September 20, 2010

What's cookin' this week? September 20, 2010

Hello healthy eaters! Fall hasn’t quite decided to arrive yet in Ohio, but my body is ready for it to be here. I’m doing a little “fall dance” and having a fall comfort food week. Maybe the soups and pastas will inspire some cooler weather, turning leaves and all the fun of fall! I am looking forward to baking some pumpkin, apple and other yummy fall treats in the upcoming weeks. I’ll be sure to post some recipes. What are some of your favorite fall dessert recipes? My co-workers LOVE when I get the baking itch because they typically benefit.

So, this week is not only comfort food, but it’s also reader recipe week. Thanks ladies for sending these recipes in! I am looking forward to trying them out. We'll enjoy them for lunches all week too!

Chicken Tortilla Soup (I had a package of the veggies and seasoning for this, but I'm sure you can find plenty of recipes for this fabulous fall favorite)

Smart Taste Pasta
Garlic Bread

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder
Crispy bread

Mac and Cheddar Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli

Leftovers and relaxing

Smart Taste Pasta
From Micheline Ricker

Rotini or Spirals (try wheat)

1 onion
1 green pepper
1 lb of ground turkey
Choice of tomato sauce
Choice of shredded cheese – try Italian blend

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Boil pasta per box directions
Saute onion and green pepper and turkey
Once turkey is done, add mixture to sauce and then add sauce mixture to your noodles in a 9x13 pan. Top with cheese and bake 20 min.

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder

From Anne MacFarland


1 can diced green chilis (little tiny can)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2c diced green onion (can use more or less if you want)
1 can cream of potato soup
1 package taco seasoning
1 package Steamfresh corn (already microwaved for 3min)
Chicken broth (I use about 3c, but you can use less or more depending on how thick you want the soup)
1 roasted chicken (the kind you buy cooked from the grocery store)
1c sour cream (I use lite)
1-2c shredded cheese (any kind...I like the Mexican mix)

Shred chicken. Saute onions in soup pot for a few minutes in a little bit of olive oil. Then add to soup pot: tomatoes, chilis, potato soup, taco seasoning, corn, and chicken broth. Bring to boil. Turn down heat to med-low and add chicken. Stir in sour cream and cheese. Serve. (I like to serve this with a salad or just with crusty bread depending on how hungry we are).

Mac and Cheddar Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli
From Mari Jo Sellers and Rachael Ray

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Level: Easy
Serves: Yield: 6 servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan

1 pound chicken breast tenders, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1 pound macaroni elbows or cavatapi corkscrew shaped pasta twists
2 1/2 cups raw broccoli florets, available packaged in produce department
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
3 cups whole milk
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups yellow sharp Cheddar
1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard

Place a pot of water on to boil for macaroni. Heat a medium pan over medium to medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and chicken and season with salt and pepper. Saute a couple of minutes then add onion and cook another 5 to 7 minutes until onions are tender and chicken is cooked through. Turn off heat and reserve. To boiling pasta water, add pasta and salt to season the cooking water. Cook 5 minutes, then add broccoli and cook 3 minutes more or until pasta is cooked to al dente and florets are just tender. While pasta cooks, heat a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Add butter and melt, then add flour, cayenne and paprika and whisk together over heat until roux bubbles then cook a minute more. Whisk in milk and stock and raise heat a little to bring sauce to a quick boil. Simmer sauce to thicken about 5 minutes. Drain macaroni or pasta and broccoli florets. Add back to pot and add chicken to the pasta and broccoli. Add cheese to milk sauce and stir to melt it in, about a minute or so. Stir in mustard and season sauce with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken and broccoli and cooked pasta and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings, transfer to a large serving platter and serve.

September 12, 2010

What's cookin' this week? Sept. 13, 2010

Fall usually means crazy schedules and lots of traveling for us. This year doesn’t seem to be any different. Last week we had something going on every night so we were able to use up some frozen leftovers from previous weeks and grab some healthy meals to go. But, this week looks a little calmer and I’m eager to get back in the kitchen.

In a few weeks, I’m having a Thirty-One party and Tastefully Simple party. This week, I’m using up some of my Tastefully Simple stuff so I can order more next week! If you haven’t checked out Tastefully Simple items before, check out their web site at If you don’t have these items, you can always substitute something similar. I always try to use up what I have at home and I have quite a bit of this stuff. These recipes are also pretty simple so I only have a dozen items on my grocery list. Woo hoo!

Also, remember an easy way to make any meal healthier is choosing better or healthier ingredients like low fat or fat free products or substitute ground turkey for ground beef. Try it before you turn your nose up. They aren’t that bad.

YOUR TASK THIS WEEK: send your favorite healthy recipes. Next week is going to be reader’s favorite recipes week. I already have a few that I’m excited to try, but need some more so send them my way!

So here is this week’s menu based on some yummy Tastefully Simple recipes.

Bountiful Greek Pizza
Fruit salad

Pesto Chicken (my hubby’s favorite!)
Green beans

Creamy spinach and herb penne
Beer bread

EZ Meatloaf
Leftover beer bread


Bountiful Greek Pizza

Bountiful Beer Bread Mix®
12 oz. beer
2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. ground pork sausage
1 Tbsp. Greek oregano
2 Tbsp. Onion Onion™
1 Tbsp.
Garlic Garlic™
Water as needed
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
6 oz. can black olives
Grated mozzarella cheese or Italian cheese blend (optional)

Prepare bread as directed on package with beer, Italian seasoning and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Spread in greased 9 x 13 baking pan; drizzle with olive oil. Brown sausage with oregano, Onion Onion™, Garlic Garlic™ and water if needed. Spread sausage mixture evenly over uncooked bread batter. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese, feta cheese, olives and optional cheeses, if desired. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Makes 10-12 servings.

Pesto Chicken

3 Tbsp.
Dried Tomato & Garlic Pesto Mix
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. water
8 oz. softened cream cheese
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 egg
Crushed crackers or breadcrumbs (Ritz work well)

Prepare Dried Tomato & Garlic Pesto Mix as directed on jar with olive oil and water; mix with cream cheese. Pound chicken breasts flat; spread mixture on top. Roll up chicken, dip in egg, and roll in crackers or breadcrumbs. Place on greased baking sheet; bake at 425° for 35 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Creamy Spinach & Herb Penne

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
4 Tbsp.
Spinach & Herb Dip Mix
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups Penne pasta, uncooked

Melt butter in skillet, add flour and whisk on low until mixture turns a golden color. Slowly add milk and continue to whisk. Cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes; stirring continuously. Add all other ingredients. Turn heat to low, and cook until pasta is soft and sauce has thickened; about 8-10 minutes. If sauce is too thick, add a little milk. Makes 2 servings.

EZ Meatloaf

2 Tbsp.
Garlic Garlic™
2 Tbsp. Onion Onion™
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1/2-3/4 cup buttery snack cracker crumbs
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 Tbsp. ketchup

Combine all ingredients except for the ketchup. Place in a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan. Spread the ketchup on top. Bake at 375° for 20-30 minutes. Makes 4-6 servings.

August 30, 2010

What’s cookin’ this week? – August 30, 2010

Planning your weekly menu is all about having fun! When I plan my menus, I have to consider our busy schedules, but I also try to make meals that match our weekly events. Fall is just around the corner and dreaming about crisp fall days, I put together this week’s yummy menu.

This week’s menu has a theme – something old, something new, something borrowed and something goo(ey). We don’t do blue in our house. We bleed scarlet and gray around here! =)

We’ll be bringing in a few good recipes from the bench this week, trying out a few rookies, feeding a large crowd and getting a little messy in the process.

I hope you enjoy this week’s menu and can find something to try in your house. My goal is to have quick and easy menus that are good for your family without sacrificing taste.

Remember – own what your family eats, one meal at a time!

And now this week’s play by play.

Feeding a crowd is not something I do very often, but today I am making dinner for 20 teenage boys! So this not only fits into something new, but it’s something gooey too.

Sloppy joes (8 lbs. of meat and 4 cans of sloppy joe mix)
Canned fruit
Ooey Gooey brownies

Why in the world am I making dinner for 20 teenage boys? Check out this website – This is a great organization with a heart for loving young men in the Dayton community who have been involved with the court or are disadvantaged.

If you have menu ideas for serving 20 or more, please send them to me! I’m always looking for new things to share with these boys!

Tuesdays are always rushed, so I try to find something that we can make quickly, but still enjoy a meal together.

Tomato, Spinach and Mozzarella Pizza

This recipe is easy. Simply cut up some tomatoes and spinach and set aside. Get a pre-made pizza crust or make your own. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Cover with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, spinach and more cheese. Drizzle some more EVOO and pop in the oven based on the package instructions for cooking. My family loves this one and I hope your family will too!

After finding red grapes on sale this week, I pulled out this recipe that my family enjoyed earlier this year from the Meijer Mealbox. This makes me think of fall and the warm yummy grape sauce is delicious! This recipe tastes like it took hours to make, but it’s fast and easy.

Pork Chops in Grape Sauce
Green Beans

Pork Chops in Grape Sauce (serves 4)
4 center cut bone-in pork chops (I use boneless and just don’t cook it as long)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups red seedless grapes (can use green grapes too)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1. Use a skillet that you have a lid for.
2. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Brush each chop lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown chops 2 minutes on each side and remove from pan.
3. Add balsamic vinegar to skillet, scraping any browned bits on bottom of pan with wooden spoon. Add grapes, tossing to coat with vinegar.
4. Return chops to skillet, spooning juices over chops. Cover tightly and cook over low heat for 5-6 minutes until internal temperature reads 160 degrees. With slotted spoon, transfer chops and grapes to a serving platter and keep warm.
5. Stir the butter into the sauce until melted. Cook uncovered over medium high heat until sauce thickens slightly. Spoon the sauce over the chops and grapes.

It’s college football night for the OSU fans out there! We are going to enjoy some stadium favorites! Something borrowed from for the potato skins.

Brats (chicken sausage with spinach and Asiago cheese – those Sam’s Club favorites again)
Potato Skins
Hummus and chips

Potato Skins
4 large baking potatoes, baked
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
4 green onions, sliced

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-in. shell (save pulp for another use). Place potatoes skins on a greased baking sheet. Combine oil, Parmesan cheese, salt, garlic powder, paprika and pepper; brush over both sides of skins. Bake at 475 degrees F for 7 minutes; turn. Bake until crisp, about 7 minutes more. Sprinkle bacon and cheddar cheese inside skins. Bake 2 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted. Top with sour cream and onions. Serve immediately.

We’re going to finish the week with grilled salmon. This recipe calls for some wine, so we’ll have to enjoy a little with the meal too.

Super Grilled Salmon (something borrowed from
Brown rice

Super Grilled Salmon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup Shiraz wine
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 teaspoon lemon pepper
2 pounds salmon fillets
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water

1. In a bowl, mix the brown sugar in the hot water until dissolved. Pour into a large resealable plastic bag, and mix in wine, soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, and lemon pepper. Place salmon in the bag, seal, and marinate 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat a grill for high heat.
3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Reserving marinade, place salmon on the grill, and cook 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until easily flaked with a fork.
4. Transfer reserved marinade to a pot. Dissolve the cornstarch in cold water. Bring the marinade to a boil, and stir in cornstarch mixture to thicken. Serve over the salmon or on the side as a dipping sauce.

Enjoy your week of old, new, borrowed and goo. Own what your family eats and remember, GO BUCKS!

August 25, 2010

What's cookin' this week? - August 23, 2010

This week, my husband volunteered to plan the menu and do the shopping! I think he’s really enjoying this menu planning and it’s great to have him help out. He’s also quite the grill master so he planned a few grill-friendly meals this week.

So, this week’s menu is full of quick and easy meals. We’re taking advantage of the fresh local produce again and making sure we have plenty of variety in the week.

Do you have a friend that could use help planning their weekly meals? Share this with your friends so they can enjoy some healthy meals for their families too!

Remember to own what your family eats one meal at a time! If you get them involved in the planning, it’s easier, more fun and you’ll be sure there aren’t any wrinkled noses as the dinner table.

Steaks on the grill
Corn on the cob
Grilled potatoes

Veggie pizza (recipe below)

Low-fat bacon

Chicken pitas

Tacos to use up some leftover items from earlier in the week
Remember, simple changes like using ground turkey instead of beef, low fat sour cream and cheese will make this a healthier option for your family without taking away the taste.

Veggie Pizza
(I got this recipe a long time ago from a friend in grade school and have used the same recipe ever since. Thanks Mindy!)

2 cans crescent rolls (the new sheets for cooking are fabulous!)
8 oz. cream cheese
16 oz. sour cream
1 pkg. Hidden Valley dressing
Cheddar cheese
Veggies – green peppers, onions, celery, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots or any other veggies you like

Spread the crescent rolls on a 13x9 pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 6-10 minutes. Blend cream cheese, sour cream and dressing. Spread on cool crust. Layer veggies and cover with cheese.

August 15, 2010

Meals that look good enough to eat

For the past few months, I've been taking pictures of some of the creations that have come from my kitchen. They look good enough to eat!
Check out these pictures, find something that looks appetizing and look back through the past few months to find the recipe. Then, get in the kitchen and start cooking!
Jamie Oliver's Baked Cheesy Pasta

Jamie Oliver's Omelets

Jamie Oliver's Shrimp Avocado Alfalfa

Smoked Ribs

Lasagna Loaf

What's cookin' this week? August 16, 2010

For those that have missed the Healthy Taste Buds menus, we’re back this week. Sorry for missing last week. I pulled something in my back and wasn’t up for much planning, shopping or cooking. But, this week I’m back at it and looking forward to some grilled goodness. I found a lot of great recipes on again this week. I hope you find something you enjoy!

We’re keeping it light, trying to keep the heat outside and, as always, trying to keep it healthy. I've created a menu with a variety of meats, variety of veggies and variety of flavors to enjoy the seasonal fruits and veggies and break the food rut.

Turkey burgers
Corn on the cob

Marinated Chicken
Baked Red Potatoes

Halibut with Zesty Peach Salsa (any fish will work)

Quesadillas (Mommy and daughter night)

Grilled Marinated Shrimp

REMEMBER - Own what your family eats one meal at a time!

August 1, 2010

What's cookin' this week? - August 2, 2010

I hope you enjoyed some of the recipes from last week. This week we’ll be enjoying more fresh seasonal local produce. With a little stir fry, Italian pork chops, spaghetti squash and quiche, it should be a great week for cooking! Quick, healthy meals to help you make better choices for your family meals.

Chicken and vegetable stir fry (from $7 a meal healthy cookbook)

Spaghetti Squash I (from

Italian-seasoned pork chops with lemon ($7 a meal healthy cookbook)
Roasted potatoes

Best-of-show Tomato Quiche (The Market Fresh Cookbook) – this isn’t the fastest recipe…
Fresh fruit

We are taking dinner to a friend who had a baby. I haven’t decided yet what we are having, but will post later this week. Whatever it is, it will include a blueberry sour cream pound cake.

Check out the recipes below and enjoy dinner with your family this week! Remember, own what your family eats, one meal at a time.


Chicken and vegetable stir fry
2 Tbsp. red wine
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. peanut oil
2 cups blanched broccoli florets
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
½ cup yellow onion, chopped
Other veggies like snow peas, bean sprouts, etc.
6 oz. chicken breasts cut into thin strips
2 cups cooked rice

In a small bowl, make the sauce by combining the red wine, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Stir to dissolve the cornstarch. Set aside. In a wok or saucepan, heat the oil. Add the broccoli, bell pepper, onion and other veggies. Cook, stirring quickly and frequently until vegetables are tender and crisp and onions are browned. Stir in the chicken and stir fry two more minutes.
Add the sauce to the chicken mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened – two to three minutes. Serve each portion over ½ cup cooked rice

Spaghetti Squash I
1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons sliced black olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook only until tomatoes are warm.
Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash, and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the sautéed vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Serve warm.

Italian-seasoned Pork Cutlets with Lemon
4 boneless pork cutlets (or chops)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cups Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
2 cups canola oil as needed
1 lemon, halved

Cover cutlets with wax paper and pound until as think as possible. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set up an assembly line with flour on one plate, eggs on another and crumbs on a third. Coat each cutlet with flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.

Heat ¼ inch of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add as many cutlets that will fit without crowding. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 1 ½ minutes per side. Drain cutlets on paper towels. When serving, squeeze a little lemon juice over top, removing any seeds.

Best-of-show Tomato Quiche
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup shortening
4-5 Tbsp. cold water

2 cups chopped plum tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. pepper
½ cup chopped green onions
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs

In a bowl, combine the first four ingredients. Cut in shortening until crumbly. Add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to fit a 9-inch pie plate; transfer to plate. Trim to ½ inch beyond edge of plate and flute edges. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Place tomatoes in crust. Sprinkle with salt, basil, pepper, onions and cheeses. In a bowl, whisk the flour, milk and eggs until smooth. Pour over filling. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a knife is inserted near the center and comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

July 25, 2010

What's cookin' this week? July 26, 2010

What a great time of year to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. This week we’ll be making some delicious recipes with fresh ingredients that are healthy and quick. The stars of the show this week are peppers, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant and tomatoes. I haven’t made any of the recipes for this week, so I’ll be testing them along with you.

It’s also a week of no grocery shopping. I’m only making recipes that I already have ingredients for. It’s a little harder, but the fresh veggies delivered to the door are definitely a help. J Try them and let me know what your family thinks! I pulled all of these from

So here is the menu for this week – quick, easy and healthy so you can own what your family eats one meal at a time.

Eggplant parmesan
Side of veggies

Chicken and summer squash

A night out at a baseball game with some wonderful friends so no cooking tonight!

Stuffed peppers for two
Mashed potatoes

Eggplant parmesan
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
1 tbsp. fresh basil
1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 medium tomato thinly sliced
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine oil and garlic and brush over both sides of eggplant slices. Place on greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, turn. Bake 5 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Place half eggplant in a greased 1 qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the basil and parmesan cheese. Arrange tomato slices over top. Sprinkle with remaining basil and parmesan. Layer with half of mozzarella cheese and remaining eggplant. Top with remaining mozzarella. Cover and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Chicken and summer squash
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
¾ pound yellow squash sliced
¾ pound zucchini, sliced
1 medium tomato – peeled, seeded and chopped

In a large skillet, melt butter in oil over medium high heat. Season chicken with half of salt and pepper and add to skillet. Cook until lightly browned – about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to large plate and cover to keep warm.

Pour off fat for skillet. Add squash, zucchini and tomato. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until squash is slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat, and return chicken to skillet. Cover partially. Cook until squash is soft, and chicken is white throughout but still juicy, about 5 minutes.

Transfer chicken to platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Raise heat to high. Cook vegetable mixture, stirring often, until almost all liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Arrange vegetables on chicken and serve.

Stuffed peppers for two (modified slightly based on some of the reader reviews)
2 medium green bell peppers
½ pound ground turkey
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
¼ cup crushed Ritz crackers
3 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 tablespoon chopped onion
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon red pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 egg, beaten

Cut tops off peppers and discard. Remove seeds. Blanch peppers in boiling water for five minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water and set aside.

Lightly brown meat (not all the way through) and drain. Combine meat, ¼ cup of tomato sauce, crackers, 2 tablespoons of cheese, onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and egg. Mix well. Stuff peppers and place in ungreased 1 ½ quart baking dish. Pour remaining tomato sauce over peppers. Cover and bake about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and return to oven for about five minutes or until cheese is melted.

You can add some chicken broth to the bottom of the pan to help steam the peppers if you want.

July 17, 2010

What's cookin' this week? July 19

It’s time to get back in the kitchen and whip up something good! This week I am making some family recipes. We are going to start the week off right with some smoked baby back ribs in the smoker. We are also going to have a delicious chicken stuffing casserole. I’m not a huge casserole fan, but this is definitely a family favorite. To make sure we get a little culture in our week, we are going to have a lasagna loaf and chimichangas, plus a breakfast for dinner night.

You would be amazed what yummy recipes your family members have. Plan a recipe swap with your family so you can share your favorites and build your recipe book. It’s fun to not only learn new recipes, but spend time with your family and learn what life is like in their kitchen. Send me your favorites too! Reader recipe week is coming soon!

So here is the menu for this week – quick, easy and healthy so you can own what your family eats one meal at a time.

Smoked pork baby back ribs (in the smoker)
Corn on the cob

Chicken stuffing casserole
White beans

Pancakes and eggs

Lasagna loaf
Fresh fruit salad

Mixed veggies

Appetizer night for the guys poker game

No menu would be complete without the recipes!

From the kitchen of Yakeroo

2 diced baked chicken breasts (or 1-2 cups of grilled, diced chicken breasts)
1 cup cream of chicken soup
1 stick butter
1 cup sour cream
¾ cup chicken broth
1 box stove top stuffing (chicken)

Mix chicken, broth, soup and sour cream. In a separate bowl, melt butter and mix with stuffing. In a 9x9 pan, put in half the stuffing. Cover with chicken mixture. Spread on rest of stuffing mix. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

From the kitchen of Aunt Mary

½ pound ground sausage
½ pound ground turkey
¾ cup chopped onion
½ garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
½ teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
6 oz. can tomato paste

1 cup creamed cottage cheese (ricotta in our house)
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg

2 cans crescent rolls
2 slices mozzarella cheese or 1 cup shredded

In a large skillet, brown meat and drain. Add remaining meat mixture ingredients. Simmer uncovered 5 minutes
Combine cheese filling ingredients
Unroll crescent rolls and separate into 8 rectangles. Place together on cookie sheet, overlapping edges. Press edges and perforations to seal. Spread ½ of meat filling down center of dough lengthwise to within 1” of edge of each 13” end. Top meat filling with cheese filling. Spoon remaining meat filling over top forming three layers. Place cheese slices over top. Fold 1” ends over edge of filling. Pull long sides of dough over filling, overlapping edges ¼”. Pinch to seal. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until baked through and golden brown crust.

From the kitchen of Aunt Lora

2 ½ c. shredded cooked chicken (boil thighs 20 minutes) or use grilled diced chicken cubes
2/3 cup picante sauce
½ cup diced scallions
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon crushed oregano leaves
½ teaspoon salt
8 flour tortillas (8”)
8 oz. Monterrey cheese (or Mexican blend)

Combine chicken, picante sauce, cumin, oregano and salt in sauce pan. Simmer 5 minutes or until liquid as evaporated.

Brush one side of tortilla with butter. Spoon 1/3 cup of mixture on unbuttered side and top with 2 tablespoons of cheese. Fold and place seam side down on 13x9x2 pan.

Bake in preheated oven at 475 degrees for 13 minutes or until golden brown.

July 4, 2010

What's cookin' for the 4th?

The 4th of July is a time to stop and remember how blessed and fortunate we are to live in this country. Because of so many amazing men and women who fought for our country – some making the ultimate sacrifice – we enjoy an incredible freedom that we so often take for granted. The fact that I can write this blog and that you can read it is a great example of our freedom that so many other countries do not get to enjoy.

This past week I was part of a prayer and praise gathering for our new church property and we stopped for a minute just to be thankful for being out in the open to pray to and praise God. As a woman, I can go to work and pursue the career of my choice and I don’t take that for granted!

We live in an amazing country and we have AMAZING people who believe wholeheartedly in our country that they are willing to sacrifice their lives to protect it. I am truly grateful for these amazing people and the fantastic families that support them and keep the world moving while their loved ones are gone.

Take some time this week to stop and remember all the wonderful freedoms we enjoy every day!

As with many others, this is a crazy week in our house. Cookout today, business trip for me this week and then we are going on a road trip this weekend. Needless to say, there isn’t much time for cooking. It’s weeks like this that I’m glad I can cook ahead and have food in the freezer. We are going to give the stove a break this week and try to use up some freezer meals or make some quick and tasty salads. My goal this week is to watch what I’m eating while I’m away and make smart choices with every meal and every snack.

Have a fantastic week! If you are looking for great meals this week, look back to some of the previous menus for great ideas that are quick, healthy and affordable!


June 27, 2010

What's cookin' this week? June 25, 2010

In the midst of storms and heat in Ohio this weekend, I’m writing this week’s menu as the power turns on and off! Gotta love June in the Midwest.

Hot weeks in Ohio mean light dinners in the Miller house and this week is no different. I’m also making this Jamie Oliver week in our house! As you know, I’m a huge fan of his mission and his meals. I got two new Jamie Oliver cookbooks for my birthday this year and I’m excited to try out the recipes. There are so many that look light, delicious and healthy, but I had to stick to just a few.

Crunchy garlic chicken
Mixed veggies

Shrimp and avocado with Marie Rose sauce – a meal in itself!

Baked Cheesy pasta
Garlic bread

Omelets with tomatoes, basil and cheese

Frugal Friday – a day to save some money and clean out the leftovers!

Crunchy garlic chicken
1 garlic clove
1 lemon
6 crackers (Ritz work well)
2 Tbsp. butter
4 sprigs fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. flour
1 egg
2 chicken breasts (boneless skinless)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Peel garlic and zest the lemon. Put crackers in a food processor with the butter, garlic, parsley, lemon zest and pinch of salt and pepper. Whiz until mixture is very fine, then pour crumbs onto a plate. Sprinkle flour the flour on a second plate. Beat egg in small bowl. Smash chicken breasts slightly. Dip chicken into flour until both sides are coated, then dip into egg and then bread crumbs. Make sure meat is totally covered.

To bake the chicken, preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place chicken on a sheet pan and cook for 15 minutes. Cut chicken into strips and serve with lemon wedge for squeezing over.

Shrimp and avocado with old-school Marie Rose sauce
1-2 ripe avocados
1-2 handfuls of alfalfa sprouts
½ pound large shrimp, peeled and cleaned
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. paprika

For sauce:
¼ cup mayo
2 tsp. ketchup
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. whiskey
1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Cut avocado and remove pit, then peel off skin and discard. Cut alfalfa. Put a handful or two of flour in a bowl. Drop shrimp into bowl and toss until coated. To make sauce, put mayo into a bowl with ketchup, splash of Worcestershire and whiskey. Squeeze juice from half a lemon. Add pinch of salt and pepper and mix well.

Place large frying pan on high heat. Then pour in two “good lugs” of olive oil. Smash garlic cloves and add to pan immediately followed by shrimp. Toss them well to coat in hot oil. Count to 10, then add pinch of salt and pepper, and the paprika for color and flavor. Toss shrimp for about 3-4 minutes in single layer until crisp and golden.

Divide avocado halves between plates. Divide alfalfa over avocados and place shrimp next to them. Drizzle sauce over avocados. Finish with drizzle of EVOO and sprinkle of paprika.

Baked Cheesy Pasta
This recipe calls for an English cheese, but I’m going to make it with a simpler cheese and hope it tastes as good. =)
1 8-oz. box of Camembert cheese (I am going to use mozzarella)
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig rosemary
1 pound dried rigatoni
6 cups fresh spinach leaves
4 oz. parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Open box of cheese and unwrap it. Place back in wooden container. (You’ll have to improvise if you don’t get cheese in a wooden box) Peel and finely slice garlic. Pick rosemary leaves off stalk. Lay garlic slices on top of cheese, sprinkle with pepper and drizzle with EVOO. Scatter rosemary leaves and pat with fingers to coat. Grate parmesan.

Place box of cheese on cookie sheet and put into preheated oven for 25 minutes, until golden and melted. Bring a large pan of water to a boil. When cheese has 10 minutes left, add rigatoni to pan and cook according to package. When pasta is cooked, add spinach to pan – it only needs to cook for 10 seconds or so. Drain pasta and spinach, reserving some cooking water. Return pasta and spinach to pan and let spinach wilt. Drizzle with EVOO and add grated parmesan. If sauce is too thick, thin out with reserved water.

To serve, either drizzle over pasta or put in center of table and let everyone help themselves.

Enjoy dinner with your family this week and remember to OWN WHAT YOUR FAMILY EATS ONE MEAL AT A TIME!

June 24, 2010

Large Network Takes on Health Across All Platforms

I’m a bit of a Today Show junkie, but I found a new love for the show and the network this week. This week, the networks of NBC are focusing on “Be Well, Be Healthy” that focuses on what we eat vs. what we should be eating. Although many may see it as a publicity stunt, I think it’s much more. I’ve seen more and more companies across the country that are taking the lead and promoting healthy habits with their employees, educating their employees and even rewarding healthy behavior. From bonuses for exercising to free bicycle tune ups after reaching a certain number of miles that employees bike to work, employers are getting on board to help motivate employees to be healthier.

Sure, the cynic says that they are doing it because it helps lower insurance premiums, but it also improves productivity and typically enhances the overall work environment. Working together with peers to improve your lifestyle improves your health, your family’s health and helps you build relationships with co-workers that you might never have interacted with before.

As I mentioned, NBC is doing a series of reports on healthy eating and are providing tools to help families get healthier by giving them ideas. Check out this site for some great ideas for getting moving today.

I also came across an interesting fact while doing research at work this week. The GSA (U.S. General Services Administration) is often seen as a “landlord of the federal government.” They are pushing for healthier options in the workplace including food and fitness facilities. Some items on their list include new requirements for healthy, sustainable options for cafeterias and vending machines. They are also installing farmers’ markets on federal property! What a great idea! I would love to shop for my lunch and dinner at a farmers market during lunch. I bet you could learn so much! They also have signs throughout their buildings encouraging people to use the stairs instead of elevators. What great ideas and they are relatively simple to implement.

What is your company doing? How are they encouraging health and wellness for you and your co-workers?

June 23, 2010

Not your everyday salads

I know I promised some tasty lunch recipes last week and the week got away from me with all the party planning.

Here are the recipes that we tried last week and they were delicious! These salads don’t take much prep and can be made in the morning. These are also from the $7 a meal healthy cookbook.

Mediterranean Salad with Feta Cheese and Kalamata Olives
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
6 cups romaine lettuce, spinach or mixed greens (whatever you have)
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, sliced and then halved
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
¼ cup red onion, diced
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

Whisk olive oil and balsamic vinegar until well combined. Add remaining ingredients and toss well to coat.

Mixed Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Dried Cranberries
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and pepper to taste
6 cups mixed greens
1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 cucumber, diced
2 Tbsp. dried cranberries

Whisk olive oil and balsamic vinegar until well combined. Add remaining ingredients and toss well to coat.

Spinach Salad with Grilled Salmon (YUMMO!)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
5 oz. salmon fillet, diced (I got the pre-packaged kind to save time but you can grill your own)
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
½ cup red grapes, halved
1 Tbsp. dried cranberries

Whisk olive oil and balsamic vinegar until well combined. Add remaining ingredients and toss well to coat.

These are just some ideas for something different than the typical chef salad to spice up your lunch a little. If you don't have the right ingredients, it's a salad so you can't really go wrong. Use up what you have.


June 21, 2010

What's cookin' this week? -- June 21, 2010

Hello everyone! Welcome to this week’s menu! Sorry for the delay posting this week. It has definitely been a crazy weekend! We had a birthday party for the little one and a graduation party for the husband on the same day, then recovery/Father’s Day on Sunday.

When I was planning for the parties, I wanted to find things that were healthy, relatively inexpensive and would quickly feed lots of people. I came across this website called There are recipes for Chipotle-like food that turned out pretty fantastic! This week we are eating lots of Chipotle-esque leftovers in other meals. I will include the recipes we used too because many of you from the party are asking about them!

So what are we eating this week? The hubby is also going to be gone this weekend so we are trying to keep it easy and light.

Taco salad (super easy combination of whatever you have in the cabinets)

Kind of a crazy day so we are meeting for dinner before going our separate ways

Chicken and veggie stir fry
Fruit salad

Spaghetti with pasta sauce
Salad and garlic bread

Cheese quesadillas on the quesadilla maker


Chipotle Grilled Chicken Marinade (modified slightly)
1 tsp. ancho chile powder (can find in the spice section)
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. cumin powder
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano chopped
3 garlic cloves
¼ red onion, quartered
¼ c. vegetable oil
4 chicken breasts

Add all ingredients except meat in food processor. Puree until smooth. Put marinade and chicken in plastic Ziploc bag. Refrigerate at least one hour and up to 24 hrs.

After marinating, heat grill to about 400 degrees or heat small amount of oil in skillet if cooking inside. Grill lightly, turning only once, until done. Cook about four minutes on each side.

Chipotle’s Guacamole
(This recipe is fantastic! We really liked it)
2 avocados
½ of a jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
¼ of a red onion, finely chopped
2 heaping tablespoons of cilantro, finely chopped
¼ of a lime, juiced
¼ tsp. salt

Chipotle Corn Salsa
6 ears sweet yellow corn (frozen corn works well too)2 poblano chilies1/2 red onion2 red jalapenos (not much difference between red and green so get what you can find)1/3 cup chopped cilantro1 tablespoon lime juiceSalt and pepper to taste
Roast the corn and Poblano chilies on a grill or BBQ and let cool. Cut the corn off the cob. Dice the Poblano chilies, onion, and red jalapenos. Combine all the ingredients and season to taste.

Chipotle Rice
1 teaspoon vegetable oil or butter
2 tsp. fresh cilantro
2/3 cup white rice
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Lime

In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, heat oil or butter over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted. Add rice and lime juice, stir for 1 minute. Add water and salt, bring to a full rolling boil. At boiling, cover, turn down to simmer over low heat until rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.

Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry
We have leftover chicken and some veggies from a veggie tray that I'm going to mix up with some rice for a yummy, quick and healthy meal. Here is a recipe for chicken stir fry to try with whatever veggies you have or like.


June 13, 2010

What's cookin' this week? -- June 13, 2010

Last week was a crazy week in our house with swim lessons, Battle of the Businesses, two birthdays and a trip to the zoo. Needless to say, menu planning would have turned into a lot of wasted food. We used up some freezer meals and ate out some last week.

But this week, it's back to reality!

I’m really excited because I received three new cookbooks for my birthday! Apparently my hubby has been enjoying this new cooking adventure as much as I have. This week I created the menu entirely from one of my new books called “The $7 a meal healthy cookbook.”

This also includes some lunch menus. I realize that I waste so much money on lunch that isn’t that tasty and isn’t very good for me. My new goal is to find quick, easy and healthy lunches that are delicious.

So what’s cookin’? I’m trying to keep things light this week and take advantage of the grill since it’s so warm.

Chicken and vegetable skewers (recipe below)
Brown rice

Dijon crusted broiled pork chops (recipe below)
Side salad from the happy box
Baked potatoes

Lime poached mahi mahi (recipe below)

Zucchini and tomatoes with penne pasta (recipe below)
Garlic bread

Leftover day! We’ll eat whatever is left over from the week to take a break and try to not to waste so much.

LUNCHES (stay tuned for recipes later this week!)
Mediterranean salad with kalamata olives and feta
Mixed greens with balsamic vinegrette and dried cranberries
Spinach and salmon salad

Chicken and vegetable skewers
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic chopped
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper seeded and cut into 1-inch squares
2 zucchini cut into 1-inch thick slices
1 yellow onion quartered and quartered again
(You can also use orange peppers, yellow peppers, mushrooms or any other hearty veggie you have around)
8 to 10 8-inch wooden skewers soaked in water

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, water, oil, salt and garlic. Place the chicken in a Ziploc bag and set in a deep bowl. Pour lemon juice mixture into the bag, secure the top and let the chicken stand for 20 minutes turning the bag frequently.

Preheat broiler (or fire up the grill). Drain chicken, reserving marinade. Thread chicken, pepper, zucchini and onion alternately on skewer. Arrange skewers on broiler pan. Slip under broiler 4-5 inches from the heat source. Broil, turning once, and brush with reserved marinade until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Serve immediately.

Dijon-crusted broiled pork chops
2 Tbsp honey
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, leaves chopped
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
4 boneless pork chops

Preheat broiler (or grill). In bowl, combine honey, mustard, thyme and salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Brush over chops and place chops on aluminum foil. Place under broiler and cook about 5 minutes. Turn once, baste with mustard mixture and cook additional 5 minutes or until pork is cooked through.

Lime-poached halibut with cilantro
¾ pound halibut fillet (I am using mahi-mahi instead)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
¼ c. white wine
¼ c. chicken or vegetable broth

Season fish with salt and pepper. In large sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat and add garlic. Saute until fragrant (about 1 min.) Add remaining ingredients including halibut, then cover and cook until fish is flaky (about 8 min.)

Zucchini and tomatoes with penne pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
6 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley chopped
4 scallions (white part and half of green tops, chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ c. unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp salt
1 pound penne pasta (try the wheat pasta)

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, zucchini, parsley and scallions. Add salt and pepper. Bring to boil and reduce over medium high heat (about 5-8 min). Whisk in butter, a little at a time, to thicken sauce. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Fill large pot ¾ with water and bring to boil. Add salt and drizzle of oil. Add pasta and stir to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente (about 8-10 min). Drain. Transfer pasta to serving bowl and toss with sauce.

I hope you enjoy the menu this week and find something you and your family can enjoy!


June 3, 2010

What's cookin' this week...or what's left of it?

With Memorial Day on Monday, the menu this week is pretty short. We hosted a cookout on Monday and have quite a few leftovers. It’s amazing how you can make a cookout pretty healthy if you take time to plan it.

Here’s what was cookin’ and grillin’ at our house:

  • Cheeseburgers of champions (Weber Real Grillin’ cookbook)

  • Spinach and Asiago Cheese Chicken Sausages (since we got them at Sam’s Club, we had extra)

  • Hot dogs for the kiddos

  • Fruit salad (blueberries, strawberries, apples, peaches and grapes)

  • Pasta salad, potato salad, cucumber and onion salad (from friends)

  • Hummus and salsa with chips

  • Strawberry pie

  • Dessert quesadillas on the grill with peanut butter, chocolate and bananas – DELISH!

Tonight we had a great meal and a yummy pizza is planned for tomorrow.

Next week I hope to include some new ingredients from the Happy Box and some recipes I’ve received from some readers and friends.

So what was for dinner tonight? If you’ve been following, you know I love Jamie Oliver! If you watched the Food Revolution, there was a stir fry marathon episode. I’ve always wanted to try that beef stir fry. The recipe is on under beef and vegetable stir fry, but it is all in metrics. I found another site that already converted it. So to try this fabulous and healthy recipe, check out

It was really good and it was pretty easy to make. I even took a picture of what mine looked like!

Tomorrow night is pizza night and we are trying something a little different.

Barbecued Chicken Pizza with Smoked Gouda and Chives (from Weber’s Real Grilling)

  • 1 envelope active dry yeast

  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 3/4 cup ketchup

  • 1/4 cup dry red wine

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon prepared chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, 5 to 6 ounces each

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 cups grated smoked Gouda cheese

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

To prepare the dough: In a medium bowl, combine the yeast and sugar with 3/4 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F). Stir once and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add 2-1/2 cups of the flour, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and the salt. Stir until the dough holds together. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Turn the ball to cover the surface with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough in the bowl. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Cut parchment paper into 9-inch squares and lightly oil each sheet of paper on one side. Roll or press the dough flat on the oiled side of the paper into circles about 8 inches in diameter, leaving the dough a little thicker at the edge than in the middle. Then lightly oil the top side of the dough.

To make the sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until light brown, about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining sauce ingredients. Whisk to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour about half the sauce into a small bowl, reserving the other half in the saucepan.

Lightly brush or spray the chicken on both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Lightly coat the chicken on both sides with the sauce in the small bowl. Grill the chicken over Direct Medium heat until the meat is firm to the touch and no longer pink in the center, 8 to 12 minutes, turning once. Finely chop or shred the chicken and moisten with some reserved sauce in the saucepan (you may not need all of it).

Lay the dough on the grate, with the paper side facing up. Grab one corner of the paper with tongs and peel it off. Grill over Direct Medium heat until they are marked on the underside, 2 to 3 minutes, rotating the crusts occasionally for even cooking. Don't worry if the crusts bubble; they will deflate when turned over. Transfer the crusts from the cooking grate to the back of a baking sheet, with the grilled sides facing up.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese over each pizza, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Arrange the chicken and chives over the cheese. Transfer the pizzas from the baking sheets to the cooking grate. Grill until the crusts are crisp and the cheese is melted, 4 to 5 minutes, rotating the crusts occasionally for even cooking. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into wedges. Serve warm.

Makes 4 small pizzas


May 27, 2010

The Clean 15: what you don’t need to buy organic

With all the discussion about organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables, it’s hard to know what you should buy organic without breaking the budget.

I found a few great articles that outline the “dirty dozen” that you should always buy organic and the “Clean 15,” which typically don’t have high levels of pesticides so they may not be worth the money. I found these lists from and

Here are the Clean 15, so save some money and skip the organic.

  1. Onions
  2. Avocados
  3. Sweet corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Sweet peas
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplants
  11. Papaya
  12. Watermelon
  13. Broccoli
  14. Tomato
  15. Sweet potato

Make a list, stick it in your wallet and check it when you are shopping. Remember to print the Dirty Dozen list too from my previous post.


May 25, 2010

The organic hype - dirty dozen musts in 2010

Have you ever wondered if buying organic is worth all the hype or the extra money?

I found an article that outlines the “dirty dozen” that you should always buy organic and the “Clean 15,” which typically don’t have high levels of pesticides so they may not be worth the money. I found these lists from

Here’s a quick summary of the dirty dozen. Stay tuned in the next few weeks for more on the Clean 15.

The dirty dozen is a list of fruits, vegetables and other food you should buy organic based on EWC because they have the highest pesticide residue. According to EWC, you can reduce 80% of pesticide intake just by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

1. Celery
With no protective skin, it is almost impossible to wash off the chemicals that are used on conventional crops. No. of pesticides detected? 63 Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include broccoli, radishes and onions.

2. Peaches
Multiple pesticides are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards. No. of pesticides detected? 62. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit.

3. Strawberries
If you buy strawberries out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that use less-stringent regulations for pesticide use. No. of pesticides detected? 59. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include kiwi and pineapples.

4. Apples
Like peaches, apples are typically grown with the use of poisons to kill a variety of pests, from fungi to insects. Scrubbing and peeling doesn't eliminate chemical residue completely. No. of pesticides detected? 42. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include watermelon, bananas and tangerines.

5. Blueberries

New on the Dirty Dozen list in 2010, blueberries are treated with as many as 52 pesticides
, making them one of the dirtiest berries on the market.

6. Nectarines
With 33 different pesticides
found on nectarines, they rank up there with apples and peaches among the dirtiest tree fruit. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include, watermelon, papaya and mango

7. Bell Peppers
Peppers have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They're often heavily sprayed with insecticides. No. of pesticides detected? 49. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include green peas, broccoli and cabbage.

8. Spinach
New on the list for 2010, spinach can be laced with as many as 48 pesticides
, making it one of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable.

9. Kale
Traditionally kale is known as a hardier vegetable that rarely suffers from pests and disease, but it was found to have high amounts of pesticide residue when tested this year. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include cabbage, asparagus and broccoli

10. Cherries
Even locally grown cherries are not necessarily safe. Cherries grown in the U.S. were found to have three times more pesticide residue then imported cherries. No. of pesticides detected? 42. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include raspberries and cranberries.

11. Potatoes
America's popular spud re-appears on the 2010 dirty dozen list, after a year hiatus. America's favorite vegetable can be laced with as many as 37 pesticides
. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include eggplant, cabbage and earthy mushrooms.

12. Grapes

Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically (only imported grapes make the 2010 Dirty Dozen list). Remember, wine is made from grapes, which testing shows can harbor as many as 34 pesticides. Can't find organic? Safer alternatives include kiwi and raspberries.

  • Make a cheat sheet to take with you for things you should buy organic and what some safer alternatives are.
  • Stay tuned for the clean 15 coming soon!

REMEMBER: OWN WHAT YOUR FAMILY EATS by making healthy choices that can save you money.

May 22, 2010

What's cookin' this week? May 22, 2010

After being gone for two weeks and practically clearing out the entire refrigerator, I’m back at it and ready to cook this week. I actually missed it while I was gone! This week I had some extra time to work on the menu early so it starts Saturday and goes through Friday giving you a few more menu options to enjoy.

This week has a few familiar favorites and some easy recipes to enjoy the grill while easing back into the swing of things. Between the refrigerator survivors and the happy box, I tried to pick menus that used as much of what we have as I could. I’ve included some of the recipes below for you to try out so apologies for the long post.

Spinach and Asiago Cheese Chicken Sausages (they are basically brats and they are fantastic!) – Sam’s Club
Mustard Potato Salad
Baked Beans

With a church picnic tomorrow, I am also making a fantastic macaroni salad and a strawberry pie. I will also whip up the marinade for tomorrow’s dinner.

Chicken with Mediterranean marinade
Grilled avocado

Greek salad with warm pitas

Garlic Bread


Eggplant, prosciutto and mozzarella cheese “sandwiches”
Hummus and pitas


Hope you enjoy a few recipes from this week and remember…



Macaroni Salad (Aunt Mary’s recipe)
If you are worried about being outside, this is the perfect macaroni salad. It doesn’t have much dressing and is packed with veggies! It is really tasty. This recipe doesn’t really have measurements so you have to just cut and see.
Small box macaroni, cooked
auliflower, chopped
Celery, chopped
Colby jack cheese, cubed or grated
Broccoli, chopped
Onions, chopped
Bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
¼ cup sugar

Use amount of vegetables as desired, same for cheese and bacon. Dressing can be multiplied to desired creaminess

Mediterranean marinade (from Weber’s Real Grilling™)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Mix ingredients – makes about ¼ cup

Greek Salad with warm pitas (adaptation from Rachael Ray’s 365: No Repeats recipe)
This is one of my husband’s favorite meals. We’ve adapted it slightly.
1 ½ lbs. chicken tenders
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon grill seasoning
2 pitas split open
1 large garlic clove minced and mashed to a paste
Zest of 1 lemon and juice of 2 lemons
1 seedless cucumber sliced into half moons
4 vine-ripe tomatoes cut into wedges
1 small red onion (if desired)
½ cup fresh parsley leaves coarsely chopped
¼ cup fresh mint leaves coarsely chopped
1 cup pitted kalamata olives coarsely chopped
Feta cheese (crumbled)
Romaine lettuce coarsely chopped

Cook/grill chicken and season with oregano and grill seasoning. Grill the split pita halves for a minute. Remove when crisp, break or tear into large pieces and reserve. Combine garlic with zest of lemon and juice of 1.5 lemons in bottom of a large shallow bowl. Add cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, parsley, mint, olives, romaine lettuce and reserved bread. Add olive oil and lots of salt and black pepper. Toss salad with hands to combine well. Top salad with grilled chicken and feta cheese.

Option – instead of tearing up pitas, put salad into pitas and eat.

Spinach and Cheese Manicotti (modified from Aunt Mary)
1 10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (you can also use fresh spinach)
1 15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella
¼ c. shredded parmesan cheese (I’ve also used the grated parmesan)
1 egg
2 tsp. minced fresh parsley
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. pepper
Manicotti shells
2 jars spaghetti sauce of your choice

Mix together ingredients. Stuff uncooked 8 oz. package of manicotti with filling. Combine two 28-oz. jars spaghetti sauce with 1 ½ c. water. Spread 1 c. sauce into 13x9x2” pan. Arrange stuffed shells over sauce and cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with more mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake uncovered at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until heated through.

Eggplant, prosciutto and mozzarella cheese “sandwiches” (from Weber’s Real Grilling™)
2 medium red bell peppers
Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 globe eggplants (about 1 pound each, trimmed)
8 thin slices prosciutto
8 slices mozzarella, each ¼ inch thick
8 medium fresh basil leaves

Grill the bell peppers over direct medium heat until they are blackened and blistered all over (12-15 minutes) turning occasionally. Place the peppers in a medium bowl and cover with plastic to trap steam. Set aside for at least 10 minutes, then peel the skin and discard the stems and seeds. Place peppers in a food processor with 1 Tbsp. oil and salt and pepper. Process until smooth scraping down the sides as needed.

Cut each eggplant crosswise into 8 slices, each about ½ inch thick. Lightly brush or spray both sides with oil. Grill over direct medium heat until the underside is well marked (3-4 minutes). Transfer half of the slices to a tray with the grilled sides facing up. Turn the remaining slices over and grill until well marked on both sides (3-4 minutes)

Place a Tbsp. of red pepper mixture in the center of the grilled side of each eggplant slice on the tray. Place a slice of prosciutto, slice of mozzarella and basil leaf on top of red pepper mixture. Top each “sandwich” with a slice of eggplant that has been grilled on both sides. Place uncooked side of sandwich onto grill over direct medium heat until cheese is softened and the sandwiches are heated through (2-3 minutes).

Serve warm with remaining pepper mixture spooned, if desired.

May 17, 2010

Smart Vacations on a Budget

For the past four years, my husband and I have taken vacations around the country and are usually pretty frugal about our trips. I wanted to share a few vacation planning tips to help you stay on a budget, own what you eat and still enjoy your vacation.

Find some place inexpensive that has a kitchen or kitchenette. My husband often uses (vacation rental by owners) to find great condos or cabins near our destinations. We can find inexpensive places to stay that give us more space for the money.

On our recent trip, we used and found a Candlewood Suites for around $70 per night, which included a large room, kitchenette and separate bedroom. This was perfect for us. It gave us more room to move around with the little one.

Why is the kitchen or kitchenette key? See next point…

I stay true to my vacation from the kitchen while we are on vacation, but having a kitchen or even a kitchenette saves us a ton of money and time without me spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

Whenever we get to our destination, we stop at a local grocery store and buy food for breakfasts and lunches. We also pick up some snacks and drinks. This saves us time and allows us to see more. We usually eat a quick breakfast and can eat lunch at a park or on the road to our next destination.

Healthy snacks, fruit and water help us avoid the quick fixes from vending machines or fast food places. Like I said before, it also saves us a ton of money without extra time in the kitchen.

Aside from the money saving and healthy aspects of this approach, it also has another huge benefit for our family. Marriage saving! My husband and I are both pretty indecisive when it comes to places to eat so not having to choose breakfast or lunch places every day saves a lot of arguments and headaches, which ultimately saves our marriage! J

In honor of my vacation from the kitchen, we usually eat out each night. We like to try the local cuisine and try to test out a new local restaurant each night. We try to find something new, something relatively healthy and something tasty all at the same time! We really enjoy this part of our vacation and write reviews in our personal vacation journal about each place we visit. Some day I’ll have to post my vacation restaurant reviews for you all to see!

So with smart staying and smart eating, I hope you all have a smart and enjoyable vacation this year!

OWN WHAT YOU EAT, even on vacation.

May 10, 2010

A vacation from the kitchen

This week I am taking a vacation from the kitchen with the family in Colorado to celebrate my husband's graduation from his MBA program! YAY!

We are also celebrating Mother's Day. Happy belated mother's day to all the fantastic mothers out there who make such a difference in the lives of their kids every day. I hope to do the same with my little one.

Although we aren't cooking this week, I wanted to share an interesting article I came across. It highlights the 20 worst drinks and shows their equivalent in sugar or calories. It's pretty eye opening.

How many of these drinks do you drink? How much pop or mocha lattes, etc. do you drink in a day? How many gallons of pop do you think are consumed by your co-workers in one week?

OWN WHAT YOUR FAMILY EATS (even on vacation...)

May 5, 2010

A family of food lovers

Three of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received are cookbooks and not just any cookbook. A family of cooks have inspired my love for cooking and love for trying something new in the kitchen almost every day.

First, for my bridal shower my family started a new tradition and it was the greatest gift I’ve ever received. My amazing aunts put together a cookbook of family favorites to start my kitchen off right. Now I want to try them all! I love seeing what other families prepare and I think this is such a great gift for a newly married couple. It gets them started down the right path.

Since my wedding, my aunts have worked together to add more recipes to every book created after mine. I love this recipe book and go to it often. There’s just something about a family recipe…

Another incredible gift I received was a collection of recipes from a very dear friend. When I was in college, I wanted to cook more and was looking for recipes. She put together a recipe book with all of her favorites handwritten. I treasure this book for the time it took, the love that was poured into it and the incredible recipes that are in it. I still haven’t tried them all, but I will some day.

Last, for Christmas one year I received a recipe book that didn’t seem like much at the time. It was a church cookbook with a collection of recipes from people from all over the church. Little did I know that it had several recipes from my late grandmother that I never saw. I was so blessed by this book. My grandma made a rhubarb pie that my brother loved more than anything. I was able to find the recipe and surprise him with a pie one day. Having those recipes means the world to me because my grandma always seemed to enjoy cooking for her large family of nine. That in and of itself is inspiration to me! If she can cook for 11 people every day, surely I can cook for three.

Giving the gift of family recipes is a gift that continues to give. I love finding new recipes in my family cookbooks and remembering times I shared those meals with family. It inspires me to make those same memories with my family so my daughter can look back on a book of recipes from our family some day and think of all the times we shared those meals together.

So for the next bridal shower, wedding or baby shower you go to, can you put together a personalized recipe book?

May 3, 2010

BAKE FOR HOPE - baking for a cure for breast cancer

Now I know that I am focused on making healthy meals for your family, but that doesn't meak you should completely deny the sweet tooth, especially when it's for a good cause!

Sitting at work last week I got an e-mail about Bake for Hope, an event in the office park I work in. This wasn’t your average bake sale though. This bake sale supports the Susan G. Koman foundation’s fight against breast cancer.
Bake for Hope is a grass-roots nationwide event run by volunteers that host bake sales in local communities across the country supporting the cure for breast cancer. The bake sale runs annually the week before Mother’s Day.

This year, I am one of those volunteers. I am organizing the Bake for Hope event in my office building. For two days, my co-workers and I will be baking and selling goodies to raise money and awareness to find a cure for breast cancer. I work with some incredible bakers and women who are always ready to help others. A huge thanks to them for being willing to bake.
I am excited to be a part of the event. Obviously I love cooking and baking so this is a natural fit. I have met some pretty incredible fighters and survivors of cancer. It may seem small, but every little bit helps find a cure. I’m doing my part to support those brave women who battle this horrible illness every single day.

A second cousin of mine isn’t even 30 years old and is fighting breast cancer. She is an amazing picture of strength and determination. She is amazing! These cookies are for you, Monica! =)

Are you baking for hope this year? Do you have co-workers that like to bake?

Go to to learn more about this year’s bake sale and how you can help.