Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

I love this recipe. It is so good and rather easy to make.

I first made this recipe because I found it on the back of a tub of Philadelphia Santa Fe Cooking Creme. The recipe can also be found here, Easy Chicken Enchiladas. I usually boil the chicken earlier in the day and shred it, then store it in the fridge until I'm ready to cook the rest of dinner. I also chop the onion and peppers earlier in the day. That way all I have to do is cook when it is close to dinner time.

I've decided to try some variations on this recipe. The second time I made this recipe I added mushrooms to it. I liked the mushrooms, the husband did not...he didn't like the texture. This time when I made the enchiladas, I added green peppers. Very tasty...don't over-cook them in the skillet, leave them crunchy. The peppers add good texture to the enchiladas. And color. The tomatoes and peppers reminded me of it was a festive pre-Christmas meal!

When I add the remaining cooking creme to the top of the enchiladas, I always add extra shredded cheese. I bake them longer than the recipe says so that the outside gets crispier and not soggy.

Did I enjoy it? Yes.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

Will I make it again? Absolutely. And I was thinking while making this batch, I wonder what they would taste like with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. Hmmmmmmmm...I'll have to try that some time!

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


At least once every two weeks, we have this easy bruschetta as our dinner. It is an adaption of a recipe that we tried a few years ago. is the bruschetta recipe:

- diced tomatoes (I use vine rip or roma tomatoes.)
- chopped basil (I used fresh regular basil and lemon basil. The lemon basil adds a brightness to the mix. I've tried it with dried basil and it works but not as well.)
- balsamic vinegar
- salt

Use as much or as little of the above ingredients. Mix it all together. We serve it over sliced sourdough or roasted garlic bread. (Thicker baguette-style bread works best.) Usually we put some spray butter and shredded Mexican or Parmesan cheese on the bread and broil it first. Then serve it with the bruschetta. YUM. 

Total time to make this...less than 15 minutes (if you are a pretty quick chopper and you buy the bread presliced.)

You can make the mix in advance. I like to make it earlier in the day. It gives the ingredients a chance to mix and get all tasty.

Did I enjoy it? Yes. 

Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

Will I make it again? I said, we make this often. You could also use it as an appetizer if you don't want it as a meal. 

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

I made dessert for my husband's family Christmas this year. I wanted something different than the usual apple pie or other pie. As I perused my Cooking Light magazines, I found this recipe - Cranberry Upside-Down Cake. It looked interesting. And, as I have liked almost every recipe I have ever tried from Cooking Light, I thought "why not?!"

It was fairly easy to make. But I couldn't get the brown sugar and butter to coat the bottom of my cake pan. I did the best I could and it turned out alright in the end.

The cake was on the light side and the cranberry-brown sugar topping was very tasty. The cake looked pretty, too. I put it on one of my Christmas platters. The cake was yellow with the red/brown top.

Did I enjoy it? I did.

Would I recommend it? I would. Especially as a cake to take somewhere. It's different and good.

Will I make it again?  I will. Definitely a few more times for the holidays.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Stars

For Christmas this year, I decided to try some new cookie recipes. I found this recipe, Chocolate Peppermint Stars, while looking through my back issues of Bon Appetit magazine.

The dough was very easy to mix up. However, waiting for the dough to chill...especially between cuttings...was rather time consuming. The baking time is quite long, about 25 minutes per tray of cookies.

Because I started these cookies around 8:00 p.m., I did not decorate them the same night. I stored them in a Ziplock bag until the next day.

For the chocolate drizzle, I used semi-sweet morsels. I microwaved them. But they did not get the thinner consistency that I had hoped for. So I went on the trusty internet and found that if you add vegetable shortening (Crisco) to the chocolate when you microwave it, it will get thinner and easier to drizzle. That's a tip to keep! 

I drizzled, I sprinkled, I drizzled. Then I let them set up. The husband thought the cookies were quite tasty. He said that they weren't an overly sweet cookie and he enjoyed that.

Did I enjoy it? I did as did my husband. (My son did not have any because he does not like chocolate. Weird...I know.)

Would I recommend it? I would. They are time-consuming but worth the effort.

Will I make it again?  I will. Probably next Christmas.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hot Sausage and Pasta in Vodka Sauce

This is a concoction, recipe, that I threw together based on what I had on hand at the time.

I took some hot sausage and baked them at 350 for about 30 minutes. Then slice it. I sauteed sliced mushrooms (buttons or portobellos) in some extra virgin olive oil. I then added the sausage and a jar of vodka sauce. Throw in some cooked penne or ziti and fresh basil. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, we both did. I really like vodka sauce. It is kind of sweet and creamy. 
Not as bite-y as marinara or tomato sauce. The hot sausage adds a zing and the basil adds that bit of freshness. 

Would I recommend it? I would. It's easy to make, too.

Will I make it again?  Yes, I will.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Braised Kale with Bacon and Cider and Breaded Pork Chops

I made Braised Kale with Bacon and Cider tonight with breaded pork chops. I found the kale recipe in my Cooking Through the Seasons cookbook by -- you guessed it -- Cooking Light. This recipe was very easy and came out wonderful. I added more bacon than the two slices that the recipe called for. (You can never have too much bacon in my opinion.) The apples added a nice sweetness to the dish along with the cider.

When I had picked the kale recipe, I thought long and hard about what to serve with it. We had already had chicken and steak recently. And fish didn't seem like something that would go well with the kale dish. So, I decided on pork chops. (We use boneless chops.) Usually we grill the pork chops that have been seasoned with either cumin and salt or with this one rub mix that we have. I wanted something different. I decided to bread them.

First, I dredged the chops in flour that was seasoned with salt and pepper. Then, I put them in egg. And I finished them off in a mixture of plain bread crumbs with a cheese seasoning mix that I had on hand. This cheese seasoning mix, according to the ingredient list, contained romano cheese, parsley, garlic salt, basil.    

I cooked the pork chops in a skillet on the stove top in some extra virgin olive oil over a medium heat until they were done. I flipped them a few times. The crust was a nice golden brown and the chops were juicy. I was pleased with them.

Did I enjoy it? Very much so as did my husband and my 3 year old son. My son really liked the apples in the kale. He liked the pork chops too so long as I took off the "brown stuff," the breading. 

Would I recommend it? Yes, I would. It was pretty easy and the kale came out quite tasty. The pork chops were tasty, too. However, I thought they needed a bit more husband thought they were great as is. So, I'll have to make it again and see how it goes. 

Will I make it again?  Yes, I will make both of these again. I think I will try to make my own cheese seasoning blend instead of using one from a jar. (The jar was very good but after reading the ingredients, I think a fresh mixture along with Panko would be yummy.)

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Grandma's Sugar Cookies

I love making these cookies at Christmas and sometimes at Easter, too. They are so much fun to cut and decorate with my 3 year old son. (I've always enjoyed making these...even before I had kids.) My son liked using the cookie cutters and shaking the sprinkles on. And, of course, he loved eating the cookies!

Here are the ingredients for the cookies:

1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup Oleo
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Here are the directions:

Mix all of the above ingredients together until well blended. You can use a stand mixer or a hand mixer or, if you really want to, a spoon. Separate the batter into three balls and lightly flour them. Place them in the bowl and refrigerate over night for the best results. This helps when you roll them out the next day to make cut-outs.

The next day, roll out the dough...not too thin...and use cookie cutters or whatever you want. Bake the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 for 7-8 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.

Here are two options for decorating:

(1) Using a pastry brush, put some milk on the cookies and sprinkle with sugar prior to baking. When they come out of the oven, you are done. No more decorating needed. This is nice if you do not have the time to decorate with icing and sprinkles.

(2) Make a simple icing - powdered sugar and water, mix until it is a nice thick but spreadable consistency. Spread on cookies after they have cooled from the oven. Sprinkle with your favorite toppings before the icing dries. I like jimmies, colored sugar, the little multicolored balls. Whatever you find!

Did I enjoy it? Yes. They are traditional sugar cookies and a recipe that has stood the test of time. This was my great-grandmother's recipe.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely! Especially if you have kids who like to help you bake.

Will I make it again?  Yes, I will. Definitely next Christmas when I should have two helpers in the kitchen. Possibly at Easter, too. We'll have to see. 

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pepperoni Rolls

These are my favorite breads to make at the holidays, and any time really. So easy and you can freeze the finished rolls for future enjoyment.

Take Rhodes frozen bread dough (thawed), roll it out on some flour. Roll it out so it is a bit flatter and rectangular. (I usually lay the loaf in front of me horizontally, then roll it out from me.) I do not go long-ways. Only roll the width of the roll. It will stretch when you roll it up at the end. If you do not want one big loaf of pepperoni bread, you can divide a loaf of dough into thirds or fourths and make mini rolls. These are nice for lunches.

Brush the dough with melted butter or margarine. Sprinkle with a light layer of shredded mozzarella cheese. Then put on as many pepperoni slices as you want.

Here is the big tip!!!! Microwave the pepperoni slices on a few paper towels first. Microwave for about 45-55 seconds, depending on your microwave. Experiment with different times. You don't want it to be too dry. You will be surprised by how much grease comes out of the pepperoni.  This is an important step, don't skip it. You don't want your pepperoni roll filled with grease that dribbles down your chin when you eat it. YUCK!

Anyway, layer the pepperoni...don't be shy with it. Use a lot. Then cover generously with more shredded mozzarella cheese. (In the past, I have also added sliced jalapeno peppers. If you like it spicy, it is a nice touch.) Roll the dough and tuck in the sides. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. (They may stick a little bit in a spot or two but when I used cooking spray, the bottom of the roll got soggy. So don't grease the sheet!) If you have a large cookie sheet, you can fit two rolls on it at a time.

To raise the bread, I heat a small pan of water in the oven to about 350. Then, turn the oven off and put the tray of pepperoni rolls in the oven and let them rise. When they are big enough to your liking, bake the rolls - without the pan of water in the oven - for 30 minutes at 350.

When the rolls come out of the oven, rub some butter over the tops. This helps the tops stay softer and not get hard. Place on a rack to cool.

Once they are cool, slice, serve, and enjoy.

OR....wrap them in cling wrap then foil. You can freeze the rolls like this. When you want one, just take it out of the freeze and thaw. Or microwave or heat in the oven.

Did I enjoy it? YES! I always do. 

Would I recommend it? Yes!!! If you have questions, feel free to contact me.

Will I make it again?  Absolutely!!!!

If you make it, let me know what you think!

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Wilted Spinach

Last night, we had New York Strip Steak with Wilted Spinach. I found this side in my Cooking Light magazine (shocking, right?). It was so easy and very quick.

All you do is saute a teaspoon of minced garlic (about 2 cloves) in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Add a bag of spinach and cook until wilted. Sprinkle with salt and serve. The spinach was rather tasty and worked well with the steak.

Did I enjoy it? I did and so did Husband.

Would I recommend it? I would. It was quick, easy and tasted good. It took maybe 5 minutes at the very most to cook. 

Will I make it again?  Yes.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dijon Chicken Stew with Potatoes and Kale

Tonight for dinner I made Dijon Chicken Stew. This is another Cooking Light recipe. And another recipe with kale. I really like kale.

The prep work wasn't too bad. I got everything ready before I started cooking. However, I should have looked at the cooking time completely before I started. The recipe says it will cook for about and hour and a half. Normally, this wouldn't be so bad except that I started prepping at 9:00 p.m. Needless to say, this was a late dinner. 

While the leeks and garlic were cooking, it smelled pretty good. I love the smell of cooking onions and leeks and garlic were just as good. When I put the chicken and leek mixture into the broth to simmer, the smell was fantastic. I liked the smell of wine and dijon. Who knew?!?

Did I enjoy it? Yes. The finished product was quite tasty. 

Would I recommend it? Yes.

Will I make it again? Yes, I will. It was a good stew for winter. Hearty but not heavy. Tasty, too. 

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kielbasa and Peppers

Last night, I made this recipe which is an adaption of a Weight Watchers recipe from many, many, many years ago and a dish I used to make while I was in school.'s what you do...

Saute in extra virgin olive oil some sliced onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.  Add sliced light Polska Kielbasa to the pan. (I usually cut the slices in half...more meat per serving that way.) After that warms up, add sliced zucchini. Then, throw in some sliced green and red peppers -- or any color of pepper you would like. After they are cooked to your liking (we like them still crunchy), add a can of diced tomatoes. Heat. 

Serve with shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese. 

Variations: You can add penne pasta to this dish. That is how I usually make it...but it is still good without the pasta. You could also add fresh basil or parsley. I usually do this as well but my garden hasn't grown any yet...hopefully soon!

Also, feel free to add any additional veggies or toss the veggies you don't like. This is an easy recipe to make and change and experiment with.

Did I enjoy it? Very much so!

Would I recommend it? Yes, I would!

Will I make it again? Absolutely. 

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Monday, November 28, 2011

New York Strip Steak

Because the first holiday of the winter during which we all overeat is over, it is time to eat a bit least until the next holiday, Christmas, comes during which we will again stuff ourselves silly. So, husband and I decided to cut out most rice, pastas, and breads for a bit.

Tonight we had New York Strip Steak with leftover Squash Casserole.

Instead of using steak seasoning or a marinade, I decided to go very simple with the steak. All I did was drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil on the steak. Then, I sprinkled it with a good amount of coarse sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. That's it. Easy, simple, quick. Husband grilled it outside to perfection. It was medium just starting to go towards more than medium. The steak was juicy, tender, and flavored just right. Sometimes, simple is best!

Did I enjoy it? Oh yes I did!

Would I recommend it? Oh yes I would!

Will I make it again? Absolutely. Probably next week. =)

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Squash Casserole

I made up this recipe a few weeks ago because I was hungry when I went grocery shopping and bought a few different kinds of squash. So, I thought, what can I make with these??? Then I came up with squash casserole.

Here are the ingredients:

1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
1 zucchini squash
1 yellow squash
1/2 small onion
1 Granny Smith apple
1 Braeburn apple
smoked gouda cheese
parmesan cheese, shredded
Irish block cheese
thyme (dried is fine)
fresh curly parsley (chopped)
salt and pepper

Basically, I cubed all of the above ingredients (except for the parmesan). The cheese does not have exact measurements, I just added however much I felt like at the time. The same with the thyme, salt, and pepper. Just added to taste.

Feel free to omit the onion...the husband thought there was too much the first time I made it. I didn't put any onion in the second time I made it because I knew my sister-in-law would be eating it and she doesn't like onions at all. (And she's pregnant, so I didn't want to upset her with onions!) The third time I made it, I used half of a large shallot. That didn't add a lot of onion flavor, but added a bit.

Then I put it into a large, deep casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. I bake it at 350 until the squash is done...about 45 minutes.

Did I enjoy it? Yes. The smoked gouda really added to the squash.

Would I recommend it? Not to sound modest, but yes, I do recommend it. If any of my readers have had this recipe of mine, feel free to comment whether you liked or not.

Will I make it again? Yes, I will. I made it twice the week of Thanksgiving.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Green Chili Beef Empanadas

I knew we were going to be having turkey at least twice this week, so, I decided to make Green Chili Beef Empanadas for dinner. We really enjoy this recipe. It is quite tasty.

You have to start with this, Beef Roast with Root Vegetables, in order to make truly yummy empanadas. I do not follow this recipe exactly. For the vegetables, I use baby carrots, potatoes, and onions. I leave the baby carrots whole, cut the onion in large wedges, and large chunk the potatoes. I omit the sweet potatoes, parsnips, and celery root. (While I do like these vegetables, I usually don't have these on hand...hence, the substitutions.)

I do not follow the exact measurements for filling the pie crust. I just fill them up until I can fit no more. Otherwise, there is just too much pie dough and not enough filling. And that is not a good thing. They end up too dry. So, fill them up!!! Extra cheese is always a plus.

When the empanadas are done, I serve them with fat free sour cream and salsa. YUM-O!

Did I enjoy it? Yes.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

Will I make it again? Yes...we make this regularly.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Roasted Flank Steak with Olive-Oil Herb Rub

Tonight, I wanted steak. So, I found this recipe - Roasted Flank Steak with Olive-Oil Herb Rub - in my Cooking through the Seasons cookbook by Cooking Light. (I love Cooking Light. Very seldom do I find a recipe by them that I do not like.)

Well, of course, I did not have fresh herbs on hand. (The aerogarden was just planted this week. Some fresh herbs are coming soon!) So I had to substitute dried spices for fresh. I'm certain the taste would be even better with the fresh herbs. But it was still fairly good. The steak was tender and juicy.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, I did but not as much as my husband. I think it will taste much better with fresh herbs as opposed to the dried.

Would I recommend it? Yes, I would recommend it. But I'm not raving about it.

Will I make it again? Yes, I will because my husband really liked it and I will make it again for him. But I will definitely use the fresh herbs.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quick Fall Minestrone

I love to make soup and I don't make it as often as I would like. My husband and I like to eat at least one mainly vegetable meal a week. So, as I was perusing my cookbooks, I found this Quick Fall Minestrone. (It was in my Cooking through the Seasons cookbook by Cooking Light.) It sounded good...I've "discovered" butternut squash this year - never had it before this year - and I really like it. And we love kale. Therefore, this was a good match for us to try.

Of course, even though I wrote out my shopping list while looking at the recipe, I forgot a few ingredients. I did not have the cannellini beans nor did I have enough vegetable broth. Actually, I used vegetable stock and I substituted 2 cups of the vegetable stock with chicken broth...that's what I had on hand. (I should have looked at the carton of vegetable stock to see how much was in it before I bought only one. Who knew it wouldn't be enough? Then again, I should have checked the recipe to see how much I needed before I went to the store. Oh well, you cook, you learn!) I did not substitute anything for the beans. I'm not a big fan of beans - except green - so, I didn't mind the omission.

This recipe was easy to make...the hardest part - well, not hard at all, maybe time consuming - was cutting the vegetables. But I enjoy wielding a knife and cutting food up. So, no big deal at all. And it smelled fantastic while it was cooking.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, I did. It was sweet and had that warm, cozy feel to it.

Would I recommend it? Yes, I would recommend it. It is a great fall, early winter meal that doesn't take much time at all to make.

Will I make it again? Yes, I will. However, it needs more salt and possibly more oregano. You could add more broth....but I like the veggies to stand out and not be drowning in the broth. However, an extra half a cup to a cup of broth would be okay. I may try that next time. Or I may add the extra broth to the leftovers when I heat them up the next day. But overall....YUM!

UPDATE! The leftovers definitely need extra broth!! But the leftovers were quite yummy once I added some broth to it. I used chicken broth as that was all I had on hand.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies

My friend and I are having a Twilight movie marathon tomorrow in anticipation of next weekend's release of the new Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn Part 1. So, I decided to make dessert...something chocolate of course. We are both stay-at-home moms and this is going to be our "mental health day." The dads and kids will be at one house while we will be watching the movie in quiet and peace at the other. Anyway....

I decided brownies were a must and I have never made brownies from scratch. I started searching through my cookbooks and found this recipe, Peppermint Cheescake Brownies, that sounded promising. (Not only is it online, but I found it in my Cooking Light Cooking through the Seasons cookbook.)

This was an easy recipe to put together and, about 45 minutes later - start to finish, the result was yummy. I love peppermint and chocolate together. That's probably why my favorite drink from Starbucks is the peppermint mocha. The brownies are a bit dense - not heavy though - and gooey/chewy but good flavors. However, I did not have a 9 x 9 pan, so I used a 9 x 13 pan. Definitely use the 9 x 9 pan as called for. My brownies came out a bit thin.

Did I enjoy it? Yes. (I will let you know if my friend liked them as well.) She did! They were pretty good.

Would I recommend it? So far, yes. But I will make that final determination once I make them again in the right sized pan.

Will I make it again? Yes, I will but I will try them in the 9 x 9 pan as opposed to the 9 x 13 pan.

UPDATE!!! I made these again and used an 8 x 8 pan. They were much much much better!!!!

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Braised Chicken with Kale

Last night, I was pondering what I was going to make for dinner while I was painting our laundry room. I looked in the fridge to see what fresh vegetables we had and I found a beautiful bunch of kale. I thought to myself, "What can I make with this?" So, I went to the trusty internet, to and found a really tasty recipe. It was Braised Chicken with Kale. (This recipe was also found in my November 2011 issue of Cooking Light Magazine.)

I changed the recipe slightly...I didn't have chicken leg quarters or fire-roasted diced tomatoes. I substituted with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and plain diced tomatoes. I reduced the cooking time to 45 minutes. (I had to get some painting done before we could eat.)

Did we enjoy it? Yes! All I can say is YUM. It was so tasty.

Would I recommend it? Yes. It was easy to prepare and seemed pretty foolproof. 

Will I make it again? Yes, I will. However, I want to try it as the recipe directs...without my substitutions.