Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! I apologize for my lack of posts these past few days. Between the holidays and my lack of appetite, it's been difficult to find time to cook new dishes. Corey and I are expecting twins in early July, and the Peanuts have wreaked havoc on my eating habits and appetite, so it's been hard to cook just about anything! However, I am starting to feel like my old self and should be back up and running on Monday with some new recipes to share.

In the meantime, Sadie says happy holidays to you! She was very blessed by Santa Paws with a REAL prime rib bone (thank you, Cherolyn), a big chewie bone, a Christmas Crustacean toy, and a Roadkill Raccoon from her favorite auntie, Kara. I hope that you and your families were similarly blessed!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Creme de Menthe Brownies

We had a Christmas cookie exchange in the office yesterday, and I ended up with nine different kinds of delicious treats, along with the recipes to make them. As such, you will probably be seeing several baked goods come across this blog in the next few days, as everything I have tried has been quite delicious. Here's a recipe for Creme de Menthe Brownies, which is the dessert that I contributed to the cookie exchange. Enjoy!


Recipe Notes

Make sure that each layer cools completely before adding the next layer to the brownies! It can sometimes be difficult to find the old-fashioned cans of Hershey's chocolate syrup. I have the most luck finding this grocery item with the ice cream toppings. If you look with the rest of the hot cocoa and "squeezable" chocolate syrups, you probably won't find it.

Bottom Layer Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-16 oz. can chocolate syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (I like to use good-quality vanilla, but imitation extract will work)

Bottom Layer Instructions

1. Cream butter and sugar.

2. Add eggs, flour, salt, chocolate syrup, and vanilla (in the order listed). Blend well.

3. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan and bake, 20-25 minutes, at 350 degrees. You will probably have gooey brownies in the center and well done brownies on the edges if you stick to this timeframe.

4. Let cool while preparing middle layer.

Middle Layer Ingredients

  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
  • 2 tbsp. creme de menthe liqueur (I substitute mint extract when I don't have creme de menthe)
  • 2-3 drops green food coloring

Middle Layer Instructions

1. Blend powdered sugar, butter, creme de menthe, and green food coloring.

2. Mix well and spread over cooled brownies. (This is accomplished most easily with a bent icing knife). CHILL THOROUGHLY.

Top Layer Ingredients

  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  • 6 tbsp. butter

Top Layer Instructions

1. Melt butter and chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler.

2. Let cool to icing consistency. Spread over chilled brownies.

3. Cut into diamonds or square shapes for serving. Serves 48.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Baked Onion Rings

Corey loves these, and they are so much better for you than fried onion rings!


Recipe Notes

This Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe calls for a hot pan with heated oil prior to baking. I typically just swirl a little olive oil over the foil in my jelly roll pan prior to putting it in the oven, and they turn out about the same. The onion rings might be a little crispier if you heat the oil in the pan first, but it's another step that I like to leave out if I am short on time.


  • 1-1/2 c. cornflakes
  • 1/2 c. plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Coarse salt & ground pepper
  • 1 medium sweet onion (such as Vidalia), sliced and broken into rings
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. In a food processor, pulse cornflakes and breadcrumbs until fine crumbs form. Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl.

3. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, flour, and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Dip onion rings in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Dredge in cornflake mixture and place on plate.

5. Pour oil onto a rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan. (I line mine with foil first.) Place in oven and heat for 2 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and tilt to coat evenly with oil.

6. Arrange onion rings on baking sheet. Bake, turning once, until golden brown (approximately 16 minutes). Season with additional salt and serve.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Almost" Luby's Mac & Cheese

The perfect comfort food for winter time! Loved by adults and kiddoes alike. Serve with steak or grilled chicken instead of mashed potatoes. Or just have it alone with some vegetables and bread for dinner. Warning: this is NOT a healthy recipe (although it is not nearly as bad for you as the steakhouse mac & cheese varieties we love so much).


Recipe Notes
Amazingly enough, tt can be difficult to find shredded American cheese these days - Randall's doesn't even carry it any more! The closest I've been able to find is a Kraft Classic Melts variety, which is an American and cheddar cheese blend. I have found it at Rice Epicurean. For me, that works just fine.

  • 2 c. dry elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1-1/2 c. milk (I used skim, 2% probably works the very best)
  • 3 c. grated American cheese, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. salt


1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large sauce pan, melt butter and whisk in flour. As the butter is melting, I like to add a couple of tbsp. of milk so that the butter and flour don't scorch.

3. Gradually add milk, whisking well to combine.

4. Add 1-1/2 c. shredded cheese and mix until melted and creamy.

5. Stir in macaroni, salt, and 1 c. cheese (only 1/2 c. shredded cheese will be left to use).

6. Turn into a lightly greased 2 quart baking dish (8x8 or 9x9). Cover with foil.

7. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle top with remaining 1/2 c. cheese. Continue baking for one minute or until remaining cheese melts.

Spiced Pecans

These are a great bar snack or accompanyment to an appetizer buffet. I made a big tray for a party Corey and I are having this weekend. These are sure to go fast and watch out! They are spicy.



  • 4 c. pecan halves
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. chili paste (check the imported section of your grocery store)
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 4 tsp. salt, divided


1. Combine all ingredients except for salt in a large mixing bowl. Add 3 tsp. salt.

2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

3. Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan (preferred) with parchment paper. Spread nuts in a single layer on parchment paper.

4. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool and store in a cool, dry environment (such as a metal tin or glass jar). Plastic containers are not recommended for storage - they may soften your pecans.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I tried my hand at calzones last night, and Corey and I both liked them, so I guess we'll call them a success. You can really put any combination of meats, cheeses, and vegetables in these. I generally followed an old Real Simple recipe and then also added fillings based on what I had on-hand.


Recipe Notes
Be sure to watch these in the oven to make sure that they don't overbake.

  • 1 lb. tube pizza dough
  • 1/2 lb. reduced-fat pork sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 c. fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 c. part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 c. part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Marinara sauce, for dipping


1. Brown pork sausage with red bell pepper in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Set aside.

2. Combine cheeses (ricotta, mozarella, and Parmesan) in a medium bowl. Add baby spinach and stir well to combine.

3. Spray a cookie sheet with Pam. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

4. On a cutting board lightly coated in flour, separate pizza dough and roll it out into four equal circles, approximately 8 in. in diameter.

5. Place cheese and spinach mixture on 1/2 of the pizza dough circles, leaving a 1/2 inch border for sealing the calzone. Top with sausage and red bell pepper mixture.

6. Fold over calzones and seal, pressing both edges together to form a half-moon shape. Brush with olive oil.

7. Arrange calzones on cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until calzones are golden brown.

8. Serve with marinara sauce.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Simple Risotto

Risotto seems scary to prepare, but it shouldn't. This adaptation from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food is on the table in less than one hour. To add some protein, you can add broiled shrimp (as I did above) or sauteed scallops over your risotto. Otherwise, this is a nice vegetarian dinner that has less than 300 calories per serving and is very filling.


Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
286 calories - 14.7 g. fat - 0.7 g. fiber

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. butter (I used light butter)
  • 1 c. arborio rice or risotto rice
  • Chicken broth - one box
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste


1. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onion and cook until soft.
2. Add rice and cook 2-4 minutes, or until the rice begins to brown slightly.
3. Stir in white wine and allow to be completely absorbed.
4. Add 1 c. water and bring to a slight boil. Stir occasionally until all liquid is absorbed.
5. Begin adding chicken broth, 1/2 c. at a time, until risotto is tender and creamy. For me, this takes about 20-25 minutes and about 3 c. chicken broth.
6. Stir in Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Flank Steak Marinade

Corey and I tried this easy marinade last night on grilled flank steak, and it was really tasty!


Recipe Notes
This Cooking Light marinade suggests that you can marinate your meat at least four hours or up to overnight. I marinated a 1.25 lb. flank steak overnight and thought that the soy sauce component would be slightly more muted if I had only marinated the steak for the afternoon. I would suggest 4-6 hours of marinating time.


  • 1-1.5 lb. flank steak
  • 3/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/4 c. sliced scallions (green onions)


1. Combine all ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag.

2. Refrigerate at least four hours or up to overnight.

3. Grill to desired degree of doneness.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gran's Gingerbread

'Tis the season for gingerbread! I made some for the neighbors this weekend to spread some Christmas cheer. This recipe was my great great grandmother's (my grandmother's grandmother). It was submitted by my great aunt Susie for the original Houston Junior League Cookbook, and it was first published in 1968 and has been published in several editions since. Enjoy - my family makes this every


Recipe Notes

One recipe will make approximately 2 large loaves or 4 mini loaves. For mini loaves, adjust your baking time accordingly. In my oven, mini loaves took approximately 30 minutes.


  • 1/2 c. butter, softened (one stick)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. molasses (we use Grandma's brand)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 c. boiling water

1. Spray loaf pan(s) with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream butter and sugar. Add molasses.

3. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

4. Add flour, ginger, cloves, cinnamon.

5. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Add to batter.

6. Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

7. Serve warm for breakfast or dessert with a pat of butter.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Nana Noodles

My Nana used to make these noodles for me and my siblings when we would have an afternoon over at her house. These are the BEST when you are not feeling well, and they're also great on a cold day. Considering we're actually getting SNOW in Houston today, I thought it was appropriate to make some last night.


Recipe Notes
These may be eaten with the broth, like chicken noodle soup, or they can be eaten more like a pasta dish without the broth. Corey takes it one step further and puts marinara on top of his noodles. This recipe is not an exact science, so experiment to see what you like best!

  • Chicken broth
  • Wide egg noodles
  • Chicken breasts - 1 package
  • Celery (sliced)
  • Carrots (sliced)
  • Salt & pepper to taste


1. Bring a large pot full of chicken broth and water (equal parts) to boiling. Add chicken and boil until cooked through.

2. Remove chicken breasts to a cutting board, remove any excess fat. Cut into small cubes and set aside.

3. Skim any chicken fat off of the top of the chicken broth liquid. Add egg noodles, carrots, and celery and cook according to the package directions for the egg noodles.

4. Fold in cooked chicken and serve hot, either as a soup or a pasta dish.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Glazed Salmon with Broccoli Rice

This Real Simple Magazine recipe is really all that - just really simple! Serve with a salad topped with orange slices, blue cheese, pecans, and light champagne vinaigrette dressing.


Recipe Notes

I prepared the rice in my rice cooker (thank you, Trey Wolff!) and steamed the broccoli simultaneously in the basket insert for the top of the rice cooker. Otherwise, you can prepare the rice and broccoli on the stove.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)

497 calories - 11 g. fat - 38 g. protein - 2 g. fiber


  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 c. long-grain white rice (I use Texmati)
  • 1 head broccoli, stems discarded and cut into florets
  • Four 6-oz. salmon filets, skinned
  • 1 large red onion, cut into small wedges
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste


1. Heat broiler. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar and soy sauce; set aside.

2. Cook the rice according to package directions, adding broccoli during the last three minutes of cooking. Let stand off heat until broccoli is tender and fluff with a fork.

3. Place salmon and red onion on a foil-lined baking sheet. Rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spoon half of the soy/brown sugar glaze over the salmon and onions.

4. Broil 8-10 minutes until the salmon is opaque throughout.

5. Serve the salmon and onions over the broccoli rice with the remaining soy/brown sugar glaze.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stuffed Tomatoes

These are great with grilled chicken or steak, and they are easy to prepare. Corey loves them because they incorporate his favorite "food group" - BACON.


Recipe Notes
I have adapted this recipe from an old Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe. This recipe is easily doubled or tripled. Serves 2.

  • Canned corn - one small can, drained
  • 2 beefsteak tomatoes
  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. chopped scallions
  • 1/4 c. soft, crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 slices cooked bacon (I used center-cut), crumbled
  • Sea salt & coarse ground pepper to taste
1. Combine canned corn, olive oil, scallions, goat cheese, white wine vinegar, bacon crumbles, and salt and pepper in a small bowl.
2. Slice top off of each beefsteak tomato. Using a spoon, hollow out the contents of each tomato.
3. Stuff with corn mixture and refrigerate before serving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Easy Cranberry Sauce

I make this for my family every Thanksgiving and Christmas. And with only three ingredients, how could you NOT like this recipe? This is great with leftover turkey on a sandwich with a little mayonnaise and lettuce....yum!

Recipe Notes
Easily doubled or tripled.

  • One, 12-oz. bag cranberries
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. orange juice


1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.

2. Bring to a boil and stir continuously, approximately 5-10 minutes. Cranberry sauce will be done when the mixture is foamy and most of the cranberries have burst.

3. Allow to cool completely before storing or serving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lightened Fettuccine Alfredo

Corey liked this recipe so much, he had seconds (and then thirds for a late-night snack). This is another 30-minute dinner from start to finish and it is low-cost, considering that you probably keep most of these ingredients in your pantry or fridge already. Thanks Cooking Light!


Recipe Notes

I use skim milk instead of 1% because that is what I keep on hand. Four cups of cooked fettuccine equals one-half of a one lb. box (the unit of measure typically sold in grocery stores).

Nutritional Information

399 calories - 13.5 g. fat - 21.3 g. protein - 2 g. fiber


  • 1 tbsp. butter (I used light butter)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/3 c. 1% low-fat milk (I used skim)
  • 1-1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 tbsp. reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 4 cups hot, cooked fettuccine
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley


1. Cook fettuccine according to package directions.

2. While fettuccine cooks, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

3. Add garlic and cook one minute, stirring frequently. Add flour.

4. Increase heat. Add milk slowly, 1/4 c. at a time, stirring vigorously with a whisk to break up any lumps.

5. Cook until mixture thickens, about 6 minutes.

6. Add 1 cup Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir with a whisk until cheeses melt.

7. Toss sauce with hot, cooked pasta.

8. For plating: serve on four plates and top with remaining 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh parsley, and freshly-cracked pepper.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pork Loin with Roasted Shallots and Pears

Thanks to my co-worker Ruth for this tasty new recipe! It is time-consuming to prepare, but it blends a lot of fall flavors very nicely. Please note that this makes eight ENORMOUS servings. What you see pictured above is about HALF a serving, and it was plenty for me with mashed potatoes and a salad. I also halved the recipe and used a 1.5 lb. pork tenderloin (which I trimmed) instead of a 3 lb. pork loin. Then I just halved all of the other ingredients.


Recipe Notes

I was having a hard time getting the gravy to thicken, so I added about an extra tbsp. of flour to help thicken it up.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 8)

470 calories - 17 g. fat - 54 g. protein - 3 g. fiber


  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3-4 lb. pork loin roast
  • 12 oz. shallots, peeled and halved or quartered (about 2 cups)
  • 3 medium unpeeled pears, cut into wedges
  • 3/4 tsp. salt, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 4 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 or 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Coarsely ground black pepper to taste


1. In a large zip-top plastic bag, combine 2 tbsp. olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and pork loin. Seal bag and coat pork loin evenly with marinade. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

3. In a roasting pan, toss shallots and pears with remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt.

4. Remove meat from marinade and reserve marinade in plastic bag. Place pork in the center of the roasting pan, surrounded by pears and shallots.

5. Cut several small slits in top of pork. Insert sliced garlic and thyme sprigs.

6. Roast pork for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue roasting until desired degree of doneness, approximately 35-40 minutes more.

7. While meat roasts, melt butter and whisk in flour (this is where I added some extra flour for thickening). Add chicken broth and reserved marinade. Whisk to break up lumps and cook until thickened, 10-15 minutes. Stir in thyme and additional salt and pepper. Remove from heat and keep warm.

8. Remove pork from oven. Let stand 5 minutes, covered with foil, before slicing. Slice pork and serve with shallots, pears, and gravy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hearty Lasagna

This is a great Sunday night dinner with leftovers to eat all week! This is definitely a time-consuming meal (about an hour of prep time and another hour of cooking time), but the result is a tasty, low-fat lasagna alternative. This recipe first appeared in Cooking Light in 1995.

Recipe Notes
Instead of using a 28-oz. can of whole tomatoes (and having to chop them), I buy a 28-oz. container of the crushed tomatoes so that my work is already done for me. Watch out in hot ovens like mine - your cook time will likely be closer to one hour.

Nutritional Information (per serving - makes 9 generous servings)
380 calories - 10.5 g. fat - 33.4 g. protein - 2.8 g. fiber

  • 3/4 lb. ground round
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c. chopped parsley, divided
  • 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5-oz. can Italian-style stewed tomatoes (petite dice)
  • 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 6-oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 c. nonfat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 15-oz. container nonfat or part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 12 cooked lasagna noodles
  • 2 c. finely-shredded Italian provolone cheese


1. Cook ground beef in large saucepan over medium-high heat until browned, approximately 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Drain and set aside.

2. Return pan to heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 5 minutes. Return ground beef to pan.

3. Add 2 tbsp. parsley, crushed tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, herbs, and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat, simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 20 minutes more.

4. Combine remaining parsley, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and egg white in a food processor. Process until smooth.

5. Spread 3/4 c. tomato mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles over tomato mixture. Top with 1/2 cheese mixture and 2-1/4 c. tomato mixture. Sprinkle with 2/3 c. Provolone cheese.

6. Repeat, ending with 4 lasagna noodles. Top with remaining tomato mixture.

7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover lasagna with foil and bake, covered, for one hour.

8. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining Provolone cheese. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes more.

9. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Toasted Quinoa Pilaf

I had a request for a quinoa recipe from my friend Keenan. This recipe comes from my mom, which appears in The Sonoma Diet cookbook. Even my dad liked this one, and he is quite picky when it comes to "healthy food"! Sorry for the lack of pictures - my camera battery died.


Recipe Notes
You can also substitute barley for quinoa if you would like.

Nutritional Information
125 calories - 3 g. fat - 4 g. protein - 2 g. fiber

  • 2 tbsp. finely-chopped shallots or onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 c. quinoa (or substitute barley) rinsed and drained
  • 3 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme (crushed)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 c. bottled roasted red bell peppers, diced
  • Salt & pepper to taste


1. In large saucepan, cook shallots and garlic in oil over medium heat until tender.

2. Carefully stir in quinoa. Cook and stir about 5 minutes or until quinoa or barley is golden brown.

3. Carefully stir in broth, thyme, and bay leaf.

4. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender and fluffy. (If substituting barley, cook time will be between 10-20 minutes.)

5. Discard bay leaf. Stir in roasted peppers. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper and serve.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chicken & Broccoli Casserole

This Cooking Light casserole was a Recipe Makeover about four years ago. It's nice and filling and would be another good, mild, low-fat casserole to take to a new mom. Weighing in at 276 calories and 8 grams of fat per serving, this dish is much better for you than the original version.


Recipe Notes
I used Hellman's low-fat mayonnaise instead of fat me it just tastes a little bit better. Also, I subbed light sour cream for the fat free sour cream called for here for the same reason. Finally, we don't keep sherry in the house, so I omitted this ingredient in my version last night.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 8)
276 calories - 7.8 g. fat - 31.1 g. protein - 2.1 g. fiber

  • 1 pkg. frozen broccoli florets
  • 3-4 chicken breasts (about 6 oz. each)
  • 12-oz. can evaporated fat free milk
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1 c. fat-free mayonnaise (I used Hellman's low-fat)
  • 1/2 c. fat-free sour cream (I used light sour cream)
  • 1/4 c. dry sherry (I omitted this ingredient)
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese, divided


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Bring water to a boil in large saucepan. Add broccoli and cook five minutes or until crisp-tender. Transfer to a separate bowl.

3. Add chicken to boiling water. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken is done. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add to bowl with broccoli.

4. Wipe out saucepan. Add evaporated milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and flour. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook one minute. Remove from heat.

5. Add mayonnaise, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, soup, and 1/2 c. cheese. Stir until well-combined.

6. Add wet ingredients to broccoli and chicken. Stir gently to combine.

7. Turn into a greased 9x13 glass baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes or until mixture bubbles and cheese begins to brown.

8. Remove from oven. Let rest five minutes before serving.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Slow-Cooked Chile Con Carne

Dinner tonight is one of Corey's Cooking Light favorites: Chile Con Carne. I love it because I can leave it in the morning, come home after work, and dinner is basically done. We serve this over Tomato Rice Pilaf with a salad and bread.


Recipe Notes
I also add a dash of Cholula hot sauce for a little extra spice. This recipe originally called for chopped plum tomatoes. Using canned diced tomatoes is both easier and less expensive, so I have made that modificatino. To cut this recipe to two servings, omit one can of beans and use half of the beef broth.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
291 calories - 6 g. fat - 34 g. protein - 8.9 g. fiber

  • 1-1/2 c. chopped onion (about one medium)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. sirloin, cut into small cubes
  • 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 15 oz. can pinto beans
  • 15 oz. can black beans
  • 14 oz. can beef broth
  • 1/4 tsp. salt


1. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray and add beef, garlic, and onion. Cook five minutes or until beef is browned, approximately 5 minutes.

2. Combine beef mixture and remaining ingredients (tomatoes, pinto beans, black beans, beef broth, and all spices) in an electric slow cooker.

3. Cook on HIGH for 3-1/2 hours or on low for 8 hours.

4. Uncover, cook 30 minutes more or until slightly thickened.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Let's Talk Turkey

My friend Sidney asked for some pointers to achieving a moist bird with crispy skin this Thanksgiving holiday. Because I have never myself cooked a turkey (a blasphemy I am sure), I had to consult the oracle: my mom.

She had two routes to choose:

1. Take your uncooked bird up to Goode Co. BBQ three days before Thanksgiving and let them smoke it for you.

2. If you really want to cook your own bird, the instructions on the back of the Reynolds Oven Bags work well.

She also came up with a recipe from Martha Stewart Everyday Food for Roasted Turkey (recipe here). Best of luck with your birdie battles!

If anyone else has turkey tips, feel free to Comment to post them here!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stewed White Beans with Tomatoes & Rosemary

This side dish, which is definitely reminiscent of French cooking, could be made into a meatless entree with a salad. This one takes awhile (about 2 hours total time commitment), so make this when you are home on the weekend or otherwise have a free afternoon.

I have adapted this recipe slightly from a recipe that I found in Martha Stewart Living.


Recipe Notes

This recipe calls for one 28-oz. can of whole plum tomatoes, which you must eventually puree. I skipped that step and used one 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes (such as DeCento).


  • 1 lb. dried white beans (such as Great Northern or cannellini beans), picked over, rinsed, and drained
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut crosswise into thirds
  • 1 celery stalk, cut crosswise into thirds
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 whole sprig of rosemary


1. Soak beans in water overnight. Drain and transfer to a large pot. Cover beans with 4 inches of water.

2. Add onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer (covered) for one hour.

3. Drain and remove carrot, celery, and bay leaf.

4. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is tender but not browned (approximately 3 minutes).

5. Add tomatoes and rosemary. Bring to a boil.

6. Add beans and cooked, chopped onion. Stir occasionally until tomato sauce thickens, approximately 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm. Beans may be refrigerated after cooking for up to three days.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pork and Chive Potstickers

I hosted Girls' Game Night last week, and I needed some good appetizers to put out. I tried my hand at making this Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe, and it turned out quite well! All of the girls seemed to enjoy it, and the Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce had really good flavor.


Recipe Notes
I had never worked with wonton wrappers before, so I wasn't aware that they were kept in the freezer case at the grocery store. Luckily, I had enough time to let them thaw before my party. However, you might want to allow yourself ample time for them to defrost before you try working with them.

I didn't have any sherry, so I left it out. I don't think that anyone was the wiser for it, either. Recipe makes four servings (5 potstickers per serving).

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
200 calories - 8.3 g. fat - 9.1 g. protein - 1.3 g. fiber


  • 1/4 lb. fresh ground pork
  • 1 tbsp minced chives
  • 1-1/2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dry sherry
  • 1 tsp. bottled minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 20 wonton wrappers
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil


1. In a small bowl, combine pork, chives, soy sauce, sherry, ginger, sesame oil, cornstarch, and 1 tbsp. water.

2. Place a heaping tsp. of pork mixture in the center of each wonton wrapper.

3. Lightly wet edges of wrapper, fold over, and press to seal. Repeat to form 20 total dumplings.

4. In two batches, cook dumplings in a large pot of boiling water until cooked through (approximately 4 minutes). Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.

5. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. In two batches, cook until browned, approximately 1-1/2 minutes per side. Serve with Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce (see recipe below).

For Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce:

Combine 1/4 c. soy sauce , 3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar, 1 tbsp. bottled minced ginger, 2 tsp. sugar, and 1/4 tsp. sesame oil. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Beef & Barley Soup

This recent Cooking Light recipe has a long cooking time (about two hours total), so this might be best made on the weekend when you have a little more time to sit and wait.


Recipe Notes
This recipe calls for pearl barley, but I could only find medium barley at the grocery store. Both work just fine. This makes four VERY generous servings.

Nutritional Information (per serving - makes 4 two-cup servings)
341 calories - 11.4 g. fat - 24.1 g. protein - 8.2 g. fiber

  • 3/4 lb. boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 1-1/2 c. thinly-sliced carrot
  • 1-1/2 c. thinly-sliced celery
  • 2/3 c. chopped onion
  • 8 oz. package presliced mushrooms
  • 4 c. beef broth (one box)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2/3 c. uncooked pearl barley
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper


1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add beef and cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently.

2. Add carrot, celery, onion, and mushrooms to pan. Cook 6 minutes or until liquids have essentially evaporated.

3. Add beef broth and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1-1/2 hours.

4. Add pearl barley. Cover and simmer 30 minutes more.

5. Discard bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.

Sadie was worn out last night from all of the Halloween weekend festivities. Hope that everyone had a nice Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween & Chocolate Cupcakes!

I hosted a Halloween edition of Game Night at my house last night, and I made these cupcakes in the spirit of the holiday. The recipe is from The Cake Mix Doctor, probably my all-time favorite baking cookbook! (It also comes in a Chocolate Edition, by the way!) These cupcakes were yummy and different because of the almond extract and the cream cheese frosting. These would be great for any holiday, birthday, or other get-together.


Recipe Notes

You can also make this recipe into a layer cake version using two round, 9-inch cake pans. In this case, change the cooking time of the cakes to 28-30 minutes.

  • 1 oz. square unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 package plain devil's food cake mix
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure almond extract
  • Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

3. Heat the chopped unsweetened chocolate and water in a small saucepan over low heat until melted, stirring constantly. Set the pan aside and cool for 10 minutes.

4. Place cake mix, buttermilk, oil, eggs, extract, and melted chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for one minute. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat on medium speed for two minutes. Batter should look thick and combined.

5. Pour into individual cupcake liners and bake for 19-22 minutes, depending on your oven. Allow to cool before frosting.

6. Prepare Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • Blend 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese and 1 stick of softened butter with an electric mixer until well-combined.
  • Add 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tsp. almond extract (can also substitute vanilla extract), and 4 c. confectioner's sugar.
  • Blend until frosting is fluffy, approximately 2-3 minutes more.
  • Use to frost cake or cupcakes immediately.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Soutwestern Shepherd's Pie

Ok, so I was skeptical about this recipe from Cooking Light but decided to give it a try because it looked fast and required few ingredients. Boy, am I glad that I did! It was delicious and on the table in 20 minutes.

Recipe Notes
When rinsing and draining the canned kidney beans, a good trick is to pour them into a collander and rinse under the sink.

Nutritional Information (per serving - makes 4 servings)
279 calories - 6 g. fat - 25.7 g. protein - 8 g. fiber

  • 2 c. prepared mashed potatoes (such as Country Crock)
  • 3/4 lb. ground sirloin (I used 92% lean ground beef)
  • 3/4 c. picante sauce or chunky salsa
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 c. preshredded sharp cheddar cheese


1. Prepare mashed potatoes according to package directions. Keep warm.

2. Cook beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, stirring to crumble.

3. Add salsa, water, cumin, sugar, salt, and kidney beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens, approximately 5 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and spoon mashed potatoes over the top. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and let stand 2 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt.

Sadie was hoping to have some of our Shepherd's Pie, but the closest that she got to a serving of meat was chewing on her hot dog toy. Don't feel too sorry for her though - she got some ground beef and drippings on her own little dinner!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Orzo with Feta, Chicken, Lemon, and Dill

This Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe was delicious and on the table in less than one hour. The recipe indicates that it makes six servings, but those servings are ENORMOUS. This dish could easily serve at least eight people with a salad and crusty bread to accompany it.


Recipe Notes
Recipe serves six (enormous portions)! The recipe doesn't call for ground pepper, but I added some ground pepper to the casserole prior to baking.

  • 4 c. chicken broth (approximately one box)
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. orzo (typically one box)
  • 1 lb. chicken tenderloins, cut into one-inch cubes
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh dill
  • 2 c. feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • 1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese


1. Bring chicken broth, water, butter, and salt to a boil. Turn off heat and set aside.

2. Combine orzo, chicken pieces, dill, feta, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a three-quart casserole dish.

3. Pour chicken broth mixture over the dry ingredients.

4. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until pasta appears creamy and slightly browned on top.

5. Let stand for five minutes. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top and allow to melt slightly. Serve immediately.