Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oven Ready Lasagne Noodles?!

Such a thing exists?! Actually I knew it did but had completely forgotten until I saw them at Target this week. I hate making lasagne, absolutely hate it. I hate getting out my huge pot that takes 60 years for the water to boil, then waiting for all the noodles to get soft enough to start falling into the pot and boil, then waiting for them to cool so I can touch them...the whole process is very frustrating to me. I know, I'm making it a big deal. But it's enough for me to never make it...and I don't. UNTIL TODAY!

All I had to do was brown my ground beef, add sauce, mix the ricotta cheese with eggs, mozzarella and parmesan and set up the assembly line! It was a cinch and ready in an hour. I served it with a pre-packaged Caesar salad and got out a baguette I had in the freezer, cut it up into slices, drizzled olive oil over it and stuck it in the oven on broil. When it was nice and browned, I scraped a clove of garlic over each slice. The result=delicious home made garlic bread the cheap way! Woot!

So, even though Barilla isn't paying me to say this (although I wish they pasta?! AMAZING!)....go get yourself a box of Oven Ready Lasagne!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad

Here is a great summer salad. The strawberries are cheap and super juicy and delicious right now so take advantage and make this! This recipe comes from my friend Ashley Carlson! She was kind enough to share this recipe with me after she made it for our friend Sarah's baby shower. We all loved it and I knew I had to share it with you all!

This salad is sweet but not overbearing. The almonds and the brie cheese really balance it all out. You have got to try this. Make it a meal by adding some grilled chicken or shrimp. Yum!!

Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad

2 heads romaine lettuce
– chopped 2 qts. strawberries, sliced
1 Brie cheese – cubed and peeled
1 cp. toasted slivered almonds (saut̩ almonds in butter and sugar Рto caramelize)

Poppy Seed Dressing:
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp. dry mustard
¼ tsp salt
½ cup white vinegar
1 ½ tbsp. grated onion
1 cup vegetable oil
1 ½ tbsp. poppy seeds

Make the dressing the night before. Mix in a blender then pour into a jar so it can be shaken just prior to pouring over the salad.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Baby Showers & Italian Pasta Salad

It's baby shower season in my life right now! It comes in waves, I think. Today was a baby shower for my dear friend Sarah who is having a baby boy named Nathaniel in August! I am so happy for her! Wish I had taken a picture today but I was so busy I forgot to! My friend Kristin and I threw the shower at Kristin's home. It was beautiful and we had TONS of food! Here's a breakdown of what we had:

Quite a spread, don't you think? We had a blast. Our theme was "meal time" so we pretty much had the food covered! ;) Sarah got lots of very nice gifts and ones she can use for feeding her new baby very soon. Congrats Sarah!

Here's the recipe, which is an adaptation from my friend Carla! You can make this a thousand different ways with any and all ingredients you want. Just have fun with it! This isn't even a recipe, just a method. Here's what I did today:

Italian Pasta Salad

  • 2 lbs pasta (I use the bowtie pasta)
  • Lots of olive oil
  • 1-2 jars prepared pesto - I used two but I like a lot of flavor, just use it to taste(or make your own if you're ambitious!)
  • Lots of parmesan cheese - I bought a container of shaved parmesan cheese!
  • Almonds - again, to taste - but you need it for the crunchy factor
  • 1/2 jar of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (I love the chewy, tangy flavor of these but if you don't, leave them out!)

Boil pasta according to the box directions, or until al dente. Drain. Pour olive oil liberally over pasta and stir to combine. Pour in the pesto and combine to your taste. Add parmesan cheese & almonds but reserve some for the top when you are finished. Add sun-dried tomatoes & combine. Before serving, drizzle some more olive oil to avoid dryness, then top with remaining parmesan & almonds. Serve warm, room temp or cold! Enjoy!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sausage and Apple Stuffed Pork

This dish was a winner at my house. It takes a little more prep than some of the other recipes I make but it was worth it. I love stuffing but never seem to eat it till Thanksgiving. This is a nice recipe to get your stuffing fix. The sauce goes beautifully with this - it's so tangy and keeps the pork nice and moist. This recipe was inspired by another recipe my friend Kathy gave me. Enjoy!

P.S. My daughter ate it all so it's kid-approved! :)

Sausage and Apple Stuffed Pork
  • Toothpicks
  • 4 T butter, divided
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Jimmy Dean pork sausage (I bought one of those "logs" of sausage & cut it in half & saved the rest for something else)
  • 1 apple, finely chopped
  • 3-4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion or 1/2 of a large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 box Stove Top stuffing mix
  • 1 1/2 lbs Boneless pork chops
  • 1/2 C chicken stock
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 2 T coarse ground mustard

First, pound out your pork chops till they are pretty thin, but can still hold stuffing. Set aside.

Melt butter in a large saute pan. Throw in the apple, celery, onions and sausage and saute till everything is cooked through and soft. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Cook stuffing according to directions on box. When done, combine the stuffing with the sausage and apple mixture.

With a spoon, measure about a tablespoon worth of the stuffing and place in the middle of the pounded out pork. Roll up and stick in toothpicks to close it up. Repeat until you have stuffed each pork chop. You will have left over stuffing - serve it with your meal.

In the same large saute pan that you cooked the sausage & apple mixture in, melt 1 T butter and 2 T olive oil over medium high heat. Place the rolled up pork chops in the pan when the oil is hot and brown each side for a few minutes. Pour in 1/2 C chicken stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the amazing bits stuck on the bottom of the pan - that's the flavor! Add the dijon mustard and the coarse ground mustard. Stir to combine and roll around the pork so it has the sauce on it. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and continue to cook uncovered for about 10-15 minutes. Liquid will be reduced and thick and yummy! Pork will be cooked through.

Take out the pork and remove the toothpicks. You can pour the sauce over the top or have it on the side as a gravy. Serve with the stuffing and your favorite veggies!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Yogurt Smoothies!

I'm excited about this. My 19 month old daughter suddenly refused to drink milk from any cup besides her bottle about 4 months ago, which we had dropped and graduated to only using her sippy cup. Since then, we have been trying to get dairy & milk in her diet as much as possible. One way to do this is to make a yummy smoothie! She LOVES to have her own cup and her own straw. She'll drink almost anything if she has that - EXCEPT MILK...!

Anyway, I had seen this advertised on The Biggest Loser and thought I'd give it a try. It's awesome and super easy! I bought it at Target but I'm sure you can get it at any grocery store.

It was super simple: just pour the contents of the bag into your blender with some milk and BLEND! It turned out a little on the thicker side so I just added a touch more milk and then it was the perfect, straw-sipping consistency.

My daughter loved it and probably had 1/2 cup of it (we gave it to her after dinner which I probably won't do again...I'm sure she was full). My hubby and I drank the rest and it was great! We had the Triple Berry flavor. We will definitely be buying this from now on!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Baked Swiss Chicken

Here's a great, easy casserole. Our family fell in love with this one! The cheese really makes it. If you don't care for swiss cheese, try mozzarella or anything you like. The one thing I would change is to use 2 boxes of stuffing insted of 1. Enjoy!

Baked Swiss Chicken (from

  • 3-4 chicken breasts (just depends on how big you chicken breast are)

  • 6-8 slices Swiss cheese

  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup

  • 1 c milk

  • 1 box Stove Top Stuffing (or other similar boxed stuffing mix) -- I used two!

  • 1/4 C butter melted

  1. Pound chicken breast to even out the thickness of the chicken. I place the chicken in between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a rolling pin or the flat side of a kitchen mallet) Cut each breast in half.

  2. Place chicken breasts in a sprayed 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

  3. Top chicken with slices of Swiss cheese.

  4. In a bowl, mix soup and milk until well blended.

  5. Pour soup mixture over chicken.

  6. Then top the chicken with the dry stuffing mix. Drizzle stuffing with melted butter.

  7. Baked covered with foil at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5-10 minutes longer. Serves 6-8

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Foolproof Popovers

This is just an easy and quick alternative to buying dinner rolls. The first time I made these, they turned out super bland. Joel, my husband, was kind enough to tell me he liked them, but I'm no dummy - they tasted like nothing. So, I gave them another shot just recently and put a little twist on them. I added about 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. They were perfect! Enjoy!

Foolproof Popovers (from

3 tablespoons melted butter, divided
2 eggs
1 cup milk, warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave (should be lukewarm to warm)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 C parmesan cheese

Special equipment: muffin tin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Using a pastry brush, coat 8 muffin cups with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter and put the tin in the oven for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the eggs in a blender until light yellow. Add the warmed milk and blend. Add the flour, salt and remaining melted butter, and blend until smooth. Pour the batter into the warmed muffin tin and return it to the oven to bake until golden, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Caribbean Chicken

This dinner was super easy, quick and delicious! The hubs loved it; and that's all that matters! Try this and I think it will become part of your repertoire.

I did add two things to this for our personal tastes: onions & garlic. I love onions, so I cut half of a large onion into thin strips from the root to the end and sauteed them with the chicken until they were browned & carmelized. I also grated 1 clove of fresh garlic into the sauce mixture. If you don't have a grater, just finely mince the garlic and add it! Enjoy!

Caribbean Chicken (from

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (*Note: I only used 3 because they were pretty large)
  • 1 1/4 C salsa (*Note: Use your favorite here. I used Pace Medium salsa and it added a kick to the sauce! Use the mild if you don't like things so spicy)
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 1/2 C marmalade (*Note: I used orange marmalade)
  • 1 1/2 T brown sugar
  • 3 T fresh lime juice (*Note: I just used a whole lime)
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • Cooked white or brown rice

1. While the rice is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet at medium high. Add chicken; cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink (about seven minutes). If any juices remain in the pan after cooking the chicken, drain off the juices.
2. Add the onion to the pan with the chicken and cook over medium high heat until the onions are soft and slightly brown (add salt to the onions to help them along)
3. In a medium bowl, combine salsa, marmalade, garlic, brown sugar, lime juice, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix well.
4. Add to chicken; mix well. Bring it all to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer five to ten minutes stirring occasionally.
Serve over hot rice. Garnish with lime and orange wedges if desired.

You may substitute allspice in place of the cinnamon and cloves.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Secret Recipes

Sometimes there are recipes so amazing, so delicious, so close to our hearts that we just cannot give them out! I'm sure you've known people who brought a dish to a potluck or a party of some kind and when you complimented their dish and asked for the recipe, they said "No". I admit, that kind of bothers me sometimes! What's the big deal?

I've always been one to share the wealth - I love giving out recipes and receiving them! But, I do have to say that latey there are few dishes (most of them from family members) that I've just got to hold onto. One of my grandfathers has a recipe for Goulash that he is going to take to his grave. He makes it for us a lot but will not budge - even when we try to guess! I think it will make it even more special when he is no longer with us but we can keep his Goulash alive (my Mom keeps telling him to leave the recipe under the mattress so we can find it one day!).

Do you have any recipes that you'd rather not share with the world?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Creamy Parmesan Risotto

Risotto is special. It's creamy, cheesy, tangy and oh-so-delicious. So, it should only be something you make on a special occasion, right? WRONG! I made this today...for lunch. No special reason, no big deal...just because I wanted it and we happened to have some white wine (one of the required ingredients!).

Risotto sounds hard. It sounds gourmet. It's not. It's so easy, it just takes some TLC, patience and a strong stirring arm! Please make this. Once you taste it, your stomach will love you. Promise.

My notes: There are so many variations of risotto. It's literally a blank canvas and you can do anything to it. I chose this one today. I've also made risotto with basil pesto stirred in at the end. If you google risotto recipes you will find something you like! I didn't add any meat but I've made this with shrimp & chicken before! The thing about risotto is that you have to babysit it. You've gotta stir & stir between each time you ladle in the stock. It should only take about 20-25 minutes on medium-high heat.

About the's really required. All the alcohol is cooked out. The flavor is irreplaceable. Sorry, it just is. There are so many affordable bottles of wine out there - find the cheapest bottle of white wine and use it for this!! You need a cup! Bonus tip: You can freeze wine in ice cube containers or little sandwich baggies for later if you don't drink it! The recipe says to use fresh grated cheese...I use the stuff in the green can. I mean, I already splurged on the wine! By all means use fresh or pre-grated!

Creamy Parmesan Risotto (from

3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc (I used Riesling because it's what I had - just pick the cheapest bottle of white wine!)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer and keep warm over low heat.

2. In a separate medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until it is well coated with the butter and starts to turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer gently until all the liquid is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Ladle 1/2 cup of the warm broth into the rice mixture and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth is absorbed. Repeat, adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time, until the rice is cooked through but still firm, 20 to 25 minutes total.

4. Add the remaining butter and the salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Stir to incorporate. Adjust seasoning with more salt to taste. Serve immediately, topping with additional Parmesan.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pesto Parmesan Quiche

This started as a concoction that I wasn't sure would work out, but it did...oh yes, it did! I've made other quiches before and they always turn out OK...but this...THIS was the creamiest, cheesiest perfect quiche. Make this as soon as culinarily possible!

Pesto Parmesan Quiche

1 9" deep dish pie crust (mine was frozen)
6 eggs, beaten (6 was almost too much...I might try 4 or 5 next time, FYI)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 T prepared basil pesto
Salt & pepper
1 T olive oil
1 small onion or 1/2 a large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
2-3 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1 t italian seasoning
1/2 C mozzarella cheese
1/2 C parmesan cheese
1/2 C shredded chicken (optional, but this was our dinner so I wanted a little more substance)

1. Crack eggs into a bowl and beat slightly. Transfer to blender. Add heavy cream, pesto, salt & pepper. Blend until smooth. It should be a delicious seafoam green.

2. In a small saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil. When the oil is heated, add onions, grated garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, italian seasoning, salt & pepper. Saute until onions are translucent.

3. In a 9" pie crust (do not thaw it), add the onion mixture, chicken, and cheeses.

4. Pour the egg mixture over everything and stir around to evenly distribute the yummy contents.

5. Bake for about 30-35 minutes in a 375 degree oven until it is set and no longer jiggles like your thighs will after you eat this quiche.

6. Let sit for about 5 minutes before you cut into it's gooey goodness. Serve warm.

Appetizer Menu

Last month I had a Mary Kay & Cookie Exchange party for my dear friend Carla. It was a lot of fun to combine the two events into one. We had a small crowd, which was good for my small condo; I ran out of space to display everyone's cookies! Traditionally at a cookie exchange, you don't actually eat the cookies - you just pick them out and take them home. So, for this party I wanted to make some appetizers for us to nibble on!

I made Sweet & Sour Meatballs, Carla made a spinach & artichoke dip (I don't have her recipe but I'll see if she'll let me put it on here!), I made a tomato & feta dip (recipe below) and finally, Fruit Bruschetta (recipe below) for dessert. It was really good and just enough to fill us up.

Tomato & Feta Dip

This couldn't be easier or more flexible. My friend Natalie gave me this recipe and I love it.

1 loaf french bread, cut into pieces
1 jar of tomato/spaghetti sauce (make it easy on yourself and buy prepared sauce - I usually buy Hunts Spaghetti sauce for this)
1 container of feta cheese, crumbled

Combine sauce and feta in a small sauce pan and heat up over medium heat. Serve warm with bread pieces to dip!

Fruit Bruschetta (from -- check out the recipe page for pictures)

This was a huge hit. Everyone loved it and it was so easy and fun to make and it looks beautiful when it's all plated. Use any combination of fruit that you love. I don't care for bananas and didn't have kiwi, so I used strawberries and they were good all by themselves. It might be cool to use different flavors of yogurt, too. Vanilla was tasty though! **Watch the bread when you put the oven on broil - I definitely burned some of these and had to throw them out because I got preoccupied!

1 loaf of French bread (sliced into 16, ½ inch thick slices)
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cinnamon
4 kiwi fruit (peeled and chopped)
2 bananas (diced into small cubes)
10 large strawberries (diced)
2 tablespoons orange juice
3-4 tablespoons vanilla yogurt
Honey (for drizzling)

Step 1: Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the bread slices on a large baking sheet. Place into the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven. Brush toast slices with butter on one side.
Step 2: Combine 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of sugar and sprinkle with mixture evenly over the buttered side of the toast. Broil in a preheated broiler for 30 seconds or until tops are bubbling. Remove and allow them to cool.
Step 3: In a bowl toss fruit with orange juice and remaining cinnamon and sugar. Spread yogurt on the top of each piece of top, top with fruit and drizzle with honey.(Makes 16 Bruschetta)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

I made this the other night for my parents and my Dad actually said it was one of the top 3 favorite meals that I've made for them! Wow! I got this from Tasty Kitchen, which is one of my favorite cooking sites. It's recipes that people submit and they're approved by the Pioneer Woman herself (read her blog - it is hilarious and delicious!).

My Notes: I made this recipe exactly as it said and it really was delicious and super easy. I love my crock pot! Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff (from

2 pounds Stew Meat
2 cans Golden Mushroom Soup
1 can Cream Of Mushroom Soup
½ cups Chopped Onion
1 clove Chopped Garlic
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 package Onion Soup Mix
½ cups Water
1 bag Egg Noodles
4 ounces, weight Softened Cream Cheese
2 Tablespoons Sour Cream

1. In crock pot, add the meat, soups, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, onion soup mix, and water.
2. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours.
3. Prepare egg noodles per package.
4. Stir in cream cheese and sour cream just before serving. Mix in egg noodles.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Salmon with Tomato Salsa, Quinoa & Crunchy Noodle Salad

I felt pretty impressive after I made this meal the other night. Like a gourmet chef. I saw Giada De Laurentiis make this on the Food Network and loved it. I'm always looking for ways to make salmon because my husband isn't a huge fan of fish. Luckily he likes salmon pretty well so when it's on sale, I stock up and freeze it for a rainy day. This recipe is adapted from Giada's recipe because I didn't have all the ingredients.

My Notes: When you get salmon at the grocery store, ask the fish monger to cut off the skin on the bottom. It helps take off a little bit of fat and removing the skin will make a nice caramelization on both sides of the fish. Never heard of agave nectar? Neither had I till recently when my sister-in-law introduced it to our family. It's an organic, all-natural sweetener - a great alternative to sugar & honey. You can pretty much find it anywhere now. If you can't, then use honey...either one is fine! I served this with quinoa (very healthy, look for it on the rice aisle) and Crunchy Noodle Salad (recipe coming soon!).

Salmon with Tomato Salsa, Quinoa & Crunchy Noodle Salad

For salsa:
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded & chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & minced
  • 1 lemon - use zest & juice

Combine all ingredients in small bowl, mix together and set aside.


  • Small amount of canola or vegetable oil for grill or saute pan
  • 2-4 center cut salmon fillets, skinned
  • Approx. 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • Salt & pepper

Preheat grill or saute pan over medium-medium high heat. Drizzle some oil in the pan. Brush both sides of salmon with agave nectar & season with salt & pepper. Grill/saute till the fish is cooked through and remove to a plate. Spoon salsa over the fish.