Saturday, October 1, 2011

October Cooking Day

My friend Ellen and I will be teaming up to do October's recipes. Half the work and both of us end of benefitting from the recipes! Ellen is graciously offering her kitchen, since it's about twice the size of mine. I honestly don't think we could both fit AND cook in my kitchen at the same time.

Here's our recipe plan. As always, go to for more delicious recipes!

Cinnamon Apple Pull Apart Rolls (traditional 2010)
Apple Cinnamon Waffles (Traditional 2010)

Turkey and Veggie Meatloaf Muffins (diet menu)
Baked Potato Soup (diet menu)
Crockpot Chicken Taco Chili (diet menu)
Ham and Cheese Quesadillas (traditional menu)

Light Mac and Cheese (diet menu)
Tuscan Chicken and White Beans (diet menu)
Sausage and Potato Casserole (diet menu)
Salsa Chicken (traditional menu)
Mama's Meatballs and Gravy (traditional menu)
Chicken and Broccoli Casserole (traditional 2010)
Pepperoncini Beef Sammies (September Traditional menu)
Spinach Lasagna Rolls (September Diet menu)

PointsPlus Values and pictures to follow shortly!

September Mini-Cooking Day

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted anything. School started again, and life got crazy! Thank goodness for the month of cooking I did. Most days what to have for dinner consisted of figuring out which delicious thing to defrost from our freezer.

Needless to say, I could not get my act together to do my September cooking. Then a good friend decided she wanted in on this cooking gig. We decided to wait until the menu plan came out for October (which it did this morning! Yay!). I looked through the September recipes I was planning and stuck with only the recipes that I had ingredients in house to cook. Thus spawned my September Mini-Big Day, which is happening as I post.

Beef Stew (September Traditional Menu)
**REALLY good! Especially with biscuits.
**PointsPlus: 5 per serving (about 1 cup)

End of Harvest Stew (September Diet Menu)
**Excellent soup! It's going on my repeats list.
**PointsPlus: 4 per serving (about 1 cup)

Pork and Veggie Stirfry (September Diet Menu)
**Very easy. Excellent with brown rice.
**PointsPlus: 6 per serving (about 1 cup, without rice)

Shepherd's Pie (September traditional Menu)
**Good version of Shepherd's Pie, although I added more vegetables
**PointsPlus: 9 per serving (1/4 of an 8x8 pan)

Maple Oat Scones (September Traditional Menu)
**Added about 1/2 a cup of sugar to this recipe. Very
**PointsPlus: 8 per scone

Monday, August 29, 2011

Freezer Meal Review: Baked Pesto Chicken

Another freezer meal for us tonight. This was better than I was expecting. It went really well with the brown rice that was suggested. Very easy--just defrost and stick it in the oven to bake!

Here's what our delicious dinner looked like:

For this, and for other freezer recipes I made this month, click here

PointsPlus: 3 points for 3 strips of chicken
Husband's Grade: A+

Inspired by: OnceAMonthMom

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pinterest Recipe Review: Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

Holy sinfulness. This was creamy and cheesy and carby. It generally made you want to have the meal go on forever and at the same time want to curl up under a blanket on the couch to eat this. I am definitely in a carb coma right now--and loving every minute of it. I'm sure you can see from the post that this is NOT going to be a low-point meal. Save it for the day after your weigh-in day.

Here's the link to the original recipe:

Given my new obsession with freezer meals--as long as you cook it first, this meal would freeze really well.

What's Needed:
1 lb. gnocchi
2 T. butter
2 tsp. garlic, finely chopped
1 T. flour
3/4 C. milk
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 C. Asiago cheese, shredded
1/4 C. Fontina cheese, shredded
1/3 C. shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. prepare gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and place gnocchi in a single layer 1.5 qt. shallow baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook garlic 30 seconds. Whisk in flour until it thickens and bubbles. Then whisk in milk and dijon mustard. Cook until slightly thickened 3-5 minutes.

3. Combine Asiago and Fontina cheese. Add by the handful to the pan. Add by the handful. Once all cheese is melted, season with salt & pepper.

4, Pour over gnocchi. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake until gnocchi puff and cheese is golden & bubbly--about 25 minutes.

5. Let gnocchi rest for about 5 minutes.

PointsPlus: 10 for 1/4 of the pan
Husband's Grade: A+

Inspired by:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Freezer Meal Review: Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

We had the first (of many) freezer meals this month. It was a hit with everyone. Just spicey enough to have a kick, without overwhelming my little guy and myself.

Since I needed Italian Sausage for another recipe this month, I used that instead of plain smoked sausage. It added a lot more flavor to this dish.

Here's the before picture (Just out of the freezer)

I didn't really have time to thaw it out in the freezer. So this meal went from the freezer into a 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes. I checked on it after 30 minutes in intervals to make sure it didn't get dried out.

Here's the after picture:
As you can see, there's just enough for one person left. I may turn this into lunch tomorrow.

To find this, and the other recipes I cooked this month, click here

PointsPlus: 9 (for 1/4 of the pan)
Husband's Grade: A

Inspired by: Once A Month Mom

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My August/September Menu--with many thanks to Once a Month Mom!


Here are all of the links to the recipes I used for my August/September Menu. Many thanks to Tricia, and all the girls at Once A Month Mom!

You will notice that there are links to several different menus and several different months. I knew that not all of the recipes for the August Traditional menu would work for my family, so I went through and picked what looked good.

I will do individual reviews of the recipes as we eat them. Below you will find the names of the recipes and links to the recipes on the Once A Month Mom website. I'm also listing the Points Plus values of everything.

August/September Menu
Blueberry Breakfast Cake (guess who forgot to get raspberries): PointsPlus: 4 for 1/8 of the cake.

Upside-Down Baked Oatmeal PointsPlus: 5 (for 1/6 of the pan)

Strawberry-Orange Smoothie PointsPlus: 4 (for 1 pint-size bag)

Stuffed Pizza Sticks PointsPlus: 5 (per stick)

Chilled Spaghetti Salad PointsPlus: 7 (one packet of dressing and pasta salad)

Sugar Snap Pea Salad
(I doubled up my portion size on this one) PointsPlus: 6 (for one bag full)

Homemade Chicken Nuggets Points Plus: 4 (per tender)

Tilapia with Spinach, Onion, Tomato, and Herbs (substituted onions for mushrooms) PointsPlus: 7 (per fillet)

Crockpot Pesto Lasagna PointsPlus: 16 (for 1/8 of the lasagna)

Summer Steak Kabobs PointsPlus: 7 (2 skewers and 1/2 C. brown rice)

Steak Fajitas
PointsPlus: 6 (per fajita)

Ranch Burgers
PointsPlus: 4 (1 burger, no bun)

Sausage and Pepper Penne
PointsPlus: 8 (for 1/4 of the pan)

Garlic-Lime Pork Chops
PointsPlus: 7 (per chop)

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya PointsPlus: 9 (1/4 of the bag) Click here for my review

Baked Pesto Chicken PointsPlus: 3 (for 3 pieces)
Click here for my review


I, apparently, was very anxious to start my cooking extravaganza. Not a smart idea. After doing some last minute shopping, I decided to start cooking at 6 p.m. Yes, you read that right P.M.! What the heck was I thinking? At one point I thought I might start and finish up later, but the thought of cleaning everything up only to have to start fresh again in the morning nearly killed me. So, I powered through until I had everything but one recipe finished.

I am exhausted and every part of my lower body hurts from standing for 10 hours, but I have such a feeling of accomplishment, especially when I look at my freezer! A month's worth of meals that I won't have to even think about. Just pop it in the oven or microwave and serve. That's my kind of meal!

This will be a long-ish post, because I'm so excited about everything. I will have links to the recipes I used as well as (some) pictures, that I remembered to take through the process. If you are thinking about starting your own monthly cooking adventure, please take a look at Once A Month Mom. She makes it SOOOOOO much easier!

The first thing I decided to do was to organize all of my ingredients and try to bring in more counter space to my small kitchen.

I brought in every TV tray I had and used all available counter space to organize the ingredients I would be using in every recipe I was planning on cooking.

I laid out my OAMM recipe cards, Cooking Day Instructions, and freezer labels on a TV tray so that they were ready when I needed them.

I made sure that my recipe cards matched the order that I had put the recipes in the Cooking Day Instructions. If I could only be this organized on a regular basis, my life would run much more smoothly.

Then, I got to cooking! I will post all the recipes, etc., later.

This is what my now fully stocked freezer looks like:

Top shelf is all of the breakfasts, lunches, and some of the dinners that were stored in ziploc bags:

Next is the rest of the dinners in ziploc bags and 8x8 aluminum pans--next to the delicious Freschetta pizzas ;)

Our freezer door took the yummy breakfast smoothies:

And, since I buy my meat at Sam's Club, this is all the 'extra' meat that we have for meals when I have time to cook during the week:

Now...who wants to join me in my craziness?

Inspired by: Once A Month Mom

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pinterest Review: Bruschetta Chicken


This was fantastic. I'm re-thinking the side I serve with it for next time. This time, I made garlic bread, because it was fast and easy. My husband suggested next time adding some spinach to the chicken and serving it with rice. This sounds like a great plan to me, so that is what we'll be doing. On a plus side, the leftovers are AWESOME as a salad. All you need is just a little bit of the sun-dried tomato dressing, and you're in business.

What's Needed:
4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 C. Kraft Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing
2 tomatoes, finely chopped (I didn't have any fresh tomatoes, so I used a can of petite diced tomatoes, drained)
1/2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp. dried basil

1. Heat grill pan to medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray.

2. Marinate the chicken (for at LEAST 10 minutes prior. The longer you can marinate, the better).

3. Remove chicken from bag; discard bag and dressing.

4. Grill on grill pan for about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/4 dressing, tomatoes, basil, and cheese.

5. Turn the chicken over. Top with tomato mixture. Cover grill pan and cook 8-10 minutes or until chicken is done.

PointsPlus: 6
Husband's Grade: A-

Inspired by: The Girl Who Ate Everything

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pinterest Review: Ranch House Pork Chops with Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

(Excuse the picture. I forgot to take it until after I
had put it away).

This is one of the first times since I've been married that I've made pork chops. The main reason being that my husband claims to not like them. But since J was born, I'm trying to make as many different finds as possible, so that he can try them. Considering the fact that my husband doesn't like pork chops, his grade of an A+ came as a complete surprise. He said they were tasty and tender.

This recipe is excellent. Easy to throw together and delicious when it's done. It even reheats well! I unfortunately didn't have time to make the mashed potatoes from scratch. I'm posting both the original and the quick version of the potatoes.

What's Needed: Pork Chops
1 can cream of chicken soup
6 pork chops
1 packet dry Ranch dressing mix

1. Place pork chops, ranch seasoning, and soup in the crockpot.
2. Cook on LOW for 6 hours or HIGH for 4 hours.

PointsPlus: 5

What's Needed: Mashed Potatoes--Quick Version
Instant mashed potatoes (I made 6 servings--enough for 1/2 C. Mashed potatos per pork chop)
1 C. Parmesan cheese
4.5 tsp. Of Roasted Garlic and Herb Mashed Potato Seasoning mix (I fOund this at Ultra Foods)

1. Prepare instant mashed potatoes according to package directions.
2. When you add in the mashed potato flakes, add the Parmesan cheese and seasoning mix.
3. Stir until well mixed.

Points Plus: 3

What's Needed: Parmesan Mashed Potatoes--Original
4 lbs peeled, cubed potatoes
5 Tablespoons real butter
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
6 cloves roasted garlic (directions are below)
1- 1 1/2 Cups warm skim milk (any milk will do, I used skim)
1 Tablespoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place bulb of garlic with skins on, wrap lightly in tin foil and bake for 1 hour.
3. Remove from foil and let cool for 15 minutes.
4. Remove garlic from skins, place in a bowl and mash with a fork until completely mashed.
5. Set aside. One garlic bulb will have around 12 cloves.
6. Place potatoes into a large pot of cold water. Place onto stove top over high heat and bring to a boil.
7. Once water is boiling, cook for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
8. Drain and transfer to the work bowl of a stand or electric mixer.
9. Mix on low until potatoes are mashed then add butter, Parmesan, garlic, milk, salt and pepper. Season to taste if needed. For thinner mashed potatoes add more milk, slowly until your desired consistency.

Points Plus: 8

Husband's Grade: A+
Inspired by: Real Mom Kitchen

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Plan

I spent all morning long looking at my new favorite blog/website: OAMM

I think I've got my plan in place. I looked at the August menus, and, after deciding that not all the meals would work for my family, pieced together a menu that I think we will all enjoy.

Here's my menu plan for the month of August/September. (Since I'm doing my cooking day on August 14th, I'm approximating that these meals will last us through September 14th-ish).

Breakfast recipes:

Upside-Down Baked Oatmeal
Strawberry Orange Smoothies
Raspberry Breakfast Cake

Lunch Recipes:
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
Stuffed Pizza Sticks
Chilled Spaghetti Salad
Sugar Snap Pea Salad

Dinner Recipes:
Spicy Stuffed BBQ Chicken
Baked Pesto Chicken
Steak Fajitas
Sausage and Pepper Penne
Pesto Lasagna
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Summer Steak Kabobs
Ranch Burgers
Garlic-Lime Pork Chops

I have my grocery list assembled. Now I will be keeping an eye out for good sale prices on the items I need. I'll also be re-reading OAMM's FAQ on Freezer Cooking to try to wrap my head around the project I'm about to undertake.

If you don't hear from me after August 14th, it's because I died in the kitchen during my big cooking day. ;)

Lemon and Brown Butter Fish Fillets

This was a great, light, summer meal. It would have been even better had I remembered to make the bread I was planning on. Even mashed potatoes would have been a good side.

What's Needed:
4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint red grape tomatoes
1/2 C. parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 6-oz. tilapia fillets
All-purpose flour
4 T. cold, unsalted butter
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Preheat a large skillet over high heat with 2 T. of olive oil.

2. Add the grape tomatoes in an even layer and sear for 2 minutes. Add half of the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 more minutes, or until tomatoes start to burst. Remove them from the pan and cover with aluminum foil.

3. Wipe out the skillet. Return stove to medium-high heat.

4. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour.

5. Add 2 T. olive oil to skillet. Once oil is hot, shake extra flour from the fish and add to the skillet.

6. Cook fish for 4-5 minutes on each side. Once cooked, transfer the fish to a serving platter and cover with aluminum foil.

7. Wipe skillet clean. Return stove to medium-high heat.

8. Melt butter. Once butter is brown and smells slightly nutty, add lemon juice and remaining parsley.

9. Pour brown butter over fish and top with tomatoes.

PointsPlus: 10 (1 fillet with sauce and tomatoes)
Husband's Grade: A

Inspired by: Rachel Ray: 365 and No Repeats

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Excuse the Dust

I'm remodeling my blog :)

In the mean time, let me tell you about my new obsession: Freezer Cooking. With the school year fast approaching, I want to be able to have quick, easy meals on hand. That's part of the reason why I started using my crockpot so much.

Then I found OAMM (or Once a Month Mom for those of you who haven't seen it yet). She posts menu plans every month. You spend one day cooking/preparing the meals and you end up with breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to last you almost a whole month. You package them all up, stick them in the freezer, and then all you have to do after a long day at work is stick it in the oven. This sounds like absolute HEAVEN to me!

My first Big Cooking Day is August 14th. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pinterest Recipe Review: Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Noodles


I LOVE Pinterest, especially for finding yummy new recipes! Seriously, if you haven't checked it out yet, request an invite for Pinterest soon.

This was one of the first recipes I found while browsing pins on other people's boards. I made a few changes (as I almost always do). This recipe said it served 4. I beg to differ. As my picture will show, this could easily feed 6.

What's Needed:
6 oz. extra-wide egg noodles
1 2- to 2-1/4-lb. purchased roasted chicken (I used chicken tenders that I had pre-cooked with a little bit of garlic and basil.)
1 cup frozen peas
1.5 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cups 2% milk
1/4 C. Plain Bread crumbs
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Snipped fresh thyme (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 450. Bring 6 cups of salted water to boiling; add noodles. Cook 10 minutes or until tender; drain.

2. Remove chicken from bones. Shred chicken.

3. In saucepan, combine chicken, peas, garlic, and milk. Heat through. Cover and keep warm.

4.In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, 1/4 of the Parmesan, and butter.

5. Stir noodles and remaining Parmesan into hot chicken mixture. Heat and stir until bubbly.

6. Put in a 9x13 casserole dish (or divide into 4 small casserole dishes). Top each with the bread crumb mixture. Bake 5 minutes or until top begins to brown.

PointsPlus: 11
Husband's Grade: A

Inspired by: Better Homes and Gardens Recipe, as pinned on Pinterest

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp and Rice

This was very good--considering I didn't have the white wine to add to the sauce. I added extra lemon juice instead. It turned out very nice, but would have been better with the wine.

What's Needed:
Coarse salt
1 pound small shrimp, deveined and peeled, tails removed (I used pre-cooked frozen shrimp. All I had to do was defrost and remove the tails).
2 tsp. lemon zest plus the juice of 1/4 lemon
1/4 C. extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 C. Dry white wine
1 T. parsley
1 small white onion, chopped
1.5 C. white rice
2 C. chicken stock
(Optional: 1/2 C. jumbo green Spanish olives, coarsely chopped)

1. Place a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 T. of olive oil and the onions. Cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add the rice and lightly toast, 2 minutes.

3. Add the chicken stock and cover the rice with a lid to bring the stock to a boil. When it boils, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 17 minutes, or until tender.

4. Heat a large nonstick skiller over medium heat. Season shrim with lemon zest, lemon, and salt.

5. Add Olive oil to the hot pan and add the shrimp. Cook for a minute, then add tomatoes and parsley. Cook for another minute until shrim are firm and pink.

6. Add the white wine. Stir in the olives (if using) and remove from heat.

Serve shrimp over rice.

PointsPlus: 8 (1/4 of the shrimp and vegetables, and 1/2 C. of rice)
Husband's Grade: A

Inspired by: Rachel Ray 365: No Repeats

Two Meals in One: Kickin' Chicken Chili and Kickin' Chicken Taco Salad


I love when you can use the leftovers from one meal to make something different. This recipe does exactly that!

Note: The base recipe makes enough for 4 servings, plus reserves

Base Recipe: Kickin' Chicken Chili
What's Needed:
2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1 T. olive oil
1 16-oz. package frozen sweet pepper and onion (or substitute 2 C. each chopped sweet pepper and onion)
1 16-oz. jar of salsa--your preference (For extra spicey, try green salsa)
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes with onion and garlic, undrained
Optional: Sour cream, shredded cheese

1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, cumin, and salt. Toss gently to coat.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken, half at a time, in hot oil until light brown. Drain off fat.

3. Combine chicken, frozen vegetables, salsa, drained beans, and tomato in crockpot.

4. Cover and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours or on HIGH for 2-2.5 hours. Reserve 3 C. of chili. Place the reserves in an airtight container and store in the fridge.

5. Serve the remaining chili, topped with sour cream and cheese. Serve with cornbread.

PointsPlus: 7 (for 1/4 of the recipe, minus the 3 C. reserved)
Husband's Grade: A

Left-Overs Recipe: Kickin' Chicken Taco Salad
What's Needed:
Reserved Kickin' Chicken Chili
6 C. torn romaine lettuce
1 C. grape or cherry tomoatoes, halved
1/2 C. choppped red onion
1.5 C. Tortilla strips (Southwest flavor or Lightly Salted)

Optional: 1/2 C. Sour Cream; 1/4 C. chopped cilantro or parsley

1. Heat reserved chili until hot, stirring occasionally.

2. In a large bowl, combine lettuce, tomatoes, and red onion.

3. Add heated chili; toss to combine.

4. Divide lettuce mixture among large salad bowls. Sprinkle with tortilla strips.

PointsPlus: 7 (for 1/4 of the recipe)
Husband's Grade: A

Inspired by: The Ultimate Slow Cooker Book

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Edition: Cheaper Than Shake-N-Bake

I was so happy when I found this recipe for crispy baked chicken. I honestly couldn't wait to try this. Because honestly, who doesn't like a piece of crispy chicken with a side of mashed potatoes? This smelled great cooking in the oven, and when I took it out and tasted it, I thought "Wow. This tastes like Shake-N-Bake chicken". And then it dawned on me. For cheaper than I could have bought a box, that's exactly what I made. And it was pure heaven. Please enjoy the recipe (and the $$ saved) below.

What's Needed:
1/2 C. cornmeal
1/2 C. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
Chicken breasts or chicken tenders, about 2-3 lbs.
1/2 C. milk
1/3 C. butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Combine first six ingredients.

3. Dip chicken in milk, then roll in the cornmeal mixture.

4. Place in a greased 9x13 pan. Drizzle with butter.
5. Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 50-55 minutes or until juices run clear.

PointsPlus: 9 (for one chicken breast or 3 chicken tenders)
Husband's Grade: A+

Inspired by: Taste of Home Classic Cookbook

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cookies & Cream Casserole :)

I haven't updated this site in ages, and for that I apologize. Things have been crazy busy lately. But summer is coming soon, so I'll be able to start posting weekly again.

Now, a dessert for you! It's yummy good. I hope everyone enjoys it. My version is vanilla cookies and cream. It tastes awesome, though I'm sure the actual Oreos would taste better.

What's Needed:
1/2 C. butter, melted (1 stick)
1 1-lb. package of Oreo cookies, crushed (or similar)
3 C. milk
2 4-serving-size packages instant vanilla pudding mix
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 8-oz. container frozen Cool Whip, thawed (or similar)

1. In a large bowl, drizzle the melted butter over crushed cookies; toss to coat evenly. Set aside 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture into an ungreased 9x13 inch baking pan. Set aside.

2. In amedium bowl, combine milk and dry pudding mix. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until smooth. Add milk-pudding mixture. Beat until combined. Fold in Cool Whip.

4. Pour the pudding mixture over the crumb mixture in pan. Sprinkle the reserved 1/2 C. crumb mixture over the pudding. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

Makes 12-14 servings.

PointsPlus: 7

Husband's Grade: A+

Inspired by: 9x13: The Pan That Can

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chicken Teriyaki

Thank goodness I found this recipe. I have an entire box of frozen teriyaki chicken and I honestly could not think of a recipe to use it with. Enter this recipe. It gave just a bit of extra teriyaki flavoring to it. Sauce was nice and thick, chicken was tender and fully cooked. Having this served on a bed of brown rice was just pure awesome.

What's Needed:

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks
1/4 C. soy sauce
1 T. sugar
1 T. ginger
1 T. minced garlic
1 T. vegetable oil
1/2 T. Corn Starch
2 C. hot cooked brown rice

1. Combine all ingredients (except rice and cornstarch) in Crockpot. Cover; cook on LOW 6-8 hours or until chicken is tender.

2. Take the chicken out of the crockpot. Put on a plate and cover to keep warm.

3. Add corn starch to sauce in the crockpot. Cook on HIGH for 10 minutes.

4. Serve chicken and sauce over rice.

PointsPlus: 4 points (1 chicken breast half and some sauce)
Husband's Grade: A+

Inspired by: Crockpot: The Original Slow Cooker: 3 Books in 1

Country Style Steak

This was excellent with a side of mashed potatoes. Very easy to throw in the crockpot, and made the house smell like I had cooked a roast for hours. I substituted top sirloin steaks for the cube steak, since that is what we had in the house at the time.

What's Needed:
4-6 beef cube steaks
All-purpose flour
1 T. vegetable oil
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 envelope brown gravy mix.

1. Dust the steaks with flour. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-low heat. Brown steaks on both sides. Drain fat. Transfer steaks to crockpot.

2. Add soup and gravy mixes and enough water to cover the meat. Cover; cook on LOW 6-8 hours.

Serves: 4-6. Serve with a side of mashed potatoes.

PointsPlus: 8 points (just steak and gravy)
Husband's Grade: A+

Inspired by: Crockpot: The Original Slow Cooker, 3 books in 1

Italian Chicken Broccoli Casserole

This was really yummy and fast (on a day when I forgot to start my crockpot meal). I used chicken marinated in Italian seasonings, but it would taste just as good with plain chicken breasts.

What's Needed:
1 1/2 C. water
1 package (6 oz.) chicken stuffing mix (I use Peppridge Farm's Herb Seasoned Stuffing)
2 C. cubed cooked chicken (about 4 chicken breast halves)
1 C. frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed broccoli cheese soup, undiluted
1 C. (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

1. In a small saucepan, bring water to boil. Stir in stuffing mix. Remove from the heat; cover and let the stuffing stand for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, layer the chicken adn broccoli florets in a greast 11 x 7-in baking dish. Top the chicken and broccoli with broccoli cheese soup.

3. Fluff the stuffing with a fork; spoon stuffing over soup. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

4. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until heated through.

Serves 6.

PointsPlus: 4 (for 1/6 of the casserole)
Husband's Grade: A+

Inspired by: Taste of Home: Most Requested Recipes

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cheeseburger and Fries Casserole

Oooooooh my! I loved this from the first bite, and better yet, so did my boys. :) This was a hit! I was a very happy mama, since J has been going on a dinner strike. He practically licked his plate clean with this meal. If you like tatertot casserole, you will love this.

What's needed:
2 lb. lean ground beef
1 10.75 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 10.75 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1 20 oz. package frozen fried crinkle-cut potatoes

Toppings: such as ketchup, pickles, mustard, and chopped tomato; optional

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large skillet cook ground beef until cooked through. Drain off fat.

3. Spoon cooked meat into an ungreased 9x13 in. baking pan.

4. In a medium bowl, combine cream of mushroom soup and cheddar cheese soup.

5. Spread over the meat in pan. Sprinkle potatoes over.

6. Bake, uncovered, for 45-55 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown. If desired, serve with topppings.

Husband's Grade: A+
PointsPlus 9 (for 1/8 of the casserole)

Inspired by: 9x13: The Pan That Can

German Pancake

Hello, Saturday morning breakfast. This is quick and easy to throw together while you're still waking up. :)

What's Needed:
4 large eggs
1/2 C. whole milk (you can probably lighten this recipe up by doing 2% or skim)
1/2 C. flour
1 T. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (this is important. NEVER use imitation.)
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 T. unsalted butter
Confectioners' sugar, for serving
Lemon and raspberry preserves, for serving (optional)

1. Heat oven to 425.

2. In a blender, puree the eggs, milk, flour, granulated sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt until well combined.

3. Heat a medium or large (9- to 10-in.) skillet over medium heat. (IMPORTANT: Make sure you use a skillet with a METAL handle. This skillet will be going in the oven.)

4. Add the butter and melt. Add the batter, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the pancake is puffed and golden, 12-15 minutes.

5. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Husband's Grade: A+
PointsPlus: 5 (for 1/4 of the pancake)

Inspired by: Woman's Day Magazine, April 1, 2011 edition

Sunday, February 13, 2011

St. Valentine's Day Baking: Cinnamon Love Knots

Yep, I cheated. I tried one already. WOW, are they good. Especially considering the points value. I know that my husband and son are going to gobble these up tomorrow morning!

What's Needed:
2 packages (1/4 oz. EACH) active dry yeast
1/2 C. warm water (110-115 degrees)
1/2 C. warm milk (110-115 degrees)
1/2 C. butter, softened
1/2 C. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. salt

2 C. sugar
2 T. ground cinnamon
3/4 C. butter, melted

1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, butter, sugar, eggs, and salt. Stir in enough flour to form a stiff dough.

2. Turn onto a floured surface; kneed until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

3. Punch dough down; divide into three portions. Cover two with plastic wrap.

4. Shape one portion into 12 balls. Roll each ball into an 8-in. rope.

5. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Dip rope into melted butter, then coat with cinnamon-sugar.

6. Tie into a knot. Tuck and pinch ends under and place on ungreased baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

7. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

8. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Let cool completely.

Husband's Grade: A
PointsPlus Value: 3 per knot

Inspired by: The Taste of Home Baking Book

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

RR Chili Converted for Crockpot

Since I converted one soup recipe of Rachael Ray's for the crockpot, I figured I would try more. Some (like the Papa al Pomodoro I'm trying next week) just won't work in the crockpot. This recipe, Italian Chicken Chili with Pancetta Crouton Toppers worked splendidly. All I had to do when I got home was make the croutons, and that took no time at all.

What's Needed:
3 T. extra-virgin oilive oil
1 to 1.5 lb. ground chicken, cooked and drained
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 medium onions, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and grated (I shaved mine using my peeler)
1 dried bay leaf
1/4 C. balsamic vinegar
1 T. thyme
2 tsp. paprika
1 T. chili powder (add another T. if you like it spicey)
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
4 C. chicken stock
1/3 pound pancetta, chopped
3 T. butter
1 medium-size loaf crusty bread, cut into 1-inch squares
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 C. Parmesan cheese
2 T. rosemary

1. Add to the crockpot the chopped onions, carrots, and bay leaf.

2. Next, add the cooked ground chicken and all seasonings (thyme, paprika, chili powder, allspice, salt, and pepper)

3. Finally, add the balsamic vinegar and the chicken stock.

4. Set the crockpot for 8-8.5 hours.

5. When you get home, set the oven for 350.

6. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and brown it about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate.

7. Add the butter to the cooking oil, turn off the heat, and let the butter melt into the olive oil.

8. Place the bread and garlic in a large mixing bowl. Pour the butter mixture evenly over bread. Sprinkle the pancetta, cheese, rosemary, and pepper over the bread cubes and toss to coat/combine.

9. Spread the croutons out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until evenly golden, tossing it 1-2x while cooking (about 15-18 minutes).

Serve the chili with the pancetta croutons on top.
Serves 6-8 people.

Husband's grade: A+
PointsPlus: 8

Taken from and inspired by: Rachael Ray Just in Time!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Baking Extravaganza 2: Lemon Blueberry Bread

Blueberry Bread--because I love blueberries and it sounded good. That sounded like a good enough reason to get baking for me. Plus, it kept the kitchen nice and warm.

What's Needed:
1/3 C. butter, softened
1 C. sugar
2 eggs
3 T. lemon juice
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. milk
1 C. fresh or frozen blueberries
NOTE: If using frozen blueberries, do NOT thaw before adding to batter.

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Beat in eggs and lemon juice.

3. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.

4. Fold in the blueberries.

5. Pour into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. x 2-in. loaf pan.

6. Bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Optional Glaze: (Drizzle over warm bread)
2 T. lemon juice
1/4 C. sugar

My Rating: A
PointsPlus: 3 per slice (You should be able to get about 20 slices out of this loaf)

Inspired by: Taste of Home Baking Book

Baking Extravaganza: Apple Crisp

A great dessert for a cold, snowy day in Illinois.

Apple Crisp with a Twist(It's with a twist because I didn't have any oats in the house. My solution--3 packets of instant, microwaveable oatmeal. It worked out well enough for me) :)

What's Needed:
4 medium sliced, peeled apples (tart apples work best)
3/4 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 C. all-purpose flour
3 packets of UNFLAVORED instant oatmeal
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/3 C. cold butter
(Vanilla ice cream, optional--but it's SUCH a good option!)

1. Place the apples in a greased 8-in. square baking pan.

2. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnmon, and allspice. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over the apples.

3. Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 30-35 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm with ice cream, if desired.

Serves 6 people

Husband's Grade: A
PointsPlus: 8

Inspired by: Taste of Home Baking Book

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tomato Soup--ALA Rachel Ray

The thing I love about Rachael Ray's recipes, is that they're so easy to adapt.

If you don't have something, switch it out for something else. Same thing goes if you want something less/more spicey. I tried her '15-Minute Tomato and Bean Stoup' tonight, since I have a house full of sickies (myself included). This is a GREAT soup to have when you have a cold. I substituted peas for the celery and left out the zucchini, since I didn't have any. Serve this with fresh bread, and you have yourself a meal!

What's Needed:
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, choppped
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (use more if you like it spicey)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 C. chicken broth
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 5.5-oz. can tomato juice
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 C. frozen cut green beans
1 C. frozen peas
1 T. basil
1/2 T. oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese to pass at table

1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine tomato juice and tomato paste. Stir until well-combined.

2. Add olive oil to big soup pot and place over medium-high heat.

3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook 1 minute.

4. Add onions and carrots. Cook for 10-15 minutes (or until onions are translucent and carrots are soft).

5. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, tomato paste mix, green beans, and peas.

6. Bring soup to a bubble. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Turn off heat. Add basil and oregano to soup.

Serve with fresh bread. Serves 4.

Husband's Grade: A-
PointsPlus: 5

Taken from and inspired by: Rachael Ray--365: No Repeats

Friday, February 4, 2011

7 point breakfast--Homemade Creation of a McDonald's Classic

I recently discovered that I like McDonald's Egg McMuffins. I decided it would be easier to make them at home. After experimenting, I was able to slash a whole PointsPlus point off of the original. Hope you enjoy!

What's Needed:
1 egg
1 slice Canadian bacon (pre-cooked)
dash of salt and pepper
shredded cheddar cheese (just enough to sprinkle over the top)
1 whole wheat English Muffin

1. Toast English Muffin--I usually do mine for 4-5 minutes so it's nice and crispy.

2. Put egg, salt, and pepper into a bowl. Whisk together.

3. Add egg to skillet pre-heated. Leave it alone until it looks like this. Takes about 2 minutes.

4. Flip egg. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Take off of the skillet.

5. Add Canadian bacon to skillet. Brown on both sides (about 1-2 minutes--just to heat/brown it).

6. Cut egg in half. Then fold in half.

7. To assemble:
*Place 1/2 the egg on the bottom of the muffin. Sprinkle a bit of cheese.
*Add Canadian bacon then the other half of the egg. Sprinkle a bit of cheese
*Top with other half of the muffin. Enjoy!

MY Grade: A+ (This, plus some coffee, keeps me full until lunch, and I normally eat early in the morning.)

PointsPlus: 7

Inspired by: McDonald's Original Egg McMuffin (8 PointsPlus)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Shrimp Fried Rice

This was great! My husband, who is not a fan of Chinese, really liked this dish. I'm making it with less soy next time, but it went over great!

What's Needed:
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil or vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 C. cooked brown rice
1 C. frozen carrots, chopped small
1 C. frozen peas, thawed
1 C. onion, chopped small
12 oz. bag of frozen, pre-cooked, pre-deveined shrimp--thawed
2 T. soy sauce

1. In a small bowl, combine eggs and 1 tsp. soy sauce.

2. Pour sesame oil into large skillet. Preheat over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and garlic; stir gently to scramble. When set, remove egg mixture from skillet and cut up any large pieces.

3. Pour cooking oil into the skillet. Return to medium-high heat. STir-fry onion in hot oil for 1 minute, or until onions are crisp-tender.

4. Add cooked rice, carrot, peas, and shrimp. Sprinkle with 2 T. soy sauce. Cook and stir for 4-6 minutes or until heated through. Add cooked egg mixture. Cook and stir for about 1 minute more or until heated through.

Makes 4 servings (about 1 1/4 C.)

Husband's Grade: B+
PointsPlus: 7

Inspired by: Better Homes and Gardens NEW Cook Book

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Converting a Rachel Ray Soup to Crockpot

I love this soup, but I did not want to come home on a Friday and immediately set to work on making this. To solve my problem, I converted the recipe to a crockpot recipe. Here's the recipe re-done for you. Enjoy!

What's Needed:

4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 C. shredded carrots
1 dried bay leaf
Salt and black pepper
6 C. chicken stock
1 lb. ground chicken
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 C. Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 package fresh gnocchi
1 C. frozen peas

1. Place chicken in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, nutmeg, egg, bread crumbs, and cheese. Combine chicken mixture with your hands, then roll into walnut-sized meatballs.

2. Add celery, onions, carrots, and bayleaf to crockpot.

3. Add chicken meatballs to crockpot.

4. Add chicken stock.

5. Cook for 7-8 hours on low.

6. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add gnocchi, peas, and parsley.

7. Allow to stand 5 minutes in crockpot to thicken up. Discard the bay leaf.

8. Ladle into bowls. Serves 8

Husband's Grade: A-
PointsPlus: 6

Taken from (and inspired by) Rachael Ray: Just in Time