Saturday, December 29, 2012

Southern Pulled-Pork Sandwhiches

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
coarse salt and pepper
3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 4 equal pieces
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 soft sandwich rolls, split
store-bought bbq sauce, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 with racks in lower and upper positions.  In a small bowl, combine sugar, cayenne, 1 tbsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper.

2. Place pork in a 5-qt Dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot; rub with spice mixture.

3. In a medium bowl, combine vinegar, garlic, and 1/2 cup water; pour over pork.  Cover pot, and place in oven on lower rack.  Bake until pork is very tender and separates easily when pulled with a fork, 2-2.5 hours.

4. Transfer pork to a work surface, reserving pan juices.  With two forks, shred meat.  Transfer to a large bowl, and toss with pan juices to moisten (you may not need all the juices).  Pile pork on rolls, and top with bbq sauce, if desired.

Food mag.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Really good recipe from Food Network- I put slightly less flour and just rolled them into balls and barely pressed them with a glass.

1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup additional to roll cookies
1 stick butter, at room temp
1 egg
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a baking sheet.  In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter.  Beat in egg to mixture.  Mix in pb and vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Stir in salt, baking soda and flour until well combined.  Roll dough into 1-inch balls and then roll in sugar.  Place on baking sheet and flatten with fork.  Bake for 12-15 minutes. 

Warm Spinach Salad with Fried Egg and Potatoes

So yummy!

4 tbsp olive oil
1 lb. frozen potato cubes
Coarse salt and pepper
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
2 bunches flat-leaf spinach (2 lbs.)
2 oz. parmesan
4 large eggs

1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium.  Add potatoes; season with salt and pepper.  Cook until potatoes are tender and browned 12-14 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine remaining 2 tbsp oil with vinegar, mustard and shallot; season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine.  Add spinach and parmesan (do not toss); set aside.

3. When potatoes are done cooking, immediately transfer to bowl with spinach and dressing.  Toss salad until spinach is slightly wilted and dived among 4 plates.

4. Heat skillet over medium and gently crack eggs into skillet without breaking yolks; season with salt and pepper.  Cook until whites are almost set, about 1 minute.  Cover, turn off heat and let stand until whites are just set but yolks are still soft, about 2 minutes more.  Top each salad with a fried egg and serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Hoisin Pork Roast

1 boneless pork loin roast (about 3 lbs.), tied
1 (10 oz.) jar hoisin sauce (about 3/4 cup)
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp chili paste
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp dark sesame oil
4 tsp cornstarch
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1. Spray the slow cooker with cooking spray and add the pork roast.  In a small bowl, combine the hoisin, garlic, chili paste, vinegar, soy sauce and oil.  Whisk in the cornstarch.  Pour sauce over the pork.

2. Cover the slow cooker and cook the roast until fork-tender and a thermometer registers 160, 3.5 hours on high heat or 8 hours on low heat.  Transfer the pork to a platter, cover with foil and let stand for 10 minutes.  Pour the cooking liquid into a bowl and let stand for 10 minutes, then skim any fat from the surface.

3. Slice the pork and arrange on a platter.  Sprinkle the scallions and cilantro on top.  Serve the Asian sauce on the side.

From Rachael Ray magazine.

Roastd Pork Loin with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Roasted Garlic:
2 heads garlic
2 tbsp olive oil

Pork Loin:
1 (3.5 to 4.5 lb.) boneless pork loin
Salt and pepper

Roasted garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 475.

For roasted garlic: cut the bulbs of garlic in half crosswise into a top and bottom.  Place the garlic halves on a sheet of foil, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Fold the foil up and around the garlic halves, making sure they stay flat.  Seal the foil into an airtight package.  Roast until golden and soft, about 60 minutes.  Keep the garlic in the foil and let cool slightly.

For the pork: place the pork loin in a medium, heavy roasting pan.  Season all sides with salt and pepper.  Place the pork in the oven 30 minutes after the garlic has stated roasting.  Roast until 140-145 degrees, about 30-40 minutes.  Remove the roasting pan from the oven, tent the pork with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes.

For the vinaigrette: remove the garlic from the foil.  Remove the cloves by squeezing the base of the garlic.  Place the garlic, parsley, and balsamic vinegar in a blender.  Pulse the machine until blended.  Drizzle the oil into the blender while the machine is running.  Add the sugar, salt, pepper and water and blend until incorporated.

To serve: slice the pork into 3/4-inch thick slices and transfer to a serving platter.  Drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the pork and pass the remaining vinaigrette alongside the pork in a small dish.

Giada De Laurentiis recipe.

Salsa Meatloaf

1 lb. ground turkey (or beef)
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 package dry onion soup mix
1 egg
1 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup salsa

3/4 cup salsa
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp ketchup

Combine all loaf ingredients and place in a loaf pan.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine all sauce ingredients.  Spread over meatloaf and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

1.5 lbs ground turkey
1/2 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs (or 1/4 breadcrumbs and 1/4 parmesan)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz. grated mozzarella cheese (1 cup)
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 375.  In a large bowl, combine turkey, spinach, onion, bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, egg whites, salt and pepper.  Mix well with hands.  Press half the mixture into an 8-inch loaf pan.  Top bottom half with grated cheese.  Press remaining turkey mixture over top and flatten to make an even layer.  Whisk together ketchup and mustard and spread mixture over prepared meatloaf.  Bake 1 hour, until top is golden and loaf has pulled slightly away from sides of pan.  Let stand 10 minutes, then slice.

Lighter Sesame Chicken

I can't remember what magazine I got this recipe from, but it's delicious!

3/4 cup brown rice
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed
1/4 cup corn starch
2 tbsp vegetable oil, such as safflower
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 1/2 lbs broccoli, cut into large florets, stems peeled and thinly sliced
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 large egg whites
Coarse salt and pepper
4 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Steam rice and cook rice.

2. Make sauce: in a small bowl, combine honey, sesame seeds, soy sauce and garlic; set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites and cornstarch.  Add chicken; season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat.  Add half the chicken; cook, turning occasionally, until golden and opaque throughout, 6-8 minutes.  Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining tbsp oil and chicken.  Return all the chicken to skillet; add reserved sauce and scallions and toss to coat.

4. Mix the chicken with the broccoli and serve over rice.

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

Gary loved this!  From MS magazine.

1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4)
2 zucchini (about 1 lb. total), halved lengthwise
1 tbsp chili powder
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
3 (15 oz.) cans black beans, rinsed & drained
2 small onions, diced
Course salt and pepper
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 (10 oz.) package frozen corn, thawed

1. In a 5-quart dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. 

2. Add zucchini, carrots, chili powder and cumin.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are crisp-tender, 6-8 minutes.  Add beans, tomatoes, corn and 1 cup water.  Simmer until slightly thickened and carrots are soft, 8-10 minutes more.

My Quick Clam Chowder

Not very healthy, but I loooove this chowder!

1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed cream of celery soup
1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed cream of potato soup
1 (10.75 oz.) can New England clam chowder
2 (6.5 oz.) cans minced clams
1 qt. half-and-half
1 pint heavy whipping cream
About 1 lb. potatoes, cut into small cubes
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 30 minutes.  Tastes great served in bread bowls!

Carrot Muffins/Cupcakes

These are delicious!

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups shredded carrot

Heat oven to 350.  Whisk flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  In another bowl, whisk oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Mix flour mixture into oil mixture.  Add carrots.  Transfer to muffin tins and bake for about 18 minutes.

Optional:  Top with this frosting.

I have not idea where I got this recipe!

Tuna Casserole

2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2- 6 oz. cans tuna, drained
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 lb. egg noodles, cooked
1 cup chicken broth

Saute onions in olive oil and butter with salt and pepper.  Add mushroom soup and chicken broth, stir.  Add peas, tuna and egg, stir.  Add noodles, stir.  Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and top with potato chips or breadcrumbs.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Molasses Cookie Sandwiches

These are always a huge hit- make for Christmas.

for cookies:
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

for filling:
1/4 cup (4 oz.) cream cheese
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange juice (I don't usually add this)
1/2 tsp ginger
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.  Set aside.  In bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar until fluffy.  Add molasses, egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until well combined.  Cover and chill 30 minutes. 

2. Preheat oven to 350.  Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in a bowl of sugar to coat.  Arrange 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten dough with bottom of a glass.  Bake 13-15 minutes or until firm.  Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack.

3. Filling: combine ingredients, mix until smooth, adding more powdered sugar as needed (should be thick frosting).  Frost bottom half of cookies, top with remaining cookies.

I believe this recipe is from Oprah magazine in 2006.

Jumbo Coffee-Cake Muffins

Gary loves these- very decadent!

for streusel:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

for muffins:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1  3/4 cups flour, plus more for pans
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

1. Prepare streusel:  In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt.  With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles large coarse crumbs; refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Prepare muffins: preheat oven to 350.  Butter and flour two jumbo 6-cup muffin pans.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter, sour cream, sugar and vanilla on medium until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined.  With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture just until combined.

4. Divide half the batter among muffin cups; top with half the streusel.  Cover with remaining batter; top with remaining streusel.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.  Cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.

From Food magazine.

Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Photo & Recipe from Simply Recipes

We love this for Christmas morning!

1 lb of pork sausage, (then cooked, drained, crumbled)
4 1/2 cups cubed day old bread
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
10 eggs slightly beaten
4 cups whole milk
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat a skillet on medium high. Break up the sausage into chunks and cook, working in batches if need be, until browned all around. Make sure the chunks of sausage have some space around them or your meat will steam and not brown. Remove the cooked sausage from the pan and let sit on some paper towels on a plate to soak up the excess fat. Crumble into smaller pieces.

Place bread in a well buttered 9x13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle with cheese. Combine the eggs, milk, dry mustard, onion powder and pepper. Pour evenly over the bread and cheese. Sprinkle sausage and optional ingredients over the top.

At this stage you can cover and chill overnight, if you want to prepare ahead. If not, let sit for 10 minutes before putting in the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake uncovered for about one hour. Tent with foil if top begins to brown too quickly.

Strawberry Shortcake on a Stick

I haven't made these yet, but how easy would this be?!  Store bought angel food cake, fresh strawberries, pop them on sticks and serve with cool whip...easy peasy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifles

Photo & Recipe from Baking Addiction

12 Biscoff Cookies, crushed into crumbs (I would use gingersnaps)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 large tub (12 oz.) whipped topping (Cool Whip), thawed, divided

1. In a medium bowl, combine Biscoff Cookie crumbs and butter. Divide the crumbs into the bottoms of your trifle glasses. Gently press crumbs to form an even layer of crust.
2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin, vanilla, sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Beat until well combined and creamy.
3. Use a spatula to fold in half of the whipped topping. Gently combine ingredients until no streaks remain.
4. To Assemble the Trifles: Pipe or spoon a layer of pumpkin cheesecake onto the Biscoff crust followed by a layer of whipped topping. Repeat layers until your trifle reaches the top of your glass or jar.
5. Store trifles in the refrigerator until ready to serve. If desired, garnish with Biscoff cookie crumbs.

Pumpkin Angel Food Cake

1 box (1 lb) Betty Crocker white angel food cake mix
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup cold water

Ginger-Cream Filling
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 350°F. In extra-large glass or metal bowl, beat cake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 1 minute. Pour into ungreased 10-inch angel food (tube) cake pan.

Bake 37 to 47 minutes or until crust is dark golden brown and cracks are dry. Immediately turn pan upside down onto heatproof funnel or glass bottle. Let hang about 2 hours or until cake is completely cool. Loosen cake from side of pan with knife or long metal spatula. Turn cake upside down onto serving plate.

In chilled large bowl, beat whipping cream and powdered sugar with electric mixer on high speed until stiff. Fold in ginger. Cut cake horizontally in half to make 2 even layers. Spread half of the filling on bottom layer; replace top of cake. Spread remaining filling on top of cake. Sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice if desired.

Pink Grapefruit Margarita

1 cup ruby red grapefruit juice
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
1 cup triple sec orange liqueur
3 cups ice
1 cup silver tequila
1 lime cut in wedges, optional
Kosher salt.

Broccoli-Quinoa Casserole

Photo & Recipe from here

One 10 oz can condensed Cream of Broccoli soup (or mushroom), low-sodium if you prefer
1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise 
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 cups reduced fat shredded cheese (cheddar, colby-jack, etc)
1/2 teaspoon Splenda/sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups cooked broccoli
1 1/2 cups  COOKED quinoa (see note)
Feshly grated Parmesan cheese
To cook quinoa:
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear.  In a small saucepan combine the quinoa, water, and salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until fluffy and the white ring/tail is visible.  Fluff with a fork.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a shallow (8×8 in or 5-6 cups) casserole dish – or individual ramekins – with vegetable cooking spray.
In a large bowl combine the soup, mayonnaise, milk, shredded cheese, Splenda, pepper, and nutmeg until well mixed. Stir in the quinoa and broccoli.
Spoon mixture into prepared casserole.  Sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of Parmesan and bake for 35-40 minutes (20-25 minutes for ramekins) or until bubbly on the edges and golden.  Makes 8 generous 1/2-cup servings.

Slow Cooker Meatballs

1 Jar of Grape Jelly, 1 bottle Heinz Chili Sauce, Pack of Frozen Meatballs.  Cook in Crockpot for 6 hours.

Dirty Shirley

Cherry Vodka, Grenadine, Sprite...grown up Shirley temple.

Avocado Hummus

Photo & Recipe from The Lovely Cupboard

1. Add the following to your food processor:
        -1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed
        -1 avocado, cubed
        -juice from 1/2 of a lime
        -1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of olive oil (a lower fat option: substitute oil for juice from the beans)
        -1/2 teaspoon sea salt
        -1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2. Blend until smooth

Creamsicle Martini

Mix Whipped Cream Vodka (Smirnoff), orange juice, and Sprite or 7up.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Warm Bean Dip

Photo & Recipe from here

I made this for NYE, and it was a HUGE hit- it is so delicious!

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 cans (16 ounces, each) refried beans
1 packet taco seasoning
2 cups cheddar or colby jack cheese, shredded (original recipe calls for 4 cups- that is way too much)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together cream cheese and sour cream in a large bowl. Mix in refried beans until combined. Stir in taco seasoning.

Spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray. Spread mixture evenly into the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with both cheeses.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese in melted and slightly browned. Serve with tortilla chips.

Layered Mediterranean Dip

Photo & Recipe from Annie's Eats

Hummus (I used one tub of the TJ's regular hummus- I believe it's 16 oz.?)
Cilantro Pesto (I used TJ's basil pesto- about 1/4 of a jar)
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
Sliced Kalamata olives
Sun-dried tomatoes (I used about 3/4 jar of the TJ's julienned sun-dried tomatoes)
Crumbled feta cheese (about 3/4 of tub)

To assemble the dip, spread a layer of hummus on a serving platter.  Spread the cilantro pesto over the top of the hummus.  Layer evenly with cucumber, red onion, olives, feta, and sun-dried tomatoes as desired.  Garnish with an additional few tablespoons of minced fresh cilantro.  Serve with pita chips.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Photo & Recipe from Pioneer Woman

I made these for Christmas dinner, and they were a huge hit...not at all good for you but so delicious!


  • 5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 3/4 cups Butter
  • 1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1/2 cup (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
  • 1/2 teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry's Seasoned Salt (I used 1 tsp. regular salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper

Preparation Instructions

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.
Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.
Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper.
Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.
Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

Cheesy Enchilada Casserole

Photo & Recipe from Six Sisters

I made this the other night, and it was really tasty- Gary loved it!  Ella liked it to, but of course, she wouldn't touch it until you picked out each and every tiny piece of shredded lettuce.

1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
1 large onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups salsa (I think I used 2 cups)
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian salad dressing
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning (I used about 3 or 4 tbsp.)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
6 flour tortillas (8 inches)
1 1/4 cups of frozen corn (I forgot to add the corn, and it was still delicious!)
3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
Stir in the salsa, beans, dressing, sour cream, corn (optional), taco seasoning and cumin.
Spoon a generous layer of meat mixture on bottom of 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
Place a flour or corn tortilla on top of meat mixture. Layer with half of the meat mixture, and cheese. Repeat as many layers as you like.
The last & final layer should be a healthy dose of grated cheese.
Cover with foil that has been sprayed with pam or other and bake at 400° for 25 minutes, or until hot & bubbly.
Let stand for 5 minutes before topping with lettuce, tomato and cilantro.

Saucy Asian Meatballs

Photo & Recipe from Gimme Some Oven

Meatball Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. ground pork or ground beef
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 cup Panko or breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced green onions
  • optional garnish: toasted sesame seeds, sliced scallions 

  • Asian Sauce Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, mix together meatball ingredients until well-combined. Shape into balls (I made mine about 1.5 inches, which yielded about 35 meatballs, but 1 inch is probably standard), and place on a greased baking sheet or in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until meatballs are golden on the outside and no longer pink on the inside. While the meatballs are baking, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients until blended. Once meatballs have finished cooking, you can either dip each meatball individually (using a toothpick) in the sauce mixture. Or you can pour the sauce over the meatballs and gently stir them until covered. Serve warm, and sprinkle with additional garnish if desired.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


1 cup minced onions
1/2 cup minced celery
1/3 cup minced carrot
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ground turkey (you could also use beef and/or pork)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup beef broth
2 tsp. fresh minced basil or 1 tsp. dried basil
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup minced fresh flat leaf parsley
10 oz. box frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 jar Trader Joes Tomato Basil Marinara
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups mozzarella cheese
2 boxes cannelloni or manicotti pasta (I used manicotti- just a few over 1 box)

In a deep skillet, saute the onion, celery and carrot in the olive oil for 5 minutes until softened and translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the ground turkey and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink.  Add the wine, reduce for 1 minute and stir in the broth.  Add the basil and bay leaf and salt and pepper.  Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer, covered, 15 minutes.  Uncover and reduce until almost dry.  Discard the bay leaf.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool.  Mix in the egg yolks.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan over moderately low heat melt the butter, add the flour and whisk the mixture for 2 minutes.  Add the milk and salt and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until thickened.  Stir in the parmesan and the parsley.  In a bowl, combine the meat mixture with the cheese mixture and the spinach.  In another bowl, combine the marinara sauce with the heavy cream.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Fill each pasta tube with meat mixture using a pastry bag.  Pour a couple spoonfuls of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a lasagna pan or casserole dish.  Line the dish with the stuffed pasta tubes.  Pour the marinara sauce over the pasta and top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.

La Bamba Casserole

1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies  
1 lb. ground turkey                                     
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp. chili powder                                                         
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt                                                      
2 cloves garlic, minced                                                       
1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 cups frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 (16 oz.) can fat-free refried beans
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped tomato                      
1/2 cup chopped green onions

Preheat oven to 375.  Arrange chilies in a single layer in a 9x11 baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add turkey, onion, chili powder, cumin, salt and garlic; saute 5 minutes, stirring to crumble.  Add diced tomatoes, cook 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates.  Spoon turkey mixture over chilies.  Top with corn.  Carefully spread beans over corn.  Sprinkle cheese over beans.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes; top with chopped tomato and green onions.

                                Turkey mixture

                                 I served it with tortilla chips

Banana Muffins/Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar 
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Make a well in the center of flour mixture.  In well, mix together butter, bananas, eggs and vanilla.  Stir to incorporate flour mixture but do not overmix.  Divide evenly into a 12 cup muffin pan lined with paper liners.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

If you want to turn them into cupcakes, try my "Sprinkles" cream cheese frosting.  I created it to mimic Sprinkles frosting.  It's definitely not exactly like Sprinkles, but it's delicious nonetheless.  You can make it different flavors by adding different juices and/or extracts.

1 1/2 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 tbsp. whole milk or cream

Beat all the ingredients.

Crockpot Chicken Taco Soup

This soup is DELICIOUS.  And so easy!

1 medium onion, chopped
1- 15 oz. can chili beans, undrained
1- 15 oz. can black beans, undrained
1- 16 oz. bag frozen corn
1- 8 oz. can tomato sauce
16 oz. (2 cups) chicken broth
2- 10 oz. cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1- 1.25 oz. package taco seasoning
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Shredded cheddar cheese
1 avocado
Crushed tortilla chips

Place the onion, beans, corn, tomato sauce, broth, tomatoes and seasoning in a slow cooker and stir to blend.  Add the chicken breasts.  Set the slow cooker on low, cover, and cook for 5 hours.  Remove chicken breasts from soup, shred the chicken, return to soup and cook for another hour.  Serve topped with cheese, avocado and chips.

Greek Shrimp with Orzo

 OMG, this is SO may be my new favorite dish.  I took it from a Rachael Ray recipe and changed it up. 

4 cloves garlic
4 tbsp. olive oil
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2  tsp. dried oregano
1 pound large shrimp
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound orzo pasta
1 red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2/3 cup kalamata olives, chopped
16 oz. grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 container crumbled feta

Bring a large pot of water to boil and boil orzo for 8 minutes.  Place shrimp in a shallow baking dish with 2 tbsp. olive oil, red pepper, 2 cloves crushed garlic and oregano and season with salt and pepper.  Let marinate for 10 minutes.

While orzo is cooking, heat a skillet with 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add red onion and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add 2 cloves chopped garlic and cook another minute.  Add olives, parsley and tomatoes and simmer on low to keep warm.
Heat another skillet over medium-high heat and add the shrimp mixture.  Cook until shrimp is pink and firm, turning with tongs frequently.
Place orzo in large shallow bowl and top with vegetable mixture.  Sprinkle desired amount of feta over vegetable mixture and top with shrimp.

*FYI, if you're trying to eat less carbs, this is still DELICIOUS without the orzo...just the vegetable mixture, feta and shrimp...yum!

White Bean Soup

This is the easiest recipe you'll ever make, and it is so yummy and healthy!  From Martha Stewart...

2 tsp. olive oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced (I used 4)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1- 14.5 oz. can vegetable broth (I used vegetable bouillon cubes and made 2 cups)
1- 19 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan (I liked it better without the Parmesan)

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium.  Add scallions, garlic and oregano; cook, stirring frequently, until scallions begin to soften, about 3 minutes.  Stir in broth and beans, cook until heated through, about 4 minutes.  Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, lightly mash some of the beans to thicken the soup.  Season with salt and pepper.  Before serving, sprinkle with Parmesan.

*This amount barely serves 2 people so you may want to at least double the recipe.

Apple Pie Cake

I made this for Father's Day, and Gary loved it!  It has a little more spunk than plain old apple pie. ;)
2 cups flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
5 lbs. tart apples (I used 3 lbs., and it was plenty- about 10 apples)
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

(1) In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon.  Using an electric mixer or a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture forms pea-size pieces.  Press 2/3 of the mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up the side of a 9 inch springform pan.
(2) Preheat oven to 350.  Peel the apples, cut into thin slices and place in a bowl.  Pour off any accumulated liquid.  Toss the apple slices with the remaining teaspoon cinnamon and the lemon juice and put them in the prepared pan, pressing down gently as you pack them in (they will mound above the edge of the pan).
(3) Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top.  Put the pan on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until golden brown on top.
(4)  Run a knife around the edge of the pan and let the cake cool in the pan to set.  Serve at room temp.

Spanish Style Meatloaf

Gary loves this...

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced (3/4 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced (1 1/3 cup)
1/2 small green bell pepper, seeded and diced (1/2 cup)
1 3/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. dried thyme
Coarse salt and pepper
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
1 cup grated manchego cheese (I used 1/2 c parmesan & 1/2 c shredded mozzarella instead)
1 to 2 slices white bread, diced (1 cup) (I used 1/2 cup bread Italian breadcrumbs instead)
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350.  In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high.  Add onion, garlic, potatoes and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and vegetables begin to brown, 5 minutes.  Add paprika and thyme, season with salt and pepper and cook stirring, 1 minute.

In a large bowl combine turkey, cheese, bread and egg.  Add vegetable mixture and season with 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Using your hands, mix until ingredients are combined.  Transfer to a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet; form into a 4x10 inch loaf.  Bake until meatloaf is cooked through, 40 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through.  Let rest 15 mins before slicing.

Sock-It-To-Me Cake

Super easy and much moister than coffee cake from scratch since you use a mix.  The only thing I change is that I omit the pecans because I hate nuts in anything! 

4 large eggs
1 c sour cream
1/3 c vegetable oil
1/4 c water
1/4 c sugar
1 package Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Butter Recipe Golden cake mix, divided (or really any yellow/butter cake mix)

2 tbsp of the cake mix
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.  Filling: combine 2 tbsp dry cake mix and rest of ingredients and set aside.  Cake: combine remaining cake mix and rest of ingredients in a large bowl.  Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.  Pour 2/3 of the batter into the pan.  Sprinkle with filling.  Spoon remaining batter evenly over filling.  Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cook 25 minutes.  Drizzle glaze (1 cup powdered sugar & 1-2 tbsp milk) over cake.

Three Olive Spanish Spaghetti

This is one of our favorite pasta dishes...

1 lb. thin spaghetti (brown rice spaghetti from Trader Joe's is great to make it GF)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 softball size chopped onion (about 3-4 cups)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. kosher salt 
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. ground turkey
1 jar marinara sauce (of course I use tomato basil marinara from TJ's)
1 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed green olives, kalamatta olives and black olives (1 c total, not 1 c of each)
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (I always forget to buy this so I used about 2 tbsp. dried)

Cook pasta according to package directions.  In the meantime, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion to pan; saute 4 minutes or until tender.  Add garlic; saute 1 minute.  Stir in oregano, salt, red pepper, black pepper.  Crumble turkey into pan; cook 5 minutes or until is browned, stirring to crumble.  Stir in marinara sauce, olives, wine, and parsley.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.  Add spaghetti to sauce mixture.  Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Flourless Chocolate Cake (True Food)

This is our very favorite dessert from True Food Kitchen- mine never tastes as good as theirs though!

 6 oz. dark chocolate, at least 70%
3 oz. butter
3 oz. almond butter
3 eggs, separated
6 tbsp natural cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Over a double boiler, melt chocolate, butter and almond butter.  Let cool.  Separate the egg and place the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add 3 tbsp sugar and beat until a light, pale yellow color, about 6 minutes.  Slowly pour in the melted chocolate and mix until combined.  In a clean mixing bowl, add the egg whites.  Whisk until frothy.  Slowly pour in 3 tbsp sugar and mix until soft peaks form.  Fold the whites into the chocolate/egg mixture.  Carefully fold until combined.  Spray 4 oz. ramekin or muffin cups with pan spray.  Pour the batter into the molds, almost to the top.  Bake in a 325 oven for 12 minutes.  Let cool before unmolding.  To serve, reheat in a 300 oven for 4 minutes.

True Food serves it with a caramel sauce, little toffee bits and a scoop of ice cream.

Cinnamon-Streusel Coffee Cake

Streusel topping and center:
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
coarse salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
coarse salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. whole milk

1. Make the streusel topping: mix together flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1 tsp. salt.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until small to medium clumps form.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Make the streusel center: mix together remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon.
3. Preheat oven to 350.  Make the cake: butter a 9-inch tube pan with a removable bottom.  Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 tsp. salt into a bowl.
4. Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla.  Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour.  Continue to beat until well combined.
5. Spoon half the batter into pan.  Sprinkle streusel center mixture evenly over batter.  Top with remaining batter, and spread evenly using an offset spatula.  Sprinkle streusel topping mixture evenly over batter.
6. Bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes (I had to bake it for 70 minutes because the streusel was so thick!).  Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.  Remove cake from pan and transfer to parchment.
7. Make the glaze: mix together confectioners' sugar and milk.  Drizzle over cake and let drip down sides.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

(Martha Stewart recipe).


1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray (you can also use a 9-inch baking dish).  In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder.  Stir in the rest of ingredients until well combined.  Poor batter into muffin tin, almost to top (I was able to make 10).  Bake for 18-20 minutes for muffins or 20-25 minutes for baking dish, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Crockpot White Chicken Chili

3- 15.5 oz cans of white beans, drained a little (I barely drained them), such as northern beans or cannellini beans
1 lb. chicken breast
16 oz jar salsa (I used mild Pace Picante)
1 tsp. cumin
8 oz shredded jack cheese (I used colby jack)
1/4 cup diced green chilis (4 oz can)

Mix all ingredients in a crock pot.  Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours.  About 1 hour before it's done, shred the chicken with 2 forks (I didn't even take the chicken out of the crock pot- I just shredded it right in the crock pot).

Monday, December 24, 2012

Lemon & Herb Roasted Chicken with Potatoes

This is my very favorite go-to roasted chicken recipe from Tyler Florence.


  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) free-range chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 1/4 bunch each fresh rosemary, thyme, and parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1-1/2 pounds red new potatoes
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Rinse the chicken with cool water, inside and out, then pat it dry with paper towels. Season the cavity with salt and pepper, and then stuff the lemon, garlic, and herbs inside. Place the chicken, breast-side up, in a roasting pan. Tie the legs of the chicken together with kitchen twine to help hold its shape. Toss the potatoes and onions around the chicken. Season the whole thing with a fair amount of salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Pour the chicken broth into the pan.  Roast the chicken and potatoes for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Don't forget to baste the chicken with the drippings and rotate the pan every 20 minutes or so to insure a golden crispy skin. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer says 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (the legs of the chicken should wiggle easily from the sockets too.) Remove the chicken to a platter and let stand for 10 minutes, so the juices settle back into the meat before carving. Serve with the roasted potatoes on the side.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are a knock-off of Paradise Bakery cookies- so yummy!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg and then add vanilla.  In separate bowl, sift or stir together flour, soda and salt.  Add to sugar mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and coconut.  Drop by rounded teaspoon or tablespoon fulls onto cookie sheet.  Bake about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This is a knock-off of the Panera BC soup.
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 lb fresh broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup carrot, shredded and chopped
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces grated colby jack cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter over medium heat.  Remove the onions and add in the flour, stirring constantly. Add in the half and half, milk, and chicken stock. Bring to almost a boil.  Add the onion and garlic back in, along with the broccoli and carrots. Simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes.  Season the soup with the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cardamom. Stir in the cheeses (and you can play around with the amounts; use however much or little you like) and let simmer for 10 minutes longer before serving.

Recipe from Sugar Crafter.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

Even if you hate beef stroganoff (which I though I did) and hate egg noodles (which I do), you should *still* make this is SOOOO good!  I served it over egg noodles that I had mixed with a little bit of butter- YUM!  Even Ella liked it (well, the noodles and sauce not the meat).
*I added a bit of garlic salt to the crockpot.

1 lb. cubed beef stew meat
1- 10.75 oz. can condensed golden mushroom soup
1 large onion, diced
2-3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup water
4 oz. cream cheese

In a slow cooker, combine the meat, soup, onion, Worcestershire sauce and water. Cook on Low setting for 8 hours, or on High setting for about 5 hours. Stir in cream cheese just before serving.

Baked Maple Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar

Photo & recipe from Lovin in the Oven
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten) 
  • 1 6 oz container of non fat organic vanilla bean yogurt 
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil 
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice 
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons real maple syrup 
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon 
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted) 
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl stir together egg, yogurt, oil, lemon juice, and maple syrup.oil. Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the hole. Gently fold everything together until just combined.
  4. Divide batter evenly into a greased 6 donut pan. The batter will be pretty thick and airy.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a minute or two and then flip over onto a cooling rack while still warm. Use a pastry brush to butter your donuts and then dip each donut in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat.

Asian Pork with Mushrooms- Slow Cooker

Photo and recipe from Skinny Taste

*Really delicious and tender.  I served it over brown rice, but I think it would be even better as an Asian taco like the taco trucks do.  All I would do differently next time is turn the roast over in the crock pot half way through cooking and not add the mushrooms (but I don't like mushrooms).  I would also probably not add the pork back to the sauce after shredding, but rather, just add the sauce to your rice and put the pork on top.


  • 2 lb lean boneless pork sirloin roast (aka pork center rib roast, pork center loin roast)
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Non-stick oil spray (I used Smart Balance spray)
  • 1 cup low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce (for gf use gf tamari)
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp agave (or sugar)
  • 1 tsp hot sesame oil (aji oil)  (or use sesame oil + pinch red pepper flakes)
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice (I used McCormick)
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger root
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella)
For topping:
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Season pork on all side with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Heat a skillet on medium-high heat, spray with a little oil and brown the pork on all sides for about 7 - 8 minutes.
In the crock pot, combine the broth, soy sauce (or Tamari), balsamic, agave, sesame oil, Chinese five spice, garlic and ginger; add the pork and set the slow cooker to 8 hours on low.
Thirty minutes before the timer goes off, remove the pork and set aside to rest a few minutes; add the mushrooms to the crock pot, cover and cook on low for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, shred the pork using two forks.
When the mushrooms are tender, remove about 1 cup of the broth and reserve if needed. Add the shredded pork to the crock pot and mix well. If adding baby spinach, add at the end and cover a few minutes until it wilts. 

Cilantro Lime Rice

Original Recipe from Skinny Taste

  • 1 cup extra long grain rice or basmati rice (I use white basmati rice from Trader Joes)
  • juice of 1/2 lime (I use 3-4 teaspoons)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 + 3 tsp vegetable oil 
Heat 2 tsp. oil in a small heavy pot and saute rice for about 3 minutes.  Add water and salt and boil on high until most of the water evaporates.  When the water just skims the top of the rice, reduce to low and cover about 15 minutes.  Shut off flame and keep covered an additional 5 minutes.

 In a medium bowl, combine chopped cilantro, lime juice, rice and remaining 3 tsp oil and toss until completely mixed.  I added additional salt to this mixture.

Barbacoa Pork- Slow Cooker

Photo & recipe from Skinny Taste

*If you forget to marinate the pork like I did, don't worry- I don't even think you need to...I just seared the pork on all sides then put it right in the crock pot with marinade ingredients and set it on high for 4 hours...I turned it over after 2 hours.

For the Marinade:
  • 2.5 lbs pork loin roast, all fat trimmed
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 6 oz Coke zero
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (unpacked)
  • 1/4 cup water
Step 2
  • 8 oz Coke zero
  • 6 oz can sliced green chilies
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder (to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (unpacked)

Season pork with salt, pepper and garlic powder and place in the crock pot. Add 6 oz of coke and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Marinate refrigerated for a few hours or overnight turning meat at least once while marinating.

Remove crock from refrigerator, add water, and cook on high for about 3-4 hours (or until it shreds easily). Remove pork from crock pot and discard any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork with two forks.

Step two: In the crock pot, combine 8 oz coke, green chilies, tomato sauce, chipotle chile, garlic powder, cumin, chipotle chili powder and remaining brown sugar.

Put shredded pork back in the crock pot and combine with sauce. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, cover and cook on high 1-1/2 hours more.

Bacon-Asparagus Strata

8 strips bacon, crisp-cooked, drained, and chopped
9 ounce package frozen cut asparagus, thawed and well-drained
3/4 cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, drained and chopped
12 slices dry white bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
3 cups shredded Swiss cheese (12 ounces)
8 eggs
3 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard or 3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Lightly coat a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. In a medium bowl combine bacon, asparagus, and red peppers.
2. Place half of the bread cubes in the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the bacon mixture and half of the cheese. Repeat layers with remaining bread cubes, bacon mixture, and cheese.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs with a rotary beater or whisk. Beat or whisk in milk, mustard, salt, and cayenne pepper. Carefully pour egg mixture evenly over bread mixture in dish. Using the back of a spoon, gently press down on layers to moisten all of the bread. Cover dish with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 to 24 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake, uncovered, for 50 to 60 minutes or until puffed, golden, and set. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

(From Better Homes & Gardens)

Chicken & Vegetable Enchiladas

After looking at about 50 enchilada recipes, I gave up and decided to make up my own recipe because I wanted them to be healthy and full of vegetables...they turned out delicious!!!
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 chopped yellow squash
1 chopped zucchini
2 garlic cloves, crushed/chopped
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1- 4 oz can fire roasted diced green chile (you can get these at trader joes)
1- 28oz can diced tomatoes
Shredded chicken from rotisserie chicken (about 2 cups)
2 tsp cumin
½ tsp chili powder
1- 8 oz can enchilada sauce
Shredded Mexican blend cheese (about 2 cups or as much as you like)
1 small can chopped black olives
12 corn tortillas

Sauté the onions, yellow squash, zucchini and garlic in the oil and season with salt and pepper.  Add the cumin and chili powder.  When the onions begin to get translucent, add the spinach, chicken, diced tomatoes and green chilies.  Simmer on low for 5 minutes.

*Optional: In the meantime, spray each tortilla with olive oil spray and heat on the grill for about 30 seconds per side and lightly salt.  This isn’t necessary, but we always do this when we make tacos, etc. because it makes the tortillas so tasty!  If you don't do this, microwave the tortillas for a few seconds so they are more pliable. 

Spread about ¼ cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x11 casserole dish.   Place a couple spoonfuls of the chicken mixture onto each tortilla, roll and place very close together in the casserole dish.  Top with remaining enchilada sauce.  Top with shredded cheese.  Top with a handful of chopped olives.

Bake on 350 for 15-20 minutes.

*If you want to make these vegetarian, just take out the chicken and add black beans and corn!

This is the amount of onion, squash and zucchini I used...

Once all the ingredients are mixed together...

Cover the bottom with enchilada sauce...

Before the enchilada sauce, cheese and olives...

Peanut Butter Balls

These were one of my favorite snacks as I kid...I just started making them for Ella, and I have to admit, they are still one of my favorite snacks- yum!!!

1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey (I put less than 1/2 cup- closer to 1/4 cup)
*Optional- graham cracker crumbs

Mix all ingredients by hand until well combined.  Shape into balls.  Roll in graham cracker crumbs if you like (I never do this).  You can eat them right away, but I prefer them after being refrigerated.

Asian Edamame Fried Rice

Photo & original recipe from Skinny Taste

5-6 cups cooked brown rice (2 of the frozen bags from the Trader Joes kind that comes in a box w/ 3 bags)
5 eggs, scrambled
1 tbsp oil + 2-3 tbsp butter
2-3 garlic cloves (or 2 tsp crushed garlic)
8 scallions, chopped, whites and greens separated
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shelled edamame
3 tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Scramble the eggs with salt and pepper and set aside.  Add oil and butter to hot saute pan and cook scallion whites, carrots, garlic and salt and pepper  and cook for 3 minutes.  Add brown rice and soy sauce and stir well.  Add egg, edamame, scallion greens and mix well for 3-4 minutes.

Bagin' Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Photo and recipe from Skinny Taste

Stop what you are doing and make these immediately.  They are low-cal, low-fat, gluten-free, easy to make, and absolutely DELISH!!!!!  Gary LOVED them (but please, no one mention to him that there is mayo in the sauce, or he will decide that they are gross!).


  • 2 1/2 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Sriracha (or to taste)
For the Shrimp:
  • about 40 frozen uncooked shrimp
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • oil spray

Combine the mayo, scallions, sweet chili sauce and sriracha sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.Soak wooden skewers in water at least 20 minutes (or use metal ones to avoid this step). Season shrimp lightly pepper. Place 5 shrimp on 8 skewers.
Heat a clean, lightly oiled grill to medium heat, when the grill is hot add the shrimp, careful not to burn the skewers. Grill on both sides for about 6 - 8 minutes total cooking time or until the shrimp is opaque and cooked through.
Set shrimp aside on a platter and quickly brush sauce onto the shrimp; serve immediately.

I made them with our favorite cilantro lime rice, which I make at least once a week.  Here are my photos of our yumtastic dinner. :)