Saturday, March 31, 2012

Homemade Larabars - Laraballs

I have to admit; I've never had a Larabar.  I've heard they're delicious and I've been meaning to try them.

Now, I'm not sure I will try them. 

Now that I've made these bars or balls, I see no need to spend money on the real thing.  These were super easy and everyone loved them!  Even my pickiest eater thought they were awesome and I think he ended up eating most of them. Good thing I bought a giant package of dates and pecans at Costco!

Very Cherry Bars - Balls Recipe
Enlightened Cooking

6 oz. whole pitted dates, rough chopped
6 oz. dried cherries
9 oz. pecans
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (or to taste)

Place the dates and cherries in a food processor.  Pulse until processed to a paste.  Transfer paste to a large bowl.  Don't clean processor. Add the nuts to the processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add the nuts, along with the cinnamon to the bowl with the fruit paste.  Use your fingers to knead the nuts into the paste.  This brings back memories of playdough.

Shape into bars on wax paper or do what I did and roll them into balls. 

One Year Ago...

Lemon Chicken Pasta

This is linked with:
My Meatless Monday at My Sweet and Savory
Just another Meatless Monday at Hey, What's for Dinner Mom?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Oatmeal Parmesan Chicken Tenders

I have been trying to reduce the processed food in the house.  Chicken nuggets have been one of the biggest favorites around the house for a long time. I've been trying to find a chicken nugget recipe that the boys will actually like!

I loved the oatmeal parmesan breading with these chicken nuggets.  They cooked nicely in the pan and crisped up without too much oil. 

While I loved the thyme in these, the boys weren't as thrilled.  So, the following week, I made them again using a barbecue seasoning.  They were a hit!  I think you could pretty much use any seasoning so go ahead and experiment!

Oatmeal Parmesan Chicken Tenders
Adapted from Extraordinary Life

1 cup oats
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp. thyme, dried (or BBQ seasoning or other seasoning)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 chicken breast tenders
1 egg, beaten- placed in a shallow bowl

Place oats in a food processor and process until ground. Add parmesan cheese, thyme, salt and pepper.  Pulse to combine and place in a shallow bowl.

Dredge chicken in egg and then in oat mixture.

Heat pan with just about a tablespoon of oil (or bacon grease).  Place tenders in pan for several minutes until browned and fully cooked.

One Year Ago...

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Next Day Chili

Chili is one of my favorite things to have in the refrigerator as a leftover.  This chili intrigued me as you make it the day before and purposely eat it the next day.

I will have to admit, I did sample some the same day as cooking and I didn't notice a huge difference from the day after.   

I loved the chorizo meat. I don't eat it very often and I forget how incredible the flavor is in food.  Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you off, it came together easily. 

Crackers and chili is one of my favorites, I prefer it to the traditional cornbread.  These are Mary's Gone Crackers gluten free crackers and they were fantastic!  

Next Day Chili Recipe
Adapted from Veronica's Cornucopia

2 lbs. ground beef, 93%
10 oz. chorizo
1/2 lb. bacon
1 tbsp. bacon grease
1 can chili beans, undrained
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
2 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. oregano
2 tbsp. paprika
3 tbsp. black pepper
2 1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sage
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 - 5 tbsp. hot sauce, depending on taste
1/2 cup chili powder
1 tsp. coriander
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 - 2 cups chicken broth, depending on desired thickness

1 (6oz) can of tomato paste
1 cup tomato juice, I used V8
Red pepper flakes to taste

In a very large pan, brown ground turkey and chorizo, drain and set aside. Slice bacon into 1 inch pieces and cook bacon until crisp, set aside on paper towels to drain. Take 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease and add it to the turkey/chorizo mixture. Add all remaining ingredients, except bacon, to large pot. Simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally and tasting to adjust salt, pepper, chili powder and red pepper flakes to taste.

Let cool for an hour or so and then refrigerate overnight. Refrigerate bacon separately. Simmer again the next day for 2 - 3 hours, adding the bacon the last hour. Now it's ready to serve!

One Year Ago...

Pumpkin Hummus Wraps

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

This was one of my favorite meals.  It did take a bit of prep work to get it all together but if you're organized it's isn't too bad. 

I like to cook up a bunch of chicken in the crockpot when it's on sale and portion it into 10 - 12 oz. bags in the freezer.  Then it's all ready to pull out when I need a quick chicken salad or a meal like this.

Cook the rice in the morning when you're making breakfast or getting ready to leave.  Chuck it in the refrigerator and then it's all set to just mix and put in the oven.


I love alfredo sauce on just about anything. I'd never tried it on rice and now wonder why I never tried it! This was positively wonderful!

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
Adapted from Healthy 4 Life

5 cups water
3/4 cup uncooked regular brown rice
3/4 cups uncooked wild rice
1 jar (10 oz) Classico Alfredo pasta sauce
1 cup sour cream, light
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 lb. chicken breasts, uncooked
1 can (15 oz) white beans, drained and rinsed
1 bag (16 oz) mixed vegetables, thawed

Cook chicken, cool slightly and shred or cup up. Set aside.

In a saucepan, heat water, brown rice and wild rice until boiling. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 - 50 minutes or until rices are tender. Drain if necessary.

Heat oven to 350. Spray 9 x 13 in baking dish with cooking spray. In a very large bowl, mix pasta sauce, sour cream, broth, parmesan cheese, thyme and pepper until well mixed. Stir in rice mixture, chicken and vegetables. Spoon into baking dish.
Bake uncovered for 40 - 50 minutes.

One Year Ago...

Cinnamon Pretzels

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bean & Honey Burrito Casserole

My friend Rachel posted this recipe on facebook a few weeks back.  It had the words beans and burrito in it so how could I pass it by?

She made her casserole half vegetarian and half with chicken. I had every intention of making mine with only beans and no chicken but I had leftover chicken in the refrigerator that needed to be used so I tossed it in. 

It was a gorgeous casserole and tasted fantastic!  I loved the honey flavor.  The only thing that I would do different would be to tear the tortilla pieces up rather than lay them flat.  They got nice and toasty and were difficult to cut.  That certainly didn't stop us from eating this in record time though! 

Bean and Honey Burrito Casserole

1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
12 corn tortillas
3 tbsp. mustard
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup honey
1 red or green pepper, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn
10 oz. shredded cooked chicken (optional)
4 oz. colby jack cheese, shredded
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. honey

Prepare brown rice as directed.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 in. baking dish with cooking spray.

Line the bottom of the baking dish with 6 tortillas.  (or tear them into little pieces).  To make honey sauce, whisk together the mustard, sour cream and 1/3 cup honey into a bowl.  Combine the peppers, garbanzo beans, black beans and corn in a large bowl.  Scoop out 3/4 of the bean mixture and reserve for topping.

Stir the cooked chicken (if using), half the cheese, cumin, cooked rice and honey sauce into the bean mixture. Mix well. Pour mixture into the bakin dish on top of the tortillas.  Top with the other tortillas, either whole or cut into chunks.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and the reserved bean mixture. 

Bake in preheated oven until hot and bubbly, about 35 - 40 minutes.  Maybe longer if you want your tortillas a bit crispier.  Remove from oven, drizzle with the remaining tablespoon or two of honey. 

Total calories = 3700 calories
8 huge servings = 463 per serving

One Year Ago...

Southwestern Cream of Chicken Soup

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Menu Plan Monday ~ March 26 - April 1, 2012

Monday:  Broccoli, Ham & Cheese Quiche with Potato Crust

Tuesday: Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos

Wednesday: leftovers for me, fish & fries for the family

Thursday: Sweet Potatoes and Pears

Friday: Tacos & Taco salads

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken

Desserts:  Apple Baked Donuts


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lemon Bars

My kids are obsessed with juicing lemons.  They love to juice them and drink the juice just to get see who puckers the most.  Just talking about it is making my mouth tighten up and water! I don't particularly like sour things but they love it.

So when they asked to buy a bag of lemons at Costco, I obliged and knew they would have fun juicing them.  Little did I know that we ended up with 2 bags of lemons!  We often buy a ton of food at Costco and we had 2 carts so we had a bag of lemons in each cart.  That's a lot of puckering!

When I came home I decided I need to do something more creative with the lemons than just watching the kids juice it, drink it and make an incredible mess.  So Joanne's lemon bars came to mind. She used Meyer lemons which I've never had but these seemed to work just fine.  These were nice and sweet; just the way that I like to eat lemons!

Lemon Bars Recipe
Adapted from Eats Well With Others

1/2 lb. butter, at room temperature (I used one stick and it turned out fine)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 tsp. salt

6 extra large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp. lemon zest
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour

Cream together the butter and sugar until light in the bowl with an electric mixer. Add the flour and salt and mix together until just mixed.  Flatten the dough into a 9 x 13 in. baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray.  Chill crust in the freezer for 10 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 350.  Bake crust for 15 - 20 minutes or until lightly browned. 

For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until set.  Pour over the crust and bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until set.  Let cool to room temperature.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. 

One Year Ago...

Chicken & White Bean Wraps

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Zesty Sloppy Joes

More sloppy joes.  It's my blog and I can do what I want. I like sloppy joes and rarely have to make the same ones twice. 

These were quite zesty.  Thus the name. They went nicely with some mashed potatoes. 

Most of the family at theirs with buns but I love mashed potatoes and love to put food on them.  My son loves to eat his sloppy joes with ruffle potato chips.  One batch of sloppy joes, many ways to eat them. 

Zesty Sloppy Joes
Adapted from Kiddie Corner Deals

2 lbs. ground turkey, lean
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tbsp. mustard
1 1/4 cups ketchup
1 tbsp. seasoned salt
2 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 cans Rotel with green chile
1 tbsp. tomato paste (optional)

Brown ground turkey in a large skillet.  Add onions, peppers, garlic and seasoning. Cook 10 minutes uncovered, stirring often.  Add the ketchup, mustard, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and rotel.  Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every so often.  I added about a tablespoon of tomato paste to it to thicken it slightly and and more tomato taste.

One Year Ago...

Mexican Ground Turkey Quinoa Skillet

Monday, March 19, 2012

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Nachos or Tacos

I've had this recipe blog for about 2 1/2 years.  I don't particularly have exotic tastes and for the most part, I don't strive to find recipes with unusual ingredients.  I think the brussels sprouts were about the most daring food I've made! 

I saw this recipe and knew it would be awesome.  I love buffalo sauce and I love ranch.  Plus the fact that it is made in the slow cooker was an obvious winner!  I thought the flavors sounded familiar and knew I had made something similar before.  I made buffalo chicken wraps about a year and half ago.  They were very similar to this recipe but maybe with the idea to use it on nachos and other things made me forget and think this was something new.  

I loved my Buffalo Chicken nachos!  I kept it simple with just a bit of cheese and scallions with a drizzle of ranch dressing.  Hubs ate his on a bun like a sandwich. My brother ate his on a tortilla as a wrap.  I ate leftovers over a baked potato.  One crockpot full of food; many different delicious ways to eat it.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Nachos

3 lbs. boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cups of Franks Buffalo Wing Sauce (to taste)
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dry packet seasoning

Pour the chicken in the slow cooker. Mine was still frozen. Pour about 1 1/2 cups of buffalo sauce and the packet of ranch dressing. Let cook on low for about 6 hours until chicken is able to shred. Shred chicken and add back to slow cooker and stir. Add more buffalo sauce if it's too dry. Cook for another hour or so. Serve with nachos, on tacos, burritos or buns.

Makes 6 cups of shredded chicken.  125 calories per 1/2 cup.

Waldorf Rice

I couldn't stop eating this. The rice cooked in the apple juice is so incredibly tasty in itself!  The with the crunch of the apple, celery and pecans; it just blew my mind.  This is for sure a keeper!

Waldorf Rice
Adapted from Easy to be Gluten Free

1 cup brown rice, uncooked
Apple juice
1 tsp. salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 apple, unpeeled, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans (not too small)

Combine rice and the appropriate amount of apple juice (liquid) in a pan.  Cook until about 1/2 way done.  Stir in celery and cook until rice is done.  Add chopped apple and pecans, stir to combine and serve. 

One Year Ago...

Orange Amish Friendship Bread

This is linked with:
$5 Dinner Challenge at $5 Dinners
My Meatless Monday at My Sweet and Savory
Just another Meatless Monday at Hey What's for Dinner, Mom?
Made from Scratch at Living with Food Allergies and Celiac
Whole Foods Wednesday at These Chicks Cook

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Menu Plan Monday ~ March 19 - March 25, 2012

I didn't get to the beef stew last week so we'll give it a shot this Sunday.  I'm on my own for several days this week so I planned some odd "meals".  I plan to make sweet potato fries one night for myself, I'll probably eat whatever else happens to be in the frig. I just have roasted chickpeas on Saturday as I have no idea what else I'm going to make.  I could probably just eat that as a meal though.  Sometimes it's nice not to have to cook for others!

Monday: Brown Rice Casserole with Sausage and Peppers

Tuesday: Egg Fu Yung and Veggie Fried Rice

Wednesday: Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos

Thursday: Spaghetti for the kids, leftovers for me

Friday: Sweet Potato Fries

Saturday: Roasted Chickpeas

Sunday: Beef Stew in the Crockpot


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Applebees Weight Watchers Menu Review

I'm a calorie counter, I've never counted Weight Watchers Points.  Though it has been a very popular weight loss program and going to a restaurant and having to "guess" what you are eating is hard.  I've been known to avoid restaurants for that very reason.  Going to Applebees and knowing how many points plus your meal is has got to be an enormous help! I love when restaurants have the calories posted for me.  

I tried the Creamy Parmesan Chicken.  It was good, I would have liked a bit more flavor though. 

-- Creamy Parmesan Chicken (Weight Watchers PointsPlus value: 12): Applebee's juicy grilled chicken breast with creamy au gratin Parmesan sauce, served with steamed spinach and mushroom rice pilaf.

My husband tried the Grilled Jalapeno-Lime Shrimp.  He liked it a lot and loved the flavor of the shrimp.

-- Grilled Jalapeno-Lime Shrimp (Weight Watchers PointsPlus value: 8): A hearty portion of grilled chipotle lime shrimp and black bean corn salsa tossed with lime juice and chopped cilantro, served on a mix of grilled zucchini, marinated tomatoes, onions & red peppers with steamed white rice.

-- Cabernet Mushroom Sirloin (Weight Watchers PointsPlus value: 12): Applebee's 7 oz. grilled House Sirloin with sauteed Portobello mushrooms & onions in a Napa Valley Cabernet sauce with steamed herbed potatoes and garlic broccoli.

All three Applebee's selections feature PointsPlus values assigned through Weight Watchers PointsPlus program, which goes far beyond traditional calorie counting to give people the edge they need to lose weight and keep it off in a fundamentally healthier way.

Applebees was kind enough to give me a $25 gift certificate to try out the new Weight Watchers meals.  The meals were good and because they offer these reduced calorie meals, plus they have another section with lower calorie meals, we will be visiting Applebees again soon. 

My only complaint would be that I wish they had the actual calories as well as the pointsplus on the menu items. Plus, I thought the plate was huge and it made the portion appear smaller, even though it was quite filling and plenty of food.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Butterfinger Bites

Several months ago I tried homemade Butterfingers using, peanut butter, candy corn and chocolate.  I was skeptical but pleasantly surprised.  They tasted like Butterfingers and were delicious. 

Then I found this recipe for Butterfinger Bites and was intrigued by the crunch. But would they taste like Butterfingers? 

They were very much like a Butterfinger, not exactly but amazingly delicious!

This is a fun project with the kids.  I had them putting the peanut butter in between the cheese crackers and I would dip them into the chocolate.  Make plenty, my friends, these will not last long.

Butterfinger Bites Recipe
Recipe from One Crazy Cookie

Box of Cheezits or any other box of cheese crackers
peanut butter
chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)

Spread some peanut butter on one side of a cracker. Grab another cracker and place on top.

Microwave chocolate in a bowl in the microwave, stir often.  Dip the crackers in the melted chocolate and cover completely.

Set on waxed paper on a cookie sheet. Then put them in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to get the chocolate to set up.  Devour.

One Year Ago...

Beef Stew with Butternut Squash & Chickpeas

This is linked with:
Sweets for a Saturday at Sweet as Sugar Cookies
Weekend Wrap Up Party at Tater Tots and Jello

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lentil Tacos

I'm in the process of trying to re-educate my family about meat.  I don't believe that we need to eat meat every night.  I don't have specific numbers but I know that we eat a LOT more meat than in previous centuries. I know that portion size in the United States is often way more than other countries.  I can't quote you exact statistics but I am just fine with reducing my meat intake.

I certainly haven't eliminated meat and I don't want to exclude our family favorites from our dinner rotation.  Tacos and nachos are for sure one of our favorites and I won't be giving those up anytime soon.   

What I love about these lentil tacos is that they look like taco meat, they smell like tacos and they really TASTE like tacos.  No meat, no guilt. 

I ate the leftovers with some gluten free Mary's Gone Crackers.  I love these crackers!

Lentil Tacos

1 large onion, chopped
1 large jalapeno, chopped
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 cups lentils
5 cups vegetable broth or water
Corn tortillas
Toppings like cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream and taco sauce

Heat oil over medium high in a large pan.  Add onion, pepper and garlic and saute until onions are transucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the spices and lentils and cook for 2 - 3 minutes.  Pour in broth and bring mixture to a simmer and reduce heat to medium low.  Cover pan and simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentils have softened.  Uncover pan and simmer for another 10 minute or until liquid is absorbed. Lightly mash some of the lentils.  Spoon mixture into tortillas, add desired toppings and serve. 

One Year Ago...

Tangy Chicken Fajitas

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Carrot Souffle

I often will buy a ginormous bag of carrots at Costco.  The bag never quite seems so big until you are trying to stuff it in your refrigerator.

As soon as I saw this recipe from Family, Stamping and FOOD,  I was interested.  I had never seen anything like this; it sounded sweet and delicious.  Plus, the idea of using up 2 lbs. of carrots sealed the deal.

I understand the picture is rotten. I didn't even have a sprig of something to garnish, no ideas to put a carrot as a prop in the background. Nope, just a plop of bright orange deliciousness dumped on a plate.  Forget about the picture. Just use up those carrots and make this awesome carrot souffle!

Carrot Souffle Recipe
Recipe from Food, Stamping and Food

2 lbs. carrots, washed and chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. all purpose flour 
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add carrots.  Cook until soft enough to mash, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain carrots and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  With electric mixer, blend and mash carrots. 

Add sugar, baking powder and vanilla.  Mix until smooth. Add flour, ginger and butter and beat until smooth.  Taste to see if you need to add more sugar.  Now add the eggs and beat completely. Pour mixture into an 8 - 8 in. baking dish.

Bake for about 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes until top is golden.

One Year Ago...

Butternut Squash Penne Pasta

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jalapeno Poppers Stuffed Burgers

I used to make a lot of burgers.  For some reason this last year I haven't made too many of them.  I've been favoring the casserole or the crockpot lately it seems.  Or - *gulp* - buying the premade frozen burgers.  It's been awhile since I've made homemade burgers. 

I don't usually like stuffing things.  I'm always afraid it will ooze all out and just make a mess. With me cooking; often it does end up in a big old mess!

These worked out perfectly.  They were simple to make and they didn't ooze all over.  They tasted fantastic and I can't wait to make them again!

Not a pretty picture but I ate mine without the bun along with some sweet potatoes.

Jalapeno Poppers Burgers
Adapted from Colies Kitchen

2 lbs. ground turkey, extra lean
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. onion powder
1 - 2 tbsp. jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (add to taste)

Mix the meat, worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder and pepper.

Shape the mixture into 12 patties.  Mix the cream cheese, ancho chili powder, cumin, onion powder and minced jalapeno.

Top 6 patties with the cream cheese mixture, spreading in the middle but not to the edges.  Cover each patty with one of the remaining 6 patties, sealing the edges well. 

Cook the patties on stovetop or grill until done.

One Year Ago...

BBQ Chicken Enchiladas