Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Love to cook!

So, today I realized that I really love to cook and that I've lost that over the last few years with school and now working at the VEC. Yeah, it's THAT depressing! So I am on a mission to love to cook again.

Including subscriptions to Everyday Food and Cooking Light magazines! Ordered them today!

So, here's tonight's endeavor:

Creole Chicken and Panzanella.

Creole Chicken

-2 Split Chicken Breasts
-Emeril's Creole Seasoning

Rub the dry-seasoning/rub on the chicken, and let marinate in the refrigerator. I let mine sit in there for maybe 45 minutes, but the longer the better.

Place in a greased (sprayed) glass dish (or any other 13" X 9".

Drizzle olive oil over the chicken, and bake at 375 until the juices run clear.

And now the star of the show....


Adapted from Everyday Food


•5 cups crusty bread, cut or torn into one each pieces
•2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into one each pieces
•1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
•3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
•2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
•coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
•1 cup basil leaves, torn
•2 cups fresh ricotta (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Spread bread on a baking sheet and toast until golden, about 20 minutes.

2. Combine tomatoes, onion, vinegar and oil in a large bowl. Season to taste with a little salt and pepper.

3. Add toasted bread and basil and toss to combine. Let sit for 20-30 minutes so bread can soak up the liquid.

4. Divide among plates and top with a generous spoonful of ricotta, a drizzle of olive oil, and a little more salt and pepper.


I didn't use the ricotta that was called for, but rather sliced up some fresh mozzarella. WARNING: don't add the bread until you're ABOUT to serve it. The bread got really soggy and it was gross. It ruined the salad. I had a bunch of bites while it was fresh, and it's amazing. Just don't let it sit 20-30 minutes like the recipe says.

Some Raisinets for dessert and an amazing husband who cleaned my kitchen SPOTLESS:

Finally, a salad that satisfies!

So, I'm not a big salad person for a few reasons. And by salad person I mean just a salad for a main meal. I LOVE salads with dinners, etc. just not by themselves.

So anyways, here was today's lunch and it was good.


-Romaine Lettuce
-Banana pepper (from my garden!!)
-Rotisserie Chicken

And the dressing...

Fabulous! Now off to start dinner: Baked Creole Chicken and Panzanella. Yum! Oh, and Double Tree Chocolate Chip Cookies for dessert! WHAT??!?!!?!??

Monday, August 9, 2010

Drew's Birthday Dinner, Part II

This past weekend we were in NJ for my brother Ian's wedding to Kim. It was an AMAZING weekend filled with AMAZING food. Most times I was too "lit" to take pics, so I apologize, but the food was outstanding.

Drew's birthday was Sunday, and it ended up being overshadowed by the wedding, which was ok. We went out to Applebees last night when we got home to celebrate, and tonight I made him his favorite dinner, NACHOS. And Apple Pie for dessert.

First up, the nachos. I had taken ground turkey out of the freezer initially planning on making BBQ Meatloaf for dinner, but then saw a recipe for nachos and was JONSING big time.

So, I looked at a Weight Watchers recipe I found on a blog, but I adapted it, ok pretty much changed it entirely to make it my own.

Turkey Nachos


2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1.3 lbs Ground Turkey (most packs of ground turkey are ~1.3lbs.)
1/2 onion chopped
1 garlic cloved, minced
4 Tablespoons taco seasoning
15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
16oz. jar of salsa or taco sauce (original recipe called for "taco sauce" which is a smooth, runny sauce, but I used chunky southwest style salsa with chunk veggies)


1.) In a large pan on medium heat, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until tender, approximately 3-4 minutes. Add ground turkey and break up as it's cooked, until browned.
2.) Add taco seasoning and continue to brown.
3.) Add black beans to the mixture and then add the salsa/taco sauce.
4.) Simmer until thoroughly heated.

Here's what mine came out looking like:

Then, choose your toppings:
-Cheddar Cheese
-Sour Cream
-Fresh Salsa

We used Tostito's Scoops, cause it's really fun to build your own nachos!

And then time for dessert!!

This is a direct recipe from Better Homes and Garden's Cook Book.

Apple Pie

Prep: 30 mins
Bake: 1 hour
Oven: 375°
Makes: 8 Servings

2 Pillsbury (or whatever brand) roll out pie crusts or your own crust dough
6 cups thinly sliced, peeled cooking apples (I used 3 large apples, 2 granny smith, one gala)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
3/4 cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 cup dried cranberries (optional- I’ve done the pie with and without, both awesome!)
Milk (optional)
Sugar (optional)


1.) Prepare and roll out Pastry for double crust pie. Line a 9” pie plate with half of the pastry.
2.) If desired, sprinkle apples with lemon juice. (this also keep them from browning)
3.) In a large bowl stir together the ¾ cup sugar, the flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add apple slices, and if desired, cranberries. Gently toss until coated.
4.) Transfer apple mixture to the pastry lined pie plate. Trim bottom pastry to edge of plate. Cut slits in the remaining pastry; place on top of filling and seal. Crimp edge as desired.
5.) If desired, brush top pastry with milk and sprinkle with additional sugar. To prevent over browning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake in a 375° oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes or until fruit is tender and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.

Every cook/baker has their trademark design for pies, mine is a scripted A. This time I added a small "30" for my love's birthday.


Well, the nachos were sooo amazing, and there's PLENTY of meat left for taco salads for lunches the next few days! Yum!

I need to get off here to cut the pie and servie it up ala mode to the "birtday boy!" Yes, I meant birtday...

I'll let you know how the pie was, but between the golden brown look of it and the divine smell, I'm sure you know!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

I HATE Mondays! Then again, who doesn't? This Monday wasn't THAT bad though, I gave my notice at work. I told my supervisor that I'm going back to school full time. Now I just have to wait and see if it's ok that I stay on part time.

I didn't post last night as I was too lazy to go thru the photo routine. My computer won't read my camera card, so I have to upload to dh's computer, then save to memory stick to get them to mine. Total PITA. Pain in the ass.

I had planned on going to Hip-Hop class last night, so prepared a Caprese Insulate, or Caprese Salad for a filling snack to hold me (and sister Lyn) over until dinner after class around 9. It was FABULOUS.

Caprese Salad

-Fresh Mozzarella
-Olive Oil
-Balsamic Vinegar

There are much more complex versions of this salad out there, believe me, I looked them up on all my recipe apps on my iPod Sunday night. Most were a little more involved and let's face it, I'm lazy. I even had fresh basil in the fridge but was too lazy to take it out, clean it, and add it to the salad. I simply sprinkled dried basil and it was still out of this world.


Dinner time!

I love my husband for many reasons, but last night I fell even more in love with him. He offered to make dinner. Now I'm trying to lose weight and am currently on WW, so WW friends, LOOK AWAY. This dinner will take your points just by looking at it.

Yes, gloriously processed Mac and Cheese and kielbasa and cheddar links. Bon Appetite.

I actually totaled up what I ate and it wasn't as bad as I originally thought. I ended up with a 13 point dinner, not too shabby! A cup of mac and cheese prepared is 9 points (probably less as I cut down the butter by 2/3), and 2 servings of kielbasa is 4 points. (Turkey kielbasa) About halfway through that bowl my body was like "oh, HELL no!" you're not eatting that. So I gave the rest to dh.

Needless to say I spent the rest of the night with an AWFUL stomach ache. Just drowned it with water and moved on!


Tonight's meal was another minimal effort on my part. Breakfast for dinner. YUM. Didn't photograph as I was WAY to hungry to take the time to, but consisted of:

-2 eggs over easy
-Hash browns (with Mrs.Dash)
-Decaf coffee

Kinda looked like this, just add hashbrowns:

Oh, and some decaf coffee, these are the shiznit:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Much Ado About Buffalo Lasagna

Ok, so the hot topic on the Weight Watchers boards is Buffalo Chicken Lasagna. I was intrigued... as was the hubs. We both love wings, and this was the wing version of lasagna. I had all the ingredients on hand too which was nice.

Here's the recipe:

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

12 Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles, uncooked
1 lb. skinless chicken breast, cooked and cubed
3 cups spaghetti sauce (cheese blends are best)
1 cup Texas Pete Buffalo-style Wing Sauce
1 ½ cups water
15 oz. nonfat ricotta cheese
½ cup egg substitute
½ cup blue cheese crumbles or pepper jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a small mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese and egg substitute and set aside. In a different mixing bowl, combine water, spaghetti sauce, wing sauce and chicken. Spread approximately one cup of the sauce and chicken mixture across the bottom of the pan, and arrange four of the noodle over the sauce. Spread a layer of sauce over the noodles, and then spread a layer of the ricotta mixture over the sace. Add another layer of noodles and repeat the process until you end with a layer of just the sauce and chicken mixture. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 60 minutes. Remove dish from the oven, sprinkle blue cheese crumbles evenly over the top. Place back in the oven uncovered and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Makes 9 servings!

Some notes:
-People were saying they used Frank's Red Hot Sauce, I'm sure that works too.
-Adjust to your liking heatwise.
-Some people cooked the noodles ahead of time, it's a LOT of water to add, 1 1/2 cups.
-I added some ranch dip seasoning to the ricotta, as per many reviews.


Ok, so I was NOT thrilled. It was hotter than ANYTHING!!! My mouth and lips were on FIRE. Seriously. I ate less than half the serving size and went and got this for dinner:

2 Tablespoons of port wine cheddar and 2 sevings of unsalted saltines. MUCH better.

I know I screwed up the sauce, so I'm thinking that's the problem. I was pouring the hot sauce into the spaghetti sauce when all of a sudden I realized I was using the WRONG hot sauce! I had 2 bottles of Texas Pete, Buffalo Wing Sauce (correct one) and Hot Sauce (which I was using!) Oops.

So, I added more tomato sauce and then added the Buffalo Sauce. This is where I killed it. TOO HOT.

Lyn and Drew LOVED it, with Lyn taking seconds and Drew thirds. The both like spicy things, so they were fine. So if you like hot things, you'd like it. My face was sweating it was that hot to me.

I may make it again, not completely sold yet, but will definitely tweak it some. Maybe make it a Rigatoni dish instead of lasagna? Or cook the pasta ahead of time? The noodles were rubbery and yet tough to cut.

So, to cool off my mouth, 3/4 cup of Turkey Hill Philadelphia Style Vanilla Ice Cream with Reese's Magic Shell did the trick:

Coffee Break Muffins

So, I woke up this morning with a strong motivation to bake. With no milk or buttermilk. Bare bones in the fridge, let me tell you.

So, I started flipping through some cookbooks, and decided on Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. I bought this at Marshalls or TJMaxx for $12.99, on recommendation from my mom. She's made quite a lot from this book and LOVES it, as do I.

So I settled on the only breakfast recipe I could find that didn't require milk or buttermilk.

Coffee Break Muffins


2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 T instant espresso powder
1 T baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 cup strong coffee, cooled
1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

1.) Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
2.) Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-sized muffin pan or fit the molds with paper/foil muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
3.) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, espresso powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, making sure there are no lumps.
4.) In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the coffee, melted butter, egg and vanilla together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. (Don’t worry about being thorough-a few lumps are better than over mixing the batter. Divide evenly among muffin cups.
5.) Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from it’s mold.

Makes 12 muffins, 4 WW points each.


Ok, so now time to review them. Lyn LOVED them, I wasn't thrilled. They were good, just not stellar. The recipe says that they are better cooled, room temperature at a later time. So here's hoping??

Today I need to get things ready for Ian and Kim's wedding next week, eeek! SOOOO excited!!

Stay tuned for Buffalo Chicken Lasagna tonight!