Friday, December 27, 2013

Mrs. Vance's Abe Lincoln Pie


My family has a house on a lake in a very small town in Arkansas.  My great grandparents built the place in the late-1940's, and my dad has gone up there every summer of his life.  When my dad was a boy (1950's-ish) there was a one-room restaurant in the town called Vance's Villa.  Mrs. Vance, the proprietor, used her living room as the restaurant and cooked for patrons out of her kitchen.  This was her signature dessert - Abe Lincoln Pie.  Vance's Villa burned down in the late-1950's or early-1960's, but not before my grandmother coaxed the recipe for Abe Lincoln Pie out of Mrs. Vance.  My family has been making it ever since and it's my dad's favorite pie in the whole wide world.
Recipe Notes
Recipe makes 2 pies.  I recommend using a pre-made graham cracker crust (can be purchased in just about any grocery store).  My grandmother noted in her recipe that it is better to freeze the crusts before adding the custard filling.
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. milk
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 package plain gelatin (such as Knorr)
  • 1/4 c. cold water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 pint whipping cream, whipped until soft peaks form
  • Graham cracker crusts - 2
  • Unsweetened chocolate (for grating over the top)
1.  Beat sugar, milk, egg yolks, and salt lightly in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat.  Allow the mixture to thicken and then set aside.
2.  Dissolve gelatin packet into cold water in a small bowl.  When fully-dissolved, add to hot custard.
3.  Add 1 tsp. vanilla.
4.  Allow custard to cool completely.
5.  When cool, fold in three egg whites, beaten stiff.  Also fold in whipped cream.
6.  Pour into two cold crumb crusts.  Grate unsweetened chocolate over the top.
7.  Refrigerate until serving.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

M&M Cookie Bars

I made some of these to take to a Christmas gift exchange using holiday M&M's.  Boy, are these good!  Recipe credit to for the recipe.


Recipe Notes
You can use any M&M's of your choice, but these are great for a holiday theme (Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc.) when M&M's makes the color-themed M&M's.

  • 2-1/8 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 12 tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 c. brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. bag M&M's candies, divided
1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2.  In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and egg yolk, continue mixing.
3.  Add the vanilla, salt, and baking soda.  Continue mixing.
4.  Add the flour and continue mixing.
5.  Add 1 c. of the M&M's.  Mix until just combined.
6.  Turn dough out into a greased 9x13 glass baking dish.  Press remaining M&M's into the dough.
7.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops of the bars are light golden brown.  Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Green Beans with Citrus & Pecans

This festive holiday side was recently featured in Southern Living.  I have two problems with the original recipe: 1) there is waaaaay too much vinaigrette called for in the original recipe (I ultimately used about 1/3 of the recipe) and 2) the original recipe says to chill and serve cold.  I like room temp or hot green beans, so I made mine accordingly.


Recipe Notes
Walnuts may also be substituted for the pecans.  I had never used cane syrup before.  I think that molasses can generally be substituted for the cane syrup here.

  • 1 shallot, diced small
  • 3/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest
  • 1/3 c. fresh orange juice
  • 1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. cane syrup
  • 2 lb. green beans or haricot verts (very thin green beans)
  • 2 oranges, sectioned
  • 1/2 c. chopped, toasted pecans
1.  Whisk together first six ingredients (through cane syrup) and add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.
2.  Cook green beans until crisp-tender and drain.
3.  Pat beans dry with paper towels.  Place beans and orange sections in a zip-top plastic bag.  Add vinaigrette (I would only recommend adding a few tbsp.) and seal bag.
4.  Turn bag several times to coat beans and oranges.
5.  Serve topped with pecans.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cran-Bourbon Cocktails

Got any cranberry sauce left over from Thanksgiving?  Make this cocktail!  Corey and I both loved it.  I found it in Cooking Light.  One recipe has 154 calories.


Recipe Notes
The original recipe calls for Cointreau, but any triple sec will do.  I do recommend using a good bourbon.

  • 2 tbsp. cranberry sauce
  • 2 tbsp. bourbon
  • 1 tbsp. triple sec
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice (about 1/2 of a small lemon)
1.  Place all ingredients into a shaker with ice.
2.  Shake vigorously for 15 seconds.  Strain into a glass and enjoy.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Quick & Easy Pulled Pork

This recent Southern Living recipe involves just three ingredients and a crock pot.  What could be better? 
Recipe Notes
Don't forget to spray the crock pot with cooking spray.  It will save you lots of cleaning time later.  The recipe calls for pork shoulder roast (Boston butt), but I used pork tenderloins.

  • 3 lb. pork shoulder roast or pork tenderloin
  • 1 can Coca Cola
  • 18-oz. bottle bbq sauce (I used Kraft Original)

1.  Spray crock pot lightly with cooking spray.
2.  Add pork to slow cooker.  Pour cola and bbq sauce over the top.
3.  Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.
4.  Remove pork and shred with two forks.
5.  Return to sauce after skimming off any residual fat.
6.  Enjoy over rice, mashed potatoes, or as a sandwich.


Honey Mustard Chicken

I found this recipe on Pinterest (courtesy of, but my mom made a version of this chicken growing up that I hadn't had in years.  The recent recipe posting called it "The World's Best Chicken", but I've always known it as Honey Mustard Chicken, so that's what you are getting here!  Serve this saucy chicken with white rice and a big salad. 
Recipe Notes
The original recipe calls for cooking the dish uncovered at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  I found it to work best to cook (covered with foil) for 35 minutes in a 400 degree oven, but my oven runs hot because it's a convection oven.
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 c. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 c. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper
  • Rosemary for serving (optional)
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, maple syrup, and vinegar.
3.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Place chicken breasts in dish and season generously with salt and pepper.
4.  Pour mustard mixture over chicken (make sure each chicken breast is well-coated).
5.  Bake, covered, for 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Brussels Sprouts & Noodle Stir Fry

This vegetarian entree needs a good dash of teriyaki sauce or soy sauce, but I thought it was a great light meal.  The actual cooking time is quick, but budget in some extra time for all of the slicing and chopping.


Recipe Notes
My cooking time was significantly longer than the recipe suggested.  I personally like my brussels sprouts nice and soft (not al dente) and it took a while to get an entire skillet of them that way.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
230 calories - 10 g. fat - 31 g. carbohydrates - 6 g. fiber - 9 g. protein

  • 3 oz. dried whole what thin spaghetti
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 12 oz. fresh Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced or shredded
  • 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 c. finely-shredded carrot
  • 1/3 c. fresh chopped cilantro
  • 3 tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted
1.  Break pasta into 1 inch pieces.  Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside.
2.  Heat a very large skillet over high heat.  Add onion, oil, and garlic and stir vigorously for one minute.
3.  Stir in Brussels sprouts, ginger, and crushed red pepper.  Cook and stir for one minute.  (This step is where I took more like 10 minutes to let the vegetables cook.)
4.  Add chicken broth and soy sauce.  Cook about 2 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
5.  Remove skillet from heat.  Stir in cooked pasta, carrot, and cilantro.
6.  Sprinkle the top with almonds and serve.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Lightened Shrimp & Cheesy Grits

I found this recipe on Pinterest courtesy of the blog "A Healthy Makeover".  I made a couple of tweaks, but the recipe should be just about as advertised as far as nutrition goes.


Recipe Notes
The original recipe called for a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley over the top, but I didn't think it was worth the trouble or the cost of buying a bunch of parsley.  Serve this dish with a nice, simple green salad and you've got a hearty (and light) dinner.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
462 calories - 38 g. carbohydrates - 11 g. fat - 52 g. protein - 1 g. fiber

  • 3 c. fat free chicken broth
  • 1 c. old fashioned (hominy) grits
  • 1/2 c. 2% shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 thin slices of deli ham (I used honey ham), chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. finely minced garlic
  • Salt & pepper to taste
1.  In a medium saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil.
2.  Stir in grits and reduce heat to medium low.  Stir occasionally until thickened.  (Original recipe calls for 12 minutes, mine took more like 5 minutes).
3.  Remove grits from heat and mix in cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese.  Stir until melted.  Cover grits and set aside.
4.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium/high heat.  
5.  Add chopped ham and cook until slightly crispy.  Remove to a paper towel and set aside.
6.  In the same pan (do not wash it out), add shrimp and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
7.  Saute until cooked throughout.
8.  Add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic.  Heat sauce through and then add the ham.
9.  Spoon grits, ham, and sauce over cheese grits.

Apple Butter Pie

I found this pie recipe in Southern Living, and it was actually so much quicker to put together than most pies.  The crust didn't even have to cool all the way before I could add the filling and finish baking our dessert treat.  This pie is a cross between an apple pie and a pumpkin pie - kind of a spiced custard pie that is great for fall.


Recipe Notes
You can garnish this pie with whipped cream and/or crushed gingersnaps.  Southern Living tested this pie with Smucker's Spiced Apple Butter.  I used the plain old Kroger brand (and saved a couple of bucks) and it turned out great.

  • 8 oz. gingersnaps (about 1/2 box), crushed
  • 3 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk (I used fat free)
  • 1 c. spiced apple butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1-1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Mix crushed gingersnaps (I used my Cuisinart to crush them) and melted butter until well-blended.
3.  Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.  Press gingersnap crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.
4.  Bake crust at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes.
5.  While crust bakes, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, apple butter, egg yolks, and cider vinegar.
6.  Pour custard mixture into prepared pie crust.
7.  Bake for 15 minutes more at 350 degrees.
8.  Chill for 2-24 hours and serve.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pork Roast & Harvest Vegetables

I found this recipe in a "Fast and Healthy" cookbook I picked up in the airport.  I think that credit should go to Taste of Home.  I was very skeptical about this recipe, because it had apple juice and cinnamon in it (and I typically don't like overly-sweet sauces).  However, the sauce cooks down nicely with the beef bouillon and works well with the pork.  Very tasty slow cooker meal with minimal prep.
Recipe Notes
Crock Pot timing is 5-6 hours on high or 10-12 hours on low.  Ours cooked for 10 hours on low and it was ready when we were ready to eat.  I also used a trimmed pork tenderloin in lieu of the boneless pork shoulder roast and it worked out great.
Nutritional Information (Per serving - serves 6)
309 calories - 9 g. fat - 32 g. carbohydrates - 4 g. fiber - 24 g. protein
  • 1/2 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast or pork tenderloin
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 c. parsnips (about 2 large), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 c. carrots (about 3 medium), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 c. diced celery
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 tbsp. quick-cooking tapioca
  • 6 oz. can frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 tsp. instant beef bouillon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1.  Trim any fat from the meat.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add pork and cook until browned, turning to brown evenly on all sides.  Set meat aside.
2.  Combine parsnips, carrots, celery, and bell pepper in Crock Pot.  Sprinkle vegetables with tapioca.
3.  In a small bowl, combine apple juice, water, beef bouillon, cinnamon, and black pepper.
4.  Pour apple juice mixture over vegetables.  Place browned pork tenderloin on top of vegetables.
5.  Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours.
6.  Transfer meat and vegetables to a serving platter.  Shred pork.
7.  Strain sauce and skim off fat.  Drizzle cooking liquid over meat and pass the remaining sauce to serve with the vegetables.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I found this recipe on Pinterest, which originally came from Taste of Home.  It combines some of my favorite fall flavors with chocolate, so what is not to love?!


Recipe Notes
Be sure to watch your oven - the recipe calls for 60-70 minutes of baking time, but my convection oven was done in 50 minutes.

  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 c. canned Pumpkin (approx. one can)
  • 1-1/2 c. canola oil
  • 1-1/2 c. chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
1.  Beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil until well-combined.  I recommend using a stand-up mixer, because the oil can be difficult to incorporate.
2.  Add flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.
3.  Fold in chocolate chips with a spatula until fully incorporated.
4.  Pour into two greased loaf pans.  
5.  Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and loaves are cooked through.  The recipe suggests 60-70 minutes, but mine were done in 50.

Fall Vegetable Hash

I lightened up this Southern Living recipe a bit.  It's a nice alternative for a starchy vegetable when you are trying to cook healthy and don't want all of the extra carbs from mashed potatoes or pasta.


Recipe Notes
The original recipe calls for "thick bacon slices".  I used center cut bacon and it worked great while trimming fat and calories.  The original recipe also called for 2 tbsp. of olive oil.  I eliminated the olive oil and just used the limited bacon drippings in the pan for sauteing the vegetables, which further eliminated fat and calories from the original recipe.

  • 4 slices of bacon (I used center-cut), chopped
  • 1 medium-sized sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 lb. small fresh Brussels sprouts, halved with bottoms cut off
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
1.  Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until cooked through but not crisp.  Remove bacon to paper towels and pat dry.
2.  Add onion and sweet potato to hot skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes.  Add turnip and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.
3.  Add bacon back to skillet.
4.  Add Brussels sprouts and garlic to skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until Brussels sprouts are softened (5-10 minutes).
5.  Mix vinegar with 2 tbsp. water.  Add vinegar mixture to skillet.
6.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.
7.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gingerbread Souffle

Southern Living at its creative finest!  My husband (who generally says he "hates dessert") loved this recipe and had seconds.  Just beware of the baking time if you are trying to coordinate your dinner courses.  If you make this dessert in ramekins, the cooking time is about 25 minutes.  If you make this dessert in a souffle dish (as I did above), baking time is more like 50 minutes.


Recipe Notes
Southern Living recommended serving this dessert with whipped cream and crushed gingersnaps.  I bought the gingersnaps but had no time to crush them, and I served mine with Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream instead of whipped cream.  I think that Blue Bell is a great accompaniment to this dessert.

The recipe notes that you can make this dessert in individual ramekins (which requires 10 and I only have 4).  Alternatively, you can use a 2-1/2 qt. souffle dish, which is what I used.  As noted above, the cooking time doubles if you use a souffle dish over individual ramekins.

  • 1 c. milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. molasses
  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Prepare either 10 individual ramekins or one large souffle dish: butter dish(es) and sprinkle with sugar to coat.  Shake out excess sugar.
3.  Combine first four ingredients (milk, sugar, flour, and salt) in a medium saucepan with a whisk until smooth.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.
4.  Whisk in molasses, butter, pumpkin pie spice, ginger, and vanilla.  
5.  Allow pan to cool slightly (10-15 minutes).  Whisk in egg yolks.  (Note: the recipe calls for a cooled mixture so that the egg yolks won't curdle/scramble from the heat when added.)
6.  Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until stiff peaks form.  I used a hand mixer but you can also use a stand mixer.
7.  Whisk 1/3 of egg white mixture into milk mixture until well-blended.  Fold in remaining egg whites using a spatula until fully-incorporated.
8.  Spoon batter into prepared dish(es), leaving approx. 1/2-1 inch of space at the top.
9.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (if individual ramekins) or until puffy and set.  For the souffle dish, bake for 50-55 minutes until same result is achieved.
10.  Serve immediately with whipped cream or ice cream and crushed gingersnaps.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Asparagus with Lemon & Pecorino

This is a great, simple Cooking Light side dish.


Recipe Notes
I used shaved Parmesan because I couldn't find pecorino Romano that day.  I recommend a Microplane grater for your lemon rind.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
53 calories - 3.1 g. fat

  • 1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 oz. shaved pecorino Romano cheese
1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes or until crisp/tender.
2.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add oil to the pan and swirl to coat.  
3.  Add asparagus and cook 1-2 minutes.
4.  Sprinkle asparagus evenly with lemon rind, salt, and pepper.  Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Sadie's Corner: Rosemary Chicken and Corn Quinoa

This Southern Living meal (recipe here) looked really great.  It has a great flavor combination (corn and kale) and good, complimentary herbs (rosemary) for the chicken breast.  However, there are two lessons here that I considered before I tried the recipe, and I wish that I'd listened more closely:

1.  This recipe needs a sauce.  When I was reading the ingredient list, it was clear that there was no sauce component to the dish, just a small amount of lemon juice squeezed over it at the end to boost flavor.  My fears were confirmed when we tried the dish: it really needed a sauce.
2.  Never, ever believe the recipe for the amount of time it will take to cook chicken in a pan.  This particular recipe suggested 6 minutes per side.  I left the chicken in the pan for a total of 18+ minutes and Corey's (which was a thicker chicken breast than mine) was unsafely pink when he cut into it.  There is a very fine line between cooking chicken in a pan thoroughly and either burning it or drying it out.  My advice?  Bake chicken (or pan sear it and then finish it in the oven) when possible.  It will maintain more moisture and stand a better chance of cooking through.

Sadie was very excited that she got to try my chicken.  Doesn't she look deserving of some leftovers?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli

I found this recipe on Pinterest and I have adapted it from an original recipe found on Amateur Gourmet's blog.  While this is not the best shrimp recipe I've ever had, it was generally "one pot" and very easy, so I would recommend it and plan to make it again.
Recipe Notes
Adapted from The Amateur Gourmet.  Original recipe calls for tail-on shrimp.  I like peeled and deveined shrimp with the tails already removed.  I also used considerably less olive oil in this version than the original recipe specifies.
  • 2 lbs. broccoli florets
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
  • Lemon zest from one lemon
1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
2.  Combine broccoli florets, 1 tbsp. olive oil, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder in a large bowl.
3.  Spread over a greased cookie sheet or jelly roll pan covered in aluminum foil.
4.  Roast for 10 minutes.
5.  While broccoli is cooking, combine shrimp, lemon zest, 1 tbsp. olive oil, and additional salt and pepper in the bowl just used for broccoli.
6.  When the broccoli has been in the oven for 10 minutes, remove the jelly roll pan from the oven and carefully mix in shrimp.
7.  Return to the oven for 10 more minutes.  Toss shrimp and broccoli once after 5 minutes of cooking.  Shrimp should be cooked through and broccoli should be tender and golden when the dish is ready.
8.  Serve over rice with a squeeze of lemon juice and perhaps a small amount of soy sauce.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Orange and Mixed Green Salad with Chicken

This recipe is a great use for leftover grilled chicken.  Slice it thin along the grain.  Very light, very healthy weeknight meal that takes very little time.  Weight Watchers Points Plus on this meal is 6 PP+.
Recipe Notes
The original recipe called for watercress, but I like an herb mix salad blend with a little arugula for this meal.
Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
214 calories - 9 g. fat - 13 g. carbs - 2 g. fiber - 21 g. protein
  • 2 grilled skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 c. torn mixed lettuces or watercress (I prefer herb mix salad blend)
  • 2 medium navel oranges, peeled, seeded, and sliced crosswise
  • 1 tbsp. toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
1.  Toast hazelnuts in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until lightly toasted.  Place hazelnuts in a kitchen towel or paper towel and rub until brown paper skins come off.
2.  Whisk together chives, olive oil, honey, lemon juice, water, and salt.
3.  Add dressing to salad greens and toss to coat.
4.  Divide salad among four plates. 
5.  Arrange chicken and oranges on plate. 
6.  Sprinkle with feta cheese and hazelnuts.  Sprinkle with ground black pepper, if desired.  Serve and enjoy!


Coconut Shrimp with Mango Rice Pilaf

I found this recipe in a "Fast and Healthy" cookbook I picked up in the airport.  This is a quick and truly healthy version of coconut shrimp (which is more typically fried).  The nutritional information included here is for both the serving of shrimp and also the mango rice pilaf.
Recipe Notes
For those following Weight Watchers, I ran the Points Plus and this recipe is 8 points plus per serving.
Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
303 calories - 7 g. fat - 36 g. carbohydrates - 3 g. fiber - 23 g. protein
  • 1 lb. peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 c. finely-crushed low-fat shredded wheat crackers (I used Triscuits)
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. white/basmati rice cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh mango
  • 1/3 c. sliced green onions
  • 1/3 c. chopped cilantro
1.  Rinse shrimp in cold water, pat dry with paper towels.  Set shrimp aside.
2.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
3.  Lightly coat a large baking sheet or jelly roll pan with cooking spray and set aside.
4.  Place egg whites in a shallow dish.
5.  In a separate shallow dish, mix Triscuits, coconut, ginger, and pepper.
6.  Dip each shrimp first in egg whites, then in cracker mixture.  Arrange shrimp in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
7.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until shrimp are opaque and cooked through.  Coating should be lightly browned.
8.  Combine rice, mango, green onions, and cilantro.  Serve shrimp (approx. 8-10, depending on size) over rice pilaf.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall Snack Mix

I made this for a playdate and I thought it was a great combination of sweet, salty, and crunchy.  My kids basically enjoyed picking the marshmallows and M&M's out of it!


Recipe Notes
The original recipe doesn't specify which type of Chex cereal.  I used corn Chex here and it worked out well.

  • 6 c. Chex cereal
  • 1 c. pretzel rods
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. marshmallows
  • 1 c. M&M's
  • 1 c. candy corn
1.  Stir butter and brown sugar until well-combined.
2.  Place Chex cereal and pretzels in a large bowl.  Pour butter and brown sugar mixture over cereal and pretzels.  Toss gently until cereal and pretzels are coated.
3.  Bake on a foil-lined jelly roll pan for 20 minutes at 275 degrees.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
4.  Combine cereal, pretzels, marshmallows, M&M's, and candy corn in a large bowl.  Serve and enjoy!  Stores well in a glass jar with a tight seal.

Neiman-Marcus Bars (aka Texas Gold Bars)

Who can argue with five ingredients?  These have had many names over the years....Neiman-Marcus bars, Texas gold bars, chess squares, gooey butter cake.  This list goes on and on.  This is a classic recipe that is great for bake sales, teacher appreciation luncheons, or party buffets.


Recipe Notes
I often try to go lower fat in my recipes, but baking is one place that I typically do not skimp because it ruins the consistency and/or the taste of the goodies.  This is another case where I would say use full fat everything and just enjoy the ride.

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (I used Pillsbury Butter Yellow)
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 lb. box of powdered sugar
1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2.  Spray a 9x13 inch glass dish with cooking spray.
3.  Mix cake mix, melted butter, and one egg until if forms a soft dough.
4.  Press dough into the bottom of greased dish.  
5.  Mix powdered sugar, cream cheese, and two eggs until smooth.  Pour on top of cake mix layer.
6.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until top is golden brown.  Allow pan to cool completely, slice, and enjoy!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Spinach & Artichoke Pasta with Vegetables

This easy Cooking Light pasta uses frozen spinach and artichoke dip as its base.  It look less than 30 minutes to put together and both Corey and I liked it, so it's a keeper.


Recipe Notes
I am neutral on the pine nuts.  I may leave them out next time.  I also folded the basil into the pasta instead of sprinkling it on top of the pasta as the original recipe called for.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
388 calories - 10.9 g. fat - 19 g. protein - 55.5 g. carbohydrates - 5.3 g. fiber

  • 8 oz. uncooked rotini pasta (1/2 of a 1 lb. box)
  • 2 c. cut asparagus (approx. 2-inch dice)
  • 1 c. chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 2/3 c. fat free or 1% lowfat milk
  • 8 oz. package frozen spinach/artichoke cheese dip (such as TGI Friday's), thawed
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 3 tbsp. toasted pine nuts
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, shaved or shredded (approx. 1/4 c.)
1.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  During the last three minutes of cooking, add asparagus and bell pepper to the pot.  Drain after cooking and keep warm.
2.  Combine milk and spinach dip in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and cook five minutes or until slightly thickened.
3.  Combine pasta and vegetables, spinach/cheese sauce, salt, and tomatoes in a large bowl.  Toss to coat.
4.  Sprinkle with basil, pine nuts, and cheese.  Serve immediately.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fig & Goat Cheese Bruschetta

This Cooking Light appetizer has been in my recipe folder for years, so I finally decided to try it this weekend.  The fig compote can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days in advance to make day-of prep easier.


Recipe Notes
The original recipe calls for chopped walnuts on top.  I am not a huge nut fan, so I left them off.  If you want to include them, sprinkle 5 tsp. finely-chopped walnuts on top of your bruschetta before roasting.

  • 1-1/4 c. chopped dried Mission figs
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. coarsely chopped orange sections
  • 1 tsp. grated orange rind
  • 1/3 c. fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 40 half-inch-thick slices of French baguette
  • 5 oz. crumbled goat cheese
1.  Combine figs, sugar, orange sections, orange rind, orange juice, rosemary, and pepper in a small saucepan.
2.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until figs are tender.  Uncover and cook 5 additional minutes or until mixture thickens.
3.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
4.  Preheat broiler.
5.  Top each baguette slice with 1-1/2 tsp. fig mixture and 1 tsp. goat cheese.  Arrange on a baking sheet covered in foil.  Broil for 3-5 minutes (depending on broiler) until toast and goat cheese begin to brown.

Melon & Crispy Prosciutto Salad

I found this salad in an issue of Southern Living over the summer.  It brings together that salty/sweet combination of melon and prosciutto quite nicely.


Recipe Notes
I served this with chicken enchiladas, but it would work well with just about any grilled protein (steak, chicken, pork chops).  The recipe calls for honeydew melon, but you can use just about any melon.  I personally think that the recipe makes too much dressing - I only used about 1/2 to 2/3 of the dressing that the recipe made.

  • 4-oz. package of prosciutto
  • 6 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 10 c. loosely-packed arugula
  • 1/2 small honeydew melon, peeled, seeded, and cubed or coarsely chopped
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 c. pistachios, coarsely chopped

1.  Arrange prosciutto on a foil-lined baking pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes or until crispy.
2.  Whisk together mint, olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper.
3.  Toss greens and chopped melon with vinaigrette.  Top with crumbled prosciutto, crumbled feta, and chopped pistachios.  Serve immediately.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Crusted Honey Mustard Chicken

Here is another take on crusted chicken - this time with corn flakes and bottled honey mustard sauce.  I never thought that honey mustard, dill, and green onions would go well together, but I loved this recipe and so (surprisingly) did Corey.  This is a Weight Watchers recipe and the Points Plus value is 10.


Recipe Notes
I made extra cornflake crumbs to make it easier to bread the chicken.  To make the cornflake crumbs, I just took plain cornflakes and pulsed them in my Cuisinart.

  • 2/3 c. light honey mustard dressing (I used Newman's Own)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 medium uncooked green onion, finely sliced
  • 1 c. cornflake crumbs
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 oz. each)
1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a shallow pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
2.  In a small bowl, combine honey mustard dressing, salt, pepper, dill, and scallions.  Remove 1/3 c. honey mustard mixture (approx. half) and set aside for serving.
3.  Place cornflake crumbs on a plate.
4.  Dip chicken first in dressing mixture and then in cornflake crumbs.  Coat chicken breasts thoroughly with cornflakes.  Place chicken in the prepared pan.
5.  Bake until chicken is golden and cooked through, or approximately 13-15 minutes.
6.  Serve with remaining honey mustard mixture.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Honey Mustard Pretzel-Crusted Chicken

This chicken dish is good with a simple salad and mashed potatoes.


Recipe Notes
The original recipe calls for bottled water and clover or orange blossom honey to make the homemade honey mustard.  I don't know what planet the author lives on, but on my planet, we're on a budget, so I used tap water and plain old Burleson's honey.  This recipe makes lots more pretzel/panko crumbs than you will need, but it is nice to have the extra to make sure that your chicken breasts get coated properly.

  • 2 c. panko crumbs
  • 2 c. pretzel crumbs (pretzels pulsed in a Cuisinart until coarsely ground)
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (4 oz. each)
  • 1/2 c. flour
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil with cooking spray.
2.  Combine panko crumbs and pretzel crumbs in a medium bowl.
3.  Combine oil, mustard, honey, water, and vinegar in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
4.  Season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper.
5.  Prepare three dredging stations: one with flour, one with 1/2 of the honey mustard dressing, and one with the pretzel crumb mixture.
6.  Dredge chicken breasts one at a time in flour, then in honey mustard (allowing for excess to drip off), and finally in pretzel crumbs.  Place on the greased baking sheet.
7.  Bake for 16-25 minutes (mine took approx. 20 minutes) until cooked through.  Let chicken sit for five minutes before serving.
8.  Serve with additional honey mustard dressing.

Mini Mexican Pizzas


Another Pinterest find.  I printed off a bunch of meal ideas I had pinned a couple of weeks ago and this flurry of posts is the combination of the best ones.  Corey loved these.  They are a bit flimsy to serve as appetizers, but a few of them with a salad and a Mexican-style side dish makes for a nice dinner.


Recipe Notes
The original recipe calls for lean ground turkey.  I used extra lean (95%) ground beef.  Serve these with low fat sour cream, salsa, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and/or sliced black olives if you'd like.

Nutritional Information (approximate, per pizza) - makes 12
80 calories - 3 g. fat - 8 g. carbohydrates - 4 g. fiber - 8 g. protein

  • Flour tortillas (enough to cut out 12 small circles from each tortilla)
  • 1 lb. extra lean ground beef, cooked
  • 1/2 c. salsa (I used Pace mild)
  • 1 tbsp. dry taco seasoning
  • 1/2 c. fat free refried beans
  • 1/2 c. lowfat shredded cheddar cheese
1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a 12-count standard size muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
2.  Use a wide-bottomed empty can, glass cup, or cookie cutter to cut 2-3 medium circles out of each tortilla.
3.  Press each wrap circle into the muffin tin using your fingers.  It does not have to fill the muffin cup, just fit snugly.
4.  Mix cooked ground beef, salsa, taco seasoning, and refried beans.  Stir until well-combined.
5.  Spoon approx. 2 tbsp. of the meat mixture into each tortilla.  Top with shredded cheese.
6.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted (in my oven, it actually only took 10 minutes).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)

I have been using Corey as a guinea pig for lots of Pinterest recipes lately.  This recipe for Mexican corn salad looked good and relatively healthy (I made some modifications to the original to skinny it up).  I ran this through the Weight Watchers Points Plus tracker, and I come up with a value of 3 Points+ based on six servings.


Recipe Notes
The author of the original recipe (the blogger behind Closet Cooking) also posted a version with avocado, which looks yummy but will add to the Points if you are following Weight Watchers.

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 4 ears of fresh corn, cut from the cob
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 tbsp. feta cheese (crumbled)
  • Chili powder to taste
1.  Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium high.
2.  Add corn, toss to coat, and then let it sit cooking until charred (5-ish minutes).  Mix it up and char it again.
3.  Add jalapeno and garlic, saute for one minute.  Remove from heat.
4.  Mix the balance of the ingredients in and gently toss.
5.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken Tacos

I also found these Crock Pot chicken tacos on Pinterest and thought they looked healthy and flavorful.  They were very easy to assemble and I was able to leave everything in the morning and had dinner almost finished when I got home that afternoon!

Recipe Notes
The original recipe calls for cooking the recipe on high for four hours.  I made the chicken breasts on low for eight hours (as directed here) and they came out great.  We served these with both corn and flour tortillas.  The flour tortillas probably had the best flavor, but the corn tortillas were a bit more healthy.

  • Four boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 packet taco seasoning mix
  • 1 c. salsa (I used Pace mild)
  • 1 can Healthy Request 99% fat free cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • Flour or corn tortillas for serving
1.  Place chicken breasts in the bottom of your Crock Pot.  Sprinkle with taco seasoning mix.
2.  Combine salsa and cream of chicken soup in a small bowl.  Pour over chicken breasts.
3.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Chicken breasts should be fork-tender and easy to shred.
4.  Shred chicken breasts and stir in sour cream.
5.  Serve with tortillas.

BLT Chopped Salad

I found this salad on Pinterest and thought it looked interesting for summer....fresh corn, avocado, tomatoes, and my husband's favorite (bacon!) made for a really nice salad.

Recipe Notes
I ran this version through the WW Points Plus tracker and I came up with a Points value of 5.  I did make modifications from the original recipe that I found (I added more lettuce, used less cheese, and used center-cut bacon instead of slab to make it healthier).

  • 3 c. Bibb lettuce, chopped
  • 3 c. arugula, chopped
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
  • Fresh corn kernels from one large ear of corn
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 4 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Juice from one lime
  • Salt & pepper to taste
1.  Combine Bibb lettuce, arugula, grape tomatoes, corn kernels, avocado, bacon, and feta in a large bowl.
2.  Whisk olive oil and lime juice to make the dressing.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
3.  Toss salad gently with dressing and serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lemon Garlic Shrimp with Wilted Spinach & Cauliflower Mash

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it was quite successful.  I ran it through the Points Plus tracker on Weight Watchers and it looks like the Points Plus value is 6 based on a recipe that serves four people.
Recipe Notes
This recipe essentially has three components: the protein (shrimp) and two vegetable sides (cauliflower mash and spinach).  I have modified the recipe here based on what I found on the blog "Lizzy Writes" (credit to
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (divided)
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined (I had the fishmonger leave the tails on)
  • Lemon zest from one lemon
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 4 c. baby spinach, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Toss cauliflower florets, smashed garlic cloves, and 1 tbsp. olive oil with salt and pepper. 
3.  Place florets and garlic cloves on a foil-lined pan and roast, covered loosely with foil.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and roast 15 minutes more.
4.  Place cauliflower/garlic mixture in a Cuisinart.  Blend, adding chicken broth as needed to get it smooth (grits-like texture).  Add Parmesan cheese and more salt and pepper to taste.
5.  Mix shrimp with lemon zest, 1 tbsp. olive oil, oregano, minced garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Let stand for 15 minutes. 
6.  Saute shrimp in a large skillet on medium high heat or until pink and cooked through.
7.  Remove shrimp to a bowl and keep warm.  Do not clean out pan, as the pan drippings will be used for the sautéed onion/spinach mixture.
8.  Add spinach, onion, crushed red pepper flakes, and lemon juice to the hot skillet.  Saute until wilted.
9.  Layer cauliflower puree, followed by spinach, followed by shrimp.  Serve immediately.

Mediterranean Tomatoes

This is a very simple recipe for fresh tomatoes to enjoy while the tomatoes are still good here at the end of the summer!


Recipe Notes

  • Beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
  • Feta cheese (from the deli, such as Murray's Cheese, preferred)
  • Kalamata olives, sliced or chopped
  • Fresh basil, cut in a chiffonnade
  • Fresh oregano, chopped
  • Olive oil (use sparingly)
  • Good-quality salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1.  Arrange tomatoes on a plate.
2.  Sprinkle with feta, olives, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper.  Drizzle sparingly with olive oil.
3.  Chill for 20-30 minutes and serve.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cape Cod Chopped Salad

My mom makes this salad frequently for family dinners.  It's an old Ina Garten recipe that is a good consistent standby.  The dressing is really fresh and extra dressing can be stored.
Recipe Notes
I used less than half of the dressing.  It makes a lot and you will end up with a soggy salad if you use the whole recipe.  I also used a baby spinach and arugula salad blend for the salad pictured instead of just 100% arugula.  The original recipe calls for 8 oz. of thick cut bacon.  I used 6 slices of center cut bacon (about 1/3 of the recommended amount) and it was plenty.
  • 6 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 8 oz. baby arugula (about 1.5 "clamshells" in the grocery store)
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced small
  • 1/2 c. toasted walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries
  • 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 2-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2/3 c. good quality olive oil
1.  Combine crumbled bacon, arugula, apple, nuts, cranberries, and blue cheese.
2.  Whisk together the remaining ingredients, adding olive oil last and incorporating it slowly.
3.  Toss the salad with just enough dressing to moisten the greens.  Serve immediately.