Thursday, December 15, 2011

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Another Ina Garten gem from her original cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa. As you can tell from the photo below, these are delicious when paired with the Carmelized Butternut Squash recipe I posted earlier this week. Serve with grilled chicken, steak, or pork and a salad.


Recipe Notes

I really like Ina's suggestion to add extra salt before serving. She says that she enjoys these nice and salty - almost like good crispy french fries. I wholeheartedly agree - that little trick added a nice little extra something to this easy side.


  • 1-1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, ends removed along with any yellow leaves

  • 3 tbsp. good olive oil

  • Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper


1. Mix sprouts in a bowl with olive oil, a generous dash of salt, and a generous dash of pepper.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Pour sprouts onto a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan (preferred, so the sprouts don't slide off) lined with foil.

4. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

5. Sprinkle additional salt if desired (see note above).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Caramelized Butternut Squash

What a lovely Ina Garten classic. A terrific use of the precut butternut squash I love at Costco, too. Great for fall/winter dinners.


Recipe Notes

You can either do this the hard way starting with whole, unpeeled butternut squash, or you can do this the easy way with precut butternut squash. I recommend the latter.


  • 2 medium butternut squash (approximately 4-5 lbs.)

  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter (3/4 stick)

  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar

  • 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1/2 tsp. pepper


1. Peel, de-seed, and cube butternut squash (or use precut).

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave. Add brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Pour entire mixture over cubed squash.

4. With clean hands, toss all ingredients until well-combined/coated.

5. Spread onto a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet covered in foil and sprayed with cooking spray.

6. Roast for 45-55 minutes or until the squash is tender and glaze is caramelized. While the squash is roasting, turn several times with a spatula to ensure even cooking.

7. Taste for additional seasoning and serve.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Easy Mocha Chip Ice Cream Cake

Southern Living really is just the BEST when you need a tasty dessert and calories aren't a factor. My father in law came over for an impromptu dinner this summer and he loves ice cream, so when I was scrambling for a quick and easy dessert, this one popped out at me. I also want to try Southern Living's recipe for Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake. If you have a chance to try it, let me know how it goes.


Recipe Notes

As you can see from the photo above, I couldn't find dark chocolate chunk-coffee ice cream or chocolate-chocolate chip, so I used chocolate and vanilla ice creams and it was very tasty. You might also try coffee ice cream or cookies and cream ice cream for a layer. Southern Living's version is gorgeous (see photo here), but I didn't have time to find chocolate-covered coffee beans with two toddlers and a hungry husband and father-in-law at home!


  • 1 pint dark chocolate chunk/coffee ice cream, softened

  • 3 sugar cones, crushed

  • 1/3 c. chocolate fudge shell topping

  • 14 oz. container premium chocolate-chocolate chip ice cream, softened

  • 6 oreo cookies, finely crushed

  • Mocha Ganache (4 oz. semisweet chocolate, 1 tsp. espresso, and 4 tbsp. whipping cream required) - recipe follows in step 6

  • Chocolate-covered coffee beans (optional - garnish)


1. Line an 8x5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing 3 inches to extend over the sides. Spread chocolate chunk/coffee ice cream in the pan.

2. Sprinkle with crushed sugar cones and drizzle with magic shell topping. Freeze for 30 minutes.

3. Spread chocolate-chocolate chip ice cream over topping.

4. Top with crushed oreos, pressing into the ice cream. Freeze for four hours until firm.

5. Lift ice cream loaf from pan, using extra plastic wrap as handles. Invert onto a serving plate and discard the plastic wrap.

6. Prepare mocha ganache by combining semisweet chocolate, espresso, and 3 tbsp. whipping cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for one minute or until melted and smooth. Whisk in remaining 1 tbsp. whipping cream and use immediately.

7. Slowly pour mocha ganache over ice cream loaf, allowing it to drip down the sides.

8. Freeze an additional 10 minutes, then let stand for 10 minutes at room temp. before serving.

9. Garnish with chopped chocolate-covered coffee beans, if desired.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Parmesan-Coated Potato Wedges

These Cooking Light potato wedges combine both baking potatoes and sweet potatoes - a real treat! They definitely take some assembly time, so don't add these to your menu if you've only got 30 minutes to get dinner on the table. I served them with Sloppy Joes, green beans, and a salad, and they were great.


Recipe Notes

I recommend choosing smaller potatoes. The larger ones make for VERY large wedges.

Nutritional Information (4 large wedges per serving - serves 8)

165 calories - 2.4 g. fat - 7.4 g. protein - 28.5 g. carbs - 2.7 g. fiber


  • 1.5 oz. all-purpose flour (about 1/3 c.)

  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt

  • 3 large egg whites

  • 1 tbsp. water

  • 3/4 c. grated fresh Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 c. panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) finely crushed

  • 2 baking potatoes cut lengthwise into eight wedges each

  • 2 sweet potatoes cut lengthwise into eight wedges each


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Combine flour and salt in a shallow dish. Set aside.

3. Combine egg whites and water in a shallow dish or bowl, stirring with a whisk. Set aside.

4. Combine cheese and panko in a shallow dish. Set aside.

5. Dredge potato wedges in flour mixture, followed by egg white mixture, followed by cheese and panko mixture.

6. Divide potato wedges between two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or foil. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden, rotating pans after 20 minutes.

Sloppy Joes

Something about fall and winter weather just says "sloppy joes!" every once in awhile. This Cooking Light recipe was originally purposed as two sliders per serving. Instead of making eight sliders, I made four full-sized sandwiches and it worked great. The calorie count should not change from the original recipe, so I've included the nutritional information as well.


Recipe Notes

As mentioned above, this recipe originally called for eight slider buns instead of four regular sized buns. I added twice the meat to one regular sized bun for each place setting. I also bought prechopped carrots from the bulk bins at Central Market to cut down on prep time.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)

373 calories - 10 g. fat - 52.2 g. carbs - 4.2 g. fiber


  • 1 large carrot (grated or finely chopped)

  • 10 oz. lean ground beef

  • 3/4 c. chopped onion

  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

  • 1 tsp. chili powder

  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

  • 1/4 c. ketchup

  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste

  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar

  • 8 oz. can tomato sauce

  • 8 slider hamburger buns or 4 regular-sized hamburger buns.


1. Preheat broiler.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrot, beef, and onion to pan. Cook six minutes or until beef is browned and vegetables are tender.

3. Add garlic powder, chili powder, and pepper. Cook one additional minute.

4. Combine ketchup, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, and tomato sauce in a small bowl. Add ketchup mixture to pan and stir evenly to coat.

5. Simmer five minutes or until thickened.

6. Arrange buns, cut side up, in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil 2 minutes or until lightly toasted. Distribute beef mixture among buns and serve hot.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Yeeeeeear!

Has anyone else noticed that Christmas has started REALLY EARLY this year? The Christmas decorations were up in mid-October, all of the stores have already started "Black Friday" sales (both online and in-store), and there is a continuous onslaught of Christmas commercials and catalogs. It's not even Thanksgiving yet!

In preparation for the holiday season, which I am sure will be filled with many parties and events, I wanted to draw attention to a few recipes I've posted in the past couple of years that are GREAT housewarming gifts or culinary contributions to a family get-together. To me, several of these just scream either THANKSGIVING or CHRISTMAS!

From my house to yours....enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ham & Cheese Turnovers

Thank you, Real Simple, for this super-simple weeknight meal!


Recipe Notes

Corey is not super-jazzed about this salad can really make any type of salad that you want. This is good with Kettle chips or something else crunchy.


  • 1 lb. refrigerated pizza dough

  • 8 oz. deli ham, thinly sliced

  • 4 oz. Swiss cheese, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 yellow onion, cut into thin rings

  • 2 tsp. whole grain mustard

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 sm. head romaine, torn into small pieces


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Roll the pizza dough into a 14-inch circle and cut into 8 triangles.

3. Stack a slice of ham, a slice of cheese, and some onions in the bottom of each triangle. Roll the dough up around the filling.

4. Bake the rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet for approx. 20 minutes or until browned.

5. Combine the mustard and oil in a small bowl with a whisk. Add romaine lettuce, toss to coat.

6. Serve turnovers with salad. Serving size is 2 turnovers.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Shrimp & Grits Casserole

It's finally getting a bit cooler outside, so bring on the casseroles! This is a great Cooking Light easy recipe that I assembled before we put our babies to bed and baked while they had bathtime. Dinner was ready by the time we got back down stairs!


Recipe Notes

I used about 3/4 lb. shrimp (instead of a full pound) and fat free milk (instead of 2%) and this turned out great. Calorie count for my version is probably slightly less than noted below for this reason.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 6)

341 calories - 13 g. fat - 27 g. carbs - 1 g. fiber - 28 g. protein


  • 2 c. 2% reduced-fat milk

  • 3/4 c. fat free chicken broth

  • 1 c. uncooked quick-cooking grits (such as Quaker)

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

  • 2 tbsp. butter

  • 3 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese

  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives

  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

  • 2 egg whites

  • 1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp, coarsely chopped

  • Hot pepper sauce for serving (such as Cholula) if desired


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine milk and broth in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.

3. Gradually add grits and salt to the pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

4. Stir in parmesan, butter, and cream cheese until well-combined, followed by parsley, chives, lemon juice, egg whites, and shrimp.

5. Turn grits mixture into an 11x7 glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cook for 25 minutes or until set.

6. Serve hot with hot pepper sauce.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Light Mac & Cheese with Butternut Squash

This was totally yummy, and it has a hidden serving of vegetables (squash) in each portion. Best of all, Craig and Cameron LOVED it! They ate their vegetables and didn't even know it. Thanks Cooking Light!


Recipe Notes

Save yourself some time by purchasing the pre-cleaned, pre-cut butternut squash from the refrigerated section of Costco or your local grocer. Because the cheeses included in the original recipe are a bit harder to come by in a "regular" grocery store and are also pricey, I would also recommend using an Italian shredded cheese blend, American/cheddar blend, etc. to help fill in if you can't find the cheeses used here. I used cheaper and more readily-available substitutions and it worked out great.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 8)

390 calories - 10.9 g. fat - 53.9 g. carbs - 19.1 g. protein - 3.2 g. fiber


  • 3 c. peeled/cubed butternut squash

  • 1-1/4 c. FF chicken broth

  • 1-1/2 c. skim milk

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1/2 tbsp. black pepper

  • 2 tbsp. Greek yogurt (nonfat)

  • 1-1/4 c. shredded Gruyere cheese

  • 1 c. shredded pecorino Romano cheese

  • 1/4 c. finely-grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 lb. cavatappi pasta

  • 1 tsp. olive oil

  • 1/2 c. panko

  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley


1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer until squash is soft and fork-tender (approx. 20-25 minutes).

3. Remove from heat and place squash mixture in a blender. Add Greek yogurt, salt, and pepper and blend until pureed and smooth.

4. Place blended squash mixture in a large bowl. Stir in Gruyere, pecorino Romano, and 1/2 Parmesan cheese until well-combined. I used a whisk to combine these ingredients.

5. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

6. Add pasta to squash mixture and stir until combined. Turn pasta into a greased 9x13 inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining Parmesan cheese.

7. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add panko and saute until golden brown (approx. 2-3 minutes).

8. Spread panko crumbs over pasta and spray the top of the dish lightly with cooking spray.

9. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Confetti Cous Cous

This Cooking Light gem is good with grilled chicekn, grilled pork chops, fish, or just about any other lighter meat you can think of. It's also chock-full of vegetables.


Recipe Notes

For whatever reason, I really dislike eggplants. Therefore, I omitted the baby eggplants from this recipe. If you'd like the original eggplant-filled recipe, it's available on

Nutritional Information (per serving - makes 8 one-cup servings)

271 calories - 9.8 g. fat - 39.3 g. carbs - 6.8 g. protein - 4.6 g. fiber


  • 2 yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into quarters

  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 tsp. salt, divided

  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided

  • 2 c. water

  • 1-1/2 c. fat free chicken broth

  • 2 c. uncooked Israeli cous cous

  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

  • 1-1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh basil

1. Prepare grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

2. Brush squash and bell peppers evenly with 4 tsp. olive oil. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

3. Grill 3 minutes on each side or until slightly charred. Cool, chop, and set vegetables aside in a large bowl.

4. Bring 2 c. water to boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in cous cous. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes or until cous cous is tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.

5. Combine cous cous, remaining salt and pepper, and vegetable mixture. Toss to combine.

6. Combine red wine vinegar and mustard in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in remaining olive oil. Drizzle oil and vinegar mixture over cous cous and toss to coat.

7. Stir in basil and serve.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Strawberry Icebox Pie

This Cooking Light recipe is supposed to be made into a tart. I made it into a pie instead. If you want to make it into a tart, here is the original recipe from Cooking Light.


Recipe Notes

According to Cooking Light, you can assemble the crust and filling up to two days ahead and then top with the strawberry mixture on the morning of your event.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 10)

289 calories - 8.9 g. fat - 4.5 g. protein - 3 g. fiber - 48.7 g. carbs


For the crust

  • 36 honey graham crackers

  • 2 tbsp. sugar

  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted

  • 4 tsp. water

For the filling

  • 2/3 c. light cream cheese

  • 1/4 c. sugar

  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract

For the topping

  • 6 c. fresh strawberries, divided

  • 2/3 c. sugar

  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch

  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tbsp. sliced almonds, toasted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Prepare crust: place graham crackers in food processor and process until crumbly. Add butter, sugar, and water from crust ingredient list above. Pulse until moist.

3. Place graham cracker mixture in a 10-inch glass pie plate, pressing into the bottom and up the sides. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.

4. Prepare filling: combine cream cheese (softened), sugar, and extracts. Stir until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over the bottom of the graham cracker crust.

5. Prepare topping: place two c. strawberries in a food processor and process until pureed.

6. Combine puree, sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and stir for one additional minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

7. Combine remaining 4 c. strawberries with lemon juice, toss to coat. Arrange berries over filling and spoon half of the glaze over the strawberries. (I used more than half because the recipe otherwise does not use all of the glaze).

8. Sprinkle toasted almonds around the edge of the pie. Cover and chill for three hours before serving.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sadie's Corner - Chilled Corn and Crab Salad

Can you tell we've been eating lots of corn this summer? I was very excited about this health-conscious Chilled Corn and Crab Salad (recipe here) from Martha Stewart Living magazine. It was so spicy it was basically inedible....I couldn't even feed it to Sadie!

The culprit? The super-spicy red Thai chile that the recipe called for. Even without the seeds, this little beast made my eyes water uncontrollably.

The lesson? Always be conscious of a recipe calling for hot peppers, even if just a jalapeno.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Corn, Avocado, and Cilantro Salad

This is probably Corey's new favorite side dish....possibly of all time. It incorporates all of his favorite veggies, including cilantro and avocado. In his eyes, the only way to make it better would be to add bacon! Ha ha.


Recipe Notes

I think it's worth it to use the "pre-cleaned" ears of corn instead of shucking the ears yourself. That way, you don't have to waste time with all of the stringy bits. Costco has had some great, sweet summer corn already cleaned back in the refrigerated produce section. If you are interested in corn this summer for a bbq or crawfish boil, the Costco 8-pack is great.

Grill the corn while you are grilling your chicken, beef, or pork, and you can put this salad together while your meat rests.


  • 4 ears of corn, shucked and grilled

  • 1 avocado, cut into chunks or slices

  • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro

  • Lime juice (approximately 1-2 small limes)

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Grill shucked corn for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly charred.

2. Let cool slightly and cut kernels off of the cob.

3. Toss with avocado, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Be careful not to overmix and ruin your avocado.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Taco Toppings

I made these grilled fish tacos from Martha Stewart Everyday Food recently, and I needed some toppings to give them a summery kick. Enter the Corn and Tomato Relish from the same Everyday Food along with Guacamole 1-2-3 (combine the juice of 1 lemon, 2 small chopped tomatoes, and 3 mashed ripe avocados with salt and pepper to taste - delicious guacamole every time!). This was a nice, light, summery topping that would also do well as a Tex-Mex summer side.

Corn and Tomato Relish

The recipe calls for fresh corn kernels. I used canned corn in order to save time and a little money.


- 1 c. fresh corn kernels
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1 scallion, sliced thinly crosswise
- 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (I used more because my husband LOVES cilantro)
- 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice (approximately 1 small lime)


Combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shrimp Cobb Salad

This Cooking Light adaptation is perfect for summer! Takes longer than I thought it would because I had to compose all of the parts of the salad, but it's delicious, light, and worth the trouble.

Recipe Notes

The recipe calls for frozen corn - I used canned. The recipe also doesn't call for any cheese, but who can have a cobb salad without a little cheese?! So I added cheese to the recipe as well. Nutritional information will not be inclusive of blue cheese. I also crisped my bacon in the oven instead of in the skillet - seems to make the bacon crispier that way.

Nutritional Information - per serving - serves 4
332 calories - 15 g. fat - 30 g. protein - 22 g. carbohydrate - 8 g. fiber


  • 4 slices center-cut bacon1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined1/2 tsp. paprika

  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

  • 1/4 tsp. salt, divided

  • 2-1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

  • 1-1/2 tbsp. olive oil

  • 1/2 tsp. whole-grain dijon mustard

  • 10-oz. package romaine salad

  • 2 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered

  • 1 c. shredded carrots

  • 1 c. frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed (I used canned)

  • 1 ripe, peeled avocado, cut into eight wedges or large chunks

  • Crumbled blue cheese (my addition)


1. Cook bacon in skillet or in oven until crisp. Remove from pan and crumble. Wipe pan clean and increase heat to medium-high.

2. Sprinkle shrimp with paprika and black pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray and add shrimp. Cook two minutes per side or until done. Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp. salt, toss to coat.

3. Combine remaining salt, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and olive oil, stirring with a whisk until emulsified. Add torn romaine lettuce and toss to coat.

4. Arrange lettuce between four plates. Divide shrimp, all vegetables, and bacon evenly among plates. Add a small sprinkle of blue cheese if desired.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


This is my go-to cake any time anyone in my family has a birthday. Who can argue with yellow cake and chocolate buttercream frosting?! Thank you Cake Mix Doctor for the world's best birthday cake recipe!


Recipe Notes

The Cake Mix Doctor calls for whole milk. I have always used skim because that is what we keep on hand, and I've never had a problem with it. I double the chocolate frosting and make two recipes for one cake so that I can have extra thick layers of frosting!


  • Plain white cake mix (1 package)

  • 1 c. whole milk

  • 1 stick butter, softened or melted

  • 3 eggs

  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

  • Fluffy chocolate frosting (recipe follows)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

2. Combine cake mix, milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for one minute. Stop the machine and scrape down sides with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more.

3. Divide batter between prepared pans and place in oven side-by-side. Bake until cakes are golden brown and spring back lightly when pressed (approximately 27-29 minutes).

4. Remove pans from the oven and place them on wire wracks to cool. Run a knife around the edges of each pan and invert on a wire rack.

5. Frost each layer with fluffy chocolate frosting (below) and then frost sides of cake.

Fluffy Chocolate Frosting


  • 1 stick butter, softened

  • 2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 3 c. confectioner's sugar, sifted (approximately 1 box)

  • 1/3 c. whole milk

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1/4 tsp. salt


1. Beat butter and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl, blend on low until well-combined.

2. Add confectioner's sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat until frosting is light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).

3. Use frosting to frost layer cake or cupcakes of your choice. I always make a double batch of this for a two-layer cake!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chicken Apple Sausage

If you have not discovered Aidell's Chicken Apple Sausage....well, now you have. This is a great last-minute dinner to keep in the fridge or freezer. The 15 packs that Costco sells come in three separate packages and they are a better value than the 4-6 packs available in your standard grocery store. They are low in fat and calories, too, so a good protein choice if you are watching your weight. They are delicious with BBQ sauce, too.

While they are fully-cooked and can be served simply warmed, I prefer to have Corey grill me up a pack when he already has the charcoal grill out for another grilling assignment. If he is grilling me steaks, chicken, or burgers, he just throws on a pack of these after we've sat down to dinner and gives them a nice char. I then refrigerate them until later in the week, reheat them in the microwave, and serve with some freshly-prepared sides. It feels like a newly-cooked dinner but only requires partial prep!

Here are some suggestions for sides that go well with a chicken apple sausage dinner:

And of course, don't forget a salad! Happy grilling this Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Grilled Corn with Cilantro Butter

Summertime means that it is time to grill. Corn on the grill is divine - when grilled with butter and herbs such as cilantro, it's even better! Here's an easy update to plain old grilled corn.


Recipe Notes

Allow butter to come to room temperature before you add the cilantro, salt, and pepper. It will mix much easier than cold butter and it will spread much better than if it were melted. I recommend buying your corn already husked and cleaned - Costco has eight-packs that are handy and quick.


  • Ears of corn, husked and cleaned

  • Butter, softened to room temperature

  • Cilantro, chopped

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper


1. Place each ear of corn on top of a square of aluminum foil.

2. Mix butter, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Spread on ears of corn.

3. Wrap corn in foil and place on indirect heat on a hot grill.

4. Grill for 10-15 minutes or until desired degree of doneness/char.

5. Enjoy with grilled meats and summer salads for a healthy side!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pasta Puttanesca

This is a nice, quick, easy weeknight pasta from Cooking Light. Enjoy!


Recipe Notes

I can't stand anchovies, so I left them out and no one was any the wiser. So if you would like to skip out on the little fishies too, I don't think your dinner guests would mind!

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)

404 calories - 17.5 g. fat - 13.1 g. protein - 3.9 g. fiber - 51.5 g. carbs


3 tbsp. olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 anchovy fillets (I left these out)

1-1/2 c. crushed canned tomatoes

3/4 c. pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped

1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

1 tbsp. drained capers (I used more because I really like capers)

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

8 oz. uncooked fettuccine

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese


1. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tbsp. oil and minced garlic.

2. Cook garlic for 30 seconds, then add anchovies. Mash in the pan to form a paste.

3. Stir in tomatoes, olives, parsley, capers, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add fettuccine (approximately 1/2 of a 16-oz. box). Cook 8 minutes until al dente.

5. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 c. pasta water.

6. Add pasta and pasta water to tomato sauce. Increase heat.

7. Cook 5 minutes, tossing to combine.

8. Divide pasta among four bowls and top with cheese. Drizzle with remaining 1 tbsp. oil, if desired (I skipped the last of the oil).

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sausage & Cheddar Cheese Strata

My wonderful friend Emily had her bachelorette weekend last weekend down in Seaside, Florida - what a fabulous place it was! We had a beach house, so we cooked most meals, and my contribution was this tasty casserole from The Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook. This cookbook is absolutely fabulous - even if you are neither a bride nor a groom, I highly recommend buying this cookbook. There are lots of recipes that serve fewer people (generally 2-4) and there are great basic dinner preparation ideas and party preparation ideas.


Recipe Notes

I do not recommend skimping on the half-and-half. I had fat free half-and-half available to me last weekend, and while the flavor was good, it was slightly runny. The beauty of this particular breakfast casserole is that it does not require "marinating" over night - therefore, no forethought or preplanning are required. You can whip this up the morning of your breakfast or brunch in less than one hour. Also, the original recipe calls for 24 oz. breakfast sausage and that is a LOT of sausage - I cut the breakfast sausage in half and only used 12 oz.


  • 24 oz. ground breakfast sausage (12 oz. regular & 12 oz. hot) - I used only 12 oz. Jimmy Dean reduced fat breakfast sausage

  • 4 eggs, beaten

  • 2-1/2 c. half and half

  • 1 tsp. dried sage

  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper

  • 6 potato bread or soft white bread slices, crusts removed

  • 2 c. grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives, flat leaf parsley, or green onions (both white & green parts)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with Pam or grease with butter.

2. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly browned (5-7 minutes). Drain sausage and transfer to a paper towel.

3. Whisk together eggs, half-and-half, sage, kosher salt, and pepper.

4. Layer the bread in the prepared baking dish and top with sausage.

5. Pour the egg mixture over the sausage and top with cheese.

6. Bake until the strata is set in the middle, about 30 minutes. Do not overcook. Let cool for 15-20 minutes.

7. Garnish with chives, green onions, or parsley.

Soy-Glazed Salmon with Arugula & Orange Salad

Three words. Easy. Fast. Delicious. This recipe is an adaptation from a Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe. The original recipe calls for a watercress salad - I personally find watercress difficult to eat and generally gritty, so I subbed baby arugula and it works great. The original recipe can be found (here) if you prefer the watercress salad.


Recipe Notes

Steam some basmati rice in a rice cooker while you prepare the fish and salad - everything is ready just about the exact same time. Couldn't be easier or quicker.


  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce

  • 4 tsp. honey (divided)

  • 2 oranges, peeled and segmented, with juice reserved from membranes

  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

  • 4 salmon fillets, approx. 6 oz. each

  • 1 bunch watercress OR several cups of baby arugula (my preference)

  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced


1. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, 3 tsp. honey, and juice from two segmented oranges to create a glaze. Season with salt and pepper.

2. In a larger bowl, whisk together one tbsp. glaze, remaining tsp. honey, rice vinegar, and oil. Set aside - this will be your salad dressing.

3. Heat broiler with rack 4 inches from heat.

4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Season salmon with salt and pepper and broil for 5 minutes. I lightly brush on a small amount of glaze before this initial broil - the recipe does not call for this.

5. Remove fish from the oven after 5 minutes and brush with glaze. Broil until opaque throughout, approximately 2-4 minutes more depending on fish thickness. Brush with additional glaze.

6. Add orange segments, watercress OR arugula, and sliced red onion to salad dressing. Toss until coated.

7. Serve fish over white or brown rice with salad.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sara Nan's Strawberry Cake

This is my Nana's recipe. It is very pink, very strawberry, and very sweet! A great summer cake that starts with a cake mix, so it's not hard to put together.


Recipe Notes
As with just about every other recipe on this blog, my oven ran hot and this cake was done earlier than the suggested time. I suggest watching your cake for the last 10 minutes or so. Also, I could only find whole frozen strawberries, so I mushed them up with a fork and added them to both the cake and the icing early so that they could be broken up into smaller pieces.


- 1 pkg. white cake mix (Nana suggested Betty Crocker)
- 3-oz. package strawberry Jell-O
1/2 c. water
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 10-oz. package frozen sliced strawberries
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 lb. powdered sugar (1 box)


1. Thaw strawberries.

2. Mix cake mix, Jell-O, water, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Beat at a low speed until blended.

3. Add 1/2 package of strawberries and 1/2 strawberry syrup from package.

4. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

5. While cake is baking, cream butter and powdered sugar. Drain 1/2 remaining strawberries (1/4 of your original package) and add to the icing. Add enough strawberry syrup to make the icing of spreading consistency.

6. Spread icing over the cooled cake.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula Fettuccine

I have decided that I really like fresh pasta, even if it does cost a little bit more. This is one of those "20 Minute Dinner" recipes from Cooking Light that really does take 20 minutes to prepare. A nice bonus with twin 11-month-olds in the house and a hungry husband.


Recipe Notes

You will find the fresh pasta in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, often by the prepared foods or even by the fresh deli meats and cheeses.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)

356 calories - 13 g. fat - 39 g. carbs - 20 g. protein - 4 g. fiber


- 9-oz. package refrigerated fettuccine

- 1 tbsp. olive oil

- 6 oz. Italian turkey sausage

- 2 tsp. minced garlic (I used bottled)

- 1 pint cherry tomatoes

- Salt & pepper to taste

- 3 c. baby arugula leaves

- 2 oz. pecorino Romano cheese, shaved


1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a collander over a bowl, reserving 2/3 c. cooking liquid.

2. While pasta cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings and add sausage to pan, stirring to crumble until browned.

3. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

4. Add tomatoes and pepper, covering to cook for 2 minutes.

5. Mash tomatoes with the back of a spoon to break them up. Cover pan, reduce heat to low, and cook for 3 minutes.

6. Remove pan from heat and add pasta, pasta water, and arugula.

7. Toss well and top with cheese.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lipton Onion Roasted Potatoes

Guess where I found this recipe? The back of the Lipton onion soup mix box! I had an extra packet and figured it was worth a try. Corey loved these - we have had them twice since I found the recipe.


Recipe Notes

Watch your oven - mine took a little bit less time than recommended. Also, I used about half as much vegetable oil as is called for in the recipe. I am not sure how many calories and fat grams that switch saves, but it should be substantial.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)

360 calories - 18 g. fat - 5 g. protein - 45 g. carbohydrates - 4 g. fiber


  • 1 envelope Lipton onion soup mix
  • 4 medium all-purpose potatoes (I used peeled russet potatoes), cut into large chunks
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Combine ingredients in a large bowl and transfer to a 9x13 roasting pan (I used half as much vegetable oil as called for in recipe).

3. Bake, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender and golden brown (approximately 35 minutes).

4. Lipton also recommends substituting onion soup mix with savory herb and garlic flavor, onion mushroom flavor, or golden onion flavor mix.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata

When I found this recipe in Cooking Light, I was skeptical about the use of Meyer lemons. They have a very different flavor than regular lemons. However, Corey and I loved the flavor and the preparation. I served this with rice and broccoli for an easy dinner. For easy clean-up, steam basmati rice with chicken broth and water in the bottom of a rice cooker while steaming broccoli florets in the steamer basket on top. If you start it at the same time as this chicken dish, it should all finish at about the same time.


Recipe Notes

Once again, I highly recommend having your butcher make four chicken cutlets for you out of two chicken breast halves - it will save you a bunch of time. I also used less butter than is called for in the recipe (about 1.5 tbsp. instead of 2) which cut down on the fat and calories but didn't seem to sacrifice flavor.

Nutritional Information (serves 4)

214 calories - 7.3 g. fat - 27.5 g. protein - 8.5 g. carbohydrates - 0.6 g. fiber


  • Two 8-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, made into four cutlets
  • Salt & fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1/3 c. sauv blanc or other crisp white wine (I used vinho verde)
  • 1/2 c. fat free chicken broth
  • 1/3 c. Meyer lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
  • 2 tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley


1. Make the two chicken breasts into cutlets or skip to step 2 if the butcher makes them for you.

2. Sprinkle cutlets with salt and pepper and dredge individually in flour.

3. Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add two cutlets to pan and saute for two minutes. Turn cutlets over and saute until cooked through. Remove cutlets from pan and repeat with remaining butter and cutlets.

4. Add wine to pan and bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook for 1 minute or until wine almost evaporates.

5. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook until broth is reduced and thickened (about 2 tbsp. of total liquid). Add lemon juice and capers.

6. Serve sauce over chicken, sprinkle with parsley.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sauteed Chicken with Sage Brown Butter

This Cooking Light recipe is a nice chicken dish that pairs well with with mashed potatoes and vegetables.


Recipe Notes

You can do the pounding yourself, but I would recommend having your butcher turn a couple of chicken breast halves into cutlets for you. It will save you a bunch of time.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)

326 calories - 11.1 g. fat - 41.1 g. protein - 13.1 g. carb - 0.5 g. fiber


  • 4 six-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I recommend premade cutlets from your butcher)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 2 sage sprigs
  • 1 tbsp. minced shallots
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (I used dried)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice (1-2 small lemons)
  • Fresh sage leaves (optional)


1. If pounding yourself, place each chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to 1/4 inch thickness.

2. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray.

4. Place flour in a shallow dish and dredge chicken breasts in flour.

5. Add chicken to pan and saute for approximately four minutes per side or until done. Remove chicken from pan.

6. Add butter and sage sprigs to pan. Cook over medium heat until butter is browned. Discard sage.

7. Add shallots and thyme, cook for 30 seconds. Add lemon juice and cook for 30 more seconds.

8. Serve sauce with chicken.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mexican Chicken Casserole

This casserole was so good, I've taken it in my lunch the past two days at work. It has tons of vegetables hiding inside, so it helps you get your daily allowance of vegetables, too! Sorry for the sloppy picture - don't let it dissuade you from trying this recipe!


Recipe Notes

I cooked and shredded the chicken for this Cooking Light recipe in advance. Also, I didn't have the time to make the charred tomato salsa suggested by the recipe, so I used Pace Chunky Salsa instead (and it tasted great). The recipe modification below uses Pace. If you'd like to make your own, the original recipe can be found (here).

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 8)

331 calories - 12.3 g. fat - 26.1 g. protein - 30.8 g. carbs - 4.2 g. fiber


  • Pace chunky salsa (I used mild) - 2 jars
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels (I used frozen)
  • 1 c. zucchini, diced finely
  • 1 c. chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 c. shredded, cooked chicken breasts (2-3 chicken breasts)
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 10 oz. can green chile enchilada sauce (I used Old El Paso)
  • 1, 4-oz. can chopped green chiles (I skipped this because I don't like green chiles)
  • Twelve 6-in. corn tortillas
  • 1 c. shredded monterrey jack cheese
  • 1 c. crumbled feta cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray and add onion, corn, zucchini, and red bell pepper. Saute 6 minutes or until tender.

3. Add chicken and next five ingredients (through green chiles, if you are adding them). Saute 2 minutes or until heated through, remove from heat.

4. Spread 1/2 c. salsa in the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange six tortillas over salsa. Spoon 2 c. chicken mixture over tortillas. Top with 3/4 c. salsa and 1/2 c. of each cheese (monterrey jack and feta).

5. Repeat another layer, beginning with six tortillas. End with remaining cheeses.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots

Wow! Time has gotten away from me. Between the holidays and two active babies, I have been repeating some of my easiest, fastest recipes all holiday season. But it's time to start trying new things again! This Cooking Light recipe is a great use of sweet potatoes while they are in season.


Recipe Notes

Creamy mashed potatoes without butter or cream! I actually used less oil than the recipe calls for (did not drizzle any over the top).

Nutritional Information

202 calories - 6.3 g. fat - 2.9 g. protein - 34.9 g. carbs - 4.8 g. fiber


  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil (I skipped the 2 tsp part)
  • 3/4 c. thinly-sliced shallots
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp fresh, chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


1. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a skillet over low heat. Add shallots and cook for 5 minutes (stirring occasionally).

2. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cook for 20 minutes more or until shallots are golden and caramelized.

3. Boil potatoes and cook for 8 minutes or until tender. Drain.

4. Place potatoes in a large bowl and beat with a mixer until smooth. Stir in rosemary, salt, and pepper and beat until well-blended.

5. Top with shallots and drizzle with remaining two tsp. oil, if desired.