Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lightened-Up Lemon Loaf

Doesn't Lemon Loaf just say "Hello Spring Time"?!  That is what I was thinking when I took a happy bite.  Itwas made even happier knowing that this didn't have nearly to amount of sugar or butter you would find in a typical lemon loaf,  Enjoy the sunshine!

Lightened-Up Lemon Loaf
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cup plain yogurt (I only had strawberry on hand)

1 1/4 cups sugar
6 eggs
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice or 1 tsp Lemon Extract
1 tsp Poppy Seeds

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack to cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

(This recipe was based off of this Lemon Cake from Ina Garten)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Asian Spinach Salad (Two Ways)

How does one simply say, "Hello again!" after over two months of silence?  With this recipe of course!!  I could eat this spinach salad ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT.  Yes... you heard me right... SPINACH SALAD!  (You know how I feel about spinach, right?!) This was seriously incredible.  I am so excited to share... and yet there is just a little naughty part of me that wants to keep this one to myself to be the dish of all dishes at the next potluck. :)  This one is from my friend, Whitney, who was kind enough to share it with me, so I better follow her example and over come my selfishness.  ENJOY!  You are so darn lucky I am sharing!  You are going to love it.

Asian Pasta Spinach Salad
Asian Dressing:
1/2 c oil
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sesame seeds
3 T soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp grated garlic
*Whisk ingredients together in medium size bowl until well blended.

For the Salad:
1 package bow-tie pasta, cooked and drained
Package of fresh spinach
2-3 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 c sunflower seeds
*Toss lightly with Asian dressing, or reserve for individual servings.

Asian Spinach Chicken Salad
Package of fresh spinach
1 cup bean sprouts
2-3 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 c sunflower seeds
cooked chicken breast seasoned with lemon pepper
Asian dressing (recipe above)
*Toss lightly with Asian dressing, or reserve for individual servings.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Healthy Stove-top Popcorn

If somebody cut me open, I'm pretty sure I would bleed popcorn.  
It is my favorite and my best!!!  
Just ask my hubby, who heard stirring the last night in the kitchen and caught me making yet another batch for the fourth night in a row.  He said disgustedly, "You make more popcorn that a circus carnival!"  
And pretty much, he's right.
I can't help myself.  (Or I do help myself?)
I do believe it stems back to the fond childhood memories I have of my mother popping HUGE batches in big metal bowls every Saturday night while we watch Lawrence Welk. (Yes, I was that little girl in the sponge curlers dancing along with "Bobby and Sissy.")
So after a substantial blog absence, I thought I would "pop" back in to give you the low-down on how I pop the corn lately.  Mom always used the air-pop, which I love... butter generously drizzled over top and heavily sprinkled with salt.  LOVE IT!  But I have recently discovered a bit lighter version that I find almost just as tasty and, in my opinion, easier to make.
So here we go....

Healthy Stove-top Popcorn
It all begins with a seed. One tiny seed.
Getting a little too FernGully on you?
Well, it's true.
Actually, lets start here.

1. Drizzle olive oil in pan over medium-high heat.  Heat oil first, then add kernels.
2. Coat kernals in oil by giving a gentle shake to the handle.  Sprinkle with salt. 
3. PUT A LYD ON IT. :) (Sorry, couldn't help myself.) No really... put a lid on it.  Starts popping in about 5-6 minutes, and usually takes about 10 minutes to pop completely. (I know I sound like the instructions on the microwave popcorn, but time may vary.) 
Remove from heat when there are more than 3 seconds between pops.  If you want it a bit saltier, I give mine a gentle shake or flip mine up-side-down to let it soak in the steam on the lid and then sprinkle a little more salt.

Healthy Stove-top Popcorn Lyd-Style
*You can actually use less oil or cut this out all together- just watch it close so you don't burn the popcorn... because we all know what that smells like. :)

pan with lid
2 T Olive Oil 
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
1 tsp salt

Drizzle olive oil in pan over medium-high heat.  Heat oil first, then add kernels.  Coat in oil by giving a gentle shake to the handle.  Sprinkle with salt and "put a Lyd on it".  Starts popping in about 5-6 minutes, and usually takes about 10 minutes to pop completely. (Time may vary.)  Remove from heat when there are more than 3 seconds between pops.  If you want it a bit saltier, I give mine a gentle shake or flip mine up-side-down to let it soak in the steam on the lid and then sprinkle a little more salt.
Carefully pour into a large bowl and DEVOUR like a crazy lady who LOVES POPCORN!  That's what I would do anyway. :)
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Saturday, September 28, 2013

No Bake Skillet Apple Bread Pudding

I was so in the mood for bread pudding... RIGHT NOW... which is kind of a problem, because that is just one of those things which takes time, so it got me thinking and searching for a way to speed up the process.  Sure enough, where there's a will, there's a way!
Two things:
First, this was super easy and the apples gave it a yummy apple fritter kind of smell, only minus the fat.  My whole crew asked at some point what I was making that smelled so good. :)  You've gotta love a recipe that does that.  It would make a great breakfast, but I didn't think it was sweet enough to make it a dessert.
Second, on that note, maybe they were getting sweetness from the banana jam in the original recipe (which
I didn't have/use), but I thought it really lacked flavor and sweetness.  It just kind of tasted like french toast, so I sprinkled cinnamon and sugar over the top and that helped... but definitely needed some sweetness.
On the whole, it was a bit dry and not quite what I was dreaming of, but still yummy.  A great one if you've got some extra bread around!

No Bake Skillet Apple Bread Pudding 
1 1/2 cups milk, plus additional for drizzling (Dairy-Free milk works as well: coconut milk, almond, soy etc.)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

4 cups of cubed whole grain bread, preferably stale
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup jam (Could also use apple pie filling, or 1/4 cup sugar)
1 large apple, sliced

Cinamon and Sugar for sprinkling
Coconut oil (or other) for greasing pan

1. Heat milk in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
2. Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. When milk is hot but not yet simmering, pour milk over bread cubes. Mix gently.
3. Stir in egg yolks and jam, mixing gently until well combined. Fold in apple slices.
4. Heat 6-inch nonstick skillet over low-medium heat. Lightly grease with coconut oil. Pour bread mixture into pan and cover.
5. Cook bread pudding covered for 15 minutes, or until bottom is browned. Then flip entire pudding onto a plate and put pudding back in skillet, uncooked side down. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown.
6. Scoop bread pudding into bowls. If you like, drizzle with a bit of coconut milk and honey or maple syrup. It is best served hot. 

(I drizzled with a bit of cream... yum!)

Adapted from: (The Kathmanduo)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sweet Zucchini Pancakes

The zucchinis are taking over the world!  Actually, I kinda wish they were.  It seems anyone with a garden is anxious to get rid of them, but I audibly gulped as I noted the priced of $1.30 per pound at the grocery store.  Zucchinis are the best sneaky veggie there is!  You can disguise them in just about anything, and they don't take over.  I love them!  So if you hadn't noticed, this post is a shout out to all my friends with gardens to pass some my way so I don't have to buy them at top dollar.  OR WAIT... I guess if I were being a little less demanding, {guilty smile} this is my gift to you.  You now have another yummy way to use up those green guys. :)

Sweet Zucchini Pancakes (Tasty Kitchen)
½ cups All-purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
¼ teaspoons Baking Soda
¼ teaspoons Salt
1 whole Egg
½ cups Greek Yogurt (nonfat Is Fine) (I used plain yogurt, not Greek, and it don't think it worked as well.  Greek is quite a bit thicker, and my batter was kind of runny weird.  Just saying. :)
2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
1 whole Zucchini, Grated

½ cups Water Or Milk

Preheat a nonstick skillet or griddle to medium-high heat (350ºF).
Whisk dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt) and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg, yogurt, and melted butter together. Combine dry and wet ingredients together and mix until just combined. Fold in grated zucchini. Add water or milk a little at a time until the batter consistency reaches the desired thickness. The more you add, the thinner your pancakes will be. For me, 1/2 cup was enough to thin the batter but keep them nice and fluffy.
Scoop 1/3 cup of batter onto the griddle and gently spread the batter if necessary. When you see bubbles rising around the edges, flip the pancakes. I found that some of the pancakes took as long as 10 minutes to cook (5 minutes per side). Top with butter and maple syrup!
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Sunday, September 15, 2013

63 Kid-Friendly Healthy Snacks

"Mom, I'm hungry!  I want a snack!"  

If you've got little ones, you probably just recently heard those words, and unless you are "The Model Mother", you are probably just about to reach for the nearest cheap, sugar-filled granola bar or the overprice, under-nourishing gold-fish crackers, but... STOP... WAIT... DON'T!!!  
Here, I have compiled a list of my favorite PRACTICAL Kid-Friendly Snacks that I prepared for my little crew over the summer (yes, this has been a long time in the making) that we both liked, because they were tasty, easy to prepare, used things I had on hand, and were fairly balanced and nutritional.  So before your toss them a fruit snack packet loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, consider tossing them a REAL fruit snack, or something fun on this list.
*Please know that I'm not saying your a wicked mother if you give your kids fruit snacks or goldfish.  I would be a hypocrite if I were. :)  I'm only "nudging" you and the kids to branch out and discover something on this list that might be just about as easy to prepare and much more satisfying.
Also, these were just the ones that came to mind.  If you can think of more good ones, by all means, add them in the comments!  I'm always open to new great ideas.

Happy Snacking!

63 Kid-Friendly Healthy Snacks

  • Apple Slices & Peanut Butter (My 2nd Favorite!)
  • Sliced Veggies (i.e. carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, or bell peppers) & Ranch Dip
  • String Cheese & Tomato Juice
  • Trail Mix (Nuts, raisins, mini-marshmallows, chocolate chips etc.)
  • Ants on a Log (Celery, Spread Peanut Butter, and Raisins)
  • Healthy Granola Bar (LARABAR's are my latest favorite.  The simple, healthy ingredient list with astound you!)
  • Nuts & Raisins
  • Fruit & Yogurt
  • Yogurt & Granola (or for quick Good Morning Granola)
  • Apple Sauce & Cheese Slices
  • Cottage cheese & Fruit or Tomato Slices
  • Melon
  • Whole Wheat Pitas & Hummus
  • Hard Boiled Egg & Slice of Toast
  • Kale Chips
  • Sliced Wraps (tortilla, cream cheese spread, ham slice & sprouts) (Julia's Wraps)
  • Muffin Tray Sample Plate (Put whatever you have on hand in the muffin cups... kids love it!)
  • Snack Kabobs (skewer whatever you have on hand)
  • Frozen Peas
  • Frozen Grapes
  • Almonds & Fruit
  • Smoothie (The Green Smoothie from Bliss From Scratch)
  • Pickles
  • Peanut Butter Banana Toast (Monkey-Bee Sandwiches)
  • Canned Fruit
  • Sweet Potato Chips
  • Healthy Muffin (Three Grain Muffin)
  • Dried Fruit (Mango or Apricots)
  • Ricotta w/Fruit
  • Deli Meat Slice & Fruit
  • Edamame
  • Tuna (w/ a tiny put of mayo or plain yogurt and salt) & Crackers
  • Grapefruit w/a bit of salt or sugar (I still can't abide this, but for whatever reason my kids love it. :)
  • Oatmeal & Fruit
  • Yogurt & Graham Cracker (I'm LOVING Greek Yogurt lately... so creamy and more protein)
  • Mini Pizza (English Muffin, sauce, & pepperoni, Microwave)
  • Juice Ice-Cubes
  • Chips & Salsa
  • Whole Wheat Breadsticks & Tomato Sauce for dipping
  • Pudding (Homemade Dairy-Free Chocolate Pudding)
  • Wimbledon Strawberries (strawberries, sour cream or plain yogurt, and brown sugar)
  • Chocolate Slim Fast Drink w/Banana
  • Nut Mix
  • Whole Carrot
  • Cheesy Toast
  • Cheese Quesidilla Slice
  • Fruit Cups
  • Warm Refried Beans & Tortilla Chips
  • Creamy Fruit (Sliced Fruit drizzled kefir) (*FYI Kefir was done wonders for my digestive systems... not to give too much info. :) It's loaded with pro-biotics... super good for you!  I put it in my smoothies every morning. I use The Greek Gods brand in the dairy section at Winco.  It's about $3.00 per quart. Worth every penny!)
  • Sliced Bananas, Milk, & Honey (My dad used to give this to me for a bed-night-snack :)
  • Sliced Fruit w/drizzled honey
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich slices
  • Peanut Butter & Honey Sandwich Slices
  • Banana Chips
  • Cheese Chips (cheese melted over chips)
  • Crackers & Cheese
  • Steamy Brown Rice w/Parmesan Cheese and salt
  • Tomato slices w/mozzerella cheese slices
  • Cinnamon Baked Apples (Microwave 2-3 minutes)
  • Toast w/Ricotta and Strawberries
  • Apple Sandwiches
  • Healthy Cookies (Giant Breakfast Cookies)  
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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fresh Fruit Tart

Yes- I know it screams USA all the way! and I bet your are saying to yourself, "where was this post for our 4th of July picnic?"  The answer... it was collecting digital dust in the "Food 2013" folder of my desktop, just waiting for me to blog it.  Life has been busy, and I'm running a bit late on posts.  So lets just pretend it's Independence Day and you're thoroughly impressed with my foodie display of patriotism, shall we? :)
So here is a lovely Fruit Tart in memory of the summer days that are all but gone.
I found this one on my cute Sis-in-law, Amy's blog.  It looked too good to pass up.  Maybe it was also because of the cute picture of my precious niece on the post.  I LOVED the crust.  It was SO EASY!  I recently got a food processor and it was a great easy crust recipe, that also tasted good.  I wasn't as crazy about the filling, and I think that was probably a lot my fault.  Hers looked lovely, but I just couldn't get my cream to whip and the cold made the butter chunk up and it was just kind of a runny, fatty mess.  But... it still tasted good and the fresh fruit make just about anything taste good.  It was a real treat... And a pretty one to boot!
Thanks for the recipe, Amy!

Fresh Fruit Tart
Tart Crust:
1/2 C. powdered sugar
1 1/2 C. flour
1 1/2 sticks of butter (3/4 C.)

1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese
1/4 C. brown sugar
1 C. whipping cream
1/2 C. powdered sugar
zest of about half and orange (add more if you want it to be more citrusy)

black berries
fresh pineapple
any other kind of fruit you would like (blueberries, peaches, oranges, pears, apples, mango, plums, apricots, etc).

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the crust ingredients in a food processor until it starts to ball up. Now, just use your fingers to press into a 12 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. If the crust seems a little thick, feel free to use a little bit less of the dough. I have actually halved the recipe before and made a thinner crust. Both ways are good! This crust is sweet and flaky and tasty, so thick or thin is delicious. 
2. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the crust is ever so lightly browned. It may take just a little longer, so just watch it. Let it cool completely before removing it from the pan. 
3. Beat together the cream cheese and brown sugar. Separately beat the whipping cream and powdered sugar together until medium peaks form and you have a nice whipped cream. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until combined. Fold in the orange zest. 
4. Once the crust is cool, top it with the cream topping. Slice up all the fruit and throw it on top. Just throw it on or make a pretty design with it. You will want to eat this fairly soon after you top it. 
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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Meatballs in Creamy Mushroom Sauce

I had a friend share a package of the costco meatballs with me... quite handy!  I also like to make my own homemade meatballs, too.  Once you've made them though, you need a way to dress them up a bit.  This worked well for a busy weeknight.

Meatballs in Creamy Mushroom Sauce (
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil ( I used Olive oil)
1 (10 1/2 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup low-fat milk ( I used whole milk because that's what I had on hand)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 lb frozen meatballs ( I had made my own)
1/2 lb linguine, uncooked ( I used spaghetti, but I think any rice would be ok too)
*I also added paprika, salt and pepper and a little extra cream.

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain and keep warm.
Saute mushrooms and onion in oil until tender.
Stir in soup, milk, and Worcestershire sauce.
Add meatballs.
Cover; simmer 10-15 minutes or until meatballs are thawed and heated.

Serve over noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley (I used dry Italian seasoning).
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

100% Whole Grain Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Zucchini's on!!! It's that time of year, isn't it?  Let me guess... you found this one in your frantic hunt for  squash recipes.  You are trying to think of ways you can sneak in the green goodness, aren't you?  Well, here is a healthy one... at least as far as cake is concerned.  Be forewarned that it is very filling!  It's 100% Whole Wheat by-cracky!  I was stuffed after one slice.  It tasted {how do I say it?} healthy... but that can also be good. :)

Note: She used a Greek Yogurt Honey Chocolate Ganache that sounds lovely, but I didn't make because I was missing some of the ingredients. I made this "Creamy Yogurt Frosting" and it was pretty terrible.  It didn't work at all- super runny and the butter got all chunky.  It was weird.  Would not recommend it.

100% Whole Grain Chocolate Zucchini Cake (Texanerin Baking)
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 40 min
Ready in: 55 min
Yield: 12-14 pieces

Zucchini cake:
¾ cup (177ml) olive oil or canola oil
1 cup (320 grams) honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
¾ cup (177ml) Greek yogurt
290 grams whole wheat flour (this was about 2 cups or 2¼ cups)
1¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
90 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder (about ¾ cup cocoa)
3 cups (for me, this was 340 grams) grated, peeled zucchini
1 cup (180 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Grease a 12 cup bundt pan or 6 cup if you want to make half. Preheat your oven to 350°F / 176°C. For the cake, combine the honey, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl. At first it'll be difficult to get the honey incorporated, but it'll work. Stir in the eggs and then the Greek yogurt. Set this bowl aside.
In another large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Sift the cocoa powder into the bowl if it's lumpy, or just use a fork to get rid of the lumps. Add the wet mix to the dry mix and stir, just until combined. Fold in the zucchini and the chocolate chips.
Bake the full recipe for 40 minutes, or if using half, bake for 30 minutes. When you insert a toothpick in the middle, the toothpick will not come out dry, or even with crumbs, but it'll come out covered in sticky batter. If you insert it, and it's just normal batter, it's not ready. Sticky batter is what we're looking for! It'll continue to cook once it's out of the oven.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then flip out onto a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before icing.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Kale Chips

Honest and truly, I never pictured myself even putting a bundle of leafy kale in my grocery cart.  Yes, I know... I too have heard of all it's miraculous nutritional healing powers, but what the heck do you do with the stuff?  It is simply not edible!  (I've tried it in green smoothies and it is what I call a disaster! I can't even pretend it is palatable.  Good for you if you think otherwise.)  I am just not the torture-your-taste-buds-to-go-green type... although I have lots of friends who are, and I will certainly cheer you on.
I am probably a bit more like the lady at the end of this {hilarious} clip. (I love Studio C.)
That being said (and watched), I like being healthy and when "healthy" and "practical" meet up... that is where I stand.  Here is a lovely sample of that marriage.  I had a friend, Becky, tell me how she makes kale chips from the kale she grew in her garden.  She said her kids eat it like popcorn or Doritos.  She often serves it as a snack during movies.  I smiled, nodded, and agreed that that was pretty awesome... however, in the back of my head I was guilty of laughing and saying to myself, "RIIIIGHT. Of course they do."  Then she gave me a sample.  I was shocked... literally eating my words.  EUREKA!  There IS a way to make kale taste good! (And it is incredibly easy!!!) 
Even my 4 year old anti-anything-green boy will eat these.  He proudly announced when dad got home from work that, 
"Er made chips a'day.  Er made them with leabs.  Like in the trees."
And that's just what we did.

Kale Chips
Fresh kale (about 4 stalks)
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt (or regular)
Lemon juice
*You could also add other seasoning if you feel brave. i.e. garlic or onion powder, Parmesan, season salt, etc.)

Rinse kale.  Peel the kale away from the stems. (This is a great job for little kiddos.)  Pieces can be small or large.  Put the kale leaves in a large bowl.  Drizzle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. (More or less as needed.)  Add a little drizzle of lemon juice (if desired) and toss the leaves to coat.  (Sometimes I rub the oil with my thumbs.)  Add salt and toss.  Spread on a large baking sheet.  (I like to have it up on a rack for even baking.)  Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until the kale turns brown and gets crispy.  Cooks quickly, so watch it close. (I like mine more crispy, so I usually go longer, but it doesn't taste good burned. :)
Allow them to cool and munch away!  Be prepared to make another batch soon, because the go fast!
*If they don't get gobbled up (which is rare) I have found the the best was to store them in is a Tupperware in the fridge.  They are pretty delicate/crumbly, so be careful.)

I feel like I just saved the world.... one kale chip at a time.
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Friday, August 2, 2013

Crockpot Potato Soup

I just couldn't bare the thought of posting a hot soup recipe in July, so I've been holding out on this one.  August is still hot, but somehow it just sounds more "autumnish."  Well, it doesn't get much easier than this folks!  (Nor much creamier.  Not the healthiest. :)  This is a super easy recipe that you can throw in the crockpot, or... do like me, and speed things up even more by doing it over the stove.  You basically just throw it all in and heat it up.  This was a hit with my whole crew... which is saying something, seeing as how I served it up in 100 degree weather. :)

*Lyd's Tip: Rather than use the flavorless, overpriced store-bought hash-browns, just pull out a few of your left-over baked potatoes and grate them up.  (I use my food processor and it takes no time!) The cook up better and make a much smoother, creamer texture anyway! :)

Paula Dean's Easy Potato Soup (Raining Hot Coupons)
1 Bag of frozen hash-brown potatoes – squares, not strips (30 oz bag) (Or grated baked potatoes)
1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped onion (depends how much you like onion)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Cans of chicken broth (14.5 oz each)
1 Can cream of chicken soup
1 Package Cream Cheese (softened)
Cheese for the top!
Combine all the ingredients (except for the cream cheese and cheese) and mix well then cook on medium to 4-5 hours.
Add the cream cheese (softened) at the end and cook for another 20-30 minutes.
Add some cheese to the top (optional)
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Monday, July 22, 2013

Black Bean Pasta Salad

Looking for a yummy summer salad to perk up your picnic?  Look no further!  I have a hard time resisting a pretty colorful salad, and this one just looked like a party.  It tasted pretty good, too.  I did take some liberties by adding a bit of salt, pepper, paprika and a couple others things, because I felt it was pretty bland on it's own.  I will confess that my kids weren't crazy about this one.  Just too much going on I guess, and I couldn't get them to really eat it.  I liked it, but be warned that it makes a big batch, (or probably more like: I don't messure very carefully and it all grows... a lot) so unless you have a crowd, you might want to half it... or eat the left over for a couple meals after like me. :)

Black Bean Pasta Salad (Kraftfoods)
2 cups  shell macaroni, uncooked (I used whole wheat pasta)
1 can  (15 oz.) black beans, drained, rinsed
1 can  (7 oz.) corn, drained
1 can  (4 oz.) chopped green chiles, drained
½ cup  chopped celery
½ cup  chopped onion
¼ cup  KRAFT Mayonesa con Limón (I just added a little lemon juice to regular mayo and I think it worked fine.)
(I also added 1 red bell pepper- I think it really enhanced taste and look.)
(Defeintely add some sald and pepper or other seasonings, to taste.)

COOK macaroni as directed on pkg.; drain.
ADD remaining ingredients; mix lightly. Cover.
REFRIGERATE several hours or until chilled.


Substitute canned garbanzo or pinto beans for the black beans.
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lip Smackin' Ribs

Who needs a grill when you've got a crockpot to make those ribs tender and juicy!  These ribs were tasty and VERY easy to prepare.  They are a perfect 4th of July picnic dish, because while your slow cooker is doing the work, you have time to prepare some yummy side dishes and visit, PLUS you end up with "Lip Smakin' Ribs" in the end. Yum!
Happy 4th!

(I know this is probably a crime to admit, but I actually don't much care for ribs.  Yes, the meat is great, so much work to get to-- and so messy.  It just seems like a lot of fat, bone, and tendon.  I think when I try this recipe again, I will get a boneless cut of pork and enjoy it a whole lot more.  Mind you, this is just between you and me. :)

Lip Smackin' Ribs (Simple and Delicious)
3 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup prepared mustard
2 tablespoons honey
3 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons dried savory
1 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Brown ribs in batches; transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients. Cook, covered, on low 6-8 hours or until meat is tender. Yield: 8 servings.

Nutritional Facts
1 serving equals 474 calories, 20 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 109 mg cholesterol, 1,117 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 31 g protein.
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Monday, July 1, 2013

The Best Red Velvet Cake

I never have quite enough food coloring to make a truly red Red Velvet cake... It's kind of tragic really.  They always end up more of a pinkish hue; however, what they lack in color, they make up for in flavor. :)  Or at least, that is what I like to tell myself.  I was in a hurry, so I didn't want to make the cake completely from scratch, but I also didn't want it to taste like a cake mix.  This one met both demands and turned out pretty good.  I think the addition of these different ingredients really dressed it up.  Just make sure you have enough red food coloring. :)  I thought it would be fun to add blueberries to the mix and make it kind of a festive patriotic dessert.  
Happy Independence Day!

The Best Red Velvet Cake (The Cake Mix Doctor)
Solid vegetable oil shortening, for greasing the pans
Flour, for dusting the pans
1 (18.5-ounce) package plain butter recipe golden cake mix
2 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease 3 9-inch round cake pans with shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out excess flour and set the pans aside.

Place the cake mix, cocoa powder, buttermilk, food coloring, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, baking soda and vinegar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are incorporated, 1 minute. Stop machine and scrape down side of bowl with rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes longer, scraping the side of the bowl again if needed. The batter should look well-blended. Divide batter evenly among 3 prepared pans, about 1 ½ cups batter per pan, smoothing the tops with rubber spatula. Place pans in the oven. If your oven is not large enough to hold 3 pans on center rack, place 2 on that rack and one in the center of the rack above.

Bake cake layers until they just start to pull away from the sides of the pans and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 17 to 21 minutes. The layer on the higher rack may bake faster so test it for doneness first.

Transfer cake pans to wire racks and cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and give the pans a good shake to loosen cakes. Invert each layer onto a wire rack, then invert it again onto another rack so the cakes are right side up. Let the layers cool completely. Make frosting.

To assemble the cake, transfer one cake layer, right side up, to a serving platter. Spread the top with some of the frosting. Place a second cake layer, right side up, on top of the first and frost the top. Repeat this process with the third layer. Frost the side of the cake with a thin coat just to set the crumbs. Use the remaining frosting to go back over this and liberally frost the side, working with smooth, clean strokes. To make slicing easier, place uncovered cake in the refrigerator until frosting sets, 20 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
Place 1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese and 1 stick (8 tablespoons) of room-temperature butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Stop machine and scrape down side of bowl with rubber spatula. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 4 cups sifted powdered sugar; beat on medium speed until well combined. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat the frosting for 1 minute longer.

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Perfect Turkey Burgers

...And they are!!!  My kids avoid mushrooms and onions whenever possible, but I minced them really finely in the my food processor, and they didn't even noticed them; however, I did.  They added so much yummy flavor and moisture.  I have tried a couple turkey burger recipes and my hubby and I thought this simple, but tasty recipe was a winner!  Happy grilling!  It has been too hot here to do anything else! :)

Perfect Turkey Burgers (Food Network)
1 large portobello mushroom cap (I used a small can, drained.)

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped shallot (I just used an onion)
3 tablespoons lightly packed fresh parsley
1 1/4 pounds 85% to 93% lean ground turkey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 thin slices manchego or white cheddar cheese
4 English muffins, split
Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and sliced avocado, for topping

Use a spoon to scrape out the gills from the underside of the mushroom cap. Cut the cap into 1-inch pieces and transfer to a food processor. Add the shallot and parsley and pulse until chopped.

Transfer the mushroom mixture to a large bowl. Add the turkey, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; gently mix with your hands until just combined. Divide into 4 balls, then lightly press into 4-inch-wide, 1-inch-thick patties. Put on a large plate, cover and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat a grill to medium. Brush the grates with olive oil. Grill the patties, undisturbed, until marked on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Give the patties a quarter turn and cook until marked again, 4 to 5 more minutes. Flip the patties and grill until cooked through, 6 to 7 more minutes; top each with 2 slices cheese during the last 3 minutes of cooking and cover with a disposable aluminum pan to melt.

Toast the English muffins on the grill, then spread with mustard and mayonnaise. Serve the patties on the English muffins; top with avocado.

Per Serving (does not include toppings): Calories: 500 ;Total Fat: 26 grams; Saturated Fat: 11 grams; Protein: 40 grams; Total carbohydrates: 28 grams; Sugar: 1 gram; Fiber: 2 grams; Cholesterol: 100 milligrams; Sodium: 741 milligrams
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Strawberry Delight Cake

I wish I was better at knowing a good deal when I see one.  Strawberries were on sale a little while ago, and I didn't realize it until afterwords.  I wish I had stocked up!  At least I have this yummy dessert as consolation. :)

Strawberry Delight Cake (101 More Things to do with a Cake Mix)
1 strawberry cake mix (I didn't have strawberry cake mix, so I just used a yellow cake mix.)
1 cup white chocolate or vanilla chips
1 large box vanilla or cheesecake instant pudding

8 ounces whipped topping
sliced strawberries, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix cake batter as directed on back of box with electric mixer 2 minutes.  Stir in white chips.  Pour batter into a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake as directed.  Allow cake to cool.
While cake is cooling, make instant pudding according to directions on box.  Allow pudding to thicken in refrigerator.  Cut cake into long, skinny pieces.  Place one slice of cake on a small plate.  Place a large scoop of pudding over cake.  Place another slice of cake over pudding.  Add more pudding.  Top with whipped topping.  If desired, garnish each serving with sliced strawberries.
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Quinoa Pancakes

Quinoa Pancakes have a very "healthy," chewy ring to them, so my husband and kiddos were quite skeptical when I served them up hot off the grittle, but we were all happy with the results.  I've been hearing a lot about how nutritious quinoa is, and I had some left-overs that I had added to the Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, so I thought I would give this a try.  They were actually pretty tasty!  (Possibly in part, because I added just a bit a sugar to give it some sweetness. :)  We had ours with some applesause and it made for a yummy, healthy, filling breakfast!

Quinoa Pancakes (Popsugar)
1 cup cooked quinoa
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus more for skillet
1/4 cup low-fat milk
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, plus more for serving (I used sugar, because I was out of syrup)
Fresh fruit or fruit preserves (optional) for serving

1.     In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, egg white, butter, milk, and syrup until smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine.
2.     Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with butter and heat over medium-high. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on top, 2 minutes.
3.     Flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes. Wipe skillet clean and repeat with more melted butter and remaining batter (reduce heat to medium if overbrowning). Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit or preserves if desired.

Makes about 12.
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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

I was shocked to have left-overs of the delicious chicken cordon bleu, but I guess I shouldn't have been because I made a really big batch.  When I looked in the fridge the next day thinking, "Hmmm... what's for dinner?" I saw that chicken breast and the left-over wild rice I served with it, and I love turning one good meal into another, (make's me feel quite magic), and POOF... not to brag, it really worked on this one.  This was some of the yummiest soups I've had in a long time!  It came together quickly- heck, I didn't even peel the carrots.  A very happy chicken was served two delicious ways. Yum!

Lyd's Tip: To clarify, take advantage of chicken left-overs from meals like thisthis, or this.  Save time cutting and cooking raw chicken, and just chop up the left-overs and turn them into a delicious soup.

*I also added some sliced zucchini, chopped cabbage, and cooked quinoa, which my family isn't too keen on as a side dish, but all said they loved in the soup... score!

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 small onion or 1 large shallot, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 small carrots, chopped
salt & pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
8 cups chicken broth
2 chicken breasts, cut in half
3/4 cup wild/brown rice blend
1 cup milk
1/4 cup flour

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrots, season with salt & pepper, then saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and thyme then saute for 1 more minute.
Add chicken broth then increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add chicken breast halves and cook until no longer pink in the center, about 10 minutes, then remove to a plate and set aside. Shred when cool enough to handle. Add wild/brown rice blend to the pot then place a lid on top, turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 40-50 minutes or until rice is tender. 

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup milk with flour until smooth then add remaining milk. Slowly drizzle into soup while stirring. Add chicken then simmer soup for 10 more minutes uncovered and serve.

Recipe From: Iowa Girl Eats
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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Golden Chicken Cordon Bleu

Pounding... strike that, tenderizing a chicken is not the best way to "win friends and influence" new neighbors.  I was making a lot of racket with this one, and I'm sure they were wondering what was going on on the other side of the wall.  Then I think I made them all jealous with the delicious smells wafting through my front door when it was done.  I should have shared... that would have made some true friends... but alas, I was quite stingy... this one is "highly-labor-intensive" in my opinion.  People will try to tell you that is't not, but they are probably lying... just like the girl who whips up the cute ruffly dress for her daughter and tells you it was "SO EASY!" and it's almost like she's trying to rub in your deficiencies.  Nope, I'm going to be honest... anytime you have to layer and roll something up (particularly inside the tenderized breast of a chicken) and it involves carefully placed toothpicks, that automatically bumps it to a new level of difficulty in my book.
All that being said, it was quite scrumptious.  I took this one on because
A. I happened to have all the ingredients.  Swiss cheese doesn't show up in my kitchen often.
and B. I remembered learning to make it at a women's activity, and the lady was trying to tell everyone it was "SO EASY!" and I went home and told my hubby, "Well, I will never make that again!  Way too much work!"  And I just kind of wanted to see if I could actually do it.  Silly, I know... but I did it.  DELICIOUS enough that it might, just might make it off my "one-time-fix cooking bucket list." :)

*I doubled this recipe.  I felt like there was a lot of the flour mixture though- I had extra, but I guess that is better than being short, right?  I used a whole package of chicken, and I put the left-overs (including the wild-rice) to great use... stay tuned and I will tell you how.

Golden Chicken Cordon Bleu
Swiss cheese (3/4 ounce each)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I added dried parsley and salt)
1 tablespoon canola oil
Flatten chicken to 1/4-in. thickness; top each with a slice of ham and cheese. Roll up and tuck in ends; secure with toothpicks.
In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt, paprika and pepper. In another bowl, whisk egg and milk. Place bread crumbs in a third bowl. Dip chicken in flour mixture, then egg mixture; roll in crumbs.
In a small skillet, brown chicken in oil on all sides. Transfer to an 8-in. square baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. (I used a meat thermometer and it took mine at least 40-45 minutes) Discard toothpicks; drizzle with butter. Yield: 2 servings.
Nutritional Facts1 serving (prepared with reduced-fat butter) equals 501 calories, 23 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 172 mg cholesterol, 728 mg sodium, 23 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 49 g protein.
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Whole Wheat Breadsticks

Squashed Spaghetti is one of my favorite stand-byes.  I can make it in no time if I microwave the squash (like this), and even faster if I make it a meatless meal... but sometimes it seems a little naked all by itself.  My husband and kids get a lot more excited if I add something like these yummy breadsticks. :)
I was attracted to the "quick and easy" in this recipe.  Sometimes I see that claim, and I feel impelled to try the recipe, just to see if it's as easy as they claim.  I felt like this was pretty quick and pretty easy.  Making yeast dough just takes a little works, and adding snazzy toppings isn't exactly "quick" but the labor was pretty minimal, and worth it in the end.  I couldn't get mine to rise much and I think I over-baked them a bit, but I kind of liked the "crunchiness" I accidentally created. :)  Maybe, I'm just looking on the bright-side, which isn't hard to do with this on your plate.

Quick and Easy Whole Wheat Breadsticks (From Clean Eating in Texas)
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbs dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp salt
1.5 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried basil
Topping ingredients:
4 Tbs Butter, melted
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp parsley flakes
1/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano, grated

Preheat oven to 375.
Dissolve yeast in warm water.
Add remaining ingredients and make soft dough.
Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, and allow to rise until doubled (30 mins)
Punch down dough after 30 minutes.
Melt 2 Tbs of butter, and pour in 9×13 baking dish. Evenly coat the bottom of the dish.
Roll out the dough to fit pan.
Place dough in pan.
Pour remaining 2 Tbs of melted butter on the top of the dough, evenly coating.
Cut the dough into strips lengthwise and then one cut vertically down the middle so as to halve the long strips.
Top with garlic salt, Parmesan Cheese, and parsley.
Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes, to give it time to puff slightly.
Bake at 375 approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown.