Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 5 Recipes of 2011; Fettuccine Alfredo

It's  time for the number 5 recipe in my Top 5 Recipes of 2001, Fettuccine Alfredo! This recipe is a bit of a bucket list for me, as it was my first time at making a white sauce, and it came out very nice. I have done this one a couple of times, but it's not something that can be done very quickly, yet. I know I'll be working to perfect my technique on this recipe for a while to come, but the recipe does a great job of walking you through it. 

I've always enjoyed Fettuccine Alfredo when I've been out at restaurants, but never really liked anything store bought. I came across this recipe in my Cooking Light cookbook and it was incredibly quick, easy, and tasty making it great recipe for a week night meal. This recipe also let me do one of the things I have never done before, make a white sauce from scratch. I was impressed with how easy it was and I will be doing this one again, oh and did I mention it's Tot Approved?

2 quarts water
8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
1 tablespoon stick margarine or butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups fat-free milk
1 1/4 cups grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons tub-style light cream cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring water to a rolling boil in a dutch oven. Add pasta;cook 10 minutes or until "al dente." Drain.
2. Melt margarine in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic; saute 1 minutes. Stir in flour. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended; cook until thickened and bubbly (about 8 minutes), stirring constantly. Add 1 cup Parmesan cheese, stirring constantly until in melts.
3. Rinse pasta well with hot water. Set aside. Add cream cheese to pan; cook over low heat stirring until it melts. gradually add cheese sauce to melted cream cheese, stirring constantly.
4. Add cooked pasta to sauce mixture, tossing well. Spoon into a serving dish; top with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, and pepper. Yield 4 servings (serving size 1 cup).

I served it up with a boneless skinless chicken breast that I seasoned with some Italian seasoning and cooked in a covered skillet coated with Pam. It made a great addition to this dish.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 5 Recipes of 2011; Peanut-butter Muffins!

It's time for my number 4 pick of the Top Recipes of 2011, Peanut-butter Muffins, and surprisingly it's a recipe I may never prepare again. But the recipe had such an impact on my family life that I had to include it in the year end wrap up. This recipe marks my wife and my realization of what it was like to have a child with a severe food allergy. We have been very fortunate that her daycare takes food allergies pretty seriously and have been very open to making changes or accommodations when we have concerns over the foods she's being exposed to, yes were those parents that are just out to make things difficult for someone else. We don't do it out of spite, but out of love and fear for our child. We are not sorry if it inconveniences you and your family, it is what it is and an exposure to peanuts could very well lead to the death of my child. What people need to begin doing is trying to see such things from that person's perspective, if it was their child with the allergy how would they respond? I honestly hope that people would then begin to understand the issue and not get hung up on how in inconveniences them, but that it means the difference between the life and death of someones child.

Very rarely do I have a recipe that forces me to really think about what ingredients go into a dish or how a dish is prepared, but this recipe has done both, for the simple reason my little girl is allergic to peanuts and this is the recipe that help lead to her diagnosis. You see Sammie's Uncle is allergic to nuts, so we held off trying peanut butter with her until she was communicating well enough to tell us something was wrong. Upon trying these she got a rash and a persistent cough, which was quickly followed by a dose of Benadryl and a call to the doctor. We had a doctor visit and a blood draw that day, she did excellent through it all. When the results came back, she tested positive for being allergic to peanuts only, but the doctor suggested avoiding all nuts and any thing else that states it "may contain peanuts" to try and avoid the possibility of cross contamination. We have gone through our cabinets and cleared out all the items that either contain nuts or may contain nuts, it's surprising what things were discarded. We have begun looking for alternatives in preparing some of our favorite foods, like no bake cookies and Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, so be on the look out for some reviews on alternative foods and recipes.

(In light of my daughters reaction no picture was taken, as the muffins were quickly quarantined and removed from the house.)

Recipe from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld


Nonstick cooking spray

1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/2 cup carrot or cauliflower puree

1/2 cup banana puree

1 large egg white

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt


1.Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.

2. In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup of the brown sugar with the peanut butter, the vegetable and banana purees, and the egg white, using a wooden spoon.

3. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl or zipper-lock bag and stir or shake to mix. Add to the bowl with the peanut butter mixture and stir just to combine (the batter will be a little lumpy-do not over mix). Add the remaining 1/2 cup of brown sugar and stir once or twice.

4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake until the muffins are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center, 15 to 20 minutes. Turn the muffins out onto a rack to cool.

5. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or wrap individually and freeze for up to 1 month.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 5 Recipes of 2011; Blazy's Pepperoni Studded Lasagna!

It's time for number 3 in my Top 5 Recipes of 2011 feature, and it's Blazy's Pepperoni Studded Lasagna! I absolutely loved this recipe and this is an excellent cold weather recipe. It's packed with flavor and is a sure fire way to satisfy the lasagna lover in your home.

This recipe was actually chosen by my wife while watching Guy's Big Bite one day, she thought it looked good. Well she made a good choice, but I must admit it is probably far from healthy. With ingredients like pepperoni and Italian sausage it's loaded with fat but it's so freaking GOOD! We both loved it and I'm already thinking of some variations of it that I can't wait to try.

2 pounds lasagna sheets
2 cups hand cut 1/8 inch slices pepperoni
4 cups tomato sauce
1 pound ricotta
16 ounces shredded mozzarella
2 pounds bulk Italian sausage, cooked
3.4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375º F.

In a medium saucepan add pepperoni and saute over medium heat until crispy, Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel. Do not discard the grease from the pan, place the Italian sausage in the pan and cook till done.

In a 10-by-14-by-3 inch baking pan or dish, pour 1 cup of tomato sauce in bottom and around sides. Layer lasagna sheets on the bottom of the pan, overlapping by 1/2 inch. Add 1/3 amount of ricotta, 1/3 amount of mozzarella, 1/3 amount of sausage, then sprinkle generously with the Parmesan, add 1/3 cup tomato sauce, and 1/4 cup pepperoni. Repeat this 2 more times.

On the very top sheet, top with remaining ricotta, tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, and dust with Parmesan. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven; let sit for 15 minutes. Cut and serve immediately.

Guy's Tomato Sauce
3 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
5 medium-sized garlic cloves, crushed
6 cups skinned and diced Roma tomatoes
2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil leaves 1 tbsp minced fresh oregano leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook over medium to low heat until transparent. Add garlic and cook until almost brown. then add tomatoes and cook for /2 hour over low to medium heat. Add the basil and oregano and continue to cook for another 1/2 hour. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper, cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top 5 Recipes of 2011; Mexican Chicken Casserole

It's time for my number two pick in this year's Top 5 Recipes of 2011! The number two pick has become a part of our weekly rotation because it's so delicious, pretty easy to put together, and the whole family loves it.

My wife has been bugging me lately to go look at her Pinterest site to see what recipes she has linked to. Well I finally gave in and I found two new recipes to try, there were quite a bit more so the list of things to fix has grown.

Now we love enchiladas at our house, but they can be a little tedious to make, hello ADD. Well not to worry because this recipe doesn't have you going all OCD and rolling all the delicious filling into a tortilla, instead it all gets put in a casserole dish and everything gets to mingle together making for some really great flavor. I fixed this for a recent get together we had with another couple while our kids had a little play date. It was a hit with most every body, one of the little girls was more interested in playing then eating which is no surprise for a two year old, so I feel confident in calling this one Tot Approved.
Recipe from as seen in Cooking Light December 1998

1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 (4.5 ounce) cans chopped green chiles divided (I omitted this in fear of being to spicy for the kids and substituted with 1/4 cup of mild Pace Picante Salsa)
1 3/4 pounds skinned, boned chicken breasts
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1/4 cup (2 ounces) tub-style light cream cheese
1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
12 (6 inch) corn tortillas
Cooking Spray
1/2 cup (2 ounces)shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar
1 ounce tortilla chips, crushed (about 6 chips)

Combine broth and 1 can of chiles in a large skillet; bring to a boil. Add chicken ; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until chicken is done, turning chicken once. Remove chicken from cooking liquid, reserving cooking liquid; cool chicken. Shred meat with two forks, and set aside

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 can of chiles and onion; saute 3 minutes or until soft. Add reserved cooking liquid, milk, Monterrey jack, cream cheese and enchilada sauce; stir well. Stir in shredded chicken; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place 4 tortillas in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers twice, ending with chicken mixtures. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and chips. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Top 5 Recipes of 2011; Sun-butter Truffle Brownies

It's time for my top five recipes of 2011 and the first on the list is my Sun-butter  Truffle Brownies. This recipe is destined for greatness and I hope that it will become one of my requested specialties in the years to come. But I must caution you, it's incredibly rich making it a great dessert for your next special get together.

I found this recipe off of my wife's Pinterest and I'm so glad I made it. It's absolutely delicious and I will be making it again for our family Halloween party that's quickly becoming a family tradition. Halloween is one of my favorite holiday's and we decided that the best way to celebrate it with a newborn was to have a party at our house with dinner and snacks. Well when our daughter was diagnosed with a peanut allergy we quickly realized most Halloween candy was going to be off limits due to containing or possibly containing peanuts. Which means I can no longer enjoy the wonderful Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Well when I saw this recipe that combines chocolate and peanut butter, I knew I had to try making it and simply substituting Peanut Butter with Sunflower Butter. The end result was a treat so rich, delicious, and filling that I knew this is what Peanut Butter Cups dream of being. I highly suggest you try this recipe, you will be so happy you did.

Brownie Base
I used my brownie recipe or you can use any recipe as long as it will fill a 9x13 pan.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Sunbutter sunflower seed spread (Recipe originally called for peanut butter)
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter

Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom only of 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray or shortening.

Prepare and cook brownies according to recipe and allow to cool completely, about 1 hour.

In a medium bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over brownie base.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave topping ingredients uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds; stir until smooth. Cool 10 minutes; spread over filling. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set. For brownies, cut into 9 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.
Recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Year end wrap up!

With the end of the year upon us and all the radio stations advertising their top 100 playlists, I decided I should do something similar. Starting next week I will post my top five favorite recipes for this year. They will be recipes that have made it into our weekly rotations or recipes I really enjoyed making and plan on repeating them at some point. I wish every on a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Make-ahead Unstuffed Pasta Shells

I absolutely love getting my seasonal addition of Kraft's Food & Family and their winter addition has some really great recipes. This recipe was one that I really liked how delicious it sounds and it did not disappoint us. The entire family loved it and it was a blast to put together. I prepared this dish and served it immediately, but it is designed to be made ahead of time and simply reheated later. So if you need something for the cooking challenged on a night you will not be present this is the dish for you.

I did try to make this dish a little healthier with the use of low fat cheeses, whole wheat pasta shells, and lean ground turkey instead of ground beef with great results. I highly suggest  you give these products a try if you haven't all ready, they are actually quite good.
Prep 30 min. Total 1 hour 15 min. Makes 6 servings
4 cups medium pasta shells, uncooked
1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 jar (24oz) marinara sauce
1 tub Philadelphia Original Cooking Creme
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 cups Kraft Shredded Mozzarella Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia

Cook pasta as directed on package, omitting salt. Mean while, brown meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in marinara sauce; simmer on medium heat 2 min., stirring frequiently. Remove from heat.
Drain pasta. Mix cooking creme, basil and Parmesan in large bowl; stir in pasta. Spread half the meat sauce onto bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; cover with pasta mixture and remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella; cover with foil. Refrigerate up to 24 hours.
Heat oven to 375ºF. Bake casserole, covered, 40 to 45 min. or until heated through, uncovering after 30 min.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pizza Dough

I have been interested in getting into bread making, but I'm a little intimidated by the whole process since I'm not at all familiar with making bread. Well I decided to take the plunge and try pizza dough from scratch. I found the recipe in my favorite cook book, The Complete Cooking Light Cook Book, since it pretty much has a recipe for everything. The recipe is titled Basic Pizza Crust, which pretty much tells the whole story right there. The recipe was incredibly easy to follow and the end product is very nice crust that crisped up nicely and had a very pleasant chewy consistency. 

The day we made this pizza I got the whole family involved in decorating up our pizza. My little girl, Sammie, wasn't at all interested in evenly distributing the pepperoni she liked the grab and toss method. Which looked more like she was attempting to imbed the pile of pepperoni into the pizza. Needless to say we all had a blast making the pizza and even had more fun eating it.
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water (100º to 110ºF)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon cornmeal

1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Stir 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, and oil into yeast mixture to form a soft dough.
2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
3. Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover; let rise in a warm place (85º), free from drafts, 35 minutes or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
4. punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide dough in half; roll each half into a 12 inch circle on a flour surface. Placed ough on two 12 inch pizza pans or baking sheets that are each coated with cooking spray and sprinkled with 1/2 tablespoon cornmeal. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim. Let ries 30 minutes. Top and bake according to recipe directions.
Yield: 2 (12 inch) pizza crusts, 4 wedges each (serving size: 1 wedge)
Calories 163


Friday, December 9, 2011

Grilled Chicken Gyro

Last week we had what may be the last of some truly beautiful weather and I decided to take the opportunity and fire up the grill for some grilled chicken gyro. It was delicious and every one loved the chicken, but the Tzatziki was just ok, which could be to the type of greek yogurt I used.
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup finely chopped ripe tomato
1/2 cup finely diced English cucumber

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon dired oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1-1/2 pounds chicken tenders
1 small red onion, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 flat breads or pitas

1. In a medium bowl whisk the yogurt, mint, oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add the tomato and cucumber and stir to combine.
2. In a large bowl whisk the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken to the bowl and toss to coat evenly. Marinate at room temperature.
3. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350º-450ºF)
4. Lightly brush the onion slices on both sides with oil. Remove the chicken from the bowl, letting the herbs cling to the chickn. Discard the marinade. Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the chicken and onion slices over direct medium heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until the meat is firm to the touch and the juices run clear, and the onion is tender, 6 to 8 minutes, turning once. Remove from grill.
5. Warm the pitas on the grill over direct medium heat until lightly charred, about 2 minutes, turning once or twice.
6. Layer some chicken, sauce, and onion inside the flat breads and serve warm or at room temperature.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Frozen Peppermint Cheesecake

It was the week of Thanksgiving and my wife was getting in the holiday spirit and asked me to fix something festive. She suggested I try a recipe she had pinned on Pinterest, it was a recipe from Smucker's for Frozen Peppermint Cheesecake. I looked it up and printed it off, as I was on my way to the store she had some recipe change requests, which I obliged and made the necessary changes. The original recipe calls for a chocolate Oreo crust, the picture looks to have some chocolate pieces mixed into the cheese cake but there's no mention of it in the directions. I prepared the recipe using a vanilla wafer crust and prepared the cheesecake as directed in the recipe, the end result was mediocre at best. The cheese cake it's self is dead on for the Holiday season, but I think the Oreo crust would have been a better pairing. I'm not sure yet if I will try this recipe again with the appropriate crust or let it go, I may give it another go for one of my Christmas get togethers.
Recipe as shown on

2 cups chocolate wafer cookie or sandwich cookie crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
2 cups heavy cream, whipped
Red food coloring (optional)
Smucker's Chocolate Fudge Spoonable Ice Cream Topping (optional)

1. Line 9 inch round cake or spring form pan with foil
2. Combine cookie crumbs and sugar in medium bowl. Add butter; mix well. Press 2 cups crumbs firmly onto bottom and partway up sides of prepared pan. Chill.
3. Beat cream cheese until fluffy in large bowl. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Stir in peppermint extract and food coloring, if desired; mix well. Fold in whipped vreap. Pour filling into pan.
. Cover; freeze 6 hours or until firm. Garnish with fudge topping, if desired.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Vacation Wrap Up!

I know I've been absent the past couple of weeks from the blog, but we were on vacation and well my mind sort of stayed on vacation till this week. I'm sure you all understand, but I've got some new recipes coming and I'm finally ready to set down and get them ready for you to see. But as evidence of my vacation I thought I would share some of the wonderful new food I got to try while I visited Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA; both beautiful cities full of history and some really friendly people.
 Our first night there we ate at this funky little restaurant, Coast, that was located in the alleyway directly behind our hotel. The atmosphere was very laid back, the staff was super friendly and the food was amazing! I had fried flounder and my wife had buffalo shrimp, both were delicious.
 This is fried alligator from Poogan's Porch, it was our first time ever having alligator and I have to say we both really liked it. It's a shame that it's a little tough to get it here in the midwest, but I may have to try buying some off of the internet and frying up next summer. The restaurant was great, it's got a whole wall of menu's that have been signed by all the different famous chef's and other famous people that have stopped in to it.
 This is me eating at Sticky Fingers BBQ, it was a super friendly place with great atmosphere but I wasn't to impressed with their BBQ. We ate dinner here and I had a pulled pork sandwich and baby back ribs. The flavor was great, but the pork was to mushy and when I bit into the ribs the bone slid out leaving me with a huge hunk of rib meat hanging from my mouth, not a pretty picture. But they did have a BBQ Ranch dressing that we really enjoyed, it was a perfect balance of Ranch dressing and their BBQ sauce and I may have to come up with my own version of it because it was that good.
 On our last night of vacation we found ourselves exhausted and ready to chill out in our hotel room. We ordered two calzones from Mellow Mushroom and them delivered to our hotel room while we laid back and watched a movie on the television. It was a wonderful end to our vacation and the calzones were absolutely delicious! I would of liked to have visited their restaurant to see the wood fired oven they use to cook in.

The Olde Pink House aptly named because well, it's pink; something to do with the red brick that house was built with has bled it's red die into the stucco the outside of the house was finished with. This was an amazing place to stop and eat, we ate lunch here and loved it. The house is huge and absolutely beautiful inside and out. I highly recommend that the next time you find yourself in Savannah, GA you must stop and eat here, you will be very happy you did.
 This is just half of their upstairs ballroom, it's huge and incredibly gorgeous. My wife had that day dreaming glow in her eyes as she dreamed what it would of been like to have had our wedding anniversary here.

 We started this vacation on the very same day as our seventh wedding anniversary and was like taking the honeymoon we didn't get the chance to take then because we couldn't afford to. It was an amazing week that we wish didn't have to end, but we were ready to get back home and see our little girl who was desperately missing us.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Halloween Sugar Cookies!

Making sugar cookies is quickly becoming a family holiday tradition for us. This year my daughter Samantha was able to get in on more of the process of rolling and cutting out the cookies. It was a complete blast and we were both covered in flour, she had it in her hair, on her face, and all over her clothes. To say we had fun is a complete understatement and I'm already looking forward to us making her teachers Christmas cookies.

We chose not decorate the cookies with frosting to save time and a few calories, which has not reduced the joy Sammie has when she gets to eat a cookie she got to help make.

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups whit sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs adn vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 400º F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on undgreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely. (I actually had to cook mine for ten minutes to be able to scoop them off the cookie sheet.)Sig

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicken Parmesan

Here's a recipe from Cooking Light and this is not the first time I've fixed this recipe. I actually fixed this recipe a few years ago when I did not have this blog. The first time I fixed it we loved it and I've made it a couple of times since, but since having our dear daughter we have not had the time for more involved meals. That is slowing starting to change, Sammie is slowly becoming more independent and has begun with the independent play. Which opens up time for meals that are a little more involved. The recipe claims to be a 30 minute meal from start to finish, but the first time I fixed it I ran a little longer and with practice I was doing it in 30 minutes. This makes it a great weeknight meal for this fall and winter, but it is a bit heavy in calories at 614 for a serving.

4 skinned, boned chicken breast halves
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cups cooked spaghetti
3 cups Pasta Sauce
1 cup pre-shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; flatten to 1/4 inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin.
2. combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge 1 chicken breast half in flour. Dip in egg whites; dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken, flour, egg whites, and breadcrumb mixture.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, and cook 5 minutes on each side or until done.
4. Preheat broiler.
5. Place 1 cup spaghetti in each of 4 gratin dishes. Spoon 1/2 cup Pasta sauce over each serving. Top each with 1 chicken breast half. Spoon 1/4 cup sauce over each serving. Sprinkle each serving with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Place gratin dishes on a baking sheet; broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Garnish with basil, if desired. Yields 4 servings.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes

It's now November and I still have a good amount of pumpkin puree to use up and I'm having to think a little out of my comfort zone on certain recipes. Until this year the only pancakes I favored came from a box, well due to my daughter's peanut allergy I had to start making them from scratch. I started with my butter milk pancakes from cooking light, then moved to eggless pancakes which are very delicious and perfect for the fall. Well I finally decided it was time to branch out more and try making pancakes with pumpkins. As I've been very conscious of calories and have been selecting my recipes on if they have calories listed or not, I hit the internet. I found a recipe on Low Fat Cooking. It's a great recipe that's quick easy and pretty light in calories for a meal that will fill you up.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp canola oil
1 cup nonfat milk
1/3 cup pure pumpkin

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salkt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Combine egg, oil, ilk and pumpkin in a small bowl. Stir pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients. Leave to stand for five minutes.

For each pancake, scoop 1/4 cup of batter on to a hot griddle or nonstick skellet spraged with cooking spray. Turn pancakes when bubbles appear and edges are cook, after about 2 minutes. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes on seconds side.

makes 8-10 pancakes

Serving size 2 pancakes, Calories 226


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

With the abundance of pumpkin puree I've had on hands lately I knew it was time for me to make my all time favorite, pumpkin pie! This is a Thanksgiving Day mandatory for me, but one I've never actually fixed my self. I pulled this recipe from the first cook book I was given just after I got married, Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. It was very easy recipe to follow, but I may try beating this on low with my mixer the next time around so that I can get the eggs to mix up better. But the final product was a wonderfully smooth pie with a great balance of sweet and spice. In fact my wife who isn't a huge fan of pumpkin pie enjoyed her fair share, so you can't go wrong with this recipe.

Butter Pie Crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flout
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup ice water

1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
2. Roll dough out to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Place crust in pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate.

Pumpkin Pie Filling
1-15 ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
(Rather than measuring individual spices, you can use 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice instead)
2 slightly beaten eggs
3/4 cup half-and-half, light cream, or milk

1. Prepare and roll out Pastry for a single-Crust Pie. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the pastry; crimp edge as desired.
2. For filling, in a medium bowl combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Add eggs; beat lightly with a fork just until combined. Gradually add half-and-half; stir until combined.
3. Place the pastry-lined pie plate on the oven rack. Carefully pour filling into the pastry shell.
4. To prevent over browning, cover edge of the pie with foil or use a pie crust shield. Bake in a 375ºF oven for 25 minutes more until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate with in 2 hours.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

With fall in full swing nothing says fall like pumpkin and I've got some recipes that will put your taste buds in the fall mood. The first one is Pumpkin Bread and this one has quickly become a family favorite. In fact my wife took a loaf to work and was receiving raved reviews on it.

The recipe makes three loaves, but I made a dozen muffins and two loaves with no problems. My two year old loves these muffins for breakfast and their something quick an easy to warm up for her in the morning.
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree or 1 cup homemade pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water 3 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/ teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake four about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. For muffins bake time is about 30 minutes.

Recipe found on, Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread by Laurie Bennett


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Baked Pumpkin

A few weeks ago we made our annual trip to a local pumpkin patch. It's an amazing place with lots of activities, plenty of stuff for kids of all ages to climb on, a petting zoo, and loaded with everything you could need for fall cooking. While we were there I grabbed a couple of small baking pumpkins, at the time I had no idea what to make with them but it sounded fun. Once I got home I did a quick search and found plenty of tips on pureeing them as well as what to cook make with it.
Baking the pumpkins is incredibly easy, but will likely take a couple of hours from start to finish. The first thing that needs to be done is to cut out the stem, you can cut around it like your carving a jack-o-lantern or just cut flat under it until you've removed the toughest parts. Next you need to cut the pumpkin in to fourths and remove the seeds. You can rinse and dry the seeds for roasting later, but I've never been a fan of roasted pumpkin seeds so I just tossed them. Place the pumpkin quarters in a 375ºF oven for 1 1/2 hours until the pumpkin is tender, you should be able to pierce it easily with a fork. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then just use a spoon to remove the flesh.

To Puree you can use a food processor or a blender, it's easier to work in small batches to keep it from becoming to watered down. I used the food processor and then added a water a tablespoon at a time while running the food processor, this helped to get the right consistency. I then stored the pumpkin puree in the fridge for a week while I used it in some upcoming recipes. Oh and feel free to snack on the roasted pumpkin while your pureeing it, it's absolutely delicious that way.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

This is something I have been wanting to do for a while and just never got around to doing, make chicken noodle soup from scratch. It was pretty easy to do and the end result is well worth it. The only downside is that I chose the recipe when the temps were in the upper 60's, well the day I got to make it it was almost 90.  Which could be why my little girl was only so-so about it, it was just to warm for a hot bowl of soup. I'll have to try it again this winter when I need a warm bowl of soup.

10 cups water
1 cup carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 cup onions, chopped
1 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 roasting chicken
3 cups wide egg noodles, uncooked

1. in 4-1/2 to 6 quart slow-cooker bowl, combine water, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, 4 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper.
2. Place while chicken on top of vegetables.
3. cover slow cooker with lid and cook as manufacturer directs on low setting 8 to 10 hours or on high 4-5 hours.
4. Transfer chicken to cutting board. Discard bay leaves. Add noodles to slow-cooker; cover with lid and cook (on lo or high) 20 minutes.
5. While noodles cook, remove and discard skin, fat and bones from chicken; shred meat.
6. Skim fat from soup and discard. Return to soup to serve.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Moink Balls meat Mobbles

Ok so this is what happens when your on a diet and fail at explaining a recipe and what your intentions are. You get lean ground beef and turkey bacon when you needed real bacon and beef with just a touch more fat as to not completely dry out on the smoker. So when life gives you turkey bacon and lean ground beef, you make Mobbles........I don't see that catching on like Moink Balls. If you've never heard of Moink Balls well then you need to head on over to the BBQ Grail's site and have a look. I will be trying these again, but with the proper ingredients next time.

I fixed these for a tailgate party we had a few weekends ago and their well received, but I'm sure they would of been much better had I asked for the proper stuff.

I really fell down when it came time to make these. I made meatballs with no seasoning which lowered the flavor bar. I did use two eggs and 1/4 cup of flour to help act as a binding agent for the lean ground beef. i then wrapped them in a slice of bacon and dusted them with some Head Country BBQ Rub. The then rested on the smoker four about an hour and a half until reaching an internal temp of 160ºF, which then they were sauced and finished up for another 10 minutes. They made a great finger food and I plan on attempting these again, hopefully sooner then later.

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