Sunday, September 30, 2007

Husband chef

My husband is too good to me. I've been stressed and worn out the last few weeks working all day and then training at my second job at night. Plus I'm trying to change the way I eat and it's just so...tiring. Tyler volunteered to make dinner tonight plus he's been cooking for himself when I'm not here in the evenings. It's a fantastic arrangement :)

Tonight's dinner was pretty easy. We tried another recipe from Heather's Core blog and were very happy with it. I love me some mushrooms! And of course mashed potatoes, I can never have enough mashed potatoes. I could make them (and eat them) in my sleep at this point :) So glad they are a Core food!

Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms

2 tsp canola oil
3 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 lb uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast (four 4-oz pieces)
2 c mushrooms, small, halved
1/3 c chicken broth
1/4 tsp dried thyme, crumbled

Heat 1 tsp oil in a nonstick skillet. In a medium bowl, mix 2 TBS vinegar, the mustard, and the garlic. Add chicken and turn to coat.

Transfer chicken and marinade to skillet. Saute chicken until cooked through, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm (We seem to be incapable of getting chicken to cook all the way through in a skillet, so we stuck it in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees after cooking it for 3 minutes on each side on the stove top).

Heat remaining tsp of oil in skillet. Saute mushrooms for 1 minute. Add broth, thyme and remaining TBS of vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are deep brown, about 2 minutes longer.

Serve chicken topped with mushrooms.

Serves 4 (each serving contains 1/2 tsp healthy oil)

Pumpkin lures me out of my baking hiatus

Well, I successfully went one month without baking. It was a long month, lol. I feel like I've gotten ahold of my compulsion to bake bake bake and eat eat eat. I'm trying to cut back to just doing it for special ocassions and focus on baking for others. This week we are celebrating a birthday at work as well as the first day of our new boss. I volunteered to make cornbread and pumpkin bars. I'm still trying to choose the perfect cornbread recipe but I made the pumpkin bars this afternoon. I just tried one and they are great! Thanks to bakingblonde for sharing her aunt's recipe with me. I made one batch for my sister and my parents and then I made a double batch in a 9x13 pan to take to work and share. These squares are not as fluffy as a sheet cake, but not as dense as a cookie bar or brownie. Somewhere in between I guess you'd say.

Pumpkin Squares
1/3 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves (I didn't have any cloves so I went without, but I'm sure it would add a great kick)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Cream cheese frosting (I used store bought instead of making it from scratch)
Chopped walnuts (I used candy corn instead, it's so festive! The candy corn pumpkins would have been fun too)

Preheat oven to 350 (I used a dark non stick pan for my double batch so I lowered the temp 25 degrees to keep the bars from getting too dark).

Lightly spray with 9X9 baking pan with Pam.
In a medium bowl, cream together the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt, and baking powder (I did this step in my KA mixer).
Gently fold in the flour, just until combined (I did this by hand).
Evenly spread the mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake bars for 22-30 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.
Frost cooled bars with cream cheese frosting and top with walnuts (or candy corn or whatever you choose!)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Celebrate Chili Season!

Tyler was nice enough to whip up this batch of white chicken chili while I made the beef and bean chili tonight. Honestly I'm not sure where I got the original recipe and it's driving me nuts. If you know please jog my memory! I just have a copy of it that I printed out ages ago, probably off an old email account so I can't really trace the origins! Actually it looks like a photocopy...omg I'm going to drive myself crazy. Here's the recipe!

White Bean Chicken Chili

1 onion, chopped
1 T olive oil
2 tsp chopped garlic
1-2 cups chopped chicken breasts
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 cube chicken bouillon
15 oz can white beans
1 pkg taco seasoning (we were out so we used this recipe instead)

Saute onion in olive oil. Add garlic, chicken, and 1/2 tsp taco seasoning. Cook until chicken is no longer pink. Add canned tomatoes (can be run through the food processor to chop into smaller pieces if desired), chicken bouillon cube, rest of taco seasoning and if necessary some water if too thick. Simmer and then eat! Serve with tortilla chips or tortillas, cheese, sour cream, whatever you like! Tyler adds Tabasco sauce because he loves more heat.

I believe this recipe is WW core friendly.

Officially Chili Season!

Today is the first day of fall, which means I can now make chili without getting yelled at by my dad! (although I heard a rumor that he made a batch last weekend, tsk tsk!) We made a couple of chili's tonight and will freeze quite a bit of it for easy grab n go lunches. First up: traditional beef and bean chili. This is the recipe that has been perfected by Tyler's dad, and it is wonderful chili! We will likely never make another version, this one is just perfect and fits my WW Core diet.

My Father-in-Law's Chili

1lb ground beef
1/2 medium sized onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
2 tsp. chili powder
1 beef bullion cubes
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 Bay Leaf
1 TBS parsley flakes
1/2 TBS sugar
red pepper flakes or tabasco sauce to taste
salt if needed


1. Brown ground beef then drain off grease.
2. Saute onion and garlic with the meat until onion is translucent.
3. Transfer meat/onion/garlic mix to crock pot, add the rest of the ingredients (do not drain any of the beans!) let cook on low 2-3 hours. This could also be done on the stovetop in a stockpot, simmer on low for a couple of hours with the lid on.
4. Serve with cheese, sour cream, crackers, etc.

Who doesn't love a man in the kitchen?

So I confess Tyler actually made this meal 2 weeks ago but I've been dragging my feet about posting it. I'm not really busy...just trying to keep my mind off of food as much as I can, lol. I'm still eating and cooking though, just nothing terribly exciting. We are making 2 kinds of chili tonight, I'll share those recipes later!

We were at the City Market over Labor Day weekend and bought some fresh produce and some unique pasta at a booth that sold Pappardelle's Pasta. It took us FOREVER to decide which pasta to buy but we eventually settled on Tunisian Harissa Fettucine and Tyler was kind enough to offer to make the meal (with each pasta there is a recommended recipe that they give you). It took him 3 hours. Yeah. 3 hours. He is a bit meticulous in the kitchen, so I don't really think that's the average cooking time for this dish. Roasting the peppers was a lengthy process and since it was his first time he had to stop and look at the directions a lot. After 3 hours of cooking we ate dinner around 9 P.M.

It's a different kind of dish for me because I'm used to pasta with some kind of sauce on it. This has no sauce because the pasta itself is flavored and the meat and peppers provide the rest of the flavor. Very tasty, and perhaps a healthy-ish meal (if you use low fat sausage). Not a Core recipe though, but could be made into one with whole wheat pasta and some lean meat. We may try roasting peppers again now that we know what we're doing! We'd also be interested in buying more pasta from Pappardelle's. They had so many delicious looking flavored pastas, and I think they would make great gifts! You can even order online, something to think about as the holidays slowly creep closer.

Tunisian Harissa Pasta with Sausage, Peppers & Tomatoes

1 lb. Pappardelle’s Tunisian Harissa Pasta
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
10 oz. sweet Italian sausage, skinned/crumbled
1 each: roasted red, green and yellow peppers, peeled and cut into long strips (we followed the Food network directions found here)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until lightly golden, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, season to taste with salt and pepper, cover skillet with lid slightly ajar, reduce heat to low and simmer until the liquid evaporates, about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'm still here!

Sorry for the post-less week, I haven't really been cooking much. Mostly because I was eating out or making some of my favorite guilty pleasures before I started back on Weight Watchers this week :) Real smart, huh? We had sushi, cheese dip, potstickers, Chipotle, chick-fil-a....ahh such food debauchery. Now I am back on the wagon and back in the kitchen. We are following the Weight Watchers Core plan, which so far I am loving. So brace yourselves for healthier recipes! One of my greatest discoveries was this food blog. Thank you Heather for sharing so many great Core recipes with those of us that have no clue what to make! She is my new food blog goddess.

This meal was so quick to whip up and tasted great. LOVED the guacamole sauce. I will definitely be using that recipe for many other dishes. It'd be great on fajitas! The chicken was a little sweet, which makes sense since there was brown sugar in it, I might cut back on the sugar and increase the spices next time. I served the chicken with corn and a side of black beans simmered in lime juice, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Should have thrown some cilantro in but I spaced it. It feels good to be cooking and eating well again!

Cumin-dusted Chicken Breasts with guacamole sauce

1/4 c finely chopped green onions
1/4 c finely chopped cilantro
1/4 c fat-free sour cream
2 TBS fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1 ripe peeled avocado, seeded and coarsely mashed

2 TBS brown sugar (not Core, but 0 WPAs per serving of this recipe)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 (6 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Cooking spray

To prepare sauce, combine first 8 ingredients; set aside. Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare chicken, combine sugar, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper; sprinkle evenly over chicken. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over. Place pan in oven; bake at 400° for 10-20 minutes or until done. Serve chicken with sauce.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 breast half and about 3 tablespoons sauce)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Corny corn casserole

Corn is an iffy vegetable for me. I don't like eating it on the cob because it gets stuck in my teeth, and the canned/frozen stuff isn't that tasty. I bookmarked several recipes from the latest issue of Cooking Light and am slowly knocking them off my "to try" list. This recipe was first published in the magazine in June of 1996 and was submitted by a reader from Kansas, who knows, it could be someone just down the road :) I baked it in my Pampered Chef deep dish pie plate, which I think I'd only used once before. It looked so pretty in that pie plate :) I'm all about pretty serving dishes, they are one of my many downfalls. I have far too many pretty serving dishes for my small kitchen. This casserole was much better than plain corn muffins or corn bread, very sweet in taste, but pretty healthy as far as casseroles go.

Easy Corn Casserole (from Cooking Light)

1/4 cup egg substitute (or 1 large egg)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (8 3/4 oz) can no-salt added whole-kernal corn, drained
1 (8 3/4 oz) can no-salt added cream-style corn
1 (8 1/2 oz) package corn muffin mix
1 (8-oz) carton plain fat free yogurt

Preheat over to 350 degrees
Combine ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray (or a deep dish pie plate or other medium sized casserole dish). Bake for 45 minutes or until set. Yields 8 servings.

A cold day in September

Well I was trying to hold off on making soup until the first day of fall but it is 59 degrees outside right now and the sun hasn't even gone down yet! I am so pumped :) I am slowly letting fall creep into our apartment, I put out my fall pillows and plugged in a nutmeg air freshener yesterday. The rest of the fall decor WILL wait until the 23rd though!

So for dinner tonight I made broccoli cheddar soup, a kind of soup I love to eat but had never made before. I was a little skeptical about the noodles in the soup, but they were perfect and made it a much heartier soup. I would like to figure out a way to make it a bit thicker/creamier next time. Maybe I won't use skim milk or I'll try adding cornstarch or something. Overall I really enjoyed the soup, Tyler said it was good but kind of "plain" (I don't really know what that means but I think he prefers soups with some kind of meat in it). I will make this soup again on another chilly day!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup, from JMitchKC-another KC real bride.

3/4 c. chopped onion
2 tbsp. olive oil (or vegetable, canola)
6 Chicken Boullion cubes
6 c. water
1 pkg. Egg Noodles (8oz)
2 - 10oz pkgs. of frozen broccoli (I used mini florets)
6 c. milk (I used skim, but the soup may have been creamier if I'd used 1 or 2% instead)
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 lb. Velveeta Cheese (cubed)

Add oil and sautee onions, not brown. Add water and dissolve Boullion cubes.
Bring to a boil and add noodles. Cook until noodles are soft, then add
broccoli. When broccoli is thawed and not hard, add milk, garlic powder,
salt and pepper. It is very important the milk DOES NOT BOIL.
Add cubed velveeta and stir frequently until melted. You will cook
this slow, so that it doesn't boil or the milk & cheese will curdle.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Another popular recipe

I know everyone and their mom has made this orzo recipe by now (at least in my small food blogging circle) but I always come in late in the game :) Tyler offered to make dinner tonight but we ended up cooking together so we could eat sooner. We make a pretty good team most of the time! He prepared the chicken (parmesan dijon chicken, one of our faves) and I whipped up the orzo and the green beans. Both of which I oversalted, whoops. Still yummy though, just needed a big glass of water to wash it down!

Orzo with Parmesan and Basil (original recipe from


  • 2 tablespoons butter\
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


  1. Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo and saute until lightly browned.
  2. Stir in chicken stock and bring to boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 - 20 minutes.
  3. Mix in Parmesan cheese and basil. Season with salt (go easy, especially if you didn't use low sodium chicken broth) and pepper. Transfer to shallow bowl. Garnish with basil sprigs.

Feast your eyes!

Made the peach-raspberry cobbler again last weekend (had to find some way to use up the 12 peaches crammed in that little bag at the store!) Since I didn't have a picture last time I figured I'd share it now. Here's the original entry with the recipe. I used frozen raspberries this time and it tasted just as good!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Too easy, too yummy

I needed a dessert that I could whip up fast and I didn't want to go through the whole "from scratch trash my kitchen with flour and sugar" mess so I went the easy route. All you need are some peanut butter cups and a box of brownie mix with its required ingredients. The end result: yummy peanut butter cup brownies.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies (from

1 box brownie mix
any ingredients that the box of brownie mix calls for + an extra egg
1 bag mini peanut butter cups

Mix up brownie batter with an extra egg for fluffier brownies.
Pour brownie batter into muffin cups lined with paper or foil wrappers.
Stick one peanut butter cup (all wrapping removed of course) in the center of each brownie
Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until brownies are fluffy but not gooey inside.
Cool and then eat!

I used a box of pillsbury chocolate chunk brownie mix and it yielded a dozen brownies in a regular sized muffin tin. A mini muffin tin could also be used for bite sized brownies.