Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

These cookies are vegan!  This was one of the deserts we made for our dinner party!  (Good thing, they offset my Bacon Cheeseburger Dip!)  I was a little skeptical about vegan cookies... I mean how could we make them without eggs or milk?  However, these turned out much better than I expected!  Yum!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies
All right, so these look gross in the picture, but I promise they're delicious!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

Ingredients
Dough:
3/4 Cup flour
6 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. cocoa powder
scant 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 Cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. agave nectar
2 Tbsp. soy milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. oil 
Filling:
3 Tbsp. pureed pumpkin
3 Tbsp. peanutbutter
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 330 degrees
Combine all ingredients for dough in a bowl and mix well.  
In separate bowl, combine filling ingredients. 
Roll dough into small balls and flatten.
Place a small scoop of the filling in the center of the dough and fold up the sides and fold around the filling.  Bake for about 10 minutes. 
Let stand 10 minutes.  
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Shape Magazine

Bacon Cheeseburger Dip

Today I hosted a dinner party with my friend Siobhan, and because she is vegan (almost) everything we made was vegan.  This dip was the exception... being the least vegan thing known to man.  Cheese, cream cheese, bacon, and ground beef?  Oh man!  Obviously Siobhan didn't have any, but I did, and it was delicious!
This dip is super rich, so it went well with the rest of our meal being vegan, but if you aren't planning on doing that, I would suggest loading up on the veggies!

Bacon Cheeseburger Dip

Cheeseburger Dip

Bacon Cheeseburger Dip

Ingredients:
1/2 pound ground beef
6 strips bacon
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup nonfat sour cream
1/4 cup light mayo
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. ketchup

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350
Cook ground beef over medium heat, set aside and drain.
Cook bacon in same pan until crispy, about 6-10 minutes.  Set aside and drain all but a Tbsp. of grease.
Add onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
Crush up bacon once cool enough to handle.
Add garlic and saute about a minute
Mix all ingredeints into a baking dish
Bake in oven 20-30 minutes.
Serve with tortilla chips or carrots

Recipe Adapted from Closet Cooking

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mexican Meatballs

Today I wanted to use some chipotle pasta I found in the store and decided to make some Mexican meatballs to go with them.  I made up the recipe, but used my mom's basic proportions and way of cooking so I didn't screw them up too much.  They actually turned out quite delicious and were great just with the pasta side, but you could also put them into some tacos for a yummy treat as well!

Mexican Meatballs

Muy Caliente!
Mexican Meatballs

Ingredients:
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 4 oz. can green chiles
1 Tbsp. cumin
1/2 Tbsp. chile powder
1 tsp. garlic
Pinch salt
1 avocado

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 400.
Mix all ingredients except the avocado together in a large bowl. Roll into palm-sized balls and place on greased baking sheet.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes.  Serve with a side of chipotle pasta or whatever you choose.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Tonight I thought I would get extra fancy and make one of my dad's favorite dishes, shrimp fra diavolo.  I know my dad wasn't here to enjoy it, but that's okay, Matt and I sure did!  I found this recipe on Pinterest, and for the recipe, I actually only changed the 1/2 tsp. oregano and basil to 1 tsp. of Italian seasoning.  It tasted great!
Also, because shrimp cooks really fast, the longest part of this conversation was waiting for the water to boil for the pasta.  A super fast weeknight dinner!

Shrimp Fra Diavolo


Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Ingredients:
8 ounces (half a box) uncooked linguine
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. Italian spices
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1/4 tsp. salt
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

Preparation:
Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain; keep warm.
White pasta cooks, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, add half the garlic and shrimp.  Saute about three minutes, or until done.  Remove from pan, keep warm.
Add remaining oil and onion to pan, saute 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.  Stir in remaining
garlic pepper, Italian spices; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato paste and lemon juice.  Cook one minute.
Stir in crushed tomatoes, salt, and diced tomatoes.  Cook 5 minutes or until thickened.  Return shrimp to pan to reheat.  Serve over pasta.
Enjoy!

Recipe Adapted from My Recipes

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Avocado and Tomato Salad

To go with my crab rolls, I decided I should use up those avocados I bought before they went bad.  I came across this recipe for a caprese salad with avocados in there, and thought, "how could you go wrong?"  My philosophy is that everything is better with cheese... and avocados.  Though the original recipe I found was yummy, I tweaked it a little, all of the fats from the avocados and cheese needed some vinegar to cut through it.
I will say that this does not store well, so if there's only two of you, cut the recipe in half, or invite some people over and have a party!

Add caption


Avocado and Tomato Salad

Ingredients:
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and cubed
3 tomatoes, cubed
1 ball fresh mozzarella, cubed
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
5 leaves fresh basil, torn
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:
Mix everything together.
Eat immediately.
Enjoy!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Crab Roll

Lobster Rolls are super popular in Maine and across the Northeast.  I decided to try my hand this week at making my version, using mock crab... because I got it for a dollar/pound instead of fifteen times that much.  Obviously, real crab or lobster is more delicious, but hey, I'm trying to make dinners for cheap!
The end result was pretty good, however I definitely would have liked it better with real crab or lobster meat.  Matt seemed to like it well enough however, he ate it all week!  (The recipe made a TON!)


Whoops!  I forgot to take a picture of it IN a roll, but I'm sure you can imagine what it looked like!
This goes well with Avocado and Tomato Salad for a complete meal!

Crab Roll

Ingredients:
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp. Low Fat Mayonnaise
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 scallion, chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 pound mock crab (or if you're fancy, real crab)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 hot dog buns

Preparation:
Mix all ingredients except hot dog buns, in a medium bowl.
If you would like, place buttered hot dog buns on a grill pan to heat them up.
Once heated, spoon crab mixture into hot dog buns.
Enjoy!

Recipe Adapted From Ellie Krieger

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Eggless Cookie Dough

So you know all those times when you really want to eat cookie dough, but you know you shouldn't because you know, raw eggs, and salmonella and things?  WELL, have I got news for you!  This is a recipe for EGGLESS cookie dough, one you can eat while making it and before popping it in the oven... or just eat the whole thing raw (like I did.)
The toughest part of this recipe is waiting the couple of hours for it to firm up in the fridge, though prep time was really only about 10 minutes.  This would be great for a girls night!
I will note that this does not taste the same as real cookie dough, but it doesn't taste like salmonella, so that's great!

Eggless Cookie Dough


Eggless Cookie Dough

Ingredients:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 cup dark chocolate M&Ms (or chocolate chips, or whatever you want)
Pinch of salt

Preparation:
In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar and butter until smooth.
Add the vanilla and milk and stir.
Add in the flour, salt and M&Ms.  Stir well.
Chill in the fridge for about two hours.
Enjoy!

Recipe Adapted from: Fun Foods on a Budget

Friday, August 31, 2012

Celery Bleu Cheese Salad

After I had my delicious Crispy Buffalo Chicken Tenders recipe picked out, I needed a side to go with them.  I had some leftover bleu cheese and some celery in the fridge, and at first I was just going to dip some celery in the bleu cheese, but then I found a recipe for this salad!  YUM!  This turned out very refreshing with the spiciness of the chicken tenders!

Celery Bleu Cheese Salad

Celery Bleu Cheese Salad:

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp. crumbly bleu cheese
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise (I used lite)
1/3 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 head celery, sliced in bite-sized pieces

Preparation:
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients.
Serve Immediately.
Enjoy!

Adapted from Food Network

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers

This recipe sounded super yummy and when I came across it on Pinterest, I wanted to make it immediately.  Then I tried it, and though a little time consuming, they ended up being the best chicken tenders ever.  I also think they would be great for kids because they are homemade, so you know exactly what goes in them!  (Plus, they are way better than any frozen chicken tender.)
Matt and I ate all of these... I actually ate most of them, but Matt helped.  We didn't have leftovers.  They were delicious.


Crispy Buffalo Chicken Tenders 


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pork Tinga Tacos

Today I had a job interview (wish me luck!), so I decided to throw one of the pork tenderloins I bought last week (BOGO, YAY!) The recipe I found was super easy, and it involved tacos, which are clearly the best thing ever, and my slow cooker, aka the greatest invention known to man.
I also liked this recipe because it had tons of leftovers!  Matt and I ate this for about three days afterwards, and it was still delicious!

Pork Tinga Tacos 
Pork Tinga Taco


Pork Tinga Tacos

Ingredients:
4 medium russet potatoes
2 pounds pork loin, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 tsp. dried oregano
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Corn tortillas, for serving
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, for serving
2 large avocados, cut into small pieces, for serving

Preparation:
Mix all ingredients, except for feta, tortillas, and avocados in slow cooker, being sure to mix the juices all around.
Cook for 6-7 hours on low.
To serve, heat tortillas on a plate, covered with a damp paper towel in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Scoop some taco mixture into tortilla, and top with feta and avocado.

Recipe adapted from: Everyday Mexican by Rick Bayless

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sausage and Balsamic Tomatoes

I have tons of sausage in my freezer.  It's a little silly.  Every time I'm home, I buy Gianelli sausage because they don't sell it here, so in turn, I have about a trillion sausages hanging out in my freezer.  (Okay, maybe not a trillion, but a lot.)  I found this recipe while I was digging through Pinterest and it sounded yummy.  Plus, it's so simple!  The best kind of yummy! (Extra plus, it made my house smell DELICIOUS!)



Sausage and Balsamic Tomatoes 

Sausage and Balsamic Tomatoes

Ingredients:
6 turkey sausages
1 medium white onion, sliced in 8ths
1 pound cherry tomatoes
4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. oil
1 handful fresh basil, ripped up
pepper
salt

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350.  Put sausages and garlic in baking tray.  Pour in oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for 15 minutes.
Take out the tray, add tomatoes and vinegar, put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes.
Stir in basil.  Enjoy!

Source: Kayotic Kitchen

Monday, August 27, 2012

Parmesan Crusted Fish

I have been on my own initiative to include more fish in my diet as part of eating healthier.  Fish is super good for you, has a small amount of calories, and is super tasty!
Okay, that's enough on the soapbox.  I found this recipe for parmesan crusted fish in my Mom's recipes and thought it sounded good.  It's been on my weekly recipe rotation for about three weeks now, but it always seems to be the one that gets bumped if we go out to eat or something.  (That's because I don't have to buy extra ingredients, it's based on pantry ingredients!)  Anyway, it finally got made this week! It turned out pretty good, though I think the fish I used could have been of better quality.  I probably would have liked it better if that were true, however Matt liked it!

Parmesan Crusted Fish

It's so crispy!

Parmesan Crusted Fish

Ingredients:
1 egg
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 pounds fish filets
1 cup parmesan, grated
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Preparation:
Beat the egg lightly with the garlic and pepper.
Coat the fish with the egg, draining off excess.  Roll the filets in parmesan to coat.  Heat the oils in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot.  Add the filets and cook until browned on one side, about three minutes.  Turn the filets over, and brown the other side, about two minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley and lemon juice.
Enjoy!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bacon and Egg Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese.  One of the first things I learned to cook by myself, and still one of the tastiest; it also wasn't supposed to be on the menu tonight.  I had planned to cook a pasta frittata, but I was home alone and didn't want to bother with something that elaborate.  Plus, when Matt isn't home, I can use as much butter as I want and not have to worry about his high cholesterol, so I seized the moment!
Now you might ask yourself where did that bacon and egg come from?  Well my friends, that is basically everything that was in my fridge... cheese, bread, bacon, and eggs.  Voila!  My (ridiculously good) breakfast grilled cheese was born!

Bacon and Egg Grilled Cheese
Okay, so the bread got a little too toasty, but it didn't taste burnt, and the runny egg and melty cheese were SO GOOD with it!

Bacon and Egg Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:
2 strips bacon
1 medium egg
2 ounces cheese (I used muenster)
2 slices bread (I used whole grain, obviously I'm very healthy)
Butter

Preparation:
Place the bacon in a pan heated over medium heat.  Once crispy, take out of pan and set aside.  Fry egg in bacon grease and cook until over medium. (So the yolk is still runny.) Set aside.  Butter one piece of bread and place that face down in pan, add 1 ounce cheese, the egg, bacon, the other ounce of cheese, and the other piece of bread (buttered face up) in that order.  Cook on one side until golden brown, flip and cook the other side until golden brown.
To serve: slice down the middle so the yolk runs out.
Enjoy!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

BBQ Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

So when I was making up my menu this week, I was really in the mood for macaroni and cheese, but wanted a new twist on my usual buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese.  I thought, why can't I do this with barbecue sauce?  So that's what I did. It came out really good!  Next time, I will add a little more barbecue sauce, or bake it a little less so that it's moister.  Yum!

Look at that cheesy goodness!  


I obviously couldn't wait to dig in, so I don't have a picture of the complete dish.  Whoops!

BBQ Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:
1 pound fusilli
1 pound cooked, shredded chicken breast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium green pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup barbecue sauce
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling.  Add pasta and cook per directions on box; drain.
Place pepper over open flame to roast.  Turn frequently until the outside is charred.  Wait until cool, rub off charred layer and cut into small pieces.
In a saucepan, melt 3 Tbsp. of butter over medium heat.  Sprinkle in flour, and whisk for 1 minute.  Pour in milk, garlic, and sauce, whisking until it boils. Simmer three minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in  8 ounces cheese.  Add pasta, peppers, and chicken.  Put in a casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Microwave remaining tablespoon of butter for 30 seconds.  Stir in breadcrumbs and sprinkle over cheese.  Bake 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbled and breadcrumbs are crunchy.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blueberry Torte

Though dinner for when Tara came over was only okay, dessert was rockin'.  (If I do say so myself).  Blueberries were on sale this week (buy one get one free!) so I picked up a couple of cartons and opted to make something with blueberries... plus if there's fruit, it's healthy right?  I also liked this recipe because I made it the night before, and then just added the blueberries right before I served it.

Look at those blueberries, dripping with sugar!

Simmering Blueberries!
I apologize for the half-eaten pie, we couldn't contain ourselves enough to take a picture of the whole thing!!

Blueberry Torte!

Blueberry Torte

Ingredients:
1 ready-made graham cracker crust (I know, I cheated a little!)
1 8-oz. package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 cup sugar, divided
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries + a handful of mashed blueberries
2 Tbsp. flour

Preparation:
Cream together cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla, and eggs.  Pour over crust and bake for 25 minutes at 325.  Throw the rest of the sugar, flour, and the mashed blueberries into a small saucepan and cook until thick.  Add the berries and cool.  Cool cake in refrigerator with berries separate if planning on serving the next day.  The berries may be spooned on top right away if planning on serving a few hours later.
Enjoy!

Source: The Country Art of Blueberry Cookery

Country Chicken

Today we had company over for dinner, Matt's cousin Tara!  I wanted to make something really yummy but more on the healthier side, so I picked this recipe from one of my cookbooks.  It turned out okay, but not as good as I would have hoped.  It also took a little longer to cook than anticipated because the chicken was still a little frozen when I started cooking.  Whoops!  Good thing there was good conversation to be had while we waited!

Country Chicken
Country Chicken

Ingredients:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons butter
3.5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large zucchini, sliced
2 large green peppers, sliced
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup white wine

Preparation:
In a large skillet, brown the chicken in butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Place onion in pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook slowly about 15 minutes.
In another skillet, heat 1.5 tablespoons olive oil and saute zucchini and peppers until soft (about 10 minutes).  Sprinkle with basil.  Transfer veggies to skillet with chicken and pour in wine.  Simmer, covered, about 15 minutes, or until chicken is very tender and veggies are cooked.
Enjoy!

Source: The Culinary Arts Institute Cookbook

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chicken Stir Fry

So I probably should have decided what I wanted to cook for dinner with the chicken I pulled out sooner than 10 minutes before I decided to start cooking.  That way, I could have actually marinated my chicken, but a quick marinade had to do for today, whoops!  However, I was really excited to use my electric wok for the first time!  I felt super fancy!  I also should have read the directions a little better because it said to wipe off the chicken before throwing it into the wok, which I didn't do, but then it burned onto the wok.  Then, after I threw the water in to steam everything, the burnt part came off and came into the food flavor.  Oh well, now I know for next time!  All in all, the meal came out pretty good, plus the Quick Pickled Cucumbers I made were a lovely crisp bite in between.  Super easy for summer!

Chicken Stir Fry

Chicken Stir Fry

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon white wine
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed
1 frozen package broccoli florets
1 medium zucchini
2 tablespoons water
2 cloves minced garlic

Preparation:
Combines soy sauce, wine, and sugar in medium bowl.  Add chicken and refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes.  Remove chicken and pat dry.
Cook broccoli one minute less than directions on package.
Warm a wok (if you have one) or a deep frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add 2 teaspoons of oil and heat.  Add half of chicken, cook without stirring for 1 minute, then stir and cook until browned.  Transfer chicken to clean bowl. Heat 2 teaspoons oil and repeat with remaining chicken.
Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and heat.  Add broccoli and zucchini.  Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to just soften, 2 to 4 minutes.  Add water and continue to cook vegetables until vegetables are crisp and tender, 1 to 2 minutes more.  Push vegetables to side of pan, add garlic to the center and cook for 15-30 seconds.  Return vegetables to center and combine.  Return chicken and any juices; stir to combine.  Pour in broth.  Cook, stirring constantly; until chicken is cooked through.

Quick Pickled Cucumbers


Cucumbers are not my favorite vegetable.  Actually, I almost never eat them unless they are in something.  Actually, I always pick them out and only eat them in tzatziki and as pickles.  Oh well, I like other vegetables, so give me a break!  However when I was home, my uncle gave me a bunch of vegetables from his garden and that included two cucumbers.  When I got back to my apartment, I thought, what in the world do I do with these?  One became tzatziki and the other was turned into this delicious Asian-inspired recipe for Quick Pickled Cucumbers.  Yum!  I thought they would be a nice light addition to my stir fry!

Soaking in all their glory!
Quick Pickled Cucumbers
Quick Pickled Cucumbers:

Ingredients:
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 thinly sliced english cucumber

Preparation:
Combine all ingredients except cucumber in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; add cucumber.  Let stand 30 minutes (or longer for deeper flavor).  Drain.
Enjoy!

Source: Cooking Light

Friday, July 20, 2012

Golf Cupcakes

Every year at the lake we live on, there is a golf tournament.  My sister, Alyssa, wanted to make cupcakes to commemorate the event, so I decided to try my hand at being sous chef, and help her out.  We made a simple chocolate cupcake (and cheated a little) and used canned frosting.  However, we were more excited about the look.  We rolled half the cupcake in crushed graham crackers to signify  "sand traps," we rolled the other half in green sanding sugar, cut some straws and used cut pieces of paper for the flags, and used big white pearl sprinkles for golf balls.

They look like "Holes-in-One" to me!
Everyone loved them!  Well, except my Dad, the avid golfer he is, informed Alyssa and I that
having a sand trap that close to the hole wouldn't happen and therefore they weren't accurate.  We told him we weren't going for accurate, we were going for cute!  

Golf Cupcakes 
Clearly we succeeded. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cake Batter Fudge

I really was in the mood for something sweet today, but I had limited ingredients and didn't want to turn on the oven.  Voila, this recipe fit the bill!  (Plus, it had me at "cake batter.")
I of course was so excited to make the fudge and realized too late that I didn't have any yellow cake mix, so I decided to give it a go with chocolate.  It turned out super yummy!  (Though my sister, Alyssa informed me that it would have been better with vanilla!)
The website also didn't say what size pan to use, so mine turned out a little thin... but that's fine because I didn't feel as guilty eating it!  Perfect!

Source: Girl Meets Life
Soundtrack: Cary Brothers

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Taco Pizza

Today I decided to try my hand at another kind of pizza, taco pizza!  Giving Matt and I's affinity to Mexican food, this seemed like a perfect way to get my pizza fix in too.  I did cheat a bit and use a store-bought pizza dough for this, but I was busy this week and didn't have time to make my own!
First I browned the meat with a packet of taco seasoning.  After that,  I rolled out the dough (with my homemade rolling pin... an empty wine bottle) and spread it onto a cookie sheet.  I topped the dough with  salsa (as the sauce), the ground beef, one pepper and some fresh mozzarella.  I only used the fresh mozzarella because I needed to use it before it went bad, but you can use any cheese!

Before going in the oven
 I popped the pizza in the oven and and waited for it to come out bubbly and delicious (which it was!)  After it came out, I topped it with fresh tomatoes and fresh cilantro.  The cilantro really made it.  I can't stress enough how much better this pizza came out because of it!  I try to use fresh herbs whenever I can because of how much BETTER they make everything!!

Taco Pizza 
Anyway, though the pizza tasted super delicious, next time I would make a thicker crust because it didn't stand up to the sauce and extra liquid from the tomatoes.  It was fine for dinner, but the leftovers I had for lunch the next day I had to eat with a fork.  Oh well, it was still super yummy!

Taco Pizza

Ingredients:
1 pound pizza dough (homemade or store-bought)
1 pound ground beef
1  medium bell pepper, diced (whatever color you would like!)
1 packet taco seasoning (or your favorite taco seasonings)
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese (or whatever you have on hand)
1 cup salsa
fresh cilantro, chopped, to taste

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425.
Add a tablespoon of oil to a skillet.
Once hot, add the ground beef and taco seasoning.
While the beef is browning, spread flour onto a clean countertop and roll out the pizza dough with a rolling pin (or wine bottle!).  Spread to desired thickness.
Move dough to greased cooking sheet.  Add salsa, then layer with cheese, ground beef, and peppers.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
After you take out the pizza, top with tomatoes and cilantro.
Enjoy!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Zucchini Glop

Today I decided to make an old stand by in my family, "zucchini glop."  I'm not really sure where the "glop" part came from, but probably it's because that's what it looks like.  In my house, we usually just shorten the name to "glop."  My Mom usually serves this as a side dishm but you can easily make it a main course by serving it with crusty bread to dip in the sauce or with rice or couscous.
Also, this only gets better the next day.  I like to make this the day before I plan to serve it so the flavors really develop.


Zucchini Glop

Zucchini Glop

Ingredients:
1 pound Italian sausage (I used hot) or 1 pound ground beef, cut into rounds
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 ounce jar tomato sauce
2 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preparation:
In a medium saucepan, brown the sausage over medium heat.
After it is browned, add all of the vegetables and the sauce.
Cook for about 15 minutes, covered, or until the zucchini is kind of see-through in the middle.
Remove from heat and add the cheese.
Enjoy!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Today I really wanted buffalo chicken flavor, but I had taco shells in the fridge, so I decided to marry the two and make buffalo chicken tacos.  I also decided to make them in the crockpot, so I put the chicken, 2 stalks of celery, a handful of carrots, a pepper, a cup of hot sauce, and a half cup of ranch dressing.  I put it on low and cooked everything for about 5 hours.  After 5 hours, I took the chicken out and shredded it, then put it back in the crock pot.  I let that stay in there, just as long as it took to heat some taco shells, set the table, and pour some drinks.

Buffalo Chicken Tacos 
After I set the table, I scooped out the chicken mixture, and topped each taco with bleu cheese and fresh cilantro.  They were so good!  They did turn out quite spicy though, so if you don't like spice too much, you could cook the chicken and vegetables in half a cup hot sauce, half a cup chicken stock, and half a cup ranch dressing.  You could also use bleu cheese dressing instead of the ranch and any other shredded cheese instead of the bleu!  Yay for options!

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
6 (approx.) soft taco shells
1 bell pepper, julienned
2 stalks celery, julienned
1/2 cup carrots, julienned
1/2 cup ranch or bleu cheese dressing
1 cup Frank's Red Hot (or 1/2 cup + 1/2 cup chicken stock)
1/4 cup bleu cheese
Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Directions:
Place chicken, vegetables, hot sauce, and dressing in crock pot.  Cook on low for approximately 5 hours.  Take chicken out and shred it with two forks.  Place back in crock pot.  Heat tortilla shells in microwave according to packaging.  Fill taco shell with approximately 1 scoop of chicken mixture, top with bleu cheese and garnish with cilantro.  Serve with rice if you want.  (Knorr makes buffalo chicken rice.)
Enjoy!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Since I have been trying to cook one seafood dish a week, I decided to try my hand at tuna noodle casserole.  Though I have no recollections of my mom making this, I feel as though this is an iconic American dinner.  I found a recipe in a cookbook my Aunt bought me for Christmas which sounded delicious!  My first predicament came when I realized the cookbook was printed in England, which meant  things like ounces instead of tablespoons.  After I figured out all of the measurements, I followed the recipe except I switched cream of mushroom soup for cream of celery because mushrooms are gross!  I also guessed on the amount of egg noodles (it called for 7 ounces!), and I think I ended up using a little too much, but it tasted good anyway so I wasn't worried.
I tried to make this a little bit healthier for Matt and I, so I used 75% reduced fat cheese, 98% reduced fat cream of celery, Smart Balance instead of butter, and plenty of fresh vegetables.



After taking it out of the oven, it said to let it cool for five minutes, but Matt and I could only wait two because it smelled so good... and it tasted just as good!  Delicious!

Source: "Comfort Foods"
Soundtrack: Buddy Holly

Friday, April 20, 2012

Turkey Noodle Soup

Obviously I needed a way to use some of the turkey leftovers because Matt and I can't eat 11 pounds of turkey meat before it would go bad.  I decided to transform some of it into turkey noodle soup, especially because my stomach had been upset, and what's better than chicken noodle soup?  (Or I suppose in this case, turkey noodle soup.)
This was a very easy soup to make.  First, I put one box of frozen mixed vegetables in the crockpot, celery, then added 4 cups of chicken stock, a couple cups of turkey, some parsley, salt, and pepper.  About an hour before I was ready to eat, I added some spiral noodles.  After they had cooked for a half an hour, I added two more cups of broth, as the noodles had sucked up a bunch of the broth.  I let it cook another half and hour, and it came out great!

Turkey Noodle Soup
Turkey Noodle Soup

Ingredients:
1 box of frozen mixed vegetables (I used one with corn, carrots, and peas)
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups cooked turkey (or chicken)
1 cup uncooked spiral pasta
6 Cups Chicken Stock
Parsley
Pepper
Salt

Preparation:
Turn Crockpot on low
Add vegetables, turkey, 4 cups of broth, and seasonings to taste.
Let cook for four hours (actually it doesn't really matter how long you cook this, as long as it's hot)
About 1 hour before you're ready to eat, add the remaining broth and the noodles.  Let cook one hour and you're ready to eat!
Enjoy!



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pepper and Onion Calzones

I've been trying to cook one vegetarian meal a week to cut down on cholesterol for Matt and I.  This week, I decided to do that with some pepper and onion calzones.  (Well, honestly, the cheese probably negates the meatlessness, but at least I didn't have both!)
First, I sauteed the peppers and onions with some garlic for a few minutes in a frying pan, just to make sure they cooked all the way through.  After that, I decided to roll out the herb dough I bought at Trader Joe's (I know, cheating) on the counter.  I spread the flour out on the counter to roll it out that I don't have a rolling pin... wine bottle it was!  After it was an adequate size, I filled half of the dough with the peppers, onions, some ricotta, and fresh mozzarella.  (Note, in the picture, you can see that I didn't leave room around the edges, make sure you do that if you make these, it will make folding it over so much easier!!)

Filling the calzone
Once filled, I folded the empty half over onto the full half, closed it up, sprayed the outside with cooking spray, and transferred it to the oven.

Calzone!
 I cooked it for 35 minutes (for wheat dough!) on 400 and then enjoyed it when done!



Pepper and Onion Calzone
Pepper and Onion Calzones

Ingredients:
1 package pizza dough (or you can make one batch of your own!)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
4 ounces fresh mozzarella
Toppings of choice (I used 1 green pepper and one onion)
Cooking Spray or olive oil

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook your calzone filling to about half cooked.  (Unless it's meat, then cook it through.)
Meanwhile, spread some flour onto your counter.  Take your rolling pin (or bottle of wine!) and spread out to about 3/4 length of a cookie sheet, just make sure you don't make it too thin.
After that, add ricotta to half of your dough, making sure not to go all the way to the edges.  After that, add the filling and top with mozzarella.
Fold empty dough half on top of filled dough half.
To seal the calzone, fold bottom extra dough edges (aren't you glad you didn't put the filling all the way to the edge!) over the top of the top layer.  Once you work all the way around, transfer to a greased cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 30 minutes (add 5-10 minutes for wheat dough) on 400.
When you take it out, let it rest for about five minutes and serve with a side of marinara sauce.
Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sausage Sandwiches

Today I wanted to make a quick dinner, so I decided to make sausage sandwiches.  Some of my two favorite things are sausage and beer, so I decided to combine the two in this super easy recipe!  I poured one can of beer (I used Labbat Blue, but you can use whatever you want) and added the sausage.  Then I covered it and cooked it for about 10 minutes.  After that, I added chopped peppers and onions and cooked those in the beer as well.  After another 10 minutes, I toasted the bread and served the sandwiches!

Sausage, peppers, and onions cooking away
Sausage Sandwich

Sausage Sandwiches:

Ingredients:
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 Hot or Mild Italian sausage links
1 can beer
4 kaiser rolls

Preparation:
Pour can of beer into frying pan and add sausage.  Cook for 10 minutes, covered.  Uncover and add vegetables.  Cook for another 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
While cooking the veggies, put rolls in the microwave or about 15 seconds to warm them up.
Once everything is cooked, put into sandwiches and enjoy!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spaghetti Cupcakes

Have you ever cooked a big Italian meal and decided you needed a dessert to go with it, but couldn't decide what to cook?  Well, here's the perfect solution, spaghetti cupcakes!  Okay, they're not real spaghetti, but they sure do look like a big platter of spaghetti and meatballs! (Plus, they're really easy!)
First, make your favorite white or yellow cupcakes and your favorite vanilla frosting.  (We actually were going to use boxed for both, but didn't have any, so we made both from scratch!)
After the cupcakes are cool, the fun part comes!  Arrange 11 of them on a platter.  Frost a thin layer of frosting on each cupcake before putting the spaghetti on.  Put your frosting into a piping bag, or if you're like me and don't have a piping bag, cut the corner of a baggie and use that, just make sure your frosting is thick enough to withstand the piping process.  Also, make sure to make the "spaghetti" isn't perfect, just like real spaghetti would be.  After you put down the layer of spaghetti, roll the Ferrero Rocher candies in some of your favorite red jelly for the "sauce."  We used strawberry, but you could use raspberry if that's what you have on hand.  After that, put one candy on each cupcake as the "meatballs" and leave a couple of extras on the plate, as if they rolled off.  Sprinkle with some shredded coconut for the "parmesan." Now you're ready to enjoy!


I should also note that I was the sous chef for this recipe, as my sister did most of the actual cooking :)

Ingredients for Toppings:
Frosting*
*If frosting is too runny, add more powdered sugar
12 Ferrero Rocher Candies
Strawberry or Raspberry Jelly, enough to cover the candy
Shredded Coconut, just a couple pinches

Monday, February 20, 2012

Kitchen Sink Spaghetti

Today Matt and I decided we wanted spaghetti, but I also needed to use up a bunch of vegetables that were about to spoil, so I did both.  I did cheat a little bit and use frozen meatballs (which I hate doing because they don't taste anything like homemade meatballs), but I had to work today, so give me a break!
First, I sauteed eggplant in a pan with a little olive oil.  Matt hates undercooked eggplant, so I made sure to do that one first.  That eggplant was actually frozen from before Christmas, so I actually had to squish the water it had retained out of it before going in the pan.  Once that was cooked enough, I added it to my sauce.  Then I sauteed garlic, onion, zucchini, and carrots until they were done and in the pan they went.
My sauce was comprised of sauce leftover from my chicken, sausage, and white bean casserole along with two half jars of different pre-made sauce, and a lot of extra garlic powder from me.  After I added all of the vegetables, I cooked the sauce long enough for the meatballs to unfreeze, and it was ready to eat!
It turned out delicious!  The only thing I would have changed was to cook the carrots longer.  Also, it would have been even more delicious with homemade meatballs, but what can you do?  I really liked all of the vegetables in it!

Kitchen Sink Spaghetti 

Kitchen Sink Spaghetti

Ingredients:
1 pound spaghetti
1 box frozen meatballs (if you have time, make your own!)
1 zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces*
1 onion, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium eggplant, chopped into 1/2 ince pieces*
1/2 cup chopped carrots *
1 jar pasta sauce
Garlic powder
Italian Seasoning
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
Saute all vegetables in olive oil over medium heat.  Sprinkle with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.  Add to sauce.  Add meatballs to sauce.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on the package.
Once the pasta is done and meatballs are cooked through, combine and enjoy!
*All vegetables are just suggestions, feel free to use whatever you have on hand and tell me what you used!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mediterranean Pasta

Today I basically Re-created the Mediterranean pasta I made last week, except I added roasted red peppers and chicken to make it a non-vegetarian meal.  I also used spiral pasta instead of linguini.
So, first I cooked the chicken with salt and pepper.  Then I added garlic and a bag of spinach.  I added feta and roasted red peppers to the bowl, then the chicken and spinach.  Finally I added the pasta and some olive oil.


Mediterranean Pasta 
Mediterranean Pasta:

Ingredients:
1 large bag spinach
Half jar of roasted red peppers, cut into bite sized pieces
1 lb. pasta (whatever shape you would like)
1 container feta
2 chicken breasts
Salt
Pepper
2 cloves garlic
Olive oil, to taste

Directions:
Cut raw chicken into bite-sized cubes.
Cook chicken and season with salt and pepper.
When done, remove and put in large bowl.
Add garlic to pan as well as bag of spinach. When spinach is cooked down, add garlic and spinach to bowl.
Meanwhile, boil pasta.  When that's done, also add pasta to bowl.
Next, add the feta and peppers.
Finally add enough olive oil to coat the pasta, and toss.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Today I wanted to make stuffed peppers because I had a couple of green bell peppers in the fridge, but I didn't have any ground beef.  So naturally I called my Mom and asked if I could use sausage instead.  She said she didn't see why not!  So, this is what came out!  First, I cooked the sausage.  I didn't have to de-case it because it was in a roll, so I just cooked it through.  That step took a little longer than expected because it was partly frozen in the middle.  After it cooked, I threw it in a bowl with two stalks of celery, a cut up piece of bread, some egg, and some cheese.  (I originally had roasted red peppers in there, but I didn't hear a pop when I opened the jar, so I threw them out in case of botulism!)

Stuffing mixture
After that was mixed, I put the mixture in the peppers and topped them with sauce and a little more cheese.  I then popped them into the oven!  I did not think about the fact that I was only making two peppers, so next time I would half the recipe I used.

Before Baking
I baked them for about 35 minutes, and they came out delicious!  Next time I would nix the bread, as it just tasted like bread in a yummy sausage filling.  Which means the egg would be out as well.  My mom included them as a binding, but I don't think we needed it.

Stuffed Peppers!

Stuffed Peppers:

Ingredients:
4 Bell Peppers
1 roll sausage
2 celery stalks, chopped
Shredded cheese, your choice (I used a four cheese Italian mix)
Tomato Sauce (Pick your favorite kind, or make your own!)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325.
Rinse and scoop the seeds out of the peppers
Brown the sausage
Put sausage, celery, and some cheese in a bowl and mix
Put filling into peppers
Top with more cheese and sauce
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until pepper is easily pierced by a knife.
Enjoy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Coleslaw

To go along with the barbecue beef, I wanted to make a side of coleslaw!  I also found this recipe in "How to Cook Everything" and was extra excited because it didn't call for any mayonnaise.  (I don't really like mayonnaise.)  The base dressing consisted of olive oil, dijon mustard, and lemon juice.

Coleslaw Dressing

After adding the vegetables to the dressing, it recommended that I let it sit for at least an hour in order to get the flavors to blend; so that's what I did!  (Matt had a snack in the meantime!)

Coleslaw 
Next time I will add more pepper and salt.  I also didn't have freshly ground pepper which I think really could have made this recipe that much better.  It was really good though, and might be one of my favorite coleslaws of all time.  I also think that if I had made this the day before it would have been superb!  We shall see when it's time for leftovers!
I also ended up putting the coleslaw on my barbecue beef sandwich... delicious!!

Barbecue Beef and Coleslaw
Soundtrack: Ziggy Marley


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crockpot Pot Roast and Vegetables

When I made the turkey a couple days ago, I had to make room in my freezer for the other half of the turkey, in doing so, I had to pull out a rump roast, meaning I had to cook it!  Tonight I decided to make it from this recipe I found in my new comfort foods cookbook.  However, being a comfort food cookbook, it obviously had a lot of butter in it, so I had to lighten it up.  I also cooked it in the crockpot so I could leave the house instead of putting it in the oven.
I started by cutting up an onion, some baby carrots, and a few potatoes.  I put those in the bottom of the crock pot.  After the vegetables I placed the roast in the crock pot and rubbed the top with salt, pepper, garlic, and dill.  Then I added some red wine and cooked it on low for about 8 hours.  

Pot roast before it cooked!  
The vegetables came out good, but the pot roast came out a little bit dry.  Next time I will poke holes in the pot roast and put in garlic slices for more flavor.  I also plan on pouring the wine over the pot roast (and into the slats) and then rubbing on the spices.  Hopefully it will result in a more flavorful, tender dinner. 

Crockpot Pot Roast and Vegetables
Soundtrack: Syd Barrett