Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Food Gardens to Low Income Families of Elyria, Ohio

This isn't a recipe today.  It is a call to help.  I live in a city that is desperately in need of hope.  It is in need of inspiration and help.  Like many cities across America, we have been hit hard by unemployment, taxes, foreclosures..... it goes on and on.  We have falling down buildings, houses and spirits. 
But there is a chance!  A gleam of hope!  Pepsi has a program each month where they award $25,000 to ten great civic ideas out of thousands of submissions.  My husband Alex is organizing this event for our city. 

Here's the gist:  A vegetable garden for 1,000 low income families!  Using a product that requires no digging, by Filtrexx Int.  they will be able to install 'raised bed' vegetable gardens and help teach the importance of nutrition and organic growing to thousands of people! 

What you do:
1.  Text the number 104402 to 73774

*standard text message rates apply

2. Go to this Pepsi Refresh website to read all the specifics on this amazing idea and vote

3. Vote through your Face Book.  Here are the steps:
      1) Search for Pepsi and "Like" it
      2) Look up our project, search term Filtrexx Foundation (my husband's company and applicant)
      3)Click "vote for this"

4. Your votes will provide good, nutritious food to those who cannot!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli Link

I fell in love this weekend with a new recipe. Yep, you read right. If overdramatization is not your thing, this is not the site for you. I've been known to post about toothpaste, tennis shoes, and Dumdums. But back to my recipe story.

There is a blog that I frequent. And when I say frequent, I mean I check it daily. Me and Jeanette, yeah I call her Jeanette, we will either end up east coat-west coast besties or she will block me from her site and consider a restraining order. Time will tell. Her site, Life Rearranged is amazing. She is funny, creative and to top it all off, she does fund raising for various charities via guest-blogging by people who's lives have not gone as they expected. Sometimes when I'm reading I am also shouting at my screen "You took the words right out of my mouth!!" Cuz me and Jeanette, we think alike, but she just says it funnier.

Again, back to the point. A few weeks ago she posted a recipe that looked delish. I finally got around to trying it this weekend and it was just as she said. Totally delectable. I swapped a few things out, because I have the spiciness capacity of a two year old. But it was still awesome. So here is the link to her recipe Pasta e Fagioli if you want to do it the original way, or if you are like me here is alterations below.

*Instead of the Italian sausage she sliced up, I used 1 pound of ground, mild, Italian sausage.
*I used 2 big carrots
*Realized I was out of thyme
*Omitted the cayenne (aforementioned reasons)
*Use a BIG pot! I have been eating it {happily} for 3 days straight because it makes a ton!
Stay tuned for a recipe from me tomorrow. I'm getting back into my cooking groove, I've been making delicious stuffed shells, broccoli soup and its about time I post my recipe for Caramel Apple Cake don't you think? I'll re post this on my recipe blog Why did I make them separate? I don't even remember.
And if you would like to click over and peruse my family blog it is here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fiesta Lime Chicken- Party in Your Mouth!

Did you miss me?  It turns out that with two kids starting school, me going back to school and having a family to take care does not leave a whole lot of room for creativity.  So I've been off using the old stand-by recipes and some that are here on this blog.  But last week I got a newsletter from and they had an idea for Fiesta Lime Chicken that I couldn't pass up {with the usual Mari alterations}.  It was SOOO good.  A fiesta in your mouth if you will!  It will definitely be a regular... besides it gives me one more excuse to eat homemade guacamole.

Without further ado, Fiesta Lime Chicken

1/4 cup Fiber one cereal made into bread crumbs (I used plain bread crumbs from a canister)

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons grated lime peel

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup buttermilk ( I used regular milk and also juice the lime into the milk)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 1/4 lb)

Juice of one lime

Cooking spray

Salsa (from, but I just used Alex's homemade salsa and made guac instead... because I can't get enough guacamole)

1/2 medium tomato, seeded, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1/2 medium avocado, chopped (about 1/2 cup) (I made guac with 3 avocados)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon chopped jalapeƱo chiles, if desired

1 teaspoon lime juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray cookie sheet with sides with cooking spray.

2. Place cereal in resealable food-storage plastic bag; seal bag and finely crush with rolling pin or meat mallet (or finely crush in food processor).   (skip this step if you do what I did and just use pre-made bread crumbs)

3. In shallow bowl, mix cereal, cumin, lime peel and salt; set aside. Pour buttermilk into another shallow bowl. Dip chicken into buttermilk, then in cereal mixture, coating well; place on cookie sheet. Spray tops of chicken breasts with cooking spray.

4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170°F).

5. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix salsa ingredients. Serve with chicken.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mushroom Lasagna with Beschamel Sauce

This recipe is derived from a Giada D. L. recipe.  I did very few things the same actually.  My husband doesn't quite think its actually dinner if there is no meat involved, so I added ground beef and altered several other ingredients.  So lets say that I was inspired to create my own recipe.... from Giada.   And we loved it!  It earned 6 Markses!!!

9 lasagna noodles cooked
1 pint of button mushrooms cut in quarters
1 pint of cremini mushrooms cut in quarters
1 lb ground beef
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. tyme
olive oil
1/2 large onion chopped

Beschamel Cheese Sauce
5 Tb butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups of heavy cream
2 cups of whole milk
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup of bacon pieces or prosciutto
1/2 cup parmesan
1 cup italian blend shredded cheese divided

1. Chop mushrooms and onion
2. Cook onion with olive oil in frying pan until softened and almost transparent
3. Toss in mushrooms with garlic, cook until softened
4. Add salt, pepper, tyme and rosemary
5. After the mushrooms are cooked through remove to separate bowl and cover to keep warm
6. In same pan cook ground beef, mix with mushrooms and onions when done
7. Butter or spray bottom of casserole dish

Steps for Beschamel:
1. melt 5 T butter in sauce pan
2. add flour and whisk for about 1 minute until smooth
3. add milk and cream, whisk continually to thicken
4. add 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, pinch of salt and pepper
5. add in bacon or prosciutto
6. mix in 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (shredded) and italian blend cheese
7. Stir until cheese sauce sticks to your spoon 

In bottom of greased casserole dish add a ladel of beschamel
Layer across 3 lasagna sheets
Ladel beschamel on top of pasta
Layer of meat/mushrooms, repeat

After you have done 3 layers of the lasagna, sprinkle on the remaining italian blend cheese and bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees.  Use all of the sauce.  It will look like a lot but it really thickens up in the oven.  Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Steak Stuffed and/or Rolled

This recipe is one of mine, cooked by my husband always. Normally we take a nice thin cut of steak and roll up the spinach and cheese in it, secure with a toothpick, and then grill. However, last night Alex in his brilliance, made a steak pocket! Here's how it is done:

2 or 3 round steaks
One bag of Baby spinach
Asiago cheese
3 garlic gloves, minced

Pocket Instructions:
Using a knife, carefully slice through one end of steak, creating a pocket
Thinly chop spinach and mix with 1 cup of cheese, and minced garlic
Stuff spinach mixture into pocket and put 2 toothpicks in the open end to close
Grill or cook in pan to preferred "done-ness"

Steak Roll Instructions:
Choose a thin cut of steak or pound any steak you prefer to about a 1/4 of an inch
Rub garlic over steak
Put chopped spinach and cheese over steak
Starting at long end, roll up and secure with toothpick
Grill and then slice into 1 inch spirals and serve

We served it with cooked peel on shrimp and cooked carrots and it was an amazing dinner.  It earned our first 6 Marks score!!  That's right, my 3 year old and 18 month old ate it all!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday- Lasagna

1 box lasagna

1 cont. cottage cheese (small curd)

1 low fat cream cheese pkg.

1 jar of Prego (any flavor you like)

1 pound of lean ground beef

1 tsp. italian seasonings

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 bag of shredded mozzarella

Brown the ground beef in a pan with the garlic, salt, pepper and italian seasonings.

Cook lasagna noodles in seperate pot with salted water

In small bowl mix one cup of mozz. with softened cream cheese and cottage cheese.

After meat cooks add sauce and warm

Put small amount of sauce in the bottom of a baking pan to keep noodles from sticking and then layer, noodles, cheese, sauce. I usually make three layers. The last layer you put however much mozz. on top you prefer and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes with cover and then 10 minutes uncovered.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I'm Back!!

So sorry about the lack of recipes lately.  I'll make it up to you I promise.  While this is not a fancy recipe blog, or sponsored, or done by a tech whiz, it is run by a woman who loves to cook.  But that woman is in college and raising four young kids with her very busy husband.  Hence, the lack of recipes and cooking before, during and after finals.  But I'm back now.  Its almost Summer, so expect to see lots of hot weather recipes, lots of fruit and vegetables and things that don't heat up a kitchen.  This is my hobby.  I don't play the piano well, I don't scrapbook, or sew or knit.  I cook.  And because I am always forgetting the recipes I love... this blog was born and my hobby was expanded. 

Since there has been a distinct lack of recipes this last month, I am going to make it up to you by sharing my menu for the entire week.  If you would like my shopping list for said meals leave me a comment, note or an email: and you can cook along with me each day.  I'm a day late with this one, and its not so much a recipe as an idea for a very basic, very delish, very healthy meal, we had it yesterday.

Grilled pork loin chops:  only seasoned with salt and pepper
Grilled zucchini spears: on foil, drizzle zucchini with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, wrap up and cook on grill for about 15 minutes
Sliced veggies and dip: slice up a variety of your favorite vegetables, dip: light sour cream mixed with minced dried onion, 1 tsp. of minced garlic, 3 Tb minced parsley, salt and pepper to taste

Grilled Chicken breast with pesto-garlic crostini and sweet potato french fries

*1 tsp Mccormick grilled chicken rub
*Ciabatta rolls sliced open
*olive oil
*3/4 cup of pesto
*2 garlic cloves put through a garlic press
In a small bowl mix about 4 Tb of olive oil with pressed garlic, using a pastry brush, brush over rolls
Put bread under broiler until it starts to brown
In frying pan or on grill, cook chicken breasts that you have coated with the chicken rub.  If doing it in a pan make sure to add cooking spray or olive oil to the pan first.
When bread is done, remove and spread pesto onto bread add chicken, a slice of tomato if you wish and enjoy!

This meal is semi-homemade in that I purchased the sweet potato fries from Target!

Lasagna, which I've been told is fantastic

Hamburgers (the juicy secret is in the seasonings)

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia (of course I use recipes repeatedly when I love them) See archive for recipe

Grilled Chicken Strips and Veggie Pasta

Monday, May 10, 2010

Food For El Salvador

I recently decided to take my love of cooking to a whole other level.... or rather, country.  I will be traveling to La Libertad, El Salvador this Summer with my church, Church of the Open Door ( non-denominational) to work in a nutrition center that provides hot and healthy meals to the people of the area who would not otherwise be able to eat.  This area was hard hit by floods and mud slides last Fall and many "homes" were destroyed.  I put homes in quotes because what qualifies as a home in La Libertad, would not be offered to many of our pets as homes.  So, I will be joining a team to go and cook for the people, play with the children, translate when I can and share whatever I can.  If you would like to help support me in raising the money to bless the people of El Salvador, please follow the ChipIn link to the right and make a gift securely via PayPal.  Thanks!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Potato Salad

My Mom's Recipe. I wish I could claim it, but I can't. I've tried many places and have never found better. You may want to halve this recipe, it makes a ton! You are going to want to start this recipe early in the day or the night before. Not because it takes all day long to make, but because you need to give ample time for the potatoes and eggs to cool after cooking.

8-10 medium potatoes (also works well with red potatoes)
1 cup of mayonaise
2 TB mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
3 TB dill pickle juice (may seem strange, but it thins the mayo and adds awesome flavor)
1 tsp pepper
salt to taste, because lets face it, I never measure salt
3 Tb finely chopped parsley
3 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
1 cup coarsely chopped dill pickles
8 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped

Put whole, unpeeled, potatoes into a pot of salted water. Bring to boil and let cook until a fork goes into easily, but is still nice and firm. We're not making mashed potatoes after all!

While potatoes cook, prepare the dressing. In a mixing bowl stir together mayonaise, mustard, garlic, pickle juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper, parsley and diced pickle. These ingredients will go into the fridge and sit and meld all their flavors together while you work on the potatoes and eggs.

Boil 8 eggs to a hard boil and chill.

After potatoes have cooled take a knife (I use a pairing knife for this step) and peel the skins off the potatoes. They will fall away easily. Cut into bite sized chunks.

Remove shells from eggs and slice into coarse pieces or finely diced, however you prefer your egg. I love big chunks of egg.

Mix egg in with the dressing.

Shortly before you are ready to serve, toss potatoes with dressing.

p.s. I happen to really like sliced black olive in my potato salad and so I add that in, I think it compliments the other flavors really nicely. Also, if you like a sweet pickle better than dill, just substitute it exactly for the dill pickle and dill juice. I myself like to swith between the two every once in a while.

Enjoy Angela's (Mom's) Potato Salad and please let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Woman Behind the Recipes

Who is this crazy cooking lady? Well, go to my sister blog to find out!

Click here :

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Smothered Chicken

I did something wild and crazy and made this video for a recipe contest. I'm not sharing any more info on that until I find out if I was chosen or not... Please excuse my nervousness on tape... I'm not good at performing. I just thought you might enjoy my recipe.

Smothered Chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 pint of mushrooms washed and sliced
2 cloves of garlic minced
olive oil 1 pkg frozen chopped spinach
1 pkg of neufatchel cream cheese softened

Heat olive oil in pan, add in garlic and place chicken in.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook 5-6 minutes on each side or all pink is gone.
In seperate pan saute mushrooms with salt and pepper and keep warm.
In another bowl cook spinach and drain. After spinach is drained mix with cream cheese.
Place chicken on plates, with a dollup of spinach mixture on top, then place a spoonful of mushrooms over the top of that.
Voila Smothered Chicken!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cheesy Mexican Casserole

This recipe was born out of a high school Spanish assignment over 10 years ago. My teacher had assigned with plenty of advance notice to research and cook a Mexican or Spanish dish to bring to school. Having forgot entirely of the assignment until the day of, I rounded up various ingredients from my mother's pantry and Voila! Cheesy Mexican Casserole.

1 small can of diced green chilies

1 pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 cup of sour cream

1 can of mushroom soup

2 pkg. of refrigerated crescent roll dough

1 pound of cooked, cubed chicken

1 can of black olives, sliced

1 cup of mexican blend shredded cheese

1/2 cup sliced green onions

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 Tb. minced garlic

1. Unroll dough, do not separate, place in bottom of casserole dish so it is a little bit up the sides of dish, smooth together any cracks until it looks like a smooth crust. Prick with fork all over and bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 minutes or golden brown.

2. Next cook cubed chicken in a little bit of olive oil and minced garlic, salt and pepper

3. In mixing bowl, stir together chilies, sour cream, cream cheese, olives, and mushroom soup

4. When crust and chicken are done, mix chicken with cheese mixture and pour into casserole dish on top of crust.

5. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and green onion, bake for another 10-15 minutes until warmed through and cheese is melted on top.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sun-Dried Tomato Sub Sandwich

It feels ridiculous to post such an idiot proof recipe, I mean come on, its really just tossing a sandwich together with some fancy dressing.... from a bottle..... But the greatness was in the details and really it turned out fantastic. I needed a meal to make for the family that would be delicious, quick and thrown together in a jiff so I could dash out the door to class. And I didn't want to just slap two pieces of bread together, toss it on their plates and call it a meal. By simply taking a little more time with it, baking it and presenting it like it was the most amazing culinary achievement, I mananged to impress my family with a.... sandwich. I am now craving just writing about it.

Sun-Dried Tomato Sub Sandwich:

1 loaf of italian bread
1 cup of sun-dried tomato italian dressing
thinly sliced turkey breast and roast beef sandwich meat
sliced cheddar
1 large tomato thinly sliced
spinach or lettuce leaves

*With a bread knife, slice italian loaf lengthwise
*Lay open face on a cookie sheet and brush with dressing on both sides
*Put under hot broiler for 2-3 minutes, watch it so it doesn't burn!
*Remove from oven and layer meat, then cheddar, put back under the broiler for one more minute to melt the cheese a smidge
*Take out and add the tomato and lettuce
*Put the top on, slice, savor and enjoy!

~I doubled the recipe so there was plenty for seconds and leftovers for lunch the next day!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mini Lemon Cheesecake Tarts

*Photo and recipe courtesy of

1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed

1 egg, beaten

1/2 of an 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened (Don't skip the softening step or it will be lumpy)

1/2 cup prepared lemon curd (instead of lemon curd I used one 4 oz box of lemon pudding and 1 cup of milk)

1/2 cup thawed frozen whipped topping

Fresh raspberries or blueberries

Heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 36 (1 1/2-inch) mini muffin-pan cups.
Unfold 1 pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 12-inch square. Cut into 36 (2-inch) squares. Press the pastry squares into the muffin-pan cups. Brush the top edges of the pastry squares with the egg. Prick the centers of the pastries with a fork.
Bake for 10 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Using the back of a spoon, press down the centers of the hot pastries to make an indentation. Let the pastries cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove the pastry cups from the pans and let cool completely on wire racks.
Beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the lemon curd. Fold in the whipped topping.
Pipe or spoon about 1 teaspoon cheese mixture into each pastry cup. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or until the set. Top each tartlet with 1 raspberry.

*Mine turned out just like the picture and were absolutely delicious!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chicken Tacos

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning
1 cup salsa
1 cup water
Taco Shells

Mix taxo seasoning, salsa and water in a crock pot
Put chicken in and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6

20 minutes before you serve, use forks to shred chicken and leave in crock pot to absorb yummy juices!

Top with your favorite taco additions.

I used guacamole, cheese and black olives and it made me melt into a puddle of taco love.

See "Faux Chipotle Burrito" recipe for guacamole recipe!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Not-Quite-Fetuccini Alfredo

This dish has been a staple in my home for the entire 8 years of my marriage. It is super quick, inexpensive, relatively healthy and can be customized to fit your particular tastes. The "Not-Quite" part is due to the fact that I've never actually used fetuccini noodles for it. I use egg noodles or bow tie pasta most of the time. The majority of times I make it, it remains mostly meatless. But in the past I have added in grilled chicken strips, shrimp, and crab meat. All of my children love it, even my elusive 6th Marks!

1 box of bow tie pasta
1 small container of sour cream
1 can of reduced fat mushroom soup
5 cooked stips of bacon crumbled
1 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch DIP mix
1/2 cup of butter
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta per instructions on box
2. Drain pasta and add remaining ingredients into pan with pasta
3. Stir gently and warm through

~as I said above, at this point you can add in grilled chicken, cooked shrimp or crab pieces
~this meal almost always is joined by some crusty garlic bread and frozen green peas (cooked of course), it adds beautiful color to the plate and is delicious

Monday, March 22, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

4-5 bonesless, skinless chicken breasts
1 pkt. onion soup mix
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
Wheat sandwich rolls

In a bowl stir the onion soup mix, 1/2 of BBQ sauce, water and brown sugar together.
Spray sides of crock pot with non-stick spray
Place chicken in bottom of pot
Pour BBQ mixture over the top and cook for 6 hours on low and 3-4 on high
Depending on cooking temps of your crock pot, your dish will have a lot of liquid or not much. Mine had a lot, so I scooped all the chicken out and then added in about 1/2 cup more of barbeque sauce before I put it on the rolls.
Before serving use a knife and fork to shred the chicken and pile on rolls

Pasta Salad
I box of whole wheat penne
1 cup Lite Sun-dried tomato salad dressing
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
1 can of black olives, sliced

Cook pasta, rinse in cold water, mix in dressing, tomatoes and olives

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Favorite Recipes

A few noteworthy notes:

1.Today, no recipe. I have some waiting, ready to come out and wow you. But I want to know what is the food that makes you do that far off stare and smile crazily when you tell someone about it, the one that makes you salivate like Pavlov's dog or takes you back to your grandma's kitchen. Or things that you love to eat in the Spring.

2.Also, don't forget to give me some feedback if you are trying the recipes, I would love to know if you like them as much as me. I fixed my comment form so that anyone can leave me a message, You DO NOT have to join blogger to comment. Simply click on the "Anonymous" option, but please do sign your name at the bottom of your message. It is also possible to add my page as a RSS feed, honestly I don't really know how to do it or what that means, but if you click on the button on my page I'm sure you can figure it out. I think it sends any updates I have to your home page. For instance, on my yahoo home page I can add websites that interest me.

3. I am amazed and honored that I am getting visitors from overseas! It is thrilling for this girl who has only ever been to Niagra Falls, (does that really count as leaving the country?) to have visitors from the U.K., India, China, Canada, Ghana etc.!

4. If you want to be notified whenever a new recipe goes up you can email me your email and I can put you on the list to receive updates. It really goes without saying, but I will assure you anyway that I am not a junk mailer or spammer. Simply send a request to

5.I think that's it for today, except to say that I am going to be adding some desserts soon as well. As Jeb Clampett would say, "Whoooo Dogggy!" I LOVE to cook, but baking..... passion. Here's a teaser, Caramel Apple Cake and my version of Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Faux Chipotle Burrito

I was overjoyed when Chipotle opened a branch in my town. I rushed over on opening day, bought a burrito with everything on it, savored every bite, and then spent about two hours laying on my back willing myself to digest that huge amount of food. So, when I decided to attempt a version of my favorite burrito I decided that I was going to have to cut back on the toppings to a number that my poor digestive tract could withstand. I spent a good long while at the grocery store deciding on what would make it into the tortilla and what I would have to sacrifice for the good of my belly. I was optimistic though and I was right! It was delightful and delectable and a number of other adjectives that Fancy Nancy would approve of! So keep in mind that when you are making your burrito, you can add any additional ingredients you like. I was very sad that black beans didn't make my list, and perhaps next time they will.

Ingredient List:

One can of fat free refried beans
1 cup White rice
1/4 cup of Cilantro
1 Lime
1 pkg. of large tortillas
1 cup of chicken broth
2 avocados
1 clove of fresh garlic
2 Tb lemon juice
1 lb. lean ground beef (substitute chicken, steak, pork etc.)
1/2 tsp of cumin
salt and pepper
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese or mexican blend, pick what you like

Cook one cup of white rice in pot with 1 cup of water and one cup of chicken broth

Brown ground beef with cumin and salt and pepper to taste

Warm refried beans in a bowl in microwave for 2 minutes

Scoop out inside of avocados with a spoon. In a medium bowl add juice of half a lime, 2 Tb lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic minced, salt and pepper to taste (because I never measure). Mix and smoosh with a fork until it is well mixed.

When rice is done cooking, add minced cilantro and stir gently.

Spread beans on tortilla, then layer rice, ground beef, guacamole and cheese. Fold sides in, and roll up. Enjoy and don't be ashamed to lick your fingers. It's inevitable.

*Optional toppings I passed on:

Home made pico de gallo

Black beans

Diced green chilies

Shredded lettuce

Black olives

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Easy, Easy, Easy Roast Chicken

I've never cooked a turkey or chicken without a roasting bag, and had my doubts that this chicken was going to turn out dry. What actually happened though was that it was the juciest, most delicious chicken!

1 (3-pound) whole broiler-fryer chicken
1 tablespoon butter, melted
4 medium red potatoes, cut into quarters
2 cups fresh or frozen whole baby carrots
2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
12 small white onions, peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1 cup Swanson® Chicken Stock
1/2 cup orange juice
Brush the chicken with the butter. Place the chicken and vegetables into a 17 x 11-inch roasting pan. Season with the rosemary. Stir the stock and orange juice in a small bowl and pour half the stock mixture over the chicken and vegetables.
Roast at 375°F. for 45 minutes.
Stir the vegetables. Add the remaining stock mixture to the pan. Roast for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
*Recipe courtesy of Cambell's Kitchen
A Few of My Tips
*If you slice between the skin and meat and put the butter and rosemary under the skin it helps to seal in the flavor
*I didn't put the potatoes in the pan, but opted to make mashed potatoes instead
*I used one medium onion instead of the baby ones. Peeled it, sliced it and just tossed it in.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Creamy Tomato Rotini and Meatballs

I'm struggling with this recipe because I can't decide if I can label it "a healthy low cal choice" or not. I did use several healthi-er alternatives to the normal ingredients so lets just call it a 50/50. It was so over the top good. Unfortunately at my house I have what I will refer to as "Pasta Purists." They come by it honestly due to my Italian husband, but sadly for me it means that they don't appreciate when I swap in whole wheat pasta for the good white stuff. To that I say: Tough Noodles, eat it anyway!

*(I'm not too proud to admit I made myself chuckle with my own pun)

Without Further Ado, Creamy Tomato Rotini and Meatballs

1 bag of turkey meatballs (they sell THE most fabulously delicious ones at Aldi)
1 box of whole wheat rotini or penne or spaghetti
1 14 oz can of diced italian style tomatoes
1 can of tomato sauce
*using tomato sauce and diced tomatoes saves you on calories from spag. sauce
1 pkg. low fat neufatchel cream cheese
1 bag of fresh baby spinach
2 tsp. italian seasoning

Boil a pot of water seasoned with salt and add in rotini.
Cook meatballs per instructions
In a sauce pan mix tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and italian seasoning
After sauce warms, cut cream cheese into chunks and add to tomatoes, stirring until melted in
Add spinach to pot of boiling pasta for last two minutes of cooking and then drain.
Mix pasta/spinach, sauce and meatballs in a large dish and serve!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

So easy. So delicious. It even earned that elusive 5th Marks! That's right ladies and gentlemen, my three year old ate it!!!

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

Breading- 2 1/2 cups of italian bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt (or to taste)

5 or 6 tilapia fillets
olive oil (can be substituted with veg. oil etc.)
4 eggs beaten

Mix the breading ingredients in a dish. In seperate bowl beat eggs. Warm pan on stove with olive oil. Pat dry the fillets and then coat in eggs. Coat with breadcrumbs and then fry in pan about 4 minutes on each side. Tilapia gets a nice white color when it is done and flakes easily with a fork. Breading will be golden brown. If you want to plan ahead, bread the fillets early and put in the fridge. When you are coating anything like chicken or fish or pork chops, it fries easier and holds its breadcrumb better if it has been chilled. Its as easy as that. I made it with fresh mashed potatoes and frozen peas. LOVED IT!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chicken and Rice Casserole

This recipe comes to you courtesy of It is remarkable because I did not do anything to change it! I know, crazy huh? I always change at least one thing. I do have a suggestion though. You can make it more waistline friendly if you use brown rice instead of white, and leave out the cheese, which I did. Oh, I guess I did alter it slightly then.

As for my review:
Did you ever just have one of "those" days? My baby, who got sick one week ago today became unruly yesterday afternoon, so as I was sitting in the elementary school parking lot waiting for my daughters I decided to call up the Pediatrician and see if I could get him an appointment. They {unbelievably} said come right now and we can see him right away! So of course I did. Driving 30 minutes and all the time thinking, I'm never going to get dinner in the oven on time, before I have to leave for school and the kids need to go to church and make it to the drugstore if he needs a prescription. So, he does have a deep inner ear infection, two molars on the brink of slicing through his tender little gums, and a killer rash on his tush.

The point of my long tale is that I did get the dinner cooked, but not eaten. All I could manage was leftover pizza and tonight we will enjoy my delicious looking casserole. So I will tell you how it tastes tomorrow. Bonus double review, how it tastes and how it tastes reheated!

The Recipe
1 can low cal condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/3 cup water
3/4 cup uncooked white rice
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cup frozen mixed vegetables (use what you like or what you have)
4 chicken breasts (I put in 6)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (use low fat or none at all)

375 degrees for 50 minutes

Stir soup, water, rice, seasons and vegetables in a baking dish. Top with chicken. Cover dish and bake for 50 minutes or chicken is cooked through. Top with cheese and let stand 10 minutes. I would serve it with rolls or biscuits, but since it is really three dishes in one you don't really need anything.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mediterranean Roll

OK, I admit it: I renamed a recipe. Its more fun my way and while I not so patiently endure the American tundra, sitting at my dinner table imagining I am in the south of France enjoying my dinner and stimulating conversation from my 7 and 5, and 3 year old daughters, and a baby who is suddenly refusing to eat by throwing all food options on the floor.... well you get the picture. So without further ado, here's what's for dinner. A modified Pampered Chef recipe. Now, if you are like me and don't really like to be brave in ingredients or try different flavors together, I ask you to take a deep breath, be brave and just make it the way I write it. I promise you won't regret it.

One can of cooked chicken breast or 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken breast
1 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 Tb chopped fresh parsley (2 Tb dried parsley)
1/2 cup light mayo
2 Tb honey Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 egg white lightly beaten

2 pkg. reduced fat crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In mixing bowl combine, chicken, 1 cup of cheese, celery, cranberries, parsley, mayo, mustard and black pepper. Mix well.

On pizza pan or round stone take 8 crescent rolls (unfolded) and place on pan with corners touching, pointed outward in a circle. It should look like a big sun. Then take second roll of crescents and place them pointing inward, bottom part of crescent triangle should be lined up with previous triangles so they are touching.

Take an ice cream scoop or spoon and place filling in circle all the way around. Beginning with the last triangle placed in center of baking stone, bring point of triangle straight across filling. Next, bring point of opposite outside triangle diagonally across filling. Continue doing this all the way around.

Brush with egg white. Sprinkle with garlic salt and 1/4 cup Swiss cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

As always, you may need to double recipe depending on family size. This served 5 people quite nicely and we had it with a spinach leaf salad.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Recipe Feedback

I forgot a couple of important requests:
*If you try one of my recipes, please let me know what you thought!
*Share the recipe love with your friends if you find one you like
*Let me know if you find a "must cook" recipe, I love to try new ones obviously
*Link my site so that you can get updates, I will be putting up recipes more frequently and you don't want to miss out!

With that said, stayed tuned because last night I made "Mediterranean Chicken Roll." Oh yeah, you know you want some just from the name. ;) It earned 5 Marks'!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Enchiladas and Apple Crisp

Please excuse the recipe absence. Last week my husband was gone, I was sick, two kids were sick, and I was overloaded with homework. So, needless to say there were a lot of very simple meals and take out that weren't worth blogging about. But last night however... ooh la la. I made healthified Enchiladas!!! And boy were they good. And for dessert, simple and quick Apple Crisp with vanilla ice cream.


1 lb of ground turkey
1 onion chopped
1 box of frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup of light sour cream
1 small can of green chilies (I used half so that it wasn't too spicy)
1/2 cup of colby and monterey jack cheese
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp of garlic and pepper mix

Cook onion and turkey
Cook spinach in microwave with lid for 3 minutes then let it cook the rest of the way in with the cooked turkey.
Add in chilies, sour cream, cheese, cumin, garlic and pepper.
Spoon mixture into tortillas and roll up.
Drizzle salsa over the top of enchiladas in pan, sprinkle with cheese and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes uncovered or 25 minutes if you cover your pan with foil.

Apple Crisp
6 granny smith apples peeled and sliced
1/2 cup flour
8 graham crackers (2 1/2" x 5") coursely chopped
1 tsp cinnemon
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup butter melted

Place sliced apples in bottom of a deep dish baker.
In mixing bowl combine, crackers, brown sugar, cinnemon, oatmeal, flour and lastly the butter.
Pour over top of the apples and press down.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and smile as you take in the smell and taste. Your stomach will thank you.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tonight's Dinner?

Tonight is a family favorite. Sure it super delicious and sure it is super easy, but the best thing.... super healthy!!! You will LOVE this one. Double the recipe, trust me, you will want leftovers, and for sure if your kids are older than 6 years of age you will need to double it.

Black Bean and Corn Turkey Chili

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound ground turkey

1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons chili powder ****this is what the recipe calls for, but I reduce it to 1/2 Tb, so that it isn't spicy for my kids.

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic, minced

1 3/4 cups Swanson® Chicken Stock

1 cup Pace® Chunky Salsa

1 tablespoon sugar

1 can (about 15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 bag frozen or can (about 16 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained *** I use a small bag of frozen corn and just toss it in frozen

* Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, onion, chili powder, cumin, oregano, black pepper and garlic powder. Cook until the turkey is well browned, stirring often to separate meat.
* Stir the stock, salsa, sugar, beans and corn in the saucepan and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbling.

I am going to pair this with some delicious corn bread muffins. Enjoy!!!

photo is courtesy of Campbell's Kitchen

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cranberry Chicken Results

Yummm! This dish earned 4 out of 5 Marks'. My three year old doesn't like anything really, so technically it gets 4/4. I will continue to try and earn that fifth Marks' approval however. And my one year old didn't get any.

My husband and I were literally standing over the pan picking off bites before dinner and couldn't wait for the rest of the dinner to be ready. Also of note, there was plenty of sauce for at least 8 chicken breasts, so if you need to multiply the recipe, just add on chicken but not the rest of the ingredients. For whatever reason my camera cord is not working, so check back later if you want to see a picture of this dish.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Introducing Real Recipes for Real Families

Hello. Let me start by telling you why I am doing this blog. Like many people out there, I love to cook. I love watching cooking shows, reading cook books, magazines, know all of the Food Network chefs and and can whip up a mean lasagna. Here's the problem: I have a limited budget. Many recipes out there require ingredients that either aren't available in my area, or I simply cannot afford. I also however do not like to sacrifice quality, healthy meals for my large family. So I decided that as I make, review, revise and most importantly cook meals for my family of 6, I would like to share them with you. Whoever you may be.

The recipes that I will be putting up are admittedly often taken from what I have at a restaurant and I try to mimic, a cookbook that I find works better with some revisions and substitutions or from Food Network shows that I tried, or sometimes change to fit my family. So without further ado, Real recipes for real moms and dads who really have to cook on a real budget! Feel free to let your friends know about this blog who love to cook too or feel like they are "kitchen challenged!"

Stay tuned for tonight's meal: Cranberry Chicken!
Here's the recipe, I will cook it, take a picture and write a review tonight after dinner. (Taken from Kraft food magazine with my revisions of course)

Cranberry Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can (16 oz) whole berry cranberry sauce
1 8 oz bottle of catalina dressing
1 envelope onion soup mix

~Heat oven to 350*
~Place chicken in 13x9 baking dish, spray first with non-stick cooking spray
~Mix remaining ingredients and pour over chicken
~Bake 35 minutes and check for pinkness, add on time in 5 minute increments as needed. If you use bone in chicken breasts cook for 50 min.

*The first time I made this I put all the ingredients into my crockpot and cooked it on high for 4 hours and it turned out amazing! Tonight I will be making it in the oven because a crock pot is only a time saver if you remember to actually put the food into the crockpot early enough for it to cook.
*Spray the inside of your crockpot with cooking spray to help prevent sticking and burning!