Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stovetop Chicken Parmesan Pasta

Chicken Parm is a meal that I know the kids will eat.  Breading, frying the cutlets, and then baking them can be a bit time-consuming for a weeknight meal.  I saw this recipe and thought it must be easier if it's made on the stovetop......I thought wrong.  In theory, it sounds quick and easy.  As for reality, I found this recipe took me too long to make. Not all of the chicken pieces fit in the fry pan, so I need to cook them in two batches.  And turning over small pieces of chicken to make sure all the sides got browned.....annoying!  I have to admit that this dish was tasty.....chicken parm and pasta, not much about it not to like.  However, next time I'll just fry up some cutlets, and make regular chicken parm and serve with a side of pasta.  If you have the time and like chicken parm then you'll probably like this dish!

Stovetop Chicken Parmesan Pasta
recipe from Creative Kitchen Adventures

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
Italian seasoned bread crumbs to coat
1 whisked egg
Favorite spaghetti sauce
Pasta of choice
4 to 6 oz. Fresh Mozzarella Cheese

1.Prep water for pasta, bring to a boil & turn on low.

2.Make chicken nuggets with chicken breast.

3.To make chicken nuggets: cut chicken into 1-inch cubes.

4.Dip cubes into egg, and then put in ziploc bag with bread crumbs and toss to coat.

5.Heat oil in skillet, and fry up chicken nuggets.

6.Make spaghetti sauce or heat up sauce of choice.

7.Make pasta per directions and drain.

8.Add chicken nuggets and pasta to sauce.

9.Add fresh mozzarella and stir around till melted in.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Recipe Repeat: Border-Style Shrimp

I have always loved trying new recipes.  I have kept track of the recipes I have made in a notebook since 2008!  I have the date, recipe, and the source.  And by most of the recipes I have a star rating.  I have decided to go back to some of the recipes that I gave high star ratings to see if my tastes have changed and if the kids enjoy the recipes (since my 4 year old son wasn't even born for some of these recipes!).  I'm not sure where this particular recipe is in the notebook, but I had kept it in a folder of "recipe repeats"......meaning it was good enough when I first made it that I wanted to keep it to make again.  My kids enjoy shrimp and I hadn't made it in awhile.  The thing I like about shrimp is that I can buy a 2lb. frozen bag at the grocery store.  They are easy to defrost (although the de-shelling can take some time) and super quick to cook.  I served these shrimp with this Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa.  The kids enjoyed the shrimp and it was super-easy.

Border-Style Shrimp
recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light, December 2003

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups chopped white onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add cumin, chili powder, shrimp, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and add butter. Stir until the butter melts. Stir in lime juice and green onions.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Asian Style Country Ribs

It's definitely time to bring out the slow cooker.  The weather is getting cooler and since school has started, our lives have gotten much busier!  The slow cooker is invaluable to us on those busy days when it's impossible to get dinner on the table in a timely manner AND drive the kids to their various after-school activties, some which run into our usual dinner time.  There are lots of different slow cooker rib recipes out there.  I found this one, which used ingredients that I had already in the house.  Now, I've made many slow cooker recipes and many have turned out eh, kind of bland.  Both my husband and I were surprised out how tasty and flavorful these ribs were.  My daughter was eating hers right up and even had seconds.  My son, the picky eater had a couple of bites of these.  I don't often repeat recipes but I would definitely make these again! Rice and veggies completed this quick and easy meal.

Asian Style Country Ribs
recipe slightly adapted from A Busy Mom's Slow Cooker Adventures

3-4 lb. Country Ribs
1/2 cup low-sodium Soy Sauce
1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Garlic powder
1 tsp. sesame seeds
2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar

Mix together the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, sesame seeds and rice vinegar.
Place the ribs in the slow cooker.

Pour the sauce over the ribs.

Cover and cook on LOW for 7-9 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.

The last half hour, add some scallions.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Peach Muffins

It's time again for another muffin recipe.  My family loves muffins.....maybe because they are usually sweet and very dessert-like......for breakfast!  I give one to the kids in the morning with a yogurt and some fruit and they are good to go.  So I am always on the look out for new muffin recipes to try.  When I first saw this recipe I was thinking sweet, summer peaches when I saw "Peach" Muffins.  After some further reading I discovered I was going to be using canned peaches.  This kind of changed my idea of what these muffins were going to taste like.  But the kids like canned peaches and I already had a can in the cabinet.  These were super easy to make and were pretty tasty.  These seem like a good winter fruit muffin when there's not a lot of fresh in season fruit.

Peach Muffins
recipe slightly adapted from Talking Dollars and Cents

Yield:  10-12 muffins

1-1/2 cup all-purpose baking mix
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 15-oz can of sliced peaches, drained and diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray.

Combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
Mix egg, butter, milk and peaches in a smaller bowl.
Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients
Fill muffin tins 3/4 full making sure to distribute peach bits.

Bake 20-25 minutes.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nutella & Peanut Butter Crescent Roll

In our house we go through peanut butter like there's no tomorrow.  The kids eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as often as I'll let them.  Many mornings my breakfast is a piece of toast spread with peanut butter.  And my husband will sometimes eat a giant spoonful of the stuff right from the jar.  Now pair peanut butter with some Nutella and we have something amazing going on! I saw this recipe and knew that I had to make it to celebrate my son's first day of preschool.  I spent the past year home preschooling him, if there's such a thing.  Since he's going to Kindergarten next year we knew he needed to go to a local preschool this year to learn and adjust to the structure of a school day.  It's only for 2 1/2 hours each morning though so I get to spend some alone time with my little monkey before the big sister gets off the bus.  To celebrate the finish of his first day of preschool I made this for an after dinner treat.  His first day coincided with my daughter's first day of after school religious education so fortunately, this dessert was super easy to make!  I whipped this up while the kids were finishing their dinner.  And it was so delicious, warm right out of the oven! Unfortunately, my husband didn't realize that it's best served warm, so he was eating the leftovers cold...yuck!  I tried some leftovers the next day heated up in the toaster, but it just doesn't taste the if you end up eating it all the first day, I totally understand and support you!

Nutella & Peanut Butter Crescent Roll
recipe from Reluctant Entertainer

2 packages crescent rolls
3/4 cup Nutella
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 T. butter, melted
1/8 cup mixture of cinnamon and sugar

1.Preheat oven to 375. Spray a cookie sheet.

2.Open and unroll the 2 packages of crescent rolls, making a circular rectangle, end-points pointing toward the outside of the pan. Place 1-2 triangles in the center.

3.Spread the Nutella down the center of the rectangle.

4.Spoon the peanut butter on top.

5.Bringing 2 points across from eachother together, twist and bring to the center. Do this with all pieces.

6.Drizzle melted butter on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

7.Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the dough is fully cooked and slightly golden on top.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cheesy Ranch Potatoes

The other day I posted the recipe for London Broil with Mustard-Soy Sauce.  We served the steak with broccoli and these potatoes that I put together.  Unfortunately, we had fewer potatoes on hand than we thought we had so this didn't make nearly as much as we would have liked!  I honestly didn't really measure anything....kind of threw the ingredients together and cooked.  But they turned out delicious!  I will definitely have to make these again since I definitely didn't get my fill! Next time I'll just double all of the ingredients (and make sure I have enough potatoes!) to make a larger, more appropriate amount.
Cheesy Ranch Potatoes
Recipe my TheBusyMom (my own recipe)

Yield: Approximately 2 adult servings

3 small Eastern potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 packet dry Ranch Dressing mix
handful of Bacos
handful of shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

2. In a gallon size plastic bag or large bowl mix potato pieces with olive oil.  Then add Ranch Dressing mix making sure potatoes are coated with oil and mix.  Pour potatoes into 1 quart baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Cook uncovered for approximately 25 minutes, mixing half-way.  Check potatoes for doneness.

3.  Once potatoes come out of the oven sprinkle cheese and Bacos on top.  Stir to combine. 

Family Rating:  1 1/2 thumbs up.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Meatless Monday: Pizza Margherita

I've decided that next year I think I'm going to stick to an herb garden out on the deck.  I just have trouble with my container gardening!  But the basil plant that my mother gave me thrived and I was able to use fresh basil throughout the summer.  Although we eat lots of pizza I've rarely eaten a Margherita pizza.  I don't know why.  I made this pizza which was super easy (so few ingredients!), quick, and delicious!  I made a plain pizza for the kids, as usual.  But I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this.  It's a great summer pizza when ripe tomatoes are in season and basil is thriving in herb gardens.

Pizza Margherita
recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light, September 2008

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 store bought pizza dough
1 tomato, sliced thin
3 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
handful of fresh basil leaves

1. Position an oven rack in the lowest setting. Place a pizza stone on the lowest oven rack.

2. Preheat oven to 450°.

3. Gently brush 1/2 teaspoon oil over pizza dough. Pat tomato slices with a paper towel. Arrange cheese over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top with tomato slices. Slide dough onto preheated pizza stone, using a spatula as a guide.

4. Bake at 500° for 9 minutes or until crust is golden. Remove from pizza stone. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with basil.

Mommy & Daddy Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Weekend Chef: Grilled London Broil With Soy-Mustard Sauce

A couple of weekends ago we had a Sunday where we weren't crazy busy with a gazillion things to do.  I thought it would be nice if my husband, The Weekend Chef, grilled a steak.  This was probably one of our last meals on the Weber Grill before it gets put away until next spring.  I had a london broil in the freezer, not a flank steak, but followed the original recipe otherwise, minus the cilantro, which we didn't have in the house (and I wasn't going to make a trip to the store, just for that!).  Normally, when we make london broil, we marinate it first.  I don't think we had ever prepared it this way before where we pre-season the meat a little bit and then have a sauce to dip it in after it's cooked.  Well, the kids LOVED the sauce!  My daughter loves steak and was really enjoying this.  Even my son, who normally finds steak to chewy and doesn't eat it, was eating this, making sure each nibble of steak we cut for him was drenched in sauce! The broccoli we served with this went in the sauce as well.  The sauce was easy and quick to make, which I made while my husband was grilling the meat.  I would definitely make this again, especially since the kids enjoyed it so much.

Pan Grilled Flank Steak with Soy-Mustard Sauce
recipe slightly adapted from For The Love of Cooking

1 lb flank steak
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
1 tsp canola oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1-2 tbsp water
3/4 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp 2% milk

Season both sides of the london broil with sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, and garlic powder, to taste. Heat grill.  Once the grill is hot, place the london broil on grill and cook for 4-5 minutes on the first side, flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let the meat rest for 5-7 minutes before slicing across the grain.

While the steak is cooking prepare the sauce. Add the oil to a small pan over medium heat; add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 45 seconds. Add the soy sauce, Dijon mustard, water, and sugar to the pan. Cook for 1 minute or until bubbly. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk. Taste the sauce and add more water if it's too salty.

Serve the london broil with the sauce.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Weekend Chef: Honey & Garlic Braised Chicken Tacos

My husband loves our Dutch Oven.  Now that fall is a-coming I have a feeling that he'll be using it a lot!  Labor Day weekend my parents and brother were coming over for dinner.  I didn't know what to make and finally saw this recipe and decided on a Mexican themed dinner.  The Weekend Chef got to use the Dutch Oven to cook the chicken and I served yellow rice and refried beans.  We used thighs and the hardest and most time-consuming part of this dish was separting the chicken from the bones!  The meat was falling-off the bone moist and delicious. It was really tasty and I liked the sweetness of the honey.  Not the normal flavor that you'd expect from a taco.  The picture below just shows the meat (not the tacos) which didn't look so pretty but were delicious loaded with salsa, cheese, and sour cream. 
Honey & Garlic Braised Chicken Tacos
recipe from Miss Delish

2 tbsp Butter
8 Bone in Skin on Chicken Legs and/or thighs
1 cup finely chopped Onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2/3 cup Chicken Broth
1/3 cup Honey
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
12 6inch Flour Tortillas

*Toppings for serving such as cheese, avocado, salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, red onion ect…

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and set the rack in the middle position.

2. In a large dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, melt butter over medium high heat until hot and bubbly. Brown chicken legs in batches until golden brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. With the pot still over medium high heat and with the remaining butter still in the pot, cook the onion and garlic until softened and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Add in the chicken broth, honey, lemon juice, ground ginger and soy sauce, stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and add the chicken pieces back to the pot. Turn them to coat with the sauce. Place the lid on the pot (make sure it’s on there tightly) and put the whole pot in the oven for 2 hours.

4. Remove the pot from the oven and take out the chicken pieces, leaving the sauce mixture in the pot. Allow the chicken to cool slightly until you can handle it. Using your hands or two forks, remove all the chicken from the bones and shred into small pieces, removing any skin left as you go, all we want to keep is the meat. Discard the bones and skin.

5. Put the pot with the sauce back on the stove over medium high heat and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer for 12 minutes until reduced and thickened slightly. Add the chicken back to the sauce and leave it just long enough to soak up all the sauce and get heated up.

6. Serve in tortillas with any toppings you would like!

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Banana Chocolate French Toast

My daughter started 1st grade in the beginning of September.  I made her Snickerdoodle Brownies as a special snack for after school.  But I also wanted to make her a special dinner to celebrate.  The kids love breakfast for dinner so I decided to make this recipe that I had torn out of Cooking Light a few months ago.  Of course they loved it!  Bananas and chocolate....for dinner?!!  I did opt not to add the powdered sugar to these. The recipe is from Cooking Light so it can't be that bad for you, right?!  I served these with some breakfast sausage and fruit.  Of course the kids ate everything on their plates!

Banana Chocolate French Toast
recipe from Cooking Light, May 2012

1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 (1 1/2-ounce) slices whole-grain bread
4 1/2 tablespoons hazelnut-chocolate spread (such as Nutella)
1 cup thinly sliced banana (about 8 ounces)
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered sugar

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a shallow dish.

2. Spread each of 3 bread slices with 1 1/2 tablespoons hazelnut-chocolate spread; arrange 1/3 cup banana slices over each bread slice. Top sandwiches with remaining 3 bread slices.

3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working with 1 sandwich at a time, place into milk mixture, turning gently to coat both sides. Carefully place coated sandwiches into pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Cut each sandwich into 4 triangles. Sprinkle evenly with powdered sugar.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sausage Pizza Joes

I saw this recipe and knew it would be a hit.  Pizza and sausage?  My kids love both.  And an added plus was that this recipe was super easy.  The original recipe called for mushrooms and any other veggies of your choice.  I chose not to add any and just served some veggies on the side.  I thought that this was super tasty.  My daughter really enjoyed it but my son wasn't really digging it.  I will totally admit that I'm really not into messy eating....and this is super messy to pick up and eat.  So I ended up eating it with a fork and knife.  If you want a superquick and tasty weeknight dinner, this is it!

Sausage Pizza Joes
recipe slightly adapted from Edesia's Notebook

Olive oil
½ large onion, chopped
1 lb. ground Italian sausage
14 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Hamburger buns

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onions. When soft, add sausage and break up with a spoon. Cook until sausage is completely cooked through. Drain off grease. Pour in pizza sauce and stir to combine.

Place sausage mixture on buns and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Serve warm.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Easy Taco Casserole

Here's another casserole recipe, perfect for the cooler fall weather that's been arriving.  For some reason when I make tacos I feel the need to make rice and a veggie to go with it.  Somehow, a casserole counts as a whole meal to me!  The ingredient list of this dish is super simple.  I ended up prebrowning the turkey in advance knowing that I was making this on a busy day.  So when we got home from my daughter's gymnastics class at 6 PM I assembled this quickly, threw it in the oven and let it cook while I gave the kids their showers.  We were eating by 7 PM, which is definitely late for us.  But this was made during the summer when the kids didn't have camp the next day.  My husband and I thought that this dish was tasty but we only gave it 1 thumb up since the kids really weren't fans.  And they normally love tacos but I think they disliked it because everything was mixed together and it was hard to pick out what they didn't like. 

Easy Taco Casserole
recipe from KitchenJoy

1/2 lb. ground turkey, browned
1 cup corn
1 cup salsa
1/2 bag corn tortilla chips (or enough to cover pie pan twice when crushed)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can sliced olives

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Mix turkey, corn and salsa.

3. Lightly grease a pie plate or 8 x 8 glass pan. Slightly crush tortilla chips and spread in an even layer, covering bottom of pan. Top with half the meat mixture, followed by half the sour cream, half the cheese and half the olives. Repeat layers. Cover lightly with foil.

4. Bake 30-40 min. or until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Note: this recipe can also be made ahead and frozen! Simply bake 20 to 30 min. more.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cheesy Baked Penne With Ham

This dish is a twist on the usual mac and cheese....which my kids LOVE!  Making this recipe took two trips to the grocery store though.  I sent my husband to the grocery store one night to pick up a few things.  He thought he grabbed provolone but instead grabbed a triangle of parmesan cheese.  So I went back to the grocery store the day I planned on making this.  While my kids love ham I was afraid that my daughter wouldn't like this because of the provolone cheese.  She doesn't like the stuff.  Once melted into the sauce and mixed in with the pasta though it was very mild (and I bought a mild provolone!). We all ended up enjoying this dish.  This does require a little prep (making the sauce, cooking the pasta, etc.) and then some baking time.  But we thought that it was definitely worth it!  It's a warming, comfort-type dish perfect for the colder weather coming up!

Cheesy Baked Penne with Ham
recipe slightly adapted from Mandy's Recipe Box


4 cups 2% milk
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound penne pasta, cooked until tender yet still firm to the bite
1 ½ cups diced ham
1 cup diced provolone cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Prepare sauce: Heat milk in a medium saucepan until small bubbles form around the edges. In a larger saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir well. Continue to cook, stirring, until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly begin adding hot milk to the large saucepan, whisking constantly while adding. Sauce will start out lumpy and become smooth as milk is incorporated. Stir in freshly ground pepper. Turn heat up to medium and bring sauce to a simmer for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside while you prepare the pasta.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a shallow 2 1/2-quart baking dish.(I used a 9x13 dish)

3. Assemble the dish: In a large bowl, toss cooked pasta with the sauce. Stir in  ham, provolone and ¾ cup of the grated Parmesan. Scrape the mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

4. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until sauce is bubbling around the edges and the center is hot (about 10 minutes more). Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Snickerdoodle Brownies

My daughter started first grade on September 5th.  Yes, I know I'm very behind on posts here!  Lots of cooking, not enough time to post all the recipes.  I wanted to have a special snack for her (and my son) when she got home from school to celebrate her first day of school.  Both of my kids like cinnamon.  I find bars so much easier to make than cookies.  Although cookies have their benefits, like you can freeze some for another time.  Though thinking about it now, I probably could have frozen half of these bars instead of throwing them out a week later.  Unfortunately, we are just not a big dessert/treat eating family.  Don't get me wrong, the kids love cookies, cake, brownies, etc.  But my husband and I limit the consumption of such treats.  So, if I don't freeze some, or my husband doesn't take the extras to work to share, then more often than not, we end up throwing away a portion of my home-baked treats!  Well, back to these Snickerdoodle Brownies. I've made Snickerdoodle cookies which we've enjoyed.  These brownies were just as good.  You have to like cinnamon though!  Warm and moist right out of the oven....delicious!  I'm not a huge cinnamon lover but thought these were good.  The kids loved the special treat snack!

Snickerdoodle Brownies
recipe from One Perfect Bite

Yield:  20-24 squares

2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside.

3. In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.

4. Stir in flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan using a greased spatula.

5. Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over top of batter.

6.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool slightly. While still warm, cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Plantain Corn Muffins

Happy Birthday  to me!  Yes, today I'm 33 years old.  My family and I have spent a nice mini-vacation away visiting Lancaster, PA.  This has been the first time my husband has been able to take a day off since he started his new job back at the end of May.  While I thought that I'd post something sweet to eat in honor of the occasion I ended up posting this muffin recipe because I'm also linking this recipe up to the Eating the Alphabet Challenge hosted by Brenda at Meal Planning Magic.  I needed to make some more muffins for the week and I thought, why not try something new.  I've cooked with plantains a couple of times now, so they're not totally unfamiliar to me or the family.  The kids like them, probably because they taste similar to a banana.  I have to admit that the so-so rating of the recipe was probably my own fault.  I looked for the ripest plantains that the grocery store had.  However, I forgot how thick the skin of the plantain is and when I opened up the plantain, it wasn't nearly as soft as I hoped it would be.  I tried mashing it, but it was still hard and pretty chunky when it went in the batter.  Unfortunately, the kids (and I!) didn't enjoy plantain chunks in our muffins.  I think we all would have preferred these if they were smoother and less chunky.

Plantain Corn Muffins
recipe from by Pixelsicle

Yield: 15 muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup mashed, ripe plantains
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons melted butter

1.Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 15 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.

2.Stir the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Whisk the milk, plantains, eggs, oil, and butter together in a separate bowl. Mix the flour mixture into the milk mixture until just combined; do not over mix. Allow the mixture sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into prepared muffin cups to about 2/3 full.

3.Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 15 to 18 minutes.

Family Rating: So-so.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa

I can't believe September is half over!  The time just keeps flying by.  The 15th means that it's time for the Eating the Alphabet Challenge hosted by Brenda at Meal Planning Magic.  This month's letters were P, Q, or R and the challenge is to make a recipe using a fruit, vegetable, or grain that begins with that letter.  I have already made a lot of recipes with peaches, plus, pineapple, etc.  That seemed too easy for me to do.  Since I've really been "challenging" myself during these challenges I decided to make a recipe using quinoa (pronounced keen-wah).  I think I've only tried this grain once before, when someone at supper club made a recipe with it.  I don't remember disliking it, I just was never really inspired to try cooking with it myself.....until this challenge. I have to say that this recipe is super quick!  I was somehow able to make this and the shrimp dish that I served it with in about 20 minutes or so. My daughter started religious education this year and from 4:30-6 every Monday is in class.  I didn't realize the time was getting so late and I had to get ready to pick her up (especially on the first day!) but I didn't want to start cooking when we got home.  I was somehow successful in getting both dishes completed before I left to get her!   At first my daughter was into the quinoa.  She thought it reminded her of couscous.  But then she started not liking it.  I had made a special dessert to celebrate my son's first day of preschool and I'm not sure if it was the lure of the dessert, but I was able to get him to eat about 3 big bites of this.  After making this, I can't say that I'm a quinoa lover, but this dish was super easy and something new for us!
Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa
recipe from Closet Cooking

Yield: makes 4 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth or water
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 cup cheddar, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

1.Bring the quinoa and broth to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat and simmer covered until the broth has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender,about 15-20 minutes.

2.Remove from heat am mix in the zucchini, cheese, salt and pepper.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Zucchini Cheddar Corn Muffins

Yesterday I posted the Peach Gazpacho that we weren't really fans of. I made these muffins to serve with the soup for a quick and easy dinner.  These muffins were the star of the meal.  The kids loved these!  I loved that they ate them, zucchini and all.  And I was able to use up a leftover uneaten ear of corn on the cob from a previous dinner.  These were easy to make and really tasty.  They're a great way for kids to eat some extra veggies, since you couldn't really taste the zucchini.  I ate some of the left over muffins for breakfast!  I can see myself making these again!

Zucchini Cheddar Corn Muffins
recipe slightly adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup course ground yellow cornmeal
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded zucchini, squeezed and drained on paper towels
1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Fill a regular-size muffin pan with paper muffin cups or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, melted butter, oil, and eggs until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until combined. The batter will be lumpy. Fold in the zucchini and cheddar cheese. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and serve.

Family Rating:  2 thumbs up!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chinese-Style Bourbon Chicken

When I hear "Bourbon chicken" I think of mall food courts with workers handing out free samples to everyone passing by.  This recipe is much better!  Because it's cooked on medium-high heat and the chicken is cut into bite-size pieces this dish cooks fast.  I served this with white rice made in the rice cooker, and some veggies for a super quick weeknight meal.  I ended up making the optional cornstarch slurry to have a thicker sauce but it didn't thicken up as much as I would have liked.  The sauce was sweet and tasty. I think that the kids enjoyed this more than I did! 

Chinese-Style Bourbon Chicken
recipe slightly adapted from One Perfect Bite

Yield: 4 servings

1-1/2 to 2 pounds chicken breast, cut in 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup

Optional: 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

1. Heat oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add chicken and cook till lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. Combine garlic, apple juice, cider vinegar, water, soy sauce, brown sugar, and ketchup in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add sauce to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce just begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Add chicken and toss to coat with sauce. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is done. If a thicker sauce is desired, add optional cornstarch slurry and cook until thickened.Serve over rice. 

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Calzones

A couple of weeks ago my friend from college was coming to visit for lunch with her six month old daughter.  Back during our freshman year of college in Ithaca, we would order calzones late at night from this place called D.P. Dough.  They'd deliver these massive calzones that were amazing!!  They had all different kinds but our favorite was the buffalo chicken one.  My husband and I like buffalo wings, chicken, etc. but I don't make it because it's too spicy for the kids.  For my lunch date though I made the kids PB & J and made these calzones for the adults.  Let me tell you they were amazing!  I made extra so my husband could have one.  I know he'd be disappointed if he missed out on these!  I made homemade  Bill's Blue Cheese Dressing but store bought bottled dressing would be fine too.  Even though I used double the dough that the original recipe called for I had enough ingredients to make 4 giant calzones.   I don't remember if these were as good as those calzones from D.P. Dough back in the day, but I have to say they were pretty darn close.  Regardless, we thought that they were delicious!

Buffalo Chicken Calzones
recipe slightly adapted from Baking Jenn

Yield:  4 calzones

2 store bought pizza doughs
2 cups cubed chicken breast
1/2 cup + buffalo chicken sauce
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese

Preheat pizza stone in oven at 450 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Cook chicken and 2 tbsp buffalo sauce. Stir well, cooking chicken for 5-10 minutes or until fully cooked. Transfer to a clean bowl. Add an additional 1/4C buffalo sauce to chicken. Stir to coat. Set aside.

Divide each dough into two portions. Stretch dough into a large circle or rectangle.

Coat one half of the dough with either the blue cheese dressing on the ranch dressing – not quite to the end. Cover it with the cooked buffalo chicken

Sprinkle with about a handful of the two cheeses combined.

Fold the dough over and pinch the edges to seal. Place more cheese on top.

Repeat the process for the other calzones.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cheese and dough are slightly brown.

Serve with extra blue cheese dressing for dipping!

Mommy & Daddy Rating: 2 thumbs up!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Meatless Monday: Baked Caramel French Toast

Here's another breakfast recipe.  Of course in our house, dishes like this are made for dinner and then any leftovers are eaten for breakfast the next day.  The kids are huge breakfast eaters and breakfast for dinner is an almost guaranteed hit with them.  The kids really like french toast but for some reason I don't make it very often.  I should because french toast casseroles like this one are made ahead of time and are supposed to be refrigerated overnight.  These make for great busy weeknight dinners since you take it out, put it in the oven to cook, and you're done.  The prep has been done the night before.  Unfortunately, this wasn't one of our favorite french toast dishes.  For some reason this had a weird texture to it which we didn't like.  The flavors were okay....the kids love bananas and they loved the sweet homemade caramel sauce.  It was maybe too mushy.....not sure but we liked it but didn't LOVE it, which we normally do with breakfast for dinner type dishes.

Baked Caramel French Toast
recipe from All You, May 2012

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum, (optional - I did not use)
2 medium ripe bananas, sliced
1 loaf challah or white bread (about 20 oz.), cut or torn into 1/2-inch pieces
8 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

 1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar and rum, if desired; stir until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in bananas.

 2. Scatter half of bread in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spoon caramel-banana mixture evenly over bread. Top with remaining bread. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until blended. Whisk in half and half, vanilla and salt. Pour over bread mixture, pressing down on bread to make sure it's all coated. Cover with foil and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Let baking dish stand at room temperature while the oven preheats. Remove foil and bake until puffed and golden and a thin knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Weekend Chef: BBQ Potatoes

A couple of weekends ago we found ourselves with a busy Sunday.  When it came time to make dinner I had my husband cook up some hotdogs, corn-on-the cob and these potatoes.  We weren't looking for fancy, just quick and easy.  I had bookmarked this recipe as a possibility to make for some barbecue but never actually made them.  So I had my husband make them.  The sauce was quick and easy to prepare.  He was hesistant to use the chili powder since we wanted the kids to eat them.  I told him to use it anyway. I didn't think chili powder was very spicy.  I guess it wasn't.  Because our daughter loved these potatoes and ended up having seconds. These were pretty tasty potatoes and besides the lengthy cooking time, are one of those recipes that you can prepare, put in the oven, and kind of forget about until the timer goes off.  This was a nice change from our normal Liptons Onion Mix Roasted potatoes.  These can also be prepared and wrapped in foil packets and cooked on the barbecue. 

BBQ Potatoes
recipe slightly adapted from by Poker

2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 lbs russett potatoes, peeled and quartered

1. Preheat oven 400°F.

2. In large bowl, combine, chili powder, honey, garlic powder, pepper and butter.

3. Add potatoes; toss to coat.

4. Spoon potatoes in greased 11x7-inch baking dish.

5. Bake 40-50 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rustic Pasta Alfredo with Three-Cheese Italian Sausage

I bought a package of Johnsonville Three-Cheese Italian Style Sausage.  I wasn't sure how I was going to prepare and serve them.  When I was putting them in the freezer I happened to notice the recipe printed on the back of the package.  It actually looked tasty and interesting, so I decided to go with it. Unfortunately, I found the sausage to have a funny texture.  Besides that though this dish couldn't be beat for convenience.  If you're in a rush and want a quick, home-cooked dinner, this is it.  I think any type of cooked sausage would work well in this dish.  I don't normally buy jarred alfredo sauce, but it was a nice change from the regular jarred sauce we usually have. Besides picking out the veggies that they didn't like, the kids ate the pasta and sausage. Like I mentioned, I wasn't a big fan of the sausage (and lucky me, I have another package in the freezer!.  But this was so convenient to make and the kids ate it, so I'm happy.

Rustic Pasta Alfredo with Three-Cheese Italian Sausage
recipe slightly adapted from back of package and at the johnsonville website

1 package (12 ounce) penne pasta, uncooked
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small yellow squash, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1tablespoon olive oil
1package (13.5 ounce) JOHNSONVILLE® Three-Cheese Italian smoked sausage, sliced
1 jar (15 ounce) Alfredo sauce
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet, sauté the zucchini, squash, onion, and garlic in oil until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the sausage, Alfredo sauce, pepper, basil, oregano and thyme; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes longer or until heated through.

Drain pasta; stir into sausage mixture. 

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Saucy Onion Meatball Dip Subs

It's been awhile since I've made meatballs.  I have a bunch of meatball recipes bookmarked but I have to space them out between cooking.  My son doesn't think that he likes meatballs, but I think he does.  He eats hamburgers and meatballs but he always gives us trouble about eating meatballs!  So he gave me a hard time, as usual, about eating, but the rest of us enjoyed these subs.  The sauce had the consistency and taste of a homemade gravy.  It was yummy, but messy, dipping the sub into the sauce.  I printed the original recipe, but as you can see from my photo, I didn't end up toasting the rolls or broiling to melt the cheese. 

Saucy Onion Meatball Dip Subs
recipe from Taste and Tell


1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups sliced onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups beef broth
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

8 sub buns
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Directions:In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs except the ground turkey and the olive oil. Crumble in the turkey, then mix together. With wet hands, shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, and brown the meatballs in batches. Drain and set aside.

In the same skillet, saute the onions until tender. Add the garlic and thyme, cook for 1 minute. Stir in the flour, cook for 1 minute, then gradually whisk in the beef and chicken broths. Stir in the salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then cook for another 2 minutes, until slightly thickened.

Add the meatballs and return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until meatballs are no longer pink.

Meanwhile, cut the buns in half lengthwise, leaving one side attached. Place the buns - cut side up - on a baking sheet. Place under the broiler and cook until toasted.

Top the buns with meatballs and some of the onions from the sauce. Top with Monterey Jack cheese. Broil another couple minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Serve with remaining sauce for dipping.   Family Rating:  1 1/2 thumbs up.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Weekend Chef: Sausage and Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche

I know it's not the weekend but with my internet down for a couple of days I'm really behind on posts.  Plus, I wanted to share with you this delicious recipe that my husband, a.k.a. "The Weekend Chef" made for our California themed supper club dinner last month.  I think he was stretching it a bit with the sun-dried tomatoes from California bit, but I'm glad he made this because it was delicious!  The salty sausage with the sweet tomatoes....yum! Since refrigerated pie crusts come with two crusts, he ended up doubling the recipe and saving half of the filling mixture and we had this for dinner another night.  It was really that good!  And we discovered that our son likes sun-dried tomatoes! Unfortunately, this does take a bit of time to bake in the oven, but if you premade the filling the night before and just had to bake it this could possibly be a weeknight dinner.  

Sausage and Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche
Recipe from by Stephanie

Yield: 8 servings

1 (9 inch) frozen pie crust, thawed
1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
2 shallots, chopped
1 clove clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 eggs
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1.Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line pie pan with pie crust, and prick several places with a fork. Place a double layer of aluminum foil over the crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes, and then remove foil. Continue baking until crust begins to set, about 5 minutes; remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2.In a large skillet, cook sausage until well browned, stirring frequently. Mix in shallots and garlic, and continue cooking for 1 minute. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes and 1 tablespoon parsley. Spread mixture into the bottom of the warm pie crust.

3.In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with cream. Stir in cheese. Pour mixture over sausage in pie crust. Sprinkle remaining parsley over the top.

4.Bake in preheated oven until crust browns and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

California Pasta with Artichokes and Almond-Citrus Pesto

This past month our supper club theme was "California" cooking.  The host couple, which wasn't us usually makes the protein. In my search for a recipe to make I found all kinds of good "main dish" tacos, cioppino, grilled pizza.  Unfortunately, I had a hard time finding a side dish.  After many internet searches I finally narrowed it down to a California Cobb Salad and then I found this recipe.  It has California right in the name and used lots of ingredients from California.  I should have stuck with the salad!  I just wasn't a fan of this dish.  I think a large part was due to the fact that this pesto was made from parsley and I'm not a parsley fan.  As my husband commented, "Well, if you don't like parsley why did you pick this recipe?"  I told him that I like pesto and I thought that the parsley flavor wouldn't be so strong mixed with the other ingredients.  I was wrong though.  The parsley flavor was pretty strong.  Note to self, do not make any more dishes, especially pesto, that calls for this much parsley!  If you're a fan of parsley though this may be right up your alley!  My husband ate all the leftovers and the kids surprisingly ate you never know!

California Pasta with Artichokes and Almond-Citrus Pesto
recipe from The Rachael Ray Show, April 30, 2008

This recipe is dedicated to Maria Shriver. I wrote it in honor of her visit to our show. It highlights many ingredients that California is the proud producer of: artichokes, citrus, almonds, olive oil, garlic and of course, fine wine.

2 leeks
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 10 ounce box frozen quartered artichoke hearts, defrosted or 1 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
Salt and pepper
1 pound fettuccine
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 cup flat-leaf parsley tops
3 tablespoons (a small handful) slivered or blanched almonds, toasted
1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
1/3 cup (a rounded generous handful) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine

Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil for the pasta.

Trim off the root ends and top four inches of the leeks. Cut them in half lengthwise then into slices 1/4-inch thick. Wash them vigorously, separating the layers to free grit in either a colander under cold running water or in large bowl of cold water. Drain and pat dry.

Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and artichokes, sauté 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper.

Salt the boiling pasta water and drop in fettuccine.

Place zest, parsley, almonds, garlic and cheese in food processor and season with salt and pepper. Turn processor on and stream in 1/4 cup EVOO until it combines into a thick pesto sauce.

Add wine to the leeks and artichokes, and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the pesto sauce and a ladleful of starchy cooking water. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Toss pasta with sauce to coat evenly. Serve with Orange and Arugula Salad with Marmalade Dressing alongside and pass more cheese at the table for topping.

Family Rating: So-so.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Zucchini Chicken Stir Fry

I love making stir frys.  They are great when you need a quick dinner.  All the work is in chopping whatever you want to put in it.  Otherwise, some high heat and sauce, and voila dinner is ready!  I usually put some rice in the rice cooker and my meal is complete.  I thought that this recipe was different with the zucchini.  Although I haven't learned my lesson....the kids don't like zucchini as my daughter is always quick to point out whenever she sees it in her dinner.  Like I didn't get the memo the first time!  I keep trying hoping maybe they'll change their taste buds' minds.....I like zucchini a lot and it's in such abundance and cheap over the summer!  Overall, this recipe was okay but definitely has potential.  I used regular Kikkoman Teriyaki sauce.  I don't normally buy the teriyaki cooking sauces they sell in the grocery store, though I think that type would have added more flavor to this.  The kids basically had chicken and rice for dinner, picking out all of the veggies after the required one bite of each.  Oh well!

Zucchini Chicken Stir Fry
recipe from Mandy's Recipe Box

1 onion, chopped
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into chunks
1 medium zucchini, cut into chunks
1 can pineapple tidbits, drained
additional veggies like bell peppers, canned baby corn, water chesnuts, etc.
teriyaki sauce
cooked rice

1. Heat oil in skillet or dutch oven and add chopped onion. Cook a bit and then add the chicken. Cover and cook part way and add zucchini.

2. Cover again and cook till zucchini and chicken are done. Add pineapple, additional veggies and teriyaki sauce. Heat through. Serve over rice.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Meatless Monday: Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies

I can spend hours looking for, sorting, and organizing my recipes.  I have pages and pages of ripped out recipes from the various food and cooking magazines that I've subscribed to over the years.  I have most of them organized my dish (appetizer, dessert, main course, etc.) in labeled manila folders.  However, I recently took it one step further and organized the main dish recipes into spring/summer and fall/winter.  This is how I came upon this recipe that I tore out of Cooking Light from last July!  Summer veggies.....August.....perfect!  Unfortunately, my kids are not summer veggie eaters.  But after their mandatory try a bite, they were easily able to pick out the veggies from this dish.  My husband really enjoyed this, while I thought it was okay.  Meaning, I won't be making it again!  If you have a bounty of leftover veggies from the garden this is a good dish to use some of them in.  

Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies
recipe from Cooking Light, July 2011

4 ounces uncooked ziti
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow squash
1 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups chopped tomato
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup (2 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

2. Preheat oven to 400°.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan. Add squash, zucchini, and onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add tomato and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

4. Combine ricotta, remaining salt, and egg. Stir into pasta mixture. Spoon into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Garlic Ranch Chicken Pizza

I have been making pizza weekly now for the past couple of months.  I normally buy two packages of dough from the store and make one new pizza recipe and one plain cheese pizza for the kids.  My husband and I share the specialty pizza.  He usually eats his half of the pizza in one sitting.  I like to eat one piece for dinner and save my other half for lunch the next day.  I made sure that to remind him not to take my pizza to work for his lunch the next day after what happened with our last pizza.  When I made the Peach Gorgonzola Chicken pizza (which was delicious!) he ended up taking my leftover piece to work and eating it for lunch!  And I was so looking forward to eating it myself!  I told him that he just wanted me to make it again!  Well, this Garlic Ranch Chicken pizza is just as tasty! I was so confident that my daughter would enjoy this pizza that I ended up making two of them, instead of one plain pizza!  And she did like it!  This was an opportunity for the kids to try bacon bits for the first time.  As my husband pointed out, it's just flavored soy bits really.  There's actually no bacon in bacon bits.  Of course, they're salty and crunchy so they were a hit with the kids!  We all enjoyed this pizza and it's another one that I wouldn't mind making again!

Garlic Ranch Chicken Pizza
recipe from Tidy Mom

1 pizza crust
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1 tomato,sliced and diced
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 Parmesan cheese
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast halves, diced
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
garlic (to taste)
bacon bits
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper (to taste)

1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2.Put pizza crust on pizza stone, drizzle with olive oil and spread over crust with brush.

3.Saute chicken in skillet with olive oil and garlic (I used 1tsp of the jarred minced garlic).

4.Spread Ranch dressing over crust.

5.Sprinkle with cooked chicken, cheeses, tomatoes, green onions and bacon bits.
6.Place in oven for 20 mins. or until cheese is melted. Let rest for several minutes, then cut and serve.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blue-Cheese Burgers

I cannot believe that today is the first day of September!  We are enjoying these last few days of summer and the kids are excited to be heading to 1st grade and preschool! 

Recently, I've made and eaten some pretty tasty burgers!  I'm not a huge burger eater, but every now I'm really in the mood for a good one.  I know my daughter doesn't like blue cheese but I've seen different variations on a blue-cheese burger and decided it was about time that I made one.  All I did with this recipe was omit the blue cheese from her burger.  I posted the original recipe serving amounts, which makes 8 burgers.  I just halved it to make 4. We all really enjoyed this burger and sauce.  I was happy to get my blue cheese burger fix! 

Blue-Cheese Burgers
recipe slightly adapted from all*you, May 2012


2 pounds ground beef
1 shallot, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 ounces blue cheese
8 hamburger buns
8 slices of tomato

1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup ranch dressing
2 tablespoons chopped pickle
1 teaspoon hot sauce

1. Make burgers: In a large bowl, combine beef, shallot, salt, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce. Using your fingers, mix gently but thoroughly. Divide meat mixture into 16 disks. Portion cheese into 8 small disks and place in the center of 8 hamburger disks. Top with remaining hamburger disks, pressing to seal.

2. Make sauce: In a bowl, combine ketchup, dressing, pickle and hot sauce. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

3. Preheat grill to medium. Grill hamburgers for about 7 minutes (for medium-rare), turning once. Remove from heat and let rest for 2 minutes. Grill buns, cut sides down, for 30 seconds.

4.  Serve burger with desired amount of sauce on top.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.