Friday, October 22, 2010

Extra Corny Corn Bread

*Adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. The original recipe can be viewed online here. I thought the original recipe was too fluffy and didn't have enough of the corn flavor, so here's my version.

PREP: 15 minutes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil or melted butter
2/3 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Fold in corn kernels.
3. Pour batter into a greased 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a 9-inch round baking pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm with butter and honey (optional).

1. For Corn Muffins, prepare as above except spoon batter into 12 greased muffin cups, filling two-thirds full.
2. For Green Chile Corn Bread: Prepare as above, except fold 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese and one 4-ounce can diced green chili peppers, drained, in to the batter.

8 servings

*       Calories 222.6 Description:  
*      Total Fat 9.1 g Description:      
*      Saturated Fat 1.2 g Description:      
*      Polyunsaturated Fat 2.5 g Description:      
*      Monounsaturated Fat 4.8 g Description:  
*      Cholesterol 54.7 mg Description:  
*      Sodium 302.7 mg Description:  
*      Potassium 157.3 mg Description:  
*      Total Carbohydrate 30.6 g Description:      
*      Dietary Fiber 1.8 g Description:      
*      Sugars 6.9 g Description:  
*      Protein 5.5 g

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ryan's Easy Taco Soup

PREP: 30 minutes
SERVES: 10-12

2 lbs ground beef
1 can Rotel
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 small can green chilies
1 can corn
1 can ranch style beans
1 can reg. pinto beans
1 can black beans, drained
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch dip mix
4 cups water

Brown meat and then add all ingredients. Cook for 20-30 minutes on low.

Set out shredded cheese and sour cream as toppings. Serve with cornbread or chips and queso/guacamole/salsa.

Thanks, Ryan, for sharing this delicious recipe!

Monday, October 11, 2010


SERVES: about 2.75 cups
PREP: 15 minutes

3 garlic cloves
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
6 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
5 Tbsp. water or liquid from the chickpeas
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Mince garlic in a food processor or blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until the hummus is smooth. Serve chilled or at room temperature with toasted pita bread/chips, fresh veggies, or on a sandwich.

Libby's Pumpkin Roll

*Adapted from; originally from Libby's canned pumpkin.

PREP: 45 minutes (plus 1 hour to chill in refrigerator)

1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)

oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan (cookie sheet with rim); line with wax paper (trim any excess). Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel or paper towels with powdered sugar (do not use a terry cloth towel).

COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.

BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Re-roll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick.


Serving Size: 1" slice
Servings Per Recipe 10 servings
Calories from Fat -
Total Fat - 16 g
Saturated Fat - 10 g
Cholesterol - 105 mg
Sodium - 280 mg
Carbohydrates - 52 g
Dietary Fiber - 1 g
Sugars - 43 g

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tequila Lime Chicken

*From The Pioneer Woman Cooks but unfortunately the link no longer works. (Thanks, Dani, for sharing this new recipe with me!) mmm...

3 whole limes, juiced
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 whole jalapeno, sliced
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup tequila
5 Tbsp. olive oil
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Combine lime juice, garlic cloves, sliced jalapeno, salt, cilantro, and tequila in a food processor or blender. Pulse until combined. Turn on the blender/food processor and drizzle in the olive oil until it’s all combined.
Slightly flatten chicken breasts with a mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Place in a plastic bag and pour in marinade. Seal bag and marinate for several hours or (preferably) overnight.
When ready to cook, remove chicken from bag and place on the grill. Cook until completely done. Toward the end of cooking, top chicken breasts with grated Monterey Jack and allow to melt. (You can also top chicken with cheese and melt under the broiler.)
*Note for myself: consider adding 1tsp cumin to the marinade.
Serve topped with pico de gallo or salsa, alongside refried black beans, Mexican rice, sour cream, avocado slices, fresh flour tortillas…and whatever other garnishes make you smile!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Curried Rice with Shrimp

*Adapted from Real Simple magazine. View the original recipe here.

PREP: 45 minutes

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. curry powder (use 2 tsp. if you prefer more spice)
1 cup long-rain white rice
Kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and curry and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes.
3. Add the rice, 2 1/2 cups water, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Season the shrimp with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and nestle them in the partially cooked rice. Cover and cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 4 to 5 minutes. Fold in the basil and serve.

NOTES: You can easily use frozen raw, peeled, and deveined shrimp--just thaw using the instructions on the package while rice is cooking.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chicken-Berry Salad

*From Better Homes and Gardens magazine, March 2009. View recipe online here.

PREP: 45 minutes (+1-4 hours to marinate)

1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. chopped fresh basil
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb. total)

3 cups fresh blackberries
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
1/4 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 8-oz. pkg. Mediterranean mixed salad greens
2 medium pears, cored and thinly sliced
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (3 oz.)

1. In small bowl stir together orange, lime, and lemon juices, 1 tablespoon oil, basil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken in resealable plastic bag set in large bowl. Pour juice mixture over chicken; seal bag. Refrigerate 1 to 4 hours, turning bag occasionally.

2. For dressing, in blender combine 1 cup of the blackberries, vinegar, sugar, mustard, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and blend until smooth. With blender running, slowly add 1/2 cup oil in a thin steady stream until well combined. Transfer to serving container. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

3. Drain chicken, discarding marinade. For charcoal grill, place chicken on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 12 to 15 minutes or until done (170 degrees F.), turning once. (For gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Add chicken to grill rack. Cover and grill as above.)

4. Slice chicken. Divide greens among 4 serving plates. Top with chicken, pears, and remaining 2 cups berries. Top each with some of the dressing and feta cheese.

Denise's Notes:
This is one of my new favorite recipes! I can see why it was the $2,500 grilling winner of a BHG recipe contest. I recommend replacing feta cheese with gorgonzola cheese crumbles. Grill on a George Foreman grill, if no outdoor grill is available. Serve with or without the additional fresh berries. The dressing was still delicious with frozen berries instead of fresh (they were out of season when I made this.) I will try making this dressing with blueberries or even pomegranate in the future...I think they'd be tasty alternatives.
*Alteration: I tried the dressing with blueberries instead of blackberries and it wasn't as good. I'll only make it with blackberries in the future.

Grilled Chicken with Vegetables

*Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens magazine, April 2008. View the original recipe here.

PREP: 45 minutes

1/4 cup ketchup
3 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
4 chicken breasts (or 8 boneless chicken thighs)
4 slices bacon
12 oz. baby carrots
3/4 lb. sugar snap peas
8 oz. asparagus, trimmed and cut in 2-inch lengths
1 Tbsp. small fresh mint leaves

1. For sauce, in small bowl stir together the ketchup and hoisin sauce; set aside.

2. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake at 450 degrees in a baking dish for 15 minutes. Turn chicken and brush with sauce. Bake another 15 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. (Reduce time for chicken thighs.)

3. Meanwhile, for vegetables, in 12-inch skillet cook bacon over medium-low heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in skillet. Add carrots to drippings; cook and stir 5 minutes. Add peas and asparagus; cook and stir 6 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove from heat. Crumble bacon. Stir in mint and bacon. Serve with chicken.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Salmon & Noodle Bowl

*Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens magazine, April 2008. There's a video showing how to make this recipe here.

PREP: 30 minutes

9-oz. pkg. refrigerated fettuccine pasta
olive oil
1 lb. skinless, boneless 1" thick salmon, cut into 2-4 pieces
salt and ground black pepper
6 cups packaged fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup bottled roasted red or yellow sweet peppers
1/2 cup reduced-calorie balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to the water to keep the noodles from sticking together.
2. Meanwhile, brush 1 tablespoon olive oil on salmon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat an extra-large skillet over medium heat; add salmon. Cook 8-12 minutes or until salmon flakes, turning once. Remove salmon and flake into bite-sized pieces (discarding scales if attached).
3. Add 1 tablespoon to the skillet along with spinach and sweet peppers. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes, until spinach is just wilted. Drain pasta; add to skillet. Add dressing and return salmon to the skillet; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among four bowls and serve.

For Asian flavor, substitute wheat soba noodles instead of the fettuccine and hoisin sauce instead of the balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hoisin-Glazed Chicken Thighs

*Adapted from Parenting magazine, June 2010.

PREP: 30 minutes hands-on + 1 hour marinating

1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp seasoned rice-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp minced fresh ginger (or 1/8 tsp dried ground ginger)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
black pepper, to taste
12 small boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 lbs), trimmed
1/4 cup minced scallions (green onions)
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)

1. Combine the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and pepper in a large plastic bowl (with lid). Pour 1/4 cup of the mixture into a small plastic container with a lid and reserve in the refrigerator for coating the chicken later. Add the chicken to the larger container and coat with the rest of the sauce. Cover and refrigerate the marinated chicken for 1 hour.
2. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high (or, alternatively, heat the broiler). Grill the chicken 3 minutes per side, or until just cooked through. Brush with some of the reserved glaze, turn, and cook 30 seconds more. Move to a platter, shower with the scallions and sesame seeds, if desired.

Serve with steamed rice and steamed vegetables such as snow peas, carrots, broccoli, corn, or edamame.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Homemade Creamed Corn

PREP: 30 minutes (prepping the fresh corn kernels takes longer than the actual cooking)

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup diced onion
4 cups fresh corn kernels (from 8 ears)
1 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1 tsp. sugar
Kosher salt and black pepper

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 4-5 minutes. Add the corn, half-and-half, sour cream, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and simmer until the corn is tender, 5 to 8 minutes.

Fresh corn is the best, but thawed frozen kernels also work in this recipe. To achieve a similar creamy consistency, add 1 Tbsp of flour to the softened onions and cook for 1 minute before adding the frozen corn and half-and-half.

When cutting corn kernels from ears, keep the kernels from going everywhere by laying down a dishtowel around/under a small cutting board. This will keep the kernels from bouncing as far.

Serve with Cajun skirt steak and a simple salad of mixed greens with tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette.

Cajun Skirt Steak

PREP: 20 minutes
1 1/2 lbs. skirt steak, cut into two pieces
2 tsp. blackening or Cajun seasoning
Kosher salt and black pepper

Heat broiler. Trim steak of most of the fat. Season the steak (both sides) with the blackening seasoning and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Place on a broilerproof rimmed baking sheet and broil for 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Slice against the grain and serve.

Serve with homemade creamed corn like this and a simple salad of mixed greens with tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dani's Special Spaghetti

PREP: 30 minutes

2 lb. lean ground turkey
2 zucchini squash, quartered and sliced
2 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
1 jar original spaghetti sauce
1 jar vodka sauce (found with other pasta sauces)
1 16-oz. pkg. bowtie pasta

Prepare pasta according to directions on the package. Meanwhile brown turkey in a large skillet. When meat is browned, add squash and sauces. Simmer for 10 minutes or until squash is crisp-tender. Serve sauce over pasta.

*I stand corrected on the originator of this friend, Danielle, created it; not her husband, Tim. Here's the way she makes it:

2-3 lbs ground lean ground beef (sometimes turkey)
1-2 jars regular spaghetti sauce
1 jar of 4 cheese alfredo sauce
1 zucchini
1 squash
2 bags of bowtie pasta
(Also…I put a smidge of water in each of the jars, shake them up and then add to the sauce to thin it out just a bit. This serves 12 if 3 lbs. meat is used.)

Easy Shrimp Pasta for Two

*Adapted from Kraft "Food & Family" magazine, winter 2008.

PREP: 30 minutes
SERVES: 2 (although could easily be multiplied to feed more)

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1/2 lb. uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 large tomato, diced
2 oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, cubed
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
4 oz. (1/4 of 1-lb. pkg.) fettuccine, uncooked
2 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Pour dressing over shrimp in small bowl; cover. Refrigerate 20 minutes to marinate. Cook pasta directed on package. Meanwhile, heat large skillet on medium heat; add shrimp mixture. Cook 3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink, stirring frequently. Remove shrimp from skillet, using slotted spoon; cover to keep warm. Set aside.
2. Add tomatoes, cream cheese, and 1 Tbsp. of the basil to same skillet; cook and stir 3 minutes or until well blended*. Add shrimp; cook until heated through, stirring occasionally.
3. Drain pasta. Place on serving platter and top with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp. basil and the shredded cheese.

*If you prefer it saucier, stir a small amount of milk into the shrimp mixture while heating. (I recommend adding about 1/8 - 1/4 cup of milk.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chicken and Peach Quesadillas

*Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, August 2010.

PREP: 20 minutes

1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
4 (8-inch) flour or wheat tortillas
3/4 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese (Monterey Jack cheese with jalepeno peppers)
1 cup chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
1 peeled firm ripe peach, diced
4 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
cooking spray

1. Combine honey and lime juice in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Stir sour cream into honey mixture; cover and chill until ready to serve.
2. Place tortillas flat on a work surface. Sprinkle 3 Tbsp. of cheese over 2 tortillas; top each with 1/2 cup chicken, 1/2 cup peaches, and 2 tsp. cilantro. Finish off by topping them with another 3 Tbsp. of cheese and another tortilla.
3. Place quesadillas on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Spray tops of quesadillas with cooking spray and bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes or until top tortilla is golden brown and starting to bubble up.
4. Serve with honey, lime, and sour cream sauce.

SUGGESTION: Serve with Spinach Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette. To prepare salad, combine 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, and 1/8 tsp. ground cumin an a large bowl. Top with 1 (5-oz.) package fresh baby spinach and 1/2 cup red onion; toss gently to coat.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Caesar Pockets

*Adapted from

4 cups torn romaine lettuce
6 oz. smoked turkey breast deli meat, cut into strips
1/4 cup drained roasted red pepper strips
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Caesar dressing
4 pita breads, warmed, cut in half
fresh ground pepper to taste

Toss lettuce with turkey, peppers, cheese, dressing, and pepper. Spoon into pitas.

Substitute: Prepare using ranch dressing instead of Caesar.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Zucchini-Wrapped Pork

*From Better Homes and Gardens magazine, May 2010

Prep: 35 minutes
Serves: 2-4

1 zucchini
12-16 oz. pork tenderloin
olive oil
1/3 cup purchased basil pesto

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil; set aside. With a sharp knife* or vegetable peeler, cut zucchini lengthwise in thin slices (you'll need at least 8 slices). Cut pork tenderloin crosswise into 4-5 equal portions. Press meat down with the palm of hand to flatten slightly.
2. Wrap each tenderloin portion with 2-4 zucchini slices. Place on prepared pan. Lightly brush or drizzle olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Roast, uncovered, 18-20 minutes (12-oz. tenderloin) or 25-30 minutes (16-oz.), or until meat registers 160 degrees.
4. Spoon some of the pesto over each tenderloin just before serving.

*If using a knife, first cut a thin lengthwise piece off so the zucchini lies flat and doesn't roll off the cutting board, then slice thinly.

Chicken Curry in a Hurry

*Adapted from - By Kate Merker, March 2007

Serves: 4
Prep: 30 minutes


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 cup plain (Greek) yogurt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (discard skin and bones)
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes. Sprinkle with the curry powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  2. Add the yogurt and cream and simmer gently for 3 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes or until chicken is warmed.
  3. Divide the rice among individual bowls, spoon the chicken curry over the top, and sprinkle with the cilantro.
This dish is also delicious served with lentils.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Basil, Beef, and Barley Soup

*Adapted from the April 2010 edition of Better Homes and Gardens. Original recipe can be viewed here.

PREP: 30 minutes

1 lb. boneless sirloin steak
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. dried basil, crushed
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup quick-cooking barley
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano (do not drain)
1 cup packaged peeled fresh baby carrots, sliced diagonally
1 can lower-sodium beef broth
3 cups water
small fresh basil leaves (optional)

1. Cut steak into 1/2" pieces. In a shallow dish combine flour, basil, salt, and pepper. Add meat and toss to coat.
2. In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add steak; cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Stir in any remaining flour mixture as well as the barley, tomatoes, carrots, beef broth, and water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Ladle into bowls and top with fresh basil.

*You can use regular barley that is not "quick-cook" if you add an additional cup of water and simmer for 50 minutes instead of 10.

Lemon Grilled Orange Roughy

1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. dried whole thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
Dash of garlic powder
4 (4 oz.) orange roughy (about 1 large filet)
4 slices lemon

Combine the first 6 ingredient and marinate for 30
minutes. Grill orange roughy 4 to 6 minutes on each side until flaky.
Baste often while cooking. Garnish with lemon.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Play Dough (do NOT eat!)

1 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 cups flour
2 cups cold water
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1-2 drops almond, vanilla, or peppermint extract (optional, for fragrance only)
food coloring

In a large pot, mix dry ingredients, then add water. Add oil, any extract if desired, and food coloring. Over low heat, constantly stir the mixture until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface or parchment paper.

Store play dough in a plastic baggie.

Kristie's Chicken and Rice

*Notice the picture was taken after we dove in! We have no restraint for waiting once this meal is cooked--it's just that good!


8 chicken thighs, thawed (you can sub in 4 chicken breasts to cut down on fat)
1 can (2 cups) chicken broth
1 cup uncooked rice
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
fajita seasoning

Mix broth, rice, cream of chicken and cream of mushroom in a bowl. Spray 8x12" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and pour mixture into the dish. Sprinkle both sides of chicken thighs with fajita seasoning. Lay the chicken on top of the mixture, evenly spaced in dish. Cook, uncovered, for 1.5 hours at 350 degrees. To keep the chicken moist, spoon some of the mixture over the chicken after it has cooked for 30 minutes. (Note: it can be cooked covered, but the cooking time will need to be increased. You could also try cooking it covered for the first hour, then uncovering it until it's done.)

Brooke's Creamy Spinach Soup

SERVES: 8-10

1 small onion, chopped
4 Tbsp. butter
3 boxes frozen leaf spinach, thawed
10 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cream or half and half
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine onion, butter, spinach, and broth in a large pot. Simmer for 20 minutes or until it is all hot and the spinach has some time to cook. Allow mixture to cool, then blend until smooth. Add cream and salt and pepper. Stir well and then reheat.

Serving Suggestions: crusty bread or grilled cheese sandwiches

Capellini Pomodoro

*This recipe is similar to the Capellini Pomodoro at Macaroni Grill.

12 oz. dry angel hair pasta, cooked
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, diced
1 handful of fresh basil leaves, sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Cook angel hair pasta according to package directions. White pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in sautee pan over medium-low heat and add garlic; cook until white. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and pepper, and heat through, stirring constantly, about 2-3 minutes. Tomatoes should not lose their shape. Remove from heat. Drain pasta and toss gently with tomato mixture in a large bowl. Grate in some fresh Paremsan cheese and toss again. Plate pastat, garnish with basil and more Paremesan.

Serve with grilled chicken breasts (like these) and a large Ceasar salad.

Any's Columbian Lentil Stew

1 cup lentils
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups water and/or chicken broth
1 large tomato, cored and chopped
1.5 cups cubed potatoes, peeled
2 pieces of bacon, cut into 1/4" pieces
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Adobo all-purpose seasoning (found in the "Goya" or international section at the grocery store)
3 Tbsp. Sofrito (found in a jar in the "Goya" or international section at the grocery store)
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sugar

In a large saucepan, add all ingredients and bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook on medium-low for about 2 1/2 hours.

You may want to add more broth/water if lentils appear too thick. If lentils appear too watery, bring heat up for a few minutes to thicken.

Serve with crusty bread as a soup; or serve over cooked rice and/or ropa vieja.

*This recipe is vegetarian if you omit the bacon and use water instead of chicken broth.

Any's Ropa Vieja

*According to Any, "ropa vieja" is the name for this dish in Havana, Cuba and it means "old clothes". In other parts of Cuba or Columbia it is called by a name that means "shredded meat" or "pulled apart meat".


1-2 lb. flank steak
1 onion, julienne cut
1 green bell pepper, julienne cut
1 Tbsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, pressed
dash of cumin
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
4 Tbsp. Sofrito (found in a jar in the "Goya" or international section of the grocery store)
1 Tbsp. Bijol (found in a small seasoning container in the "Goya" or international section of the grocery store)
salt & pepper to taste

Put flank steak in a large pot. Add half of the onion, half of the green pepper, 1 Tbsp. salt, garlic, and the cumin. Cover with water and boil flank steak for 3-4 hours or until it is very tender.

Remove the flank steak form the broth and finely shred it into a container. Pour the broth into a container on the side and save. In the same pot, add the olive oil, the other half of the green peppers and onions, tomatoes, sofrito, bijol, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir-fry on medium-high for 3 minutes, then stir in the meat in portions. Add 2-3 cups of the beef broth with onion, green pepper, and garlic. Let simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes at medium-low heat until most of the water is absorbed. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve over cooked rice with lentil stew.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Easy Chinese Stir-Fry

*Adapted from the winter 2008 Kraft Food & Family magazine.

SERVES: 4 (1 cup each)
PREP: 25 minutes

1 tsp. oil
1 lb. pork tenderloin or 2 chicken breasts, cut into thin slices
3 carrots, sliced
1/3 cup Light Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
1/3 cup hoison sauce
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Heat oil in large skillet or wok on medium-high heat. Add meat and carrots; stir-fry 5 minutes. Stir in dressing and hoison sauce; stir-fry 7 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender. Add onions; cook 1 minute.

Serve over hot cooked rice noodles (also called rice sticks), rice, or angel hair pasta.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fruit Kabob Centerpiece

3 cantelopes
1 honeydew melon
3 pineapples
3 lbs. strawberries
1/2 lb. red grapes
1/2 lb. green grapes
60 bamboo skewers

Rinse grapes and strawberries and set on a paper towel to dry. Cut the honeydew melon, cantelopes, and 2 of the pineapples into pieces approximately 1" pieces. Choose a pattern to skewer the fruit and leave about 3" on each end of the skewer (the sharp end will enter a pineapple and the blunt end will be used to serve). A recommended pattern: strawberry, cantelope, green grape, pineapple, red grape, honeydew. Skewer the fruit and set aside until ready to serve. When ready to serve/display, slice off the bottom of the third pineapple so it sits securely on a sturdy platter. Then insert the skewers, spacing about 1" apart, moving around the bottom and working upward toward the top of the pineapple.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lucky Duck Punch

1 package berry blue flavored unsweetened Kool-Aid Mix (Hawaiian Punch Blue works too)
1 (2 liter) Sprite or 7-Up
1 (64 oz) white cranberry juice or white grape juice
1 cup sugar (or to taste...I used about 3/4 cup)
8 scoops vanilla ice cream
1-3 new (washed) rubber duckies

In a large punch bowl, stir together Kool-Aid, Sprite, and juice. Taste and stir in sugar to your liking. Float scoops of ice cream on top. The ice cream melts and turns the punch a baby blue color with white "clouds" on top. Place rubber duckies or a toy boat on top to float around.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Easy Veggie Pizza

PREP: 30-45 minutes

1 zucchini squash, quartered and sliced
1 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
1/2 cup red onion, sliced into thin, 1" pieces
1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp minced garlic (or two pressed garlic cloves)
4 Tbsp yellow cornmeal
2 cans refrigerated Pillsbury pizza dough
1 cup pizza sauce
2 cups shredded Italian cheese mix (or shredded mozzarella cheese), separated
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup crumbled low-fat feta cheese

Combine zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, bell pepper, olive oil, Italian seasoning, and garlic in a medium-sized bowl. Mix to coat vegetables thoroughly. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of cornmeal on each of 2 baking sheets or pizza stones. Open pizza dough and unroll onto baking sheets or stones.

Spread 1/2 cup of pizza sauce onto each pizza dough, almost reaching the edges. Spread 3/4 cup of shredded cheese on each pizza. Spread 1/2 cup of spinach leaves on each pizza. Spread half of the vegetable mixture on each pizza. Sprinkle half the feta cheese on each pizza. Top the pizzas with the remaining 1/4 cup shredded cheese each.

Bake the pizzas at 425 degrees for 15-19 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

6 servings
Amount per Serving
Calories – 514.7
Total Fat – 15.3 g
Saturated Fat – 7.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat – 1.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat – 2.0 g
Cholesterol – 25.6 mg
Sodium – 1,410.7 mg
Potassium – 236.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate – 73.5 g
Dietary Fiber – 4.3 g
Sugars – 10.2 g
Protein – 22.1 g

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

White Turkey Chili

*Adapted from "Saving Dinner" by Leanne Ely (p.99)

PREP TIME: 30-45 minutes

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 lb. ground turkey
salt & pepper to taste
1 can cannellini beans, drained
1 can corn with red and green peppers, drained
1 16-oz. jar salsa
1 15-oz. can tomatoes with garlic and onion

In a skillet, brown turkey, salting and peppering to taste. When turkey is almost browned, add garlic and onions and cook until translucent. Drain grease, if needed. Add the rest of the ingredients and heat until bubbly and completely heated through.

Serve with cornbread.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Crock Pot Corn Chowder

*Adapted from "Saving Dinner" by Leanne Ely (p.72).
**Note to self: last time I made this we all thought it was VERY bland.


5 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 uncooked chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cans corn, undrained
2 Tbsp. butter
1 can chicken broth
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1 tsp. Kosher salt
pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

In a crock-pot, add everything but the milk and cook on low for 8-9 hours. Add the evaporated milk and cook another 30 minutes, then serve.

Serve with grated cheddar cheese on top.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Roasted Baby Red Potatoes

PREP TIME: 25-30 minutes

6 baby red potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. seasoning salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 cup chicken broth

Cut potatoes into 3/4" cubes. Add all ingredients in a large skillet and mix to coat thoroughly. Cook on medium-high heat for 15 - 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Potatoes should just be soft to the touch when finished.

Chicken Balsamic

PREP TIME: 30-45 minutes

3 Tbsp. flour
salt and pepper to taste
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. rosemary, pressed

1. On a dinner plate, blend flour and salt and pepper. Dredge chicken and tap off any excess flour.
2. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and brown quickly on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Then add the vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer until vinegar is reduced by about two-thirds.
3. Add the chicken broth and continue to simmer until the chicken is tender and fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and keep warm. Add the rosemary and keep the sauce boiling unitl it's reduced some more, about another 10 minutes.
4. Serve with sauce spooned over the top.

Serving Suggestions: Roasted baby red potatoes and steamed green vegetables or green salad.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Healthy Ravioli Toss

From Cooking Light Magazine, March 2010.

: 6 (serving size: 1 1/2 cups pasta mixture and about 2 teaspoons cheese)


2 (9-ounce) packages refrigerated whole-wheat four-cheese ravioli
2 cups (2-inch) cut green beans (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 cup thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil (about 6)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 plum tomatoes, chopped (about 1 pound)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and oil. Add beans to pasta during last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain.
2. Combine sun-dried tomatoes and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl. Add pasta mixture, salt, and pepper; toss gently to combine. Top with cheese.

Vary the veggies you toss with the ravioli. Try a combo of bell peppers and sliced red onion, or tomatoes, garlic, and plenty of fresh herbs.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Easy Shredded Meat Tacos

2-3 lb. pork or beef butt roast (most of the fat trimmed off, and cut into 2-3 smaller pieces)
1 can black beans, rinsed
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 can Rotel tomatoes (mild or medium)
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 tsp. cumin
salt & pepper
1 bottle of beer

Combine ingredients in order, in a medium-sized crock pot. Cook on high for 3 hours, then reduce heat to low for another 3 hours. When meat is tender enough to shred, pull out meat and shred with a fork, then return it to the crock pot on low until ready to serve.

Serve on tortillas with queso (white Velveeta cheese and Rotel) or shredded cheese, avocados or guacamole, and sour cream.