Sunday, June 10, 2012

Grilled Gnocchi with Roasted Pepper Sauce!

In last month's Food Network Magazine, there was a pull-out for 50 things you can grill. One of those things was gnocchi, and we really wanted to try that since we have grilled ravioli in the past and really enjoyed it. We also decided we would serve this when we host Father's Day next weekend, so we had to test it out first.

So off we went to the Italian supermarket that is a short walk from the house. We packed up the baby in the stroller and jaunted over to see what we could find. The fresh gnocchi in the refrigerated section was kind of expensive per box to try out, since we weren't sure how it would go. But we found packaged gnocchi in the pasta aisle and I figured I could cook it according to directions first and then let it dry, and then grill it. (That worked well by the way).

We decided to try spinach gnocchi. Next time we will probably buy the fresh stuff, especially since they have so many more flavors of gnocchi!

So this afternoon, when I went to google "grilled gnocchi" just to see if there was anything I should do to it before putting it in the grill basket, I came across this post here. The sauce looked really delicious and super easy to make, especially since I had everything in the house! Well, almost everything. The recipe called for a red pepper.. and I had yellow, so I figured I would try it anyway. It came out well, except for the color, which kind of looked like baby vomit or dog food. Bright red from a red pepper would be much more appetizing and I will definitely use that next time!

Anyway, this sauce was So easy to make, which is good since I have a 10 week old who is in a really bad mood today and don't have long spans of time to do much. So my husband sliced the pepper for me, and grilled it (which took him about 10, 15 minutes, max), and I did the rest in the blender in about 5 minutes.

Here is the recipe - I highly recommend it!  


1 Cup cashews (I used roasted because that’s what I had on hand, but you’ll get a lighter flavor if you choose raw cashews)
1 roasted red pepper (medium size pepper)
1/4 Tsp paprika
1/4 Tsp garlic powder
Sprinkle of cayenne and black pepper
3/4 cup milk (any kind)


Mix all the ingredients in a food processor or blender except the milk, and slowly add the milk for a creamier consistency.

 ** Note, I didn't use the whole 3/4 cup milk.. I added it slowly and when it got as loose as I wanted it, I stopped adding.

 Also, I added a touch more paprika and garlic powder for a tad more flavor.

 This sauce paired with the spinach gnocchi was DELICIOUS! Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gnudi! My first recipe post baby!

I'm back! Sort of, anyway. Lil baby boy was born the first week of April and I don't really get to do much these days except wash bottles, do baby laundry and calm the little crying machine. But luckily my mother-in-law comes out on Tuesdays to play with the baby so I get some time to myself... and today, I cooked gnudi (pronounced nude-y).

My husband and I had been watching The Best Thing I Ever Made on Food Network and Scott Conant made gnudi with a mushroom sauce. Here is Scott's recipe: gnudi. It looked great! (Well, minus the mushroom sauce because my husband isn't a fan of mushrooms). And it seemed really easy to make. Plus, I had a HUGE tub of ricotta cheese that I needed to use by June. We always tend to waste ricotta because I buy it for one recipe and then it goes bad. But this time, I got one for free at the supermarket (and a huge tub) and I didn't want to waste it! I had already made calzones two weeks ago (recipe to come eventually) so I needed some more ricotta based recipes.

I actually had never heard of gnudi before. Gnudi is a type of gnocchi made from ricotta cheese and a little bit of flour. The result is a dumpling that some describe as "nude" ravioli, or filling without the pasta — that is to say, light, fluffy, and creamy. Scott's recipe used spinach and Parmesan cheese too and it was delicious!!

Prep time was supposedly 15 minutes, but it is only 15 minutes if you have all your ingredients assembled and water boiling. So my prep time was more like 40 minutes. The recipe suggested making one test ball to make sure it didn't fall apart in the boiling water. Of course mine did, but that just meant I needed to add more flour and breadcrumbs into the gnudi mixture. No big deal - I did and the next test ball was great!

My husband and I needed a sauce for the gnudi since we weren't making the mushroom one, so I made two. I made a garlic butter sauce with crushed red pepper and parsley flakes, and well as doctoring up some store bought red sauce with some crushed red pepper, black pepper, parsley flakes and garlic powder. Both sauces tasted great with the gnudi, but my husband liked the garlic butter one a little more. I

 think this will be a recipe I will make when I buy ricotta... now I just have to figure out if you can make a batch and freeze them. I know you can freeze ravioli, so I am guessing these can be frozen as well. I'll have to try it!

Here is the recipe for the gnudi (not the mushroom sauce). I actually made the full batch and followed it exactly.  


1 pound cow's milk ricotta, drained in a strainer for at least 2 hours (um, yeah, I drained it for like 20 min)
1/4 cup spinach, sauteed and finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pinch grated nutmeg
2 egg yolks
Olive oil, for coating
4 tablespoons melted butter, for re-heating  


Mix the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, flour, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs together.

Make 2 small balls and test cook by placing them in boiling water until they float, then shock in iced water. Taste. If they are too soft and don't hold together, add more flour or breadcrumbs and test again.

Portion all of the gnudi and roll into balls.

Cook in boiling water until they float, about 2 minutes, and shock in iced water. Coat in olive oil and reserve until ready to serve.
For reheating: Reheat the gnudi in a pan with salted simmering water and the melted butter.

I love trying new things! Enjoy!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

An Eating With A Review - Ginza! (Japanese Restaurant)

My husband and I were driving around on Saturday running a random errand when we drove by a new restaurant that popped up by the mall near us. Actually, at first we weren't entirely sure what it was - it was a big shiny silver building that said Ginza.

We assumed it was a restaurant, but since we never read out local penny saver papers, we had no idea any new restaurants were opening in our town. So we drove around to the front, saw it was indeed a restaurant and that it was open. Naturally, I whipped out my phone and googled it and saw it has just opened the week prior and it was Japanese food.

We decided it would be our "last" meal out before the kiddo arrives. The baby is already over-due so we have an end date where he will be forcefully evicted so we pretty much figured we would be okay going out Sunday night since this kid has made no effort to remove himself from my body yet. And we were right.

I'm glad he stayed in though - this place was DELICIOUS! We had looked at the menu online on Saturday ( and while it was 85% sushi (which we don't eat) there were enough appetizers and kitchen entrees that we would have been fine.

So, we splurged for our last night out. My husband got the roasted butternut squash soup to start, and I got the chicken salad. Both were delicious, but the salad was a typical salad... the soup however, was AMAZING. We were a little hesitant because it is infused with coconut curry and young soy beans (edamame), but you couldn't detect the coconut curry at all. We polished off the soup (it was large enough for us to share) and ate some of my salad, but opted to take that home instead.

We also had sweet potato tempura and beef negimaki for other appetizers. The beef negimaki (beef scallion roll with teriyaki sauce) was seriously amazing. It was a strip of beef wrapped around scallions and it was so tender that it just melted in your mouth. The sweet potato tempura was delicious as well, but the beef was the top winner in this set of appetizers!!

Lastly, we ordered a teriyaki combo platter for us to share. We got chicken and steak which came with some vegetables as well. While it is hard to "mess up" teriyaki, theirs was done very well and the teriyaki sauce was not overly salty and just very, very good. We were very satisfied with everything we ate, so we DEFINITELY want to go back!

Plus, as a nice surprise, they are doing 15% off all "grand opening" on all dine in and take out orders. I am sure that was advertised somewhere, but we didn't know so we were excited. We're already wondering when we can get back there, but with the little guy arriving in just a few days, we'll probably just be taking in from there instead. Which is fine, but we will lose the ambiance of the restaurant (which is gorgeous, BTW. We felt like we were in a Las Vegas establishment instead of on Long Island).

All in all, we were very happy with our choice for a last meal out before the kiddo. And, we will definitely be going back for a long time to come, so I hope they do well!

Check them out, and if you are in the area - GO!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Apricot Barley Casserole

I love mushroom barley from a local chicken establishment near us called Zorns. I really do. It's my favorite side.

And I also love mushroom barley soup! it's one of my favorites that I oddly picked up in sleepaway camp of all places, while growing up.

But, I had never made barley myself. So when my husband and I were in the grocery store picking out rice that was on sale, I happened to see the barley was 99 cents and we decided to buy it and give it a whirl.

I found this recipe on my favorite recipe website, It seemed easy to make. I didn't change much except leaving out the nuts (only out of sheer laziness) and I halved the recipe. Half of this recipe still made PLENTY for my husband and I.

Oh, and the other change was using regular white onions instead of green onions (scallions) because our scallions had wilted and I didn't feel like going to buy more. (What? I am 9 months pregnant with a baby who doesn't want to come out, sue me!) The regular onions worked just fine with the dried fruit.

It took about 15 minutes to dice the apricots and onion, and then just about 10-15 minutes to do the stove top work. Letting it bake in the oven was obviously the longest part, but at least I was able to go do other things. This is definitely a delicious and easy dish to prepare on a weekend and eat during the week.

My husband and I both ended up loving the taste of this side dish and I will definitely make it again!

Ingredients: (this is the full recipe)

2/3 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds (I omitted)
1/4 cup butter, divided
2 cups pearl barley
1 cup sliced green onions (I used white onions)
7 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup diced dried apricots
1/2 cup golden raisins (I actually used regular raisins)


In a large skillet, saute nuts in 2 tablespoons butter until lightly browned; remove and set aside. (Since I omitted the nuts, I immediately started with the butter, onions and barley).

In the same skillet, saute the barley and onions in remaining butter until onions are tender.

Add broth; bring to a boil. Stir in the apricots, raisins and reserved nuts.

Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish.

Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees F for 1-1/4 hours or until barley is tender.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Eggplant, Tomato & Parmesan Slices!

The other week I was at a farmer's market type grocery store and they had some great looking eggplants on sale for 99 cents a pound. I decided spur of the moment to pick a small one up for my husband and I to have for dinner that night.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with it and then I remembered I still had half a can of diced tomatoes left from another recipe I made a few days prior. An idea started to form.

I sliced up the eggplant into rounds and lightly salted it. Then I put the diced tomatoes in a bowl and mixed in some garlic, crushed red pepper and Italian seasoning.

Then I lightly grilled the eggplant to soften the slices and began to construct my slices with cheese and tomato.

The result was delicious! It was very eggplant Parmesan-like but not quite. My husband and I really enjoyed this quick and easy dinner. My only regret was that I didn't make enough to freeze for after the baby comes.

Oh well, it was easy enough to make that I think we can get by!

This was my own "recipe" so I don't have exact measurements for the recipe below. Use ingredients to taste.


Diced tomatoes
garlic powder
crushed red pepper
Italian seasoning
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese


Slice eggplant into round circles and lightly salt each slice. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mixed diced tomatoes in a bowl with the garlic, crushed red pepper and Italian seasoning. Set aside.

Fire up a grill pan on the stovetop and pour a tablespoon of olive oil on it. Lightly grill the eggplant slices until slightly tender.

Top each eggplant slice with shaved Parmesan cheese, tomato mixture and a few strands of mozzarella cheese.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes (or until cheese is melted and slightly golden) at 350 degrees F.

Serve hot and enjoy!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Turkey Pasta Casserole!

I am really behind on recipes. Well, not really. I have 3 I haven't posted, but otherwise I haven't been cooking much. I've been getting ready for this baby, who, is due today but is deciding to just not show up. So I figured I would post some recipes finally.

A few weeks ago I made a turkey pasta casserole. This is actually one of the dishes I made for my husband and I to eat after the baby shows up - we currently have a large batch of it in the freezer. It was a brand new recipe, so risky to make a large batch before tasting, but I made a small batch along with it that we ate that week and luckily, we really enjoyed it.

It's pretty simple to make! I made it one night after work. 9I also forgot to take a picture of the finished product, so the picture is the little bit of leftover we had that I brought for lunch one day! ha!)

I actually don't think I made any changes to the recipe. If I did, it was using a mix of tomato sauce and ketchup instead of just straight ketchup. I can also see making this dish with using tomato sauce and mozzarella to make it more Italian.

It came out well. The recipe is below. Enjoy!


1 pound spaghetti
1 pound ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups ketchup
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, brown turkey over medium heat. Remove turkey from skillet to a large bowl; do not drain any grease left in skillet.

Add onion and bell pepper to skillet; saute until softened.

Add garlic to saute for 2 minutes and add tomatoes; mix well and remove from heat.

Add vegetable mixture to turkey and stir in ketchup to coat; mix well.

In a 9x13 inch baking dish, spread mixture and top with spaghetti and cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted; serve warm.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Baked Potato Puree - an Original recipe!

So, tonight I was finally creative with cooking again. I've been cooking a lot, just nothing "new" because I have been busy cooking and freezing old favorites to pull out and eat once the Lil Man decides to grace us with his presence.

But today, I did something new, and it was my own original recipe.

See, we had a jicama in the house that I was planning on making a puree with. But I pulled it out of the fridge today and there was mold on it! Darn! I also learned after googling that jicama's are good for 3 weeks, but have to be kept in a cool, DRY place. Oops. Lesson learned.

So, we had one potato left from the same shopping trip and I didn't want THAT to go bad too so I decided to make a puree with that. First I started to try and find recipes but realized I could probably pull something off by myself. And I did. I made a baked potato puree.

It turned out great! My husband loved it, and it is something different to do with potatoes. The whole process took me about 30-40 minutes with peeling the potato, boiling it, and then pureeing it with some other ingredients in the blender. But I was very proud of it!

So here is the recipe!

Ingredients: (sorry, no exact measures, I was playing around)

1 potato, peeled and boiled
sour cream - about 1.5 TBSP
shredded cheddar - about 2 TBSP worth, maybe a dash more
scallions - chopped (to taste)
margarine or butter (melted about 2 TBSP)
bacon bits (i used imitation, to taste)


First, peel and boil your potato. Put some salt in the water as it boils to give the potato some taste.

After 20 minutes, take the potato out of the water and carefully cut it into smaller chunks. Place that in the blender along with the rest of the ingredients.

Puree until smooth.

Enjoy hot!

Simple and easy... and delicious!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes!

I haven’t posted in a LONG time. This recipe is one I actually made 3 weeks ago too! And probably one of the last things I cooked.

My husband and I have been so busy as the final few weeks of this pregnancy approach that we haven’t been cooking anything original – just things we have done in the past that were fast and easy. Or defrosting leftovers to make room for new things I am planning to make and freeze. (I’m one step closer to that – we actually bought a bunch of different ground meats to work with!)

Anyway, this sloppy joe recipe was actually delicious! I hated sloppy joes… my husband made me try the Manwich kind for the first time when we started living together and I just wasn’t into it. But when I saw this slow cooker recipe on, I knew I wanted to try it.

We first ate it as sandwiches, but I also used it to put over leftover pasta and it was a great topper for that too! So this recipe is pretty versatile for the way you can eat it.

Being a slow cooker recipe, it is very easy to make, and this one is a “set and forget” recipe, you do not need to do anything in the middle while cooking. I definitely recommend this one!

And now, the recipe: (as usual, I made half of what is listed below)


3 lbs. ground beef, browned and drained
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (I actually used red)
28 oz can tomato sauce
¾ cup ketchup
3 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
8 sandwich buns


Combine all ingredients except for sandwich buns in the slow cooker. You can grease your slow cooker if you want. I did for the first time, and I felt it made it harder to clean.

Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. (If you put the meat in raw, cook longer until brown!)

Service in sandwich buns and top with shredded cheese if desired.

The first time we ate them, we did not use cheese but the second time we did. Yum! When I also used this over pasta, I put Parmesan cheese on and that was delicious!!
Definitely try this one out – maybe I’ll use some more of my ground beef to make more and freeze so we can eat it when the baby is here!

Also, another reminder – if you or anyone you know plays fantasy baseball, their drafts are most likely starting or coming up SOON! Get an advantage! Go to and buy the fantasy baseball draft guide! It’s only $6 and gets updated every few weeks until the baseball season starts. (In fact, 2 or 3 updates have already gone out so the guide is getting more and more comprehensive by now!) This is the 3rd year the draft guide is on sale and it gets rave reviews. Check it out! (And if you must know, the RotoProfessor himself, who makes this guide, has won his fantasy league a few times now.) Plus, anyone who purchases the guide before March 15th has a chance to win an autographed baseball of Yankees starting pitcher, Michael Pineda! Pass the word!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Top 5 Eating With A Game Day Snacks - Get Ready for the Super Bowl!!

Last year I did a Top 5 of my most successful Game Day snacks from the football season, so it's time for me to do that again. There are just days before the Super Bowl and if any of these strike your fancy, go get the ingredients!

My husband had some definite favorites throughout the season, so here are my Top 5! And I have to add for his behalf, GO GIANTS!!! (Sorry if you are a Patriots fan, we are NY'ers).

Number 5: Mozzarepas!

This street food was found at the Long Island Oyster Festival back in October and we loved them SO much, I had to try and make them on my own. The first time was a little rough, but they came out pretty tasty anyway and are a perfect little snack to munch on during the big game. The recipe for the Mozzarepas is here! Enjoy!

Number 4: Dips!

I made two very successful cheese spreads this season. One I couldn't eat (the Beer-Cheese Dip) and one I could (the Cranberry Habanero Cheese Spread). My husband devoured both, and I immensely enjoyed the one I could eat. The Beer-Cheese dip can be used on steak sandwiches as well! Many different things can be dipped in eat one, vegetables, chips, pretzels, etc., so they are very versatile. If you want to try a new spread/dip for the big day - try one of these!

Here is the recipe for the Beer-Cheese Dip!

Here is the recipe for the Cranberry Habanero Cheese Spread!

Number 3: Pepperoni Polenta Pizza Wheels!

This recipe was one of the more simple ones, yet one of the most delicious! I had bought a polenta log from Trader Joe's to try out and needed something to do with it. Being a lover of pizza (and all things pizza), I used the base as a crust to make a little pizza wheel. It was delicious! And the polenta is a little less carby than regular crust! These little bites would go fast at a Super Bowl party! Yum! Here is the recipe!!

Number 2: PITACHOS!!

This was one of my earlier snacks in the season, but definitely one of the yummiest. It was also the first time I made my own pita chips - and they were flavored pita chips at that! My husband and I were little piggies this day as we gobbled up this delightful snack.

Try it out, but careful, it can get a little messy! Here is the recipe!

Number 1: Chocolate Covered Pretzel Bites!

My last recipe of the season was mine, and my husband's, favorite, yet it is probably THE MOST simple recipe out there. Thanks to my friend Carly, who made it and posted it on her running blog, I decided I had to make these, and guess what? I've made two more batches since! These take just mere minutes to make and are the perfect salty and sweet snack to pop while watching the game. Try them out! Here is this recipe!

So there are my top 5. Hopefully you are inspired to make one of them!

Lastly, I leave you with this fun little snack - perfect for any football game!

Mini Football Subs!

You can't have a Super Bowl party without these tasty little meatball treats!

Enjoy February 5th everyone! I know the game will definitely be on in my house with my husband decked out in his Giants jersey, hat, slippers, etc. I know he's hoping they will win so he can buy little baby boy a Super Bowl t-shirt once they hit Modells.

PS - Also, please remember, if you, or anyone you know, plays fantasy baseball and has a draft coming up, tell them to head on over to for lots of great tips, tricks and articles. Also, RotoProfessor's third annual Draft Guide is on sale now for just $6!! It is an electronic draft guide created on Excel and updates get sent to the buyer every 2-3 weeks before the season starts. This guide gets repeat buyers and rave reviews and is much cheaper than a magazine from the store! Also, anyone who buys the guide before March 15 is entered to win an autographed baseball by Michael Pineda!! What an awesome prize!

Guest Post - Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

I haven't posted in a while. Half a month. Sorry! I actually haven't been cooking much because we've had an influx of leftovers lately from restaurants or easy dinners I made that I have either already posted here or aren't post worthy!

And last week we had a bathroom renovation going on so that was a minimal cooking week. But I cooked today (sorry, that is not what this post is about!) and I will be starting to make foods to freeze before Junior comes so I will be (hopefully) be making lots of things in the upcoming weeks - we only have 8 to go! Yikes!

The post below is from my favorite cousin-in-law and her experience baking cupcakes for the first time completely from scratch. She was really, really excited about this (she's just out of college and learning to cook more on her own!) so she wanted to share her recipe and experience. Good job, Melissa!

Also, please remember, if you, or anyone you know, plays fantasy baseball and has a draft coming up, tell them to head on over to for lots of great tips, tricks and articles. Also, RotoProfessor's third annual Draft Guide is on sale now for just $6!! It is an electronic draft guide created on Excel and updates get sent to the buyer every 2-3 weeks before the season starts. This guide gets repeat buyers and rave reviews and is much cheaper than a magazine from the store! Also, anyone who buys the guide before March 15 is entered to win an autographed baseball by Michael Pineda!! What an awesome prize!

OK, and now, the guest post. Everything written below here are Melissa's words:

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
By: Melissa

This was my first time making cupcakes and frosting from scratch. I bake cookies from scratch all the time, but have always been afraid to try any kind of cake...until I found this recipe from It seemed simple enough...AND IT WAS! Start to finish (including clean up) was just over an hour!

To see the original post, visit and search "Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream".

Here's the recipe, almost word-for-word from Joy's. I made a few substitutions and I put those in (parentheses). This makes 12 cupcakes.


1 cup flour
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk (1/2 cup skim milk and 2 tbsp butter)
1 egg (3 tbsp egg beaters)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Put flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and butter into a bowl. Mix until a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half of the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

Whisk the egg, vanilla and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side/bottom. Continue mixing until the batter is smooth - just a few minutes. Don't overmix!

Spoon the batter into paper lined muffin tins (I used an ice cream scoop).

Bake for 20-25 minute . Let them cool in the pan a bit before putting them on a wire rack to cool completely.


2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp whole milk (2.5 tbsp skim milk)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Beat powdered sugar and butter together until well mixed. Combine milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then pour the combination into the other mixture, slowly. Once all together, mix until light and fluffy.


I have always wanted to try using a piping bag, so i made my own (sort of) using a gallon sized ziplock bag. It worked pretty well! Not too easy, but it wasn't a disaster. I topped mine off with some silver sprinkles from Wilton.

For my first attempt, I'm really happy. And so was my roommate and his friends! I will absolutely make these again!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Slow Cooker Recipe #3 - Cowboy Chicken!

The crockpot was used once again this past weekend and for a recipe that came out pretty darn delicious!

I was perusing and stumbled across a few slow cooker recipes I wanted to try. I really want to try the homemade sloppy joe's but we don't have ground beef (or ground chicken) in the house right now. All we have is regular chicken, so I had to work with that.

I found this recipe for Cowboy Chicken, and it looked interesting - minus the black beans of course. I hate beans. My husband likes them, but he will have to make his own dishes on his own time! I tried to think of a substitute for the beans, maybe peas or something, but just ultimately decided to go without.

The one thing that bothered me about this recipe was that 30 minutes before you finish cooking, you had to put more ingredients into the crockpot. This is actually a conversation I had with my friend Laurie just a week ago. She wants to try more recipes from a slow cooker recipe book I bought her but a lot of them require ingredients to be added throughout the cooking time. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of "set and forget" while you are at work?

So I had that issue with this recipe. Now, I am home on Mondays - I don't work that day - but I had a doctor's appointment and I didn't know how long I would be there. I usually have to reduce the cooking time for my slow cooker recipes as well, because I only make half the recipes. So I decided to wait until after my 2 pm appointment was done to get this recipe going and we would just eat it the next day. It's a good thing I waited because my appointment took an hour longer than anticipated! So my food would have cooked longer and then I still would have had to add in those other ingredients and cook it for another half hour. I finally finished around 9 that night. No big deal - like I said, we planned to eat it the next night after work. But the recipes that are totally "set and forget" are definitely much easier.

This recipe was also the first time I made my own pulled chicken! I have never done this before so I was proud of myself for shredding the chicken well.

I used a fruity salsa instead of a spicy one since I only like the fruity salsas. I thought the recipe was great, my husband liked it too but I could tell he was craving more spice in the recipe, either by using a spicier salsa or adding some green chilies or something like that. You could do that if you wanted!

We also topped our dishes with some shredded cheddar, which wasn't in the original recipe. I think it added a little something.

So this is a keeper, and I will probably make some to freeze before the baby arrives.

And now, the recipe: (full recipe posted, but I halved it as usual)

4-6 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoons Dijon Mustard (I actually used spicy mustard because we were out of dijon!)
2 cups salsa (any type)
1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (I did not use)
½ cup sour cream (plus extra for serving)
Brown rice (for serving)
* Shredded cheddar cheese (my addition for serving!)


Place chicken in a greased slow cooker.

In medium bowl mix brown sugar, mustard, and salsa.

Pour mixture over chicken. Add water to cover chicken, if needed. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.

With 30 minutes of cook time remaining remove the lid and shred the chicken using two forks.

Add the beans, corn, and sour cream to the slow cooker and mix together with the chicken. Replace lid and cook for remaining 30 minutes.

Serve over rice with sour cream (and cheese!).


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spinach Balls!

So I was searching for recipes that use vegetable broth since we had some leftover from my husband's chili recipe and I came across these spinach balls from

They looked interesting so I decided to give it a try. I didn't use egg substitute, and just used 2 full eggs.

The balls came out well, but to me, a little bland. I felt they needed either a dipping sauce or an extra spice in the mix like crushed red pepper flakes or paprika or something. But otherwise they were a tasty little side to have with dinner. Or, you can put toothpicks in them and serve them as appetizers!

They were really easy to make but took just a short amount of time because I had to chop the onion. I was able to make these one night after work though, so it wasn't THAT involved.

The recipe is for 8 servings - I halved it as usual.


2 cups crushed seasoned stuffing
1 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup egg substitute (didn't use and used an extra egg instead)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry


In a large bowl, combine the first 11 ingredients.

Stir in spinach until blended. Roll into 1-in. balls.

Place in a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve hot.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Maple Peanut Butter Pancake Sauce!

My husband and I had pancakes for dinner the other night. Don't judge :-)

Anyway, he had made a huge batch over the weekend and we were needing a quick dinner. I just had plain old maple syrup on mine, but my husband decided to get fancy. He sliced up a banana and crushed some peanuts. He also made himself a maple syrup peanut butter sauce (recipe below). And then he assembled his masterpiece.

He took a pancake and put some banana slices and crushed peanut on it, and then another pancake. He continued this pattern for about 4 pancakes and then topped it off with some banana slices and peanuts.

Over his little pancake tower he poured his peanut butter syrup... and dug in. He LOVED his little concoction.

So if you like peanut butter and bananas, try it with pancakes! Here is the recipe he found to use:


1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup peanut butter


In a small pan, heat syrup and peanut butter over low heat.

Whisk together until peanut butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Serve warm!


Monday, January 9, 2012

Spicy Black Bean Chili! (Or non spicy, however you choose!)

Wow. I meant to post this recipe last week but it turned into quite a week. My husband cooked this chili the same day I cooked my Pizza Soup, and we had some all packed away to send to his dad for Tuesday, January 3rd when my husband was returning to work.

Well, Tuesday EARLY am comes and my husband wakes up with chest pains that didn't go away after an hour so we had to make an emergency room trip at 6 am. Fun times. Turns out he had a minor case of pneumonia, which we luckily caught pretty early. Of course, I was super paranoid about me getting sick since I am pregnant. Well, so he was home all week and I was doing more around the house, plus we were trying to set up our bathroom remodel that is happening in just mere weeks! So needless to say, I didn't get to post this chili recipe.

But I can now! He is back at work and I have my normal Monday day off to myself. My husband decided to make it extra spicy, so you can definitely tone it down. We found the recipe in the USA Weekend insert in the newspaper. It was called "Healthy Black Bean-Hominy Chili." We kept the recipe healthy, but used corn instead of hominy (that is what they said to substitute if you couldn't find hominy in the store. We just had a ton of corn in the house!) Hominy is corn kernels whose hull and germ have been removed, so regular corn is perfectly fine.

I am going to post the original recipe and put our substitutions in parentheses. We also halved the recipe. The original full recipe says it makes 4-6 servings, BUT the HALF recipe seems like it made just as much because my husband had 2 of the taller Chinese food soup containers completely full. So make at your own risk and make sure you have plenty of containers to store and freeze extra chili in.

After it was done cooking, my husband tried it and really liked it! He realized he made it a little too spicy, but with some shredded cheddar on top and sour cream, it cut the spice back. He has since used the chili alone, on top of french fries and is considering making a chili burger or chicken sandwich next. He will definitely make this recipe again.

It was also really fast to make - this isn't a slow cooker chili.

And now, the recipe: (original recipe with our changes next to it and full serving size, we halved).


1 quart vegetable broth (we halved this!)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (husband used spicy diced tomatoes)
1 TB vegetable oil
1 medium-large onion, diced
1 bell pepper (any color) diced
3 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 cans (15.5 oz each) drained black beans (we used 1)
2 cans (15 oz each) drained hominy (we used frozen corn)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
(My husband also added in a dash of crush red pepper flakes, probably overkill!)


Microwave broth and tomatoes in a microwave safe dish on high power until steamy hot, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and peppers and saute them until soft and golden brown - about 5 minutes.

Add the chili powder, cumin and oregano (and in my husbands case, the crushed red pepper flakes) - saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add beans and hominy (corn) along with the hot broth mixture. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and simmer partly covered until vegetables are tender and flavors have blended - about 20 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, chocolate and cilantro and simmer a few minutes to blend flavors.

Turn off the heat and let stand a few minutes.

** If you want a thicker chili (this one is a little thin), vigorously stir in some fine cornmeal at the end of cooking. My husband did this and he ended up really liking how it came out!

And, enjoy! My husband topped it with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream and was very satisfied.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Crock Pot Cooking - Pizza Soup!!

Today I made my second slow-cooker recipe, and this one is definitely a keeper. In fact, I will probably make a big batch to freeze before baby boy comes and that way we can heat and eat quickly!

While I was perusing my new favorite website,, I found this recipe for pizza soup that really intrigued me. I immediately e-mailed it to my husband saying, "we need to try this!!"

I did not change anything about the recipe except for halving it. (Right now there is just no need for me to make 8-10 servings of things!) Oh, and I omitted the mushrooms because my husband just does not like mushrooms so if I can leave it out, I do.

I think next time I make it I want to substitute mini meatballs for the sausage for a different taste. The sausage was great, but meatballs could be fun too. Always try something new!

My husband gobbled half his bowl up before I even got a chance to sit down at the table. So, I guess it really was a success.

This recipe takes a little more time to prepare just because you need to wash and dice a bunch of vegetables and the pepperoni and slice the sausage. Once everything is in the pot you just set it to low and let it go and then 30 minutes before it would be "done," you add the uncooked pasta into the pot and turn it to high.

I shortened the cooking time again to about 4.5 - 5 hours instead of the 6 because I didn't have a full pot and I halved the recipe. Turned out just fine!

So here is the recipe: (This is for the full serving size, I halved everything on here)


28 ounces pizza sauce (I just used marinara sauce)
7.5 cups of water
1.5 cups green pepper, diced
3/4 cups red onion, diced
15.5 ounces diced tomatoes
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (I omitted these)
6 ounces Smoked Sausage, already cooked (I used my chicken sausage from Trader Joe's)
1 cup sliced pepperoni, quartered (I used Hormel Turkey Pepperoni)
1/2 Tablespoons basil, dry
1 Tablespoon oregano, dry
1.5 cups uncooked pasta


French or Sourdough Bread
Garlic Powder
Parmesan Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese


Wash and prepare veggies and place in slow cooker.

Add the sausage, pepperoni, basil, and oregano to veggies.

Pour in pizza sauce and then water.

Cover and cook on low 6 hours. (I did 4.5 to 5 hours)

Thirty minutes before end of time, add pasta and turn to high. Allow pasta to soften.

Serve topped with croutons and Mozzarella cheese.

To prepare croutons: slice bread. Butter one side and sprinkle with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese.

Broil for several minutes or until golden brown. Be careful not to burn.

Remove from oven, cut into squares. Serve on top of soup.

If you want to freeze this recipe, prepare the soup part and then let it cool and store in gallon baggies. To serve, let thaw and heat on stove top. Sprinkle cheese and any other bread topping you want on it at that point!

This honestly was delicious. It was a very hearty soup and didn't really taste like you were eating tomato soup. It did honestly feel like a liquid pizza almost. And it was great!

Try it out!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cranberry Chicken - My FIRST Slow-Cooker Recipe!

My husband and I decided to buy a slow-cooker sometimes last year (sounds so weird saying that!) I think we bought it in September, or early October. When it got home, it sat, half opened, in our den for months, until I FINALLY decided to wash it and use it toward the end of December.

I was inspired because I play on this website for people who are pregnant and there was a huge discussion about freezing foods before the baby comes, which is something I actually want to do. Someone recommended a website called It has a ton of recipes that can easily be made ahead of time and then frozen, and one of the sections is just for slow-cookers.

So I found this recipe for cranberry chicken. It looked interesting, and really easy, so I decided to try it. (FYI, the picture above is borrowed from the actual website because I forgot to take a picture of MY chicken when we were eating it. Oops.)

I had been nervous about a slow-cooker for a long time. A few years ago my mother in law asked if we wanted one but I said no. I was afraid to leave it on during the day when I wasn't home... what if it went on fire?? But, I caved. Granted, the first recipe I made, I was home. And for the next few, I probably will set it up while we are home on the weekends so at least I can see the progress. For example, we ended up turning the slow-cooker off a little earlier than the recipe said because we halved the portion and we saw that everything was fully cooked a little earlier. So I just have to learn to adjust when not making a full batch, or set up one of my automatic timers on the outlet where the slow-cooker is plugged in to.

The only thing I changed about the recipe was not using cranberry sauce. I buy this cranberry-apple spread from trader Joe's that I LOVE so I wanted to use that instead. My dish came out tasty, except it wasn't SUPER cranberry-ish. I think I probably should have just used cranberry sauce... or a little more of the spread than I did. Otherwise, everything went fine and it tasted delicious over rice!

So look out for more slow-cooker recipes from me (in fact, the next one I am making tomorrow is for pizza stew!! I can't wait!)

Also, starting next month I will be making a bunch of food to freeze so when the little boy is here, we don't have to worry about cooking for a while and just popping something into the oven. So if anyone has any ideas for recipes, feel free to pass them along too!!

And now, the recipe: (I halved it...but this is the full recipe)


1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 packet dried onion soup mix
1 cup Catalina or French salad dressing
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast


Place ingredients in a slow cooker. (It cracks me up that dumping everything in a pot is the only direction. I could get used to this!)

Cook on high 3-4 hours or low 5-6 hours or until chicken is tender.

Serve over rice, if desired.

Here are all my ingredients in the pot, love it!

Hopefully I will master slow-cooking soon and have lots of tasty ideas! Until next time, fellow eaters.

Game Day Dessert Week 17 - Chocolate Covered Pretzels with M&M's

Yeah, it's late in the day. I wasn't sure if I was going to do a Game Day Snack for today but I made these fun little treats last night for New Years Eve that my husband said to put up as the game day snack. So I am. But this is officially the last football game day snack until next year, hopefully (if baby boy doesn't infringe on my kitchen time!)

So my friend Carly actually inspired me to do these treats. She has a running blog but was talking about the holiday baking she did in a post the other week. She had a picture of these cute little treats that were pretzels with a melted Hershey Kiss and an M&M on top. Super easy. Super tasty. I asked her for the recipe.

So she sent me the link where the recipe was and basically told me how easy they were to make, and they were. It took me like, 10 minutes tops. (Plus 15 minutes for cooling in the fridge)

It did take me longer to unwrap the chocolates than bake these, haha! Anyway, these came out SO GOOD that my husband wanted to eat the entire plate. I told him to, he could stand to gain a few pounds, but he opted not to. Oh well. Next time.

The link to the recipe also has many other ideas like making little pretzel s'mores or using different flavor chocolate/M&M's for different tastes. The possibilities are endless.

So here is the recipe, nice and easy:


Pretzel snaps (or your favorite small pretzel.. I used the square ones)
Hershey Kisses (I actually didn't have Kisses so I used the small Hershey milk chocolate candies and the Special Dark ones too!)
M&Ms (I used peanut and cinnamon M&M's)


Place the pretzel squares on a baking sheet, and top each one with a Hershey Kiss.

Cook for 3 minutes in a 250 degree oven.

Press an M&M into the center of each Hershey Kiss. Refrigerate for approximately 15-20 minutes or until cool.


So there ya go. Simple, easy, DELICIOUS!

Enjoy everyone!!