Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mini BBQ Meatloaves


Recipe Notes
Serve this Cooking Light recipe with buttermilk mashed potatoes and a green vegetable or salad.  The original magazine version included nutritional information for smashed blue cheese potatoes along with the meatloaf, so I have not included the nutritional information because I only made half of the recipe and don't have the nutritional information isolated for the meatloaves alone.

  • 8 oz. mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 8 oz. extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 c. grated carrot
  • 1/4 c. thinly-sliced green onions
  • 1/4 c. panko or whole wheat panko
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 c. BBQ sauce
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Spray a standard-sized muffin tin with cooking spray.  You will use somewhere between 8-10  of the muffin cups.
3.  Combine sausage, beef, carrot, green onions, panko, pepper, and egg in a large bowl.  Stir until just combined.
4.  Divide mixture evenly among prepared muffin cups.
5.  Make a small indentation in the center of each meat loaf to prevent protein from shrinking during cooking.
6.  Top each meatloaf with approximately 2 tsp. BBQ sauce.
7.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Green Tomato Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette


I tweaked a Cooking Light recipe and used bottled Wishbone red wine vinaigrette instead of making my own dressing.  This is a nice fall/winter salad.


  • Spring mix salad greens
  • Prosciutto, three slices (crisped under the broiler and crumbled)
  • Green tomato
  • Blue cheese (2-3 tbsp.)
  • Sliced almonds (2 tbsp.)
  • Red wine vinaigrette (I used Wishbone)
1.  Combine all "dry" ingredients in a large bowl.
2.  Use a small amount of dressing to toss (only 1-2 short squirts).  Toss until all greens are evenly coated and serve.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

This is an old Martha Stewart FOOD Magazine recipe that I'd never gotten around to trying.  These are a little bit sweet and a little bit savory, which is a nice combination.


Recipe Notes
These take between 1.5-2 hours start to finish, so make sure to allow for extra preparation time.  I omitted the chives in the version shown above and it turned out great.  If your sweet potato skin falls apart a little bit when you scoop out the sweet potato, you can reshape the skin when you add the contents back in.  The skin will adhere to the filling.  This recipe is easily halved.

  • 5 medium sweet potatoes
  • 4 oz. fresh goat cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 c. chopped pecans
  • 1/4 c. panko bread crumbs
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Prick sweet potatoes several times with a fork and wrap in foil.
3.  Bake approximately 1 hour or until tender when pierced with a knife.
4.  When cool enough to handle, cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise.  
5.  Scoop out all but 1/4 inch flesh from inside sweet potato skins.
6.  Arrange skins in a single layer in a 9x13-inch baking dish.
7.  Place sweet potato flesh, goat cheese, salt, pepper, chives, and 2 tbsp. butter in a food processor.  Process until smooth.
8.  Spoon mixture into potato skins.
9.  In a small bowl, combine remaining butter, panko, and chopped pecans.  Spoon panko mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes.
10.  Bake at 375 degrees or until topping is golden, approx. 10-12 minutes.

Cranberry Avocado Salad with Candied Pecans & White Balsamic Vinaigrette

I found this salad while perusing Pinterest.  The original recipe is from keyingredient.com, but I have modified it slightly based on my family's tastes.  This is a nice substantial salad.  The original recipe makes WAY too much dressing....I made a half recipe of the below dressing and am still using it three salads later.


Recipe Notes
The original recipe calls for candied sliced almonds.  I used candied pecans in the below version.  I think that the dressing can do without the poppy seeds and sesame seeds if you'd like to exclude them, also.

  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 c. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 oz. baby spinach, arugula, or field greens (I used a combination of arugula and field greens)
  • Chopped cilantro, to taste
  • 1 medium avocado, peeled and sliced or chopped
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c. candied spiced pecans
1.  Combine first 10 ingredients (sugar through olive oil) in a glass jar.  Shake well to emulsify.
2.  Combine greens, cilantro, avocado, cranberries, and pecans in a large bowl, toss with dressing to combine.  

Please note: dressing recipe above makes a very large batch of dressing.  Not all dressing will be needed for this recipe.  Save extra dressing for future use!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes

Great fall side alert!  I found this while browsing Pinterest and it went great with grilled chicken.  It requires some chopping but otherwise this is a super-easy side.


Recipe Notes
The original recipe includes pecans (which I've included here as well).  I skipped the pecans in the version above and it turned out great without as well.  Recipe credit to www.theroastedroot.net.)

  • 4 c. brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch to 1 inch chunks
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin (go lightly here)
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 c. raw pecans (may exclude)
  • 1/3 c. feta cheese
  • 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Mix all ingredients through sea salt in a bowl, stir well to combine.
3.  Turn out vegetables in a glass 8x8 baking dish coated with cooking spray.
4.  Place on center rack in oven and bake for 45-60 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.  Stir once halfway through cooking.
4.  While vegetables roast, heat balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling.
5.  Cook at a full controlled boil, stirring frequently, until vinegar is reduced to between 1/3 and 1/2 of its original volume (approx. 5-7 minutes).
6.  Remove vegetables from oven and sprinkle with feta cheese.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top and serve.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Five-Ingredient Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Muffins

One of my five-year-olds really loved these.  Courtesy of the blog "The Girl Who Ate Everything".  This is a good weekend breakfast project when you want to make something homemade but it can't take all day.


Recipe Notes
I think that you can technically make these with about half of the cinnamon and sugar (there is a lot of sugar wasted) but I am presenting the entire recipe because that is how I made it too.

  • 1 package (13.2 oz) Pillsbury Simply refrigerated rustic French bread (find it with the canned biscuits in the supermarket)
  • 1/4 c. butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.
2.  In a small skillet, brown butter over medium-low heat (approx. 5 minutes).  The butter will turn a light brown/caramel color and smell nutty.  Set aside to cool.
3.  In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg.
4.  Open bread dough and place on a cutting board.  Using a sharp knife, divide the dough into approximately 31 strips, then slice strips in half horizontally.
5.  Brush each strip with melted browned butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
6.  Stack approximately 10 strips on top of each other and arrange in one compartment of a muffin tin.  Repeat until you have six completed muffins.
7.  Place muffin tin on a large rimmed cookie sheet or jelly roll pan to catch butter/sugar spill-over.
8.  Bake approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.
9.  Allow muffins to cool approximately 10 minutes in the pan and then enjoy.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sweet & Spicy Bacon Chicken Wraps

This little gem is courtesy of a nice little blog called The Little Kitchen That Could.  These are a great appetizer for both a fancy dinner party and a casual get-together.  Easy to put together (just allow some time for assembly because the cutting and wrapping can take awhile).


Recipe Notes
The original recipe calls for bacon slices to be divided into thirds.  I have found that this preparation makes the bacon slices too tall for the chicken pieces.  I have halved the bacon slices lengthwise first, then slice vertically into thirds, and I find that this works better.

  • 1 to 1-1/4 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into one-inch cubes
  • 1 package sliced bacon (I use center cut)
  • 2/3 c. firmly-packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • Toothpicks (for assembly/serving)
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Cut each bacon slice lengthwise and then into thirds vertically (you will have six total pieces of bacon from each original slice off the slab).
3.  Wrap bacon pieces around chicken pieces and secure with a toothpick.
4.  Mix brown sugar and chili powder.
5.  Toss chicken/bacon wraps in brown sugar/chili powder mixture.
6.  Arrange wraps on a broiler pan lined with foil and coated with Pam.
7.  Bake 35-40 minutes or until bacon is crisp.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"Shake & Bake" Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce

These vaguely French pork chops have a tangy mustard sauce that pairs well with steamed or roasted green beans and a crisp white wine.


Recipe Notes
Recipe courtesy of Southern Living magazine.  The recipe calls for bone-in pork loin chops.  I used smaller boneless ones and had great results.

  • 1-1/4 c. panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. fried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 2-1/4 tsp. salt, divided (kosher recommended)
  • 1-1/8 tsp. pepper, divided
  • Four 1/2-inch thick bone-in pork loin chops
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1/4 c. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.  Stir together bread crumbs, olive oil, oregano, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, 2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper in a bowl.  Transfer mixture to a gallon zip-top plastic freezer bag.
3.  Sprinkle pork chops with remaining salt and pepper.
4.  Place pork chops, two at a time, in the bread crumb mixture.  Shake well to coat.
5.  Place chops on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray.  Repeat with remaining pork chops.
6.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn pork chops over and bake 10 minutes more or until pork is done.  Let stand 5 minutes.
4.  Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add shallot and saute until softened (approx. 3 minutes).
5.  Increase heat to medium high.  Add chicken broth and bring to a boil for one minute.
6.  Add mustard, cream, and lemon juice.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened.
7.  Stir in chopped parsley.  Serve immediately with pork chops.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Grilled Chicken Salad with Strawberries & Feta

This is a very simple summer salad that is both healthy and a great way to repurpose grilled chicken leftovers.  Just grill a couple of extra chicken breasts the night before and dinner is halfway made the next evening.


Recipe Notes
Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
358 calories - 17.3 g. fat - 39 g. protein - 10 g. carbohydrates - 2 g. fiber

  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar, divided
  • Four 6-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. sugar
  • 2 c. halved strawberries
  • 4 c. baby arugula
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 c. feta cheese (crumbled)
1.  Combine 2 tbsp. olive oil and 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar in a zip-top plastic bag.  Add chicken and seal.  Marinate for 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
2.  Heat grill pan or grill.  Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  
3.  Grill until chicken is done (approximately 5 minutes on each side).  Let cool and thinly slice.
4.  Combine remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and sugar in a large bowl.  Stir with a whisk until well incorporated.
5.  Add strawberries and toss to coat. 
6.  Add arugula and red onion to strawberry mixture.  Toss gently to combine.
7.  Divide salad among four plates and sprinkle with feta cheese.  Top evenly with sliced chicken and serve.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders

This is one of my mom's go-to meals for family get togethers.  Serve with BBQ beans and a big salad.


Recipe Notes
I like to use the Kellogg's corn flake crumbs in a box (instead of crushing corn flakes myself).  The pre-boxed crumbs are almost pulverized so they coat the chicken nicely.

  • 1-1/2 lb. chicken tenders
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. Tabasco sauce (I used Cholula)
  • 1-3/4 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 c. cornflake crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
1.  Combine buttermilk, Tabasco, 3/4 tsp. salt, and pepper in a large zip-top plastic bag.
2.  Add chicken tenders, seal, and refrigerate overnight or let sit for at least one hour at room temperature.
3.  Mix cornflake crumbs, cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. salt, and olive oil with fingertips until olive oil is evenly distributed.
4.  Dredge chicken fingers in coating and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
5.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Twice-Cooked Garlic & Butter Shrimp

This is a simple, nutritious, protein-filled main that was featured in a recent Cooking Light magazine.  I served ours with basmati rice and a big salad.


Recipe Notes
For some reason, my shrimp almost always seem to take longer to cook through than the recipe would suggest.  This recipe was no exception.  Make sure that you cook the shrimp until they are cooked through, regardless of the cooking time suggested by the recipe.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
149 calories - 4.3 g. fat - 23 g. protein - 3 g. carbohydrates - 0 g. fiber

  • 1 lb. medium or large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 tsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1.  Coat a large skillet with cooking spray.  Arrange shrimp in a single layer in the unheated pan.
2.  Turn heat to low.  Cook shrimp 8 minutes without turning.
3.  Increase heat to medium-low.  Cook 2 minutes or until edges of shrimp turn orange.
4.  Turn shrimp over and cook 2 minutes more or until shrimp turn orange on bottom edges.
5.  Place shrimp in a large bowl.
6.  Heat pan over medium-high heat.  Add oil to pan, swirl to coat.
7.  Add shrimp to pan and saute 45 seconds.
8.  Turn off heat.  Add garlic and toss to coat.  Allow garlic to soften but not brown.
9.  Add butter, lemon juilce, and parsley.  Toss to melt butter and coat.
10.  Add salt, if desired, and serve.

Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and I believe it is one of those "eating clean" recipes.  If nothing else, it's certainly made with fresh ingredients and it is very low carb if you are on that kind of dieting train.  This recipe is slightly adapted from The Cookie Rookie.


Recipe Notes
The original recipe calls for the salmon to be grilled.  I baked mine in the oven at 350 degrees for between 10-15 minutes (depending on desired level of doneness).  There are so many rich spices in the spice rub that I don't think you necessarily need the extra flavor from the grill.

  • 2 lb. salmon, cut into four pieces (I used 6-oz. salmon filets, so I only used about 1.5 lbs.)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 avocado, diced small
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced very fine
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped fine
  • Additional salt, to taste
1.  Mix 1 tsp. salt, chili powder, cumin, paprika, onion powder, and black pepper together.
2.  Rub spices evenly over salmon filets with olive oil.
3.  Refrigerate salmon for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
4.  Preheat grill (or oven - see note above).
5.  Combine avocado, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and additional salt in a bowl and mix well.  Chill avocado salsa until ready to use.
6.  Grill or bake salmon to desired level of doneness.
7.  Top with avocado salsa and serve.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cheesy Skillet Gnocchi

I adapted this recipe slightly from a 2014 Cooking Light recipe.  I swapped crushed tomatoes for the diced tomatoes called for in the recipe.  The nutritional information included below is based on the original Cooking Light recipe, but it should be really close.  My husband REALLY liked this recipe and it came together really quickly.


Recipe Notes
I subbed a 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes for the 1-1/2 cups chopped tomato called for in the original recipe.  The original recipe also calls for whole wheat gnocchi.  I used regular white gnocchi.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
301 calories - 8.6 g. fat - 40 g. carbs - 14 g. protein - 8 g. fiber

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 16-oz. package prepared gnocchi
  • 4 oz. (1 link) mild Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/4 c. chicken stock
  • 2 oz. part-skim mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/4 c. chopped basil
1.  Preheat broiler to high.
2.  Prepare gnocchi according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
3.  Heat a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add oil and swirl to coat.
4.  Add gnocchi and cook 7 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
5.  Remove gnocchi to a large bowl.
6.  Add sausage to pan and cook 6 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.
7.  Add tomato and garlic to pan.  Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
8.  Add gnocchi and stock to pan, combine with tomato and sausage mixture.
9.  Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
10.  Place pan in oven and broil until cheese is melted and lightly browned (2-4 minutes, depending on your oven).
11.  Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve.

Zesty Shrimp with Chimichurri Rice

This was an easy dinner to put together made with some basic groceries.  Recipe credit to Woman's Day Magazine.


Recipe Notes
If you can cook the rice beforehand (I used my rice cooker), the rest of the recipe takes a maximum of 20 minutes to put together.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
415 calories - 13 g. fat - 53 g. carbs - 6 g. fiber

  • 1 c. long grain white rice
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 c. fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (both white and green parts)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 avocado, diced small
1.  Cook rice according to package directions and set side.
2.  Finely grate 2 tsp. orange zest and set aside.
3.  Peel the orange and section it.  Roughly chop the segments and place in a bowl.  
3.  Squeeze the juice from the membrane into the bowl and add cilantro, scallions, garlic, 1 tbsp. olive oil, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp. salt.
4.  Heat the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
5.  Season shrimp with reserved zest, the cumin, and salt and pepper.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until opaque throughout.
6.  Fold the rice and diced avocado into the cilantro/orange mixture and top with shrimp for serving.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

(Almost) Houston's Spinach & Artichoke Dip

This recipe ran in the Houston Chronicle once upon a time.  It is very much like the famous spinach dip that was served at Houston's (part of the Hillstone family of restaurants) back in the day when they still put artichokes in the dip.  This is a great (and easy) party dip.


Recipe Notes
Shredded Parmesan is an easy substitution for grated Romano if it is hard to find, and regular (or low fat) cream cheese is fine if garlic-chive cream cheese is not available.  I was not able to find garlic-chive cream cheese at my local Kroger.

  • 1/2 c. grated Romano cheese
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 10 oz. package chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess moisture
  • 6 oz. jar of artichoke hearts, drained
  • 8 oz. container garlic-chive cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1.  In a food processor, pulse Romano cheese, artichoke hearts, spinach, garlic, cream cheese, and eggs until well-combined.
2.  Transfer to an oven-safe bowl and fold in mozzarella.
3.  Bake at 375 degrees until heated through (20 or 25 minutes).
4.  Serve with tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream, if desired.  You can also serve this with crackers such as wheat thins.