1/2 cup Ken's Light & Creamy Caesar dressing

Chop the grilled chicken breasts before adding to the salad and you'll probably want to let your pasta cool after cooking it so it doesn't wilt the spinach. I used whole wheat rotini, but you could use bow-ties or penne, whatever kind of pasta.

We decided it needed something crunchy, so you could add croutons, bacon crumbles, or slivered almonds

Source: Angela made this probably about a year ago for a lunch... not sure why it took me so long to actually get the recipe from her. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cincinnati Chili

Sorry its been so long since I posted a recipe. We were on vacation and then none of the new recipes I tried since have been worth sharing. So here's one of my old stand-by's.

1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 TB chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans tomato soup
1 15 oz can kidney beans, undrained
1 TB vinegar
cooked spaghetti
shredded cheddar

1. In a 4 qt sauceapan over med-high heat cook beef, green peppers, onions, chili powder and garlic until beef is browned and vegetables are tender. Spoon off the fat.
2. add soup, undrained kidney beans, & vinegar. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to low & simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Serve over cooked spaghetti and sprinkle shredded cheddar on top.

Not being big fans of spaghetti or chili, Justin was not so much excited about this the first time I made it, but after trying it he really liked it and it got the approval to be made again. The recipe comes from a roommate I had in college.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ziti Mexi-Cali

Today is the 15th day of 100+ temperatures and its only June! So here's a good recipe for one of those days. All you have to cook is the pasta.

8 oz ziti or other short pasta
14.5 oz can Mexican-style diced tomatoes with/jalapenos or chiles
1 can yellow corn, drained or 1 cup frozen kernels
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 bunch scallions, chopped
fresh cilantro (optional)
1 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese

1. Cook and drain the pasta.
2. Combine pasta and all other ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to mix well.

note: if using frozen corn, rinse them under warm water to defrost them before adding to bowl.

What I did: I added a little spoonful of lite sour cream on top of each dish.

Source: Cheap. Fast. Good! by B. Mills & A. Ross


I eat this every morning with skim milk, like regular cereal. Justin & Logan like it with yogurt. And here's my disclaimer - I make this differently every time. I've tried many recipes, each one swearing its the best granola recipe out there. Well everyone has a different idea of how a granola cereal should be. So this is a granola "formula." I can't find the website I got it from...and I've added some things to it anyway. I'll give you the basic formula then I'll tell you what I use out of the formula and you can do what you want with it.

7 cups dry ingredients including:
at least 2-3 cups oats (I prefer quick, but you could use regular)
plus the following, as desired:
wheat germ
whole wheat flour
wheat bran
wheat grits
soy flour or grits
Grape Nuts cereal
sunflower seeds
pumpkin seeds, roasted
fresh grated or dried coconut
dry milk solids
chopped nuts
spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc) to taste
brown sugar

1 cup liquids, including as desired:
molasses (a little bit of this will make the whole batch tast like molasses, so be careful!)
melted butter
peanut butter

Preheat oven to 300
1. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl
2. Combine liquid ingredients & pour over dry ingredients. stir until thoroughly combined
3. Spread in large greased baking sheet and bake 30-60 minutes, stirring often. Dont over-brown
4. When cool, add dried fruits, if desired.

What I do: I put 3 cups quick oats in a large bowl. Then in a 4 cup Pyrex I add the rest of the dry ingredients until it fills up to 4 cups, with roughly the following:
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup grits
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts or coconut

Then I dump it in the bowl with the oatmeal & mix it all together.
Then I get 1 cup Pyrex and add roughly the following until its a half inch or so over the 1 cup line:
2 TB canola oil
4 TB water
1 TB vanilla
1/4 - 1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup skim milk
(if I still have some space to fill I'll add some peanut butter or applesauce, or usually just some more water)

I'm still experimenting, but I think it needs more than 1 cup of liquid to get it to make little clumps of granola instead of a bunch of loose oats, etc. So I've been increasing the liquid amount a little each time. I don't like mine very sweet, so add more sugar or honey if you do. I stir it about every 10-15 minutes and I think it takes about an hour to cook to a golden color. I keep it in a plastic container in the fridge.

Pineapple-Black Bean Enchiladas

2 tsp veg oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 20 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
1/3 cup pineapple juice, reserved
1 15 oz can black beans drained & rinsed
1 4.5 oz can chopped green chiles
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 cups (12 oz) shredded low-fat cheddar
1 10oz can enchilada sauce
8 whole wheat flour tortillas
reduced fat sour cream
chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet. Add onion & red pepper, cook 4-5 minutes until softened. Stir in pineapple, beans, green chiles & salt. Cook and stir until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup cilantro adn 2 cups of the cheese.

2. Spread 1 TB enchilada sauce on each tortilla. Spoon about 3/4 cup vegetable mixture over sauce. Roll up & place seam side down in baking dish.

3. In small bowl, mix reserved 1/3 cup pineapple juice & remaining enchilada sauce; pour over entire surface of enchiladas in baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Spray sheet of foil w/cooking spray & place over enchiladas (sprayed side down). Seal tightly & bake 35-40 min. at 350. Remove foil during last 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted & sauce is bubbly. Top each enchilada with small spoonful of sour cream and sprinkle on some cilantro.

What I did: I used dried cilantro, so I added it in with the pineapple, beans, etc. I don't think I added the salt, and I used more than 8 tortillas. I made it in 2 small pans & froze one for another day and I can't remember if I put 5 or 6 enchiladas in each pan, but I definitely got more than 8 out of the recipe. Also, not a big deal, but if you have the time, let the veggie mixture cool off before adding the cheese - it might be easier to fill the enchiladas w/o melted cheese stringing everywhere

Source: Thanks Mindy! And if I remember correctly, you said this was a Weight Watchers recipe.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Macaroni & Cheese

3 cups macaroni noodles, cooked

2-4 TB butter
4 TB flour
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1. melt the butter and add the flour, stirring constantly with a whisk until it thickens, just a minute or two
2. Add the milk & salt and stir with a whisk over med/high heat frequently until it thickens
3. pour the sauce over the noodles, add the cheese. Stir to combine until all the cheese is melted. Serve.

This is my mom's recipe (probably her mom's too) and although not especially healthy, is one of my favorites. She made it a lot on busy nights that we had to go to the church for scouts & mutual. We always had it with peas & grape juice. My husband does not consider mac & cheese a "meal" so I always made it on nights he had class until 10 and wasn't eating with us anyway.

I always use skim milk. Sometimes I use whole wheat flour. Also, mild cheddar cheese doesn't have a whole lot of flavor, so I like to use medium or sharp cheddar. You may also want to add more salt & pepper.

Tomato, Basil & Cheese Pasta

A friend gave me some fresh basil from her garden & I made this. I think the fresh basil made a big difference, but you could probably still use dried basil. I put half in an 8x8 pan for that night and put the other half in a foil pan in the freezer for another day.

1 lb. medium shell pasta
extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 15oz cans Italian diced tomatoes
10-12 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped or torn
salt & pepper
1 cup store-bought pesto
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 c. shredded mozzarella

1. Cook and drain the pasta, keep warm. Preheat the broiler.
2. saute the onion & garlic in a little olive oil until soft. Add the tomatoes & simmer a few minutes. Stir in the basil and the S/P to taste.
3. Combine the pasta, tomato sauce, pesto, ricotta and parmesan in a large bowl. Mix well and transfer to baking dish.
4. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Place under broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheeses.

Notes: I use the lower fat, skim ricotta. You can find the pesto in a jar near the spaghetti sauces at the store.

Adapted from Rachael Ray's original recipe

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Smoky-Sweet Pork

We are surrounded by BBQ places here in Texas & my husband said he would buy this. We had it on little mini slider-sized wheat buns & my 2 1/2 year old ate 2 of them!

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 1 1/2 hours

1 1/2 lbs boneless pork top loin roast or boneless pork blade roast
2 tsp cooking oil
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup snipped pitted dates
2 TB finely chopped canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp bottled minced garlic or 2 cloves garlic, minced
bread or buns

1. Trim fat from roast. In a large saucepan brown roast on all sides in the oil. Drain off fat. Add water, ketchup, bbq sauce, red onion, celery, brown sugar, dates, peppers, mustard and garlic. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until meat is tender stirring sauce occaisonally.

2. Remove meat from sauce. Pull meat apart into shreds with 2 forks. Skim fat from sauce. Combine meat with enough sauce to your desired consistency.

3. Serve on top of bread slices, or in buns, with lettuce (if desired).

What I did: I left out the dates. My roast was 1.8 lbs and was done before an hour and a half, so make sure you check it around an hour b/c you won't want it overcooked. I also pureed the sauce in a food processor after cooking it b/c I didn't want onion & celery chunks in my sauce.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens New Dieter's Cookbook

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Salmon with Feta & Pasta

25 minutes, start to finish

12 oz fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillet
8 oz rotini pasta
2 cloves garlic
4 large roma tomatoes, chopped (2 cups)
1 cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup sliced pitted ripe olives
3 TB chopped fresh basil
ground pepper
2 tsp olive oil
4 oz crumbled feta cheese

1. Thaw the fish, rinse, pat dry. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Cook pasta, drain & keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, lightly coat large nonstick skillet w/cooking spray. Heat over med-high. Add garlic, cook & stir 15 seconds. Add fish to skillet & cook 4-6 minutes until fish flakes easily w/fork. Stir in tomatoes, olives basil, and pepper. Heat through.

3. Toss salmon mixture in large bowl with pasta & green onions, and feta. Serve

Notes: I used diced tomatoes out of a can and dried basil. I also used reduced fat feta. Don't bother salting the salmon or the pasta's cooking water - the feta has plenty of saltiness to go around. This was good with the salmon, but it would probably be good with chicken if you don't have the salmon.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens New Dieters Cookbook


This recipe is kind of long to type out, and actually, a little more complicated than I usually bother with, but it's a good one. So here's the link:


Everyone's spice tolerance is different, but I didn't think this was too spicy. If you are worried about it, you can pick out the seeds from the peppers.

Don't substitute anything else for the fire roasted tomatoes or the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce - they add important flavors. The sour cream & green onions are also a must. You could skip making the tortilla strips and use regular tortilla chips though. We loved this!

Source: Rachael Ray