Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

This recipe is from a blog called, 'Sweet Pea's Kitchen.' It makes about 4 dozen cookies, so I sent some to work with Nick and took some to my work, as well. Everyone loved them! The one criticism was that they were lacking in pumpkin flavor (I agreed). They are a wonderful snickerdoodle, but next time, I will definitely increase the pumpkin pie spice. You may also want to add some pumpkin pie spice to the cinnamon-sugar mixture that you roll the cookies in. I also decreased the baking time to about 8 minutes (instead of 10-12 as the recipe states).

Also important to note: My cookie dough mixture was way too soft and sticky to easily roll the dough into balls. I put the dough in the fridge for about an hour and that did the trick! A delicious fall treat...definitely a keeper!

2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (use more for a better pumpkin experience :)
1-3/4 cups sugar, divided
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
Adjust the oven racks to the upper-and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or use non-stick spray); set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 1-1/2 cups sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, as needed. Add the egg and beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin puree and beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a 1½-inch ball, roll the ball in the sugar mixture, and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the balls about 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until the edges are set and just beginning to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 5 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

I'm back!!! Copy-Cat Panera Mac 'n Cheese

So sorry to all of you who have been waiting and waiting and waiting for new recipes! I have two excuses:

The first is the craziness of our summer. We were on the go ALL THE TIME. When I had time to cook, I was making my old stand-bys...the quickest and easiest recipes I could find! Which leads to my second excuse...

PREGNANCY! I am currently 22 1/2 weeks pregnant with our little boy :) For the majority of the summer, I didn't feel like trying new recipes, let alone even look at food! I am feeling much better now and we are so excited to meet our little Caleb - sometime around the 24th of January! Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment...

Isn't he cute?? We sure think so :) Now...onto the recipe! I'm not sure why it took me so long to discover Panera's Mac 'n Cheese. It is heaven in a cup! I saw a few copy-cat recipes on Pinterest, so of course I needed to give one a try! This recipe is from the blog, 'Smells Like Home.' I didn't expect it to be AS good as Panera's...and it wasn't...but it was darn close! And soo delicious! Enjoy...

16 oz. shell pasta or other small pasta shapes
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half
4 oz. white American cheese, chopped or torn into pieces
8 oz. extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, shredded
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. hot sauce (like Frank’s)

In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.

While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1-1/2 minutes whisking constantly.

Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.

Remove sauce pan from the heat and add cheeses by the handful, allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Return the sauce pan to the heat and stir in the pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the sauce pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through. Serve hot in bowls with spoons.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken

I do apologize for neglecting my blog lately! It has been a crazy summer for us so far. I have been using a lot of "old" recipes, forgetting to take pictures of new ones, etc. Here's a good slow-cooker recipe to try on a busy weeknight. It's really yummy and you can serve it over rice or use it to stuff tortillas. Garnish with your favorite toppings! Recipe courtesy of the blog, 'Chef Mommy.'

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup salsa
1 package taco seasoning (or 1 Tbsp. of homemade taco seasoning)
1 cup sour cream
Hot cooked rice, for serving (optional)
Desired toppings (shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, pinto beans, etc.)

Put chicken, soup, and salsa in slow cooker. Sprinkle taco seasoning over everything. Cook on low for 6 hours. If shredding the chicken, pull the breasts out and shred; return back to slow cooker. Stir in sour cream and heat just until everything is combined. Serve over rice with favorite toppings, if desired.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Southwest Stuffed Peppers

We love stuffed peppers! This recipe puts a Southwestern spin on the classic recipe. If you like a softer pepper, you will want to briefly cook the peppers before adding the filling. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and ribs, and add to a large pot of boiling water. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove peppers with a slotted spoon and immediately add to a bowl of ice water. Cool slightly before filling. If you have extra filling, freeze it or use it for burritos the next day! Recipe courtesy of the blog, 'Let's Dish.'

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
2 cups cooked rice
4-6 bell peppers
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn, thawed (or canned)
1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chilies
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds and ribs. Coat the pepper halves inside and out with about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place into a lightly greased baking dish.

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, saute the onion and garlic in remaining olive oil until soft. Reduce heat to medium and add ground beef; cook until beef is no longer pink . Stir in taco seasoning. Add diced tomato and green chilies, corn, beans and sour cream. Stir and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in cooked rice and cilantro.

Generously fill peppers with meat and rice mixture. Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until peppers are just tender. Remove from oven and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Return to oven, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes more, until cheese is melted and peppers are tender. Garnish with additional cheese, cilantro, avocado or sour cream, if desired.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spiced Chipotle Honey Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

I will be making this again. And again. And again :) So yummy. And so good for you!! The flavors are amazing and the chicken is tender and juicy. Recipe courtesy of

4 sweet potatoes (10 ounces each), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. honey, plus more for drizzling
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs.)
Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, chipotles, garlic, honey, vinegar, salt, cumin, and cinnamon.

Take 2 teaspoons of the above mixture and place in a separate, medium-size bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to this medium bowl. Mix well and add your sweet potatoes. Toss to coat.

Scatter the potatoes on the bottom of a roasting pan, and bake 15 minutes. Meanwhile, rub the chicken breasts with the rest of the spice mixture (from the small bowl).

After the 15 minutes in the oven, stir the potatoes. Then carefully place the chicken on top of the sweet potatoes, and continue to roast until the chicken is just cooked through (registers 170 on an instant read thermometer), about 15-20 minutes longer

Divide the potatoes and chicken evenly among serving plates and drizzle with honey and garnish with cilantro.

Jalapeno Creamed Corn

This is a quick, easy, and delicious side dish perfect for potlucks or holiday get-togethers! The 3 seeded jalapenos creates zip, not heat, so even kids will love it! Recipe courtesy of

1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, room temperature
8 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced
3 cans (15 ounces each) of white shoepeg corn, drained

Mix all ingredients together and spread in an ungreased 9x13 pan. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Stir again before serving.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Indian Pizza

We first enjoyed this pizza when we had dinner at our friends' house. The vegetables and ground turkey make this pizza a healthy choice! And, because there are so many flavors, you don't need as much cheese. The 'sauce' is is a combination of cilantro, a jalapeno pepper, olive oil and salt. This recipe is a keeper! Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray.

1 pound store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature (or make your own)
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 large jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup EVOO
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1/4 large red onion, sliced

Invert a 13-by-18-inch baking sheet onto the bottom of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees . Oil a second baking sheet and stretch the pizza dough to fit the pan.

In a mini food processor, pulse the cilantro, jalapeno and 2 tablespoons olive oil until a paste forms; season with salt. Spread the paste on the dough, then sprinkle with the cheese.

In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the turkey, season with salt and cook, breaking up the meat, until just barely cooked, about 2 minutes. Stir in the zucchini and onion. Top the pizza with the meat mixture. Place the baking sheet on the preheated baking sheet in the oven and bake until the crust is golden, about 20 minutes.

French Onion Soup

My husband and I love restaurant-style French Onion soup. I have tried a few recipes, but this one is (by far) the best! Next time, I will put a slice of cheese over the top of the soup crock (so that it melts down the sides like in the restaurants :) Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence from the Food Network.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 cup red wine
3 heaping Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
1/2 pound grated Gruyere cheese

Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes.

Add the wine, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes (it took about 20 minutes for me).

Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

When you're ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyere and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup in bowls and float several of the Gruyere croutons on top.

Alternative method: Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Southwest Casserole

I don't make a lot of casseroles because they tend to be higher in calories, fat, and sodium. But, they are delicious! I came across a recipe for a southwest casserole and decided to create one of my own. Because of all the flavors going on (onions, jalapeno, bell pepper and spices), you may not need to add additional salt...always taste your dishes before you add it! I included black beans to add some fiber, making sure I rinsed them to get rid of any excess sodium (do the same with the corn). I also used part-skim mozzarella cheese (I can't really taste a difference and it is the same price as full-fat). Enjoy!

1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey (you won't be draining the meat)
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 of a large red or orange bell pepper, diced
1 seeded jalapeno, diced
16 oz. tomato sauce
10 oz. canned diced tomatoes with green chiles
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 cup canned corn, drained & rinsed
1 cup canned black beans, drained & rinsed
1/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups dried elbow noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese
Sliced green onions, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly coat a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

In a large skillet, brown ground beef or turkey with onions, bell pepper and jalapeno.

When the meat is cooked and the vegetables are soft, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes with chiles, oregano, cumin, and chili powder. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the corn and black beans and simmer for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the mozzarella or jack cheese until melted. Gently stir in the cooked pasta. Pour into prepared casserole dish and top with cheddar or Mexican cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Roasted Potatoes, Chicken Sausage and Peppers

2 thumbs up from my hubby on this one! And, it was probably one of the easiest dinners I've made in awhile! With sausage, potatoes, peppers, and onions, it's a complete meal! No side dishes necessary. Recipe courtesy of

1.5 pounds (about 3 large) potatoes, russet or new
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks
2 red bell peppers, seeds removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
1 tsp. chopped rosemary (fresh or dry)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Non-stick cooking spray
1 pound Italian chicken sausage (Al Fresco's) - cut each link into 6-7 slices
  • Note: This was my first time trying Al Fresco's Chicken Sausage. I will continue to buy it! So yummy, and good for you, too! I bought the variety with jalapenos and roasted red peppers...I would definitely recommend it if you like a little spice!

Cut the potatoes into small 1" x 1/2 inch pieces. These take the longest to cook so cutting them small ensures everything cooks evenly.

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray one large non-stick baking sheet, or two small ones with cooking spray to prevent the potatoes from sticking. I covered my baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up!

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, onions, peppers, olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic powder. Mix well to be sure everything is coated with oil and seasoned evenly. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and place in the center of the oven; bake for 15 minutes.

Use a spoon to toss so that nothing sticks or burns.

Add the sausage to the baking sheet with the potatoes and vegetables and bake, tossing once or twice for 25-35 minutes, or until your potatoes are cooked through.

Cooking time will very depending on the thickness of your potatoes and sausage, so keep an eye so they don't burn. Serve & enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Baked Lemon-Pepper Tilapia with Garlic Parmesan Orzo

Mmmm...tilapia. I created this recipe last night. Quick and easy. We quite enjoyed this dinner and the beautiful weather as we relaxed outside on our deck (it was around 80 degrees in PA yesterday!) Serve this fish with Garlic Parmesan's realllllly good (see recipe at the bottom of this post).

4 tilapia fillets (4 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. lemon-pepper seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic salt or powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil.

Rinse tilapia fillets under cool water and gently pat dry with paper towels.

Place fillets in baking dish. Drizzle melted butter and lemon juice over fillets. Sprinkle with the lemon-pepper seasoning and garlic salt.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the fish is white and flakes when pulled apart with a fork.

Serve with lemon wedges.

Garlic Parmesan Orzo (
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Cook orzo according to package directions; drain. In a large skillet, saute garlic in butter until tender. Add the orzo, Parmesan cheese, milk, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until heated through.


Crock Pot Chicken a la Criolla

I found this recipe on and made several changes. I used breast meat instead of thigh meat, added a jalapeno, and increased the amount of garlic, olives and seasonings. Serve with brown rice for a healthy and satisfying meal!

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast meat
1 small onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
4 plum tomatoes, chunked
1/4 cup pitted green olives (plus 1 Tbsp. of the brine)
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin
Salt, to taste
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (plus 2 Tbsp. more for serving)
Brown rice, for serving

Place chicken, onion, garlic, peppers and tomatoes in the crock pot. Season with salt, cumin and oregano. Mix well so everything is seasoned.

Add tomato sauce, olives along with 1 Tbsp. of the brine, 1/2 cup water, bay leaves and cilantro. Mix well and set crock pot to HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 6 hours. When done, taste for salt and seasoning and adjust spices as needed. Add 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro and serve over rice.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Overnight, No-Cook, Refrigerator Oatmeal

This oatmeal is stored in the fridge overnight, allowing the oats to absorb the liquid and soften. It is high in protein and calcium (thanks to the milk and yogurt) and loaded with fiber (thanks to the oats). A super healthy breakfast that you can just pull out of the fridge and eat (it is eaten cold) - no fuss in the morning! Nick and I have been enjoying these all week :) Major thanks to The Yummy Life blog for this great idea.

 What you will need to get started:

  • Old-fashioned rolled oats (NOT instant, quick, or steel-cut)
  • Milk (soy, almond, coconut, or skim cow's milk)
    • We use vanilla soy milk to add sweetness.
  • Non-fat Greek yogurt (plain or flavored)
  • Desired mix-ins (see below for examples)
  • 1/2 pint (1 cup) mason canning jars
An optional ingredient is Chia Seed. Yes, the same seeds from Chia Pet! Chia seeds have a neutral taste and are packed full of Omega 3's (containing more than flax seed), protein, and fiber, and are loaded with Calcium, Potassium, Vitamin B and antioxidants. Unlike flax seed, these seeds can be eaten whole and do not need to be ground up in order for the body to digest them and absorb its nutrients. I found Bob's Red Mill brand of chia seed in the organic foods section at Giant.

1. Add the following to each mason jar:
  • 1/4 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp. chia seeds (optional)
2. Put a lid on the jar and shake to combine.

 3. Next, add desired mix-ins and stir gently, to combine. We have been using fresh fruit, fruit preserves, peanut butter, cocoa powder and honey. You can use whatever you like! Some examples:
  • 1 Tbsp. blueberry preserves + 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp. strawberry preserves + 1/4 cup fresh sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup applesauce + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter + 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder + 1/4 banana, sliced
4. Secure lid and place in fridge overnight and up to 2 days.

Garlic Cheesy Bread

I saw this idea on Pinterest and decided to cheat a little bit by using Pillsbury's Crusty French Loaf dough (find it in the dairy's packaged in one of those blue tubes like their cinnamon rolls). Feel free to make your own French bread loaves from scratch, if you have time. I made my own garlic butter (instead of buying pre-made) because it's a cinch. Use whatever kind of cheese you like! You will LOVE this bread...I mean, hello? Look at this cheesy, garlicky goodness!!

1 package Pillsbury Crusty French Loaf dough (found in dairy aisle)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. garlic salt (or plain garlic powder if using salted butter)
1/4 lb. cheese (I used provolone, but mozzarella or white cheddar would be delicious, too!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from the package and place (as is) onto a lightly greased baking sheet (seam-side down). Cut 4 or 5 shallow slits on top of the loaf. Bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the melted butter, minced garlic and garlic salt or powder.

After the 20 minutes of baking time is up, remove the bread from the oven and brush generously with some of the melted garlic butter. Bake another 5-7 minutes or until the bread begins to turn a golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, thinly slice the cheese.

Cut 1-inch slices 3/4′s of the the way through the loaf. Brush garlic butter in between each slice and fill with a slice of cheese. Bake another 3-5 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.
Serve immediately.

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin (Slow-Cooker)

Stop whatever you are doing and make this right now!!! :) Not only is this recipe easy peasy, but it tastes Ohhhh. Soooo. Gooood. The pork is so tender that it just falls apart. And the glaze....wowwww. So excited to share this one! Recipe courtesy of Let's Dish.

1 (2 lb.) boneless pork tenderloin
1 tsp. ground sage
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. soy sauce (I used low-sodium)

Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over pork loin. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

About 1 hour before pork is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush pork with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cream Cheese Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes are sooooo goooood. Easy to make, too. Great for a bake sale or potluck. Found this recipe at when I was looking for a dessert to make and take to a friends' house. I love black-bottom cupcakes, so I wanted to try these :) I took it as a compliment with our friends asked to keep the leftovers!

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp. salt
2 cups chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla

For cream cheese filling: In a bowl, beat cream cheese. Add sugar, egg and salt. Mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Set aside.

For cupcakes: In another bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix well.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups half full with cupcake batter. Top each with 2 tablespoons of cream cheese mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. Makes 18 cupcakes.

Baked Chicken Marsala

I came up with a new favorite Chicken Marsala recipe, starting with a recipe from an old community cookbook. I love that the dish is finished in the oven, resulting in saucy, bubbly, cheesy goodness :) Serve the chicken and sauce over pasta with a leafy green salad or steamed veggie.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into nugget-size pieces
3/4 cup flour (or more, if needed)
2 eggs, beaten
3 or 4 Tbsp. butter
1 cup chicken bouillon (1 cube + 1 cup boiling water)
1 small can of mushrooms
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup Marsala wine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare 2 shallow dishes - one with the beaten eggs and one with the flour. Heat 2 Tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

Dip each chicken piece in the egg, dredge in the flour and then place in hot, buttered skillet. Cook the chicken pieces until golden-brown and no pink remains (adding more butter, as needed). Place cooked chicken in a baking dish.

Reduce heat to simmer/low and add chicken bouillon to the chicken drippings in the skillet. Slowly stir in Marsala wine. Simmer for 3-5 minutes.

While simmering, place mushrooms over the chicken (in the baking dish) and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Carefully pour the simmering cooking wine and drippings over the chicken in the baking dish. Place in oven to brown for 15-20 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Glazed Pork Chops

I have never been a pork chop fan...until now :) Super easy, super cheap, and super delicious! The cayenne pepper and brown sugar are the perfect spicy/sweet complement to each other. I found this recipe on

4 thick-cut pork chops (boneless or bone-in - doesn't matter)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. EVOO

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the brown sugar and spices.

Trim excess fat from the pork chops. Rub pork with the brown sugar/spice mixture (all over on both sides). Use all of the spice mix.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the pork chops and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until they are nicely browned.

If you are using an oven-safe skillet, place the skillet in the oven for an additional 5 minutes to make sure they are cooked through. If your skillet is not oven safe, transfer the chops to a baking sheet lined with foil then place in the oven.

Remove the chops from the oven and drag each side around in the thick glaze that has formed around the chops in the pan prior to serving.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Squares

Make these oatmeal squares for quick, grab-and-go breakfasts during the week! They remind me of baked oatmeal - yum! They are healthy, too - no butter or oil and only 1/4 cup of brown sugar! Top with more peanut butter, if you like :)

1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large mashed banana
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Mix together the quick cooking oats, light brown sugar, baking powder, kosher salt and ground cinnamon.

Add in the vanilla extract, milk and egg. Mix the ingredients together. Then add in the mashed banana and peanut butter. Combine all of the ingredients.

Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 8x8 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Cut into squares and enjoy!

Spaghetti Night at the Kipe's

Spaghetti is a staple at our house. It is usually my go-to dinner when I don't have a lot of time. Instead of buying spaghetti sauce (like Ragu), I like to use plain tomato sauce and add my own spices. It saves you a couple of bucks, too..I can get a 15.5 oz. can of Giant-brand tomato sauce for 79 cents! Cheap, cheap, cheap! I usually have the other ingredients in my pantry (onion, garlic and spices). You can buy a small box of spaghetti for less than a dollar and you only need a 1/2 lb. of ground beef.

The texture and flavor of this sauce are perfect for us, but feel free to make your own changes like adding ground turkey, mushrooms, or other spices (such as red pepper flakes). There is no need to add tomato paste unless you like a really thick sauce.

Note: This recipe is perfect for 2 people. You will definitely want to double (or triple) the recipe if you're serving 3+.

I usually serve spaghetti with a small leafy green salad and garlic bread. I like to make my own garlic bread by using leftover sandwich bread or hamburger buns. Preheat your oven to 425. Place bread on baking sheet. Spread each slice with butter and sprinkle with desired spices (I use garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, thyme and parsley). Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, pop it in the oven for 5-7 minutes and you're done!

1/2 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (15.5 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 bay leaf
Hot, cooked spaghetti

In a large, non-stick skillet, brown and cook the beef over medium heat (there is no need to add oil because of the fat from the meat). Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a small bowl and keep warm. Drain some of the grease, reserving about one teaspoon - use this to saute the onion and garlic (in the same skillet) until tender.

Add ground beef back to the pan and add the tomato sauce and seasonings. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf and serve over hot pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Saucy Thai Beef Noodles

This recipe is courtesy of Taste of Home. I loooove Thai food with peanut butter! My hubby, on the other hand, doesn't like peanut butter with his noodles :) It all depends on your personal taste. Give it a try!

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. sherry
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 drops hot pepper sauce
12 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1 beef top sirloin steak (1 pound), thinly sliced
1-1/2 tsp. canola oil, divided
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh carrot
1/2 cup julienned sweet red pepper
1 cup fresh snow peas
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro

In a small saucepan, bring the first eight ingredients just to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; set aside.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.

In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry beef in 1/2 teaspoon oil until no longer pink. Remove and keep warm.
Stir-fry carrot and red pepper in remaining oil for 3-4 minutes. Add snow peas and onions; stir-fry 2-3 minutes longer or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Return beef to skillet.

Drain noodles; add to the pan. Add peanut sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro. Yield: 6 servings.

Vietnamese Caramelized Shrimp

Warning: If you've never had fish sauce before, you may be a little surprised at the strong fishy smell and flavor. But, if you love Vietnamese cuisine (and are familiar with fish sauce), you'll love this dish!

1/4 cup fish sauce
2 Tsp. dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds extra large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine fish sauce, dark brown sugar, crushed red pepper flakes and water in a bowl and whisk until brown sugar is dissolved.

Heat vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook a few minutes more. Do not brown.

Turn heat up to medium-high and add shrimp. Cook, stirring frequently, until shrimp are just barely pink and still translucent in spots, a few minutes. Add fish sauce mixture, turn heat down to medium, and simmer until shrimp are cooked through, a few minutes more.

Off the heat, stir in scallions and cilantro. Serve immediately with jasmine rice.

Bourbon Street Chicken

Another Pinterest recipe :) Add your favorite vegetables (or whatever you have in the fridge) for a complete meal. So yummy!

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 Tbsp. EVOO
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 tsp. ginger
3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce (I used low-sodium)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch (if thicker sauce is desired)
Hot cooked rice

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned. Remove chicken.

In a medium bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Add mixture to skillet and cook over medium heat until well-blended and dissolved. Add chicken and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

Serve over rice.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Old Bay Hot Wings

In planning our Super Bowl party menu, my hubby said to me, 'I want wings!' He did his own research and found this awesome recipe on It was a real crowd-pleaser and we are making them again next weekend! They are mildly spicy and the Old Bay adds great flavor. Who knew wings were so easy to make (I was ready to buy from a pizza place!)? You won't be disappointed!

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
2 pounds chicken wings
2 1/2 Tbsp. red hot sauce, preferably Frank's Red Hot
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with vegetable oil.

In a bowl, mix the flour with the salt and Old Bay seasoning. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Spread the chicken on the baking sheet in a single layer and spray with vegetable oil. Roast the chicken for 45 minutes, turning once or twice, until browned and crispy.

In a bowl, toss the chicken wings with the hot sauce, butter, and Worcestershire sauce. Serve with bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks, if desired.

Bleu Cheese Stroganoff

I LOVE mushrooms. Nick, on the other hand, does not. I've been looking for a beef stroganoff recipe that doesn't call for mushrooms or mushroom soup. This one is delicious! Even if you're not a bleu cheese fan, give it a try! Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home.

1/2 - 1 pound boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
1/4 tsp. beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup fresh or frozen sugar snap peas
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup 2% milk
Hot cooked egg noodles
Bacon crumbles (for topping, if desired)

In a small skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towel. In the same skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink.

Combine bouillon and water; stir into skillet. Add peas. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until peas are tender.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, bleu cheese, flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Stir in milk. Gradually stir into beef mixture. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Serve over noodles; sprinkle with bacon. Yield: 2 servings.

Flavorful Chicken Rolls

Mix and match different ingredients to please your palate! Sun dried tomatoes? Asparagus? Feta? Yum!

5 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
2 cups fresh baby spinach
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces crumbled bleu cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
5 thin slices deli turkey or ham
1 egg
1 Tbsp. milk
3/4 to 1 cup seasoned Panko bread crumbs

Flatten chicken breasts to 1/4-inch thickness. Place a single layer of spinach over chicken.

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, bleu cheese, basil and pepper until blended; spread over spinach. Top each chicken breast with a turkey slice, trimming if necessary. Roll up and secure with toothpicks.

In a shallow bowl, beat egg and milk. Place bread crumbs in another bowl. Dip chicken rolls in egg mixture, then coat with crumbs.

Place seam side down in a greased baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Discard toothpicks.

Spinach, Artichoke & Chicken Mac 'n Cheese

Another recipe from Rachael Ray. I made a few is so tasty! Definitely one of our favorite meals.

1 pound semolina or whole wheat penne (or whatever kind of pasta you have on hand)
2 Tbsp. EVOO
3 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups milk
1 cup cooked & chopped chicken breast
1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and wrung dry in a kitchen towel (you can use fresh, too)
1 10-ounce can chopped artichoke hearts
1 1/2 cups shredded Italian Fontina cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top
Bacon bits (for topping, if desired)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta, salt water and cook pasta to al dente.

While the pasta water comes to a boil, place a medium pot over medium-low heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons, and the butter. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook the veggies until very soft, about 10 minutes. Then heat the broiler and position rack in the middle of the oven.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and sprinkle the flour into the pan. Cook for about 1 minute then whisk the wine into the pan, cooking for another minute to burn off the alcohol. Whisk the milk into the pan and bring up to a bubble. Add the chicken, spinach, artichokes, salt and pepper to the sauce and simmer until thickened and the chicken & vegetables are warmed through, 2-3 minutes more. Add 1 cup of each of the cheeses to the sauce and stir until melted.

Toss the prepared sauce with the cooked pasta and transfer to a casserole dish. Sprinkle some more Fontina and Parmigiano over the top and bake until the cheese has melted and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with bacon bits, if desired.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Yes, this is more of a summer salad...BUT strawberries were BOGOF at the store this week and I had spinach that needed to be used...And, it's one of my favorites :) It's my mom's recipe and everyone always raves about it. This is the first time I made it for Nick. He usually doesn't like fruit mixed into salads, but he really liked it! As I tell my preschoolers, "Try it, you'll like it!"

12 oz. fresh baby spinach
1 qt. strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. green onion
1 1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Place spinach and strawberries in a salad bowl. In a container with a tight lid, combine remaining ingredients and shake well. Pour over salad or serve on the side.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Slow-Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry

I have been looking for a good chicken curry recipe for quite some time. This one is from Taste of Home. With a few changes, this could be the one I have been looking for. It was a little bland for our taste, so this is what I plan to do next time...Instead of white potatoes, I plan to use sweet potatoes to add more flavor. I will also add a few spoonfuls of sugar to give it sweetness (using sweetened coconut milk may make it too sweet). We like things on the spicy-side, so I will probably also had a minced jalapeno. A little more salt and some garlic would be good, too. To save money, I did not use the suggested toppings (coconut, raisins & peanuts) because I did not have them on hand. I love using my slow-cooker for this recipe (and many recipes) because the chicken becomes so tender. Give it a shot! I will definitely make it again (with my changes!)

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small onion, chopped
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
1 cup light coconut milk
4 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. reduced-sodium chicken bouillon granules
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cups hot cooked rice
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
Raisins, flaked coconut and chopped unsalted peanuts, optional

Place potatoes and onion in a 3- or 4-qt. slow cooker. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, brown chicken on both sides.

Transfer to slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the coconut milk, curry, garlic, bouillon, salt and pepper; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until meat is tender.

Serve chicken and sauce with rice; sprinkle with green onions. Garnish with raisins, coconut and peanuts if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

What's better than tomato soup with grilled cheese? Homemade tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons! This soup has few ingredients, but lots of flavor! We both really enjoyed this recipe, from Family Fun magazine. I would highly recommend it! The croutons were delicious, too. The thyme adds a little something extra. I also used some garlic salt and removed the crusts. Enjoy...I know you will :)

Ingredients - Soup
6 cups (3 pints) cherry tomatoes
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 cup whipping cream

Directions - Soup
Heat the oven to 400°. On a baking sheet, combine the cherry tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the salt and pepper. Toss the ingredients to coat evenly and spread them in a single layer. Roast the tomatoes until they are shriveled with brown spots, about 35 to 45 minutes.

In a large pot, heat the butter and the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the broth, the thyme, and the roasted tomatoes, including any liquid on the baking sheet. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes.

Using a food processor or blender, puree the soup until it's smooth. Return it to the pot and stir in the cream. Without letting the soup boil, warm it over medium heat, stirring often, until steaming. Add salt and pepper, if necessary.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with Grilled Cheese Croutons (see below). Makes about 10 cups.

Ingredients - Croutons
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp. thyme
6 thin slices of bread
3 ounces American or Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

Directions - Croutons
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, combine the butter and thyme. Spread one side of each bread slice with the butter mixture. Place 3 slices in the pan, buttered side down. Top with the cheese, then with the remaining 3 bread slices, buttered side up. Cook, turning once, until toasted on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
Remove the sandwiches from the pan. Let them cool slightly, then cut them into 1-inch squares.