Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chicken Salsa Verde Bake


I have been a little sparse with my postings lately. I apologize for that. I promise my family is not starving and I still make dinner almost every night of the week. My problem is that I've been making repeats or dishes that I'm not exciting about sharing with you. I've been on a quick and easy dinner kick lately. My girls beg me to go swimming with them every afternoon which cuts into dinner making time. Well worth it I might add but it doesn't leave me much time to get creative. This is one of those great quick and easy dinners that you can throw together in no time, even early in the day if you wish. After our afternoon swim yesterday I ran inside and this was ready to bake in the oven within 10 minutes. This is how my daughter kept herself occupied while dinner was baking.



She had a great desire to make a rocket out of a cardboard box I had laying around. This was all her idea. She did a great job decorating it with her markers. I got a worked up an appetite pushing her and her sister around the dining room in this thing. I am sorry to say that this poor rocket didn't make it through the night. They don't make cardboard like they used to. Hope everyone is having a great week. Enjoy!!

Chicken Salsa Verde Bake
adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine

2 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cooked & shredded)
2 (16 oz) jars of salsa verde or regular mild salsa
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup sour cream (I used light)
3 cups crushed tortilla chips
1 (8 oz) bag shredded Mexican-style cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl mix together cooked chicken, salsa, beans, onion and sour cream.

Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Scatter 1 cup of tortilla chips on the bottom and top with half of the chicken mixture and half of the cheese. Repeat layers and cover with the remaining 1 cup tortilla chips. Bake until cheese is bubbly, about 30 minutes.



This is what my daughter's plates looked like. I rounded it out by making a cheese quesadilla on a whole wheat tortilla which they dipped in sour cream and some grapes.

Linked this recipe up with Join Aggie's Kitchen and Real Mom Kitchen.
Friday, September 9, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins


What is it about school that makes kids to hungry? It must be all that learning and brain activity that signals their bellies to think they need fuel. My little girls are in preschool for only 3 hours but when I pick them up the first thing they ask is it I have a snack for them. The funny thing is they get a little snack as school and even before that they always eat a good breakfast. I've gotten in the habit of now bringing a little snack and cup of water for them to enjoy on the ride home. It being 11:30am when I pick them up I would rather them have something small so they still eat a good lunch. These little "mini" muffins fit the bill perfectly. They are small enough so they don't ruin their lunch and delicious because we all know that is the most important thing. Of course they are healthy too. Each little muffin contains good-for-you fiber from the whole wheat flour, oats, and peanuts, and nutrients like potassium from the bananas. The chocolate chips seal the deal for my kids. Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend.

Photo Courtesy of Meal Makeover Moms

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins
recipe source Meal Makeover Moms

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (or finely chopped if your kids prefer them that way), I omitted the nuts all together.
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil or coat 12 muffin cups or mini muffins cups with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, oats, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, banana, milk, brown sugar, peanut butter, oil, and vanilla until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped peanuts.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake about 12-20 minutes(depending on if you use standard size muffins cups or mini's), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Remove the muffins and cool an additional 5 minutes before serving.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mac Chicken & Cheese



With Labor Day having come and gone it is now the end of summer. This is something that I look forward too. I am excited about getting out the Fall/Halloween decorations and going to town here in my house. This is my favorite season for decorating, even above Christmas if you can believe it. My kids are back in school for half the day so this gives me some much needed time 3 days a week to do things around the house without these cute little distractions.


I love heartier type foods this time of year too. We aren't quite there yet with the cooler weather but this will be one dish that will make it onto the regular rotations this Fall & Winter. This is a main dish mac & cheese with the addition of chicken. For a complete meal just serve with some kind of veggie (I chose broccoli) and bread or rolls. This stuff is really good. I will call it my Ultimate Mac & Cheese recipe (at least for now). I don't have very many. The original recipe calls for baking in individual muffin tins. I thought it was a cute idea but I was in a hurry and just poured it into a square baking dish. Either way your family will dive and really enjoy this meal. Have a great Wednesday everyone!

Mac Chicken & Cheese Bites
recipe source Weelicious

1/2 Lb. Macaroni (I used elbows)
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 1/2 Cup Milk
1 Cup White Cheddar
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, divided
1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs
1 Cup Cooked Chicken, diced

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cook pasta until al dente, according to package directions (the pasta I used said to cook for 9-12 minutes, so I cooked it for 10 minutes).
3. Drain the pasta and set aside.
4. In a small heavy bottomed saucepan melt 2 Tbsp of the butter.
5. Whisk in the flour and salt and cook for 2 minutes.
6. Add the milk in a slow stream and whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally .
7. Add the white cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and stir until melted.
8. Pour the cheese sauce and chicken over the pasta and stir to combine.
9. In a bowl, combine the 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
10. Grease mini muffin cups or square baking dish.
11. Pour about 1/4 cup of the macaroni mixture into the muffin cups, sprinkle the top with the bread and cheese mixture and bake for 15-20 minutes (I cooked mine for 20 mins) or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Or you could just bake in a square baking dish that has been greased.
12. Cool in muffin cups, remove and serve.


Photobucket
I am participating in the Crazy Cooking Challenge for the Ultimate Mac & Cheese.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Crunchy Buttermilk Baked Chicken



I hope everyone has exciting plans for Labor Day weekend. Mine aren't very exciting but should be somewhat relaxing which is okay be me. I am the kind of person that would rather stay home on holiday's. I would rather do my traveling when other people aren't...crowds just aren't my thing. My sweet little baby girl turns 5 this weekend so we will be celebrating her birth with a few activities of her choosing. I have a feeling these activities will involve doughnuts and swimming during the day and going to eat at Chili's in the evening. Does she know how to spend her birthday or what? I get a little sad when I think about how fast she is growing up. It seems like just yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital all nervous about becoming first time parents. She is turning out to be such a wonderful, beautiful young lady girl.


Enough of that before I get too emotional. I stumbled upon this recipe and it is quickly becoming one of my new favorite ways to cook chicken. Like we don't have enough, right? I have had bad luck with boneless, skinless chicken becoming too dry when cooked in the oven. I almost gave up on trying till I saw this recipe and it intrigued me. Most recipes simply dip the chicken in buttermilk-which adds no buttermilk flavor. This one soaks the chicken in a highly seasoned buttermilk brine, which flavors the chicken deeply. This produced the most juicy, moist chicken I have ever made. I hope you enjoy and have a great holiday weekend.

Buttermilk Baked Chicken
recipe source Cook's Country Magazine

2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 envelope ranch seasoning mix
1 Tbsp salt
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you could use bone-in chicken too but increase the cooking time)
5 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces

BRINE CHICKEN Adjust oven racks to lowest and middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk buttermilk, sour cream, 2 Tbsp ranch seasoning, and salt in a large bowl until salt dissolves. Add chicken and toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

MAKE COATING Meanwhile, pulse bread and remaining ranch seasoning mix in food processor until finely ground. Bake bread crumbs on rimmed baking sheet on middle rack, stirring occasionally, until light golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to shallow dish.

COAT CHICKEN Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Remove chicken from bowl (allowing excess brine to drip back into bowl) and dredge in bread crumbs, pressing lightly to adhere. Transfer coated chicken to prepared baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray.

BAKE CHICKEN Bake on lowest rack until bottom of chicken is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Move baking sheet to middle rack and reduce oven temp to 400 degrees. bake until chicken is golden brown and temp registers 175 degrees, about 20 minutes. Bone-in chicken will take closer to 25 or 30 minutes. Serve

This post is linked to Add a Pinch
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baker's Dozen Yeast Rolls



The summer has just flown by. I can hardly believe how fast this year is moving. It scares me a little because I feel as though my kids are growing up too fast and I want to enjoy them at the age they are now a little longer. I know I can't stop them from growing so I need to cherish these times as much as I can and make time for them even when it might seem inconvenient.

The cooler weather is right around the corner. Now this is something I look forward too after our extremely warm summers here in Arizona. I heard on the news just this morning that this is the 9th straight day of extreme temperature warnings. If we have another one tomorrow it will break the record. So you can see where I would look forward to the cooler weather. Something else I look forward to is making and eating more soups and breads such as this roll recipe here. These utilize quick-rise yeast so they are so quick and easy to make if you need them last minute. They have a yummy honey-garlic topping that makes them extra special. They will be the perfect partner for soup or chili. I hope you enjoy!

Baker's Dozen Yeast Rolls
recipe source Taste of Home Simple & Delicious

2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 pkg. (1/4 oz or 2 1/4 tsp) quick ruse yeast
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup warm water (120 to 130 degrees)
2 Tbsp plus 4 tsp butter melted and divided
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese ( I just used medium)
2 tsp honey
1/8 tsp garlic salt

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add water and 2 Tbsp butter; beat on medium speed for 3 minutes or until smooth. Stir in cheese and enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 4-6 minutes. I actually just did this in my Kitchen-Aid. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide into 13 pieces. Shape each into a ball. Place in a greased 9-inch round baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.



Bake at 375 for 11-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Combine the honey, garlic salt and remaining butter; brush over rolls.
Monday, August 29, 2011

Snickerdoodles


I hope everyone had an awesome weekend. I know that Monday is not a day most people look forward too. I, however, love the start of a new week. If I had to clock my hours behind an office desk I might feel a little different but I get to spend my day with the two most important people in my life and in my favorite place in the whole world (my home). Today we will be taking advantage of the warm weather with a refreshing morning swim. Living in a place where it is 100 degree's at 9am has it's advantages.

So for now to make Monday's just that much more wonderful I have an awesome cookie recipe. Dare I say one of the best I've ever made? My daughter helped me make these and she had just as much fun saying "Snickerdoodle" as she did making them. This was a great recipe for her to help me with because it involves rolling balls of dough in a cinnamon sugar mixture. She did it like a pro with a few licks of the fingers in between. I have got to go...I have a 3 & 4 year old begging me to go swimming. I hope everyone has a great Monday and a great week.

Snickerdoodles
Your Homebased Mom


1 C butter
1 1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 C flour
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1 C Heath Bar Bits, optional
1 C chocolate chips, optional
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon

Cream butter, sugar and eggs together.  Add in vanilla or almond extract.
Mix in flour, cream of tarter, soda, salt.  Mix in Heath Bar bits and chocolate chips if desired.  Mix together sugar and cinnamon.  Form dough into balls and roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

This post is linked to Sweet As Sugar Cookies
Saturday, August 27, 2011

Homemade Playdough


I don't know about your kids but mine absolutely love to get out the playdough and cookie cutter and go to town. In fact, I also love to sit with them and play myself. Is it weird that I find it soothing to sit with a ball of playdough in my hands and knead it? Is it weird that I like the smell of playdough? Please tell me I'm not the only one.

I wish I could get all the money back that I've spent on playdough through the years. This is the easiest thing in the world to make and would be a fun project to do together with your kids. I've always seen recipes for playdough out there but never attempted to make any until last week when I was trying to think of something to do with the kids. Since there is cooking involved I did most of the actual making but they were excited to choose their colors and watch it come together. I think the hardest part of the whole process was waiting for it to cool enough for them to handle it without getting burnt fingers. There are many different recipes out there but I chose just this basic recipe for Plain Old Playdough. I think I want to try the Glitter and the Fruity Fun Jello recipes next for a little fun variation. So go ahead and make this recipe to bring out the kid in you.

Plain Old Playdough
All playdough recipes found HERE

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
1 TBS cream of tartar
1 TBS oil
food coloring

Heat all ingredients in a saucepan, slow to medium heat. Stir continuously. Once dough is at the consistency you want, remove from heat. Cool before using. *high salt content so please keep playdough away from pets. Also, make sure that it is stored in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag. I just reused my old playdough containers.






Thursday, June 30, 2011

Star Spangled Apple Pie


I love the 4th of July holiday, or the thought of it anyways. I always hear of people having out door BBQ's, kids running around the yard, and big family celebrations. We live in a unique place where it more than likely will be 110 degrees plus. This kind of prevents us from being able to enjoy the outdoors. We are able, once the sun goes down, to enjoy the fireworks. This is something we look forward to. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I enjoy just having a day with my family where we can just relax and enjoy the day off from our day to day work. Someday I hope that we can live in a place where we will be able to play outside in the summer but for now we just have the beautiful mild winters to look forward too.

With the 4th of July coming up soon I was trying to think of a dessert I could make for the holiday. Nothing says America like a nice big piece of apple pie. This one is made even cuter with the addition of the star shaped top crust. I thought this was a fun idea when I saw it over at Annie's Eats. I must admit that this is my first time ever making a pie crust from scratch. It really wasn't that hard Annie gives great instructions. You can click HERE for her great step by step. The key is to handle the dough as little as possible and to have all your ingredients very cold. I will say that is was a piece of cake, I mean pie! I hope you have a great rest of the week and wonderful 4th of July!

Star Spangled Apple Pie
recipe source Annie's Eats

double pie crust recipe such as this one
5-6 medium/large Granny Smith apples (about 2½ lbs.), peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water (for egg wash)

On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pie dough into approximately a 12-inch round.  (Keep the other half of the pie dough chilled for now.)  Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, trimming the excess and crimping the edges.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Position an oven rack in the upper-middle position.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced apples, sugars, flour, spices and lemon juice.  Toss well to combine.  When the bottom crust is finished chilling, pour the apple mixture and accumulated juices into the bottom pie crust and use a spatula to even the top out slightly.  Dot the surface of the apples with the pieces of cold butter.  Roll out the remaining pie dough on a floured work surface.  Cut out numerous star shapes and use these to cover the top of the pie.  (Alternatively, make a lattice top crust.)  Brush the top and edges of the crust with the egg wash.

Place a baking sheet on the lower oven rack.  Place the pie on the upper rack and bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Post linked to Sweet As Sugar Cookies & Add A Pinch
Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting


I guess I have cupcakes on the mind. I've got another one for all you chocolate lover's out there. If you are also a peanut butter fan than you will be in cupcake heaven with these babies. My favorite candy had always been the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. This is the one and only thing that I snag from my kids Halloween buckets. When I was younger and thought nothing about the amount of calories I ate on a daily basis (ah, the good old days) I would buy a whole bag of Reese's and consume the entire bag within a day or two. Oh, how guilty I would feel if I did something like that now. These cupcakes are really, really good. I just used a simple chocolate cake mix (Duncan Hines is my favorite brand). The frosting recipe comes from Your Homebased Mom and it is what takes these cupcakes over the top. It is simple but amazing. These would be great for a birthday party, shower, potluck, 4th of July picnic, or just because you are craving chocolate. I hope you enjoy! Stay cool!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate Cake Mix for 2 Layer Cake & ingredients to prepare
Peanut Butter Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 C creamy peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla
6 C powdered sugar.
2-4 tsp of milk until desired consistency

Prepare and bake cupcake according to cake mix directions; cool completely.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, peanut butter  and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Gradually add in powdered sugar.  Add milk, 1 tsp at a time until desired consistency.

Fill a Ziplock Bag with the frosting and snip a little corner of the bag with scissors. Squeeze gently and frost the cupcakes in a circular motion. Top with a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup if desired.
Friday, June 24, 2011

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes


When I saw the recipe title for these cupcake I just knew I had to make them. Orange Creamscicles are one of my favorite frozen treats on a stick and to recreate them in cupcake form sounded heavenly. The cake portion is super easy to make. You just use a white cake mix, orange juice, and orange jello powder along with the usual cake mix ingredients to whip up the most wonderful orange flavored cake. Don't even get me started on this amazing icing. The cream cheese icing also has orange jello powder mixed in and it is so light and refreshing that you might want to eat it with a spoon. My husband is not a fan of frosting and even he said it was really good. These cupcakes are just perfect for the start of summer.

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes
recipe source Your Homebased Mom via Better Homes and Gardens

1 3 oz. package orange flavored gelatin
1 2 layer size white cake mix
1 small box of cheesecake instant pudding and pie filling mix
1 1/4 C orange juice
4 eggs
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pan with liners (makes about 24-27 cupcakes).  Set aside 2 tsp of the orange gelatin for frosting.
In a bowl mix together the remaining gelatin, cake mix, pudding mix, orange juice, eggs, oil and vanilla.
Fill muffin cups with batter – about 2/3 full.  Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.  Cool cupcakes before frosting.

Frosting:
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/2 C butter
2 tsp vanilla
5-6 C powdered sugar
Reserved orange gelatin
1 tsp finely shredded orange peel
orange food coloring if desired, I didn't use this

Soften cream cheese and butter at room temperature for at least 30minutes.  In a large bowl beat butter, cream cheese, reserved gelatin, orange peel and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add in powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Add in orange food coloring if desired.

Post linked to Sweet as Sugar Cookies & Add A Pinch & Mom's Crazy Cooking & At Home With Haley
Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tuscan Roast Chicken




I used to only buy and cook boneless skinless chicken breasts. I usually would have a problem with the chicken being dried out and tough. I've recently realized that roasting whole chickens or bone-in chicken results in a more juicy tender meat. I'm slowly shying away from even buying boneless breasts anymore. This is a plus also because they are much cheaper if you buy them with the bone on. This is a great way to prepare chicken. I was walking out of my in-law's house a few days ago and noticed her beautiful rosemary. I snipped a few leaves with visions of roasted chicken in my head. I love the flavor of garlic, rosemary, and lemon combined. The smells coming from the kitchen while roasting these are amazing. I used bone-in chicken breasts but you could use a whole chicken, thighs, or even legs if you prefer. You could also skin the chicken if you want to cut down on the calories and fat. I skinned the one that I was going to eat but my husband prefers the skin left on. I hope you enjoy!

Tuscan Roast Chicken

2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon zest
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
6 bone-in chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Mix rosemary, garlic, oil, lemon zest, and red pepper in a bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat.

Place chicken on a large rimmed baking sheet that has been covered with foil. Bake 45 minutes uncovered until chicken is browned and thermometer registers 170 F. Transfer to a platter and let rest for 5-10 minutes.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust


I love making pizza at home. To me it is almost just as quick an easy as takeout. I love the fact that I can make it healthier and have it still taste awesome. We like to keep the toppings simple at our house, in fact one daughter will almost always remove her toppings and eat just plain cheese pizza. I love to experiment with different doughs and found a recipe I was anxious to try. This is a whole wheat dough that called for half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat. I just used all whole wheat white flour and it turned out great. I love this dough and will be using it a lot more often. It baked up nice and crisp and had great flavor. I used to be all about a thick crust but now I much prefer my crust to be more on the thin, crispy side. This dough was simple to make because you use rapid rise yeast. This means you can have your dough all ready to go into the oven within about 20 minutes, perfect for a weeknight meal. The recipe calls for using a food processor to mix the dough but I just used my Kitchen-Aid mixer. Just use whatever you want. I always use the same sauce recipe which you can find HERE. It is my go to sauce and I've never used any other recipe because it is so easy to make and delicious. I hope everyone is having a great week. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
recipe source Eating Well

To make 1 pound dough:

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 package quick-rising yeast, (2 1/4 teaspoons), such as
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup hot water, (120-130°F)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Combine hot water and oil in a measuring cup. With the motor running, gradually pour in enough of the hot liquid until the mixture forms a sticky ball. The dough should be quite soft. If it seems dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons warm water; if too sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons flour. Process until the dough forms a ball, then process for 1 minute to knead.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Coat a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place it, sprayed-side down, over the dough. Let the dough rest for 10 to 20 minutes before rolling. I let mine rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Place a pizza stone or inverted baking sheet on the lowest oven rack; preheat oven to 500°F or highest setting. Roll and top the pizza as desired (we suggest a 13-inch circle) and bake the pizza until the bottom is crisp and golden, 10 to 14 minutes. Serve immediately.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Store in a plastic bag coated with cooking spray in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before using.
Monday, June 20, 2011

Spaghetti with Roasted Zucchini


I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and Happy Father's Day. We are pretty low key in our festivities for these particular holiday's. Anyways, my husband ended up with a stomach bug of some kind so he wasn't up for any special Father's Day meals. He is much better today, hopefully the rest of our household doesn't catch it. I am very grateful to have such a wonderful father for my children and I get a bit teary eyed when I see the girls give him hugs and kisses and tell him they love him and Happy Father's Day.

I've got a quick and easy weeknight meal idea here for you today. I like to eat vegetarian a few nights a week. One reason is that it saves money but also it's healthy as long as you substitute plenty of vegetables in the place of meat. With this meal you don't miss the meat at all but you could add some chicken or shrimp if you wanted too. I enjoyed the smell of the fresh garlic roasting along with the zucchini. Roasted garlic is one of my favorite savory smells, cake baking would be my favorite sweet smell. Anyways, I hope everyone has a great Monday and enjoy your week.

Spaghetti with Roasted Zucchini
recipe adapted from Woman's Day magazine

12 oz spaghetti, I used whole grain
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/2-inch slices of fresh whole wheat bread, torn into pieces
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
4 small zucchini sliced 1/4 inch thick
kosher salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest

Heat oven to 425 F. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Toss the pasta with 1 Tbsp oil. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse bread and garlic until the bread forms coarse crumbs and garlic is chopped.

In a large bowl, toss the zucchini, remaining 2 Tbsp oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Add the Parmesan and bread crumb mixture and toss to combine. Spread zucchini mixture on 2 rimmed baking sheets and roast until the zucchini is tender and golden brown, 12 minutes or so.

Toss the pasta and zucchini mixture with parsley and lemon zest. Enjoy!

This post is liked to Mom's Crazy Cooking
Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Balls (Healthy)


I've got a quick and easy snack recipe for you. Your kids are going to love them and you are going to love that they are healthy. Most of the ingredients to make these are probably in your cabinet or pantry. This would be a simple recipe to let your kids help out with. Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Balls (Healthy)
Recipe Source Go Graham Go

1 1/2 cups of quick cooking oats
1/2 cup of peanut butter
1/2 cup of honey (I use just a little less than 1/2 because I prefer them to be more firm)
1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparation:
Toss the oats into the food processor and blend until you have fine pieces.  In a separate bowl, mix together the peanut butter and honey.  Next, add in the chocolate chips.  Add the oats to the mixture and mix well.  You may need to use your hands to make sure every last bit of the oats has been mixed into the pb/honey/choc chip mixture.  Roll into small balls and refrigerate for a few hours or you could freeze them for several months.

Post linked to Good Cheap Eats & At Home With Haley & Mom's Crazy Cooking
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Toffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies


I enjoy when I am able to have one on one time with each of my girls. I enjoy my time with them together as well but I really feel a special connection when I am able to take them out individually for some alone time. I was able to do this today with my 3 year old. My 4 year old was able to go out on the lake today with her daddy so this gave me the perfect opportunity to enjoy time with Emma alone. We went to the library's story time, then played around at the park, and finally McDonald's. She was most excited about the last stop because she could get french fries. We had a great time together and I enjoyed watching her interact with other kids.

I love trying out different cookie recipes. I found this recipe and knew I had to try it. My husband is a big fan of Heath Bar's so I had him in mind when making these. I just love the combo of the Heath Bar and chocolate chips. These are really, really good. I think I stumbled upon a new favorite. These are simple to make yet will make a big impact. Serve them with milk for a perfect snack, not healthy but all things in moderation.

Toffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe source Your HomeBased Mom

1 C butter, softened
1 C packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 C flour
1 C toffee or Heath Bar pieces
1 C milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a bowl cream butter at medium speed for about a minute.  Add in sugar, baking powder and salt.  Mix well.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Add in flour.  The dough is somewhat stiff.  Add in toffee bits and chocolate chips.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet or a sheet covered in parchment.  Dip the bottom of a drinking glass into sugar and then flatten the ball of dough to about 1/4 inch.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until edges are cooked but not yet browned.  Do not overcook.  Enjoy!

As I was taking pictures of the cookies Ellie asked if she could be in the picture too. How could I say no to this face?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

TOP 5

I'm back with a new TOP 5 of my favorite food finds. It's been a long time since my last TOP 5 Post, plenty of time to find some yummy new favorites. The first one is something that isn't new to me. I've actually been buying these for a long time now. It is Gardenburger's.


I love a good veggie burger and I've tried lots of different brands that you buy in the freezer section of the grocery store. By far these are my favorite. I've noticed them on many restaurant menus such as Red Robin and that is usually what I will order. These boast strong mushroom and grain flavor. I usually will eat mine on a sandwich thin with all the regular burger toppings. I've even chopped them up and added them to salad's.

My next favorite find is from Trader Joe's. In fact my next 3 favorite finds are all from Trader Joe's. I don't think I've ever purchased anything from there that I didn't like. I especially like the Jelly.


It is reduced sugar strawberry preserves that are to die for. I've never been a huge fan of super sweet jelly and that is why I love this version so much. I spread this on my morning toast. It is tastes like ripe strawberries fresh from the garden not overly sweet or artificial.

Next, also from Trader Joe's are these Reduced Fat Cheese Puffs.


Last time we were there my 4 year old daughter found these and asked if we could get some. I reluctantly said yes because I'm not a fan of the cheesy fingers that happen with "other brands". I was pleasantly surprised with these. They are very light and not overly cheesy. The fact that they have 45% less fat than regular cheese puffs in a plus. My husband, who is not a fan of cheese puffs, loved these.

My last Trader Joe's find is their brand of popcorn.


My kids love popcorn and I love the fact that it can be super healthy if prepared the right way. The Trader Joe's brand is just that.  It says right on the box that it will prove, once and for all, that microwave popcorn made with all natural ingredients is not only possible but delicious. I like the fact that these are single serving bags which is just the right amount for my girls to split a bag between the two of them.

The very last thing I found recently are these mini ice cream cones from my previous post.


These things are just so darn cute. I am dreaming up different ways to use them. They come in boxes of 60!

Anyways, that is my TOP 5 for now.  I hope you enjoyed. I hope everyone has an awesome week ahead.
Friday, June 10, 2011

Mini "ICE CREAM" Cupcakes


I've gotten to where I buy those cake ice cream cones quite often. My kids enjoy eating their regular yogurt in them as well as frozen yogurt & ice cream. I was at Wal-Mart the other day and I picked some up not really examining the box because I am always in a hurry. Later that night I opened them up to make my girls an ice cream cone and was quite surprised at how small they were. When I say small I mean tiny. These things would only hold maybe a couple tablespoons of ice cream. After examining the box closely I realized that the cones pictured are the actual size.


I was kind of bummed that I got the wrong size but when I showed the kids they got all excited. I guess they are kind of cute. These will really stretch a container of ice cream. I was thinking about what else I could do with these cute little cones and came up with cupcakes baked in them. These would make a great little treat to take to a party or even for a birthday party. Like I said, I found these cones at Wal-Mart so maybe yours will have them as well. I've never noticed them at my grocery store but that doesn't mean they don't have them.

So there really isn't a recipe. Just use your favorite cake mix or homemade cake batter. Take the mini cones and place them into mini muffin tins to help them stand up straight in the oven.


Fill only about 3/4 of the way, maybe even a tad less. You don't want them to over flow. Bake for about 16-17 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool completely. Frost them however you want and then decorate. I frosted mine with Cool Whip dyed blue.

I hope you enjoy this fun little dessert idea! Have a great weekend!

Recipe linked to Add A Pinch & Good Cheap Eats
Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Fried" Crispy Chicken


I had to force myself to turn the oven on. It is getting hot here much like everywhere else I'm sure. I'm just having a hard time lately cooking meals that are served warm. Like I've said in a previous post I just want to eat salads and fruit for every meal. My husband would not enjoy having a salad placed before him every night so like I said, I forced myself to turn the oven on and make this chicken dish. I will tell you that I loved it. It's a keeper for sure. I found this in Woman's Day  magazine. The lady that submitted it said that this is what here mom would make before her tennis matches for good luck. This is a fun way to use the leftover Rice Krispies at the bottom of the bag. While we are on that subject, why does that always seem to happen in our house. There will be this Jumbo cereal box that is practically empty except for the tiny bit of cereal left at the bottom. Does this happen in anyone else's house or just mine. Anyways, the chicken turned out really moist, I'm guessing because it was marinating in yogurt and that acts as a tenderizer. I'll let you in on a little secret, I diced up some leftover's the following day and put them in a salad. I couldn't resist. I hope you are all having a wonderful week. It's almost weekend time!

"Fried" Crispy Chicken
Adapted slightly from Woman's Day magazine

4 cups Rice Krispies, lightly crushed
3/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
1 cup lowfat plain yogurt
8 (6oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine the yogurt and chicken breasts in a large resealable plastic ziplock. Allow to marinate for 1 to 4 hours.

Heat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

In a shallow bowl or pie plate, combine rice cereal, Parmesan, oil, paprika, cumin, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Press chicken breasts into the cereal mixture to help it adhere; place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 25-30 minutes.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Run Run As Fast As You Can...


Just look at the smile on this face. My daughter loves the story of the Gingerbread Man...we read it quite often. I don't know why I never noticed it before but there is a recipe for making gingerbread men right on the back cover of the book. Yesterday she asked me if we could make some of these little men. I told her we could defiantly do that but we would have to wait until tomorrow. Well she asked and asked all day today when we could get started. I could tell this was something she was really excited about. Finally this afternoon we were able to make them. I must say, I didn't use the recipe on the back of the book, I didn't even make gingerbread dough. I used my favorite sugar cookie dough recipe which you can find HERE. She was so happy to get to decorate the faces and add the buttons with little chocolate chips. I'm pretty sure she sneaked quite a few of them in the process. As they were baking she asked me if they were going to jump out of the oven when they were done, just like in the book. I love baking with my little girl, especially since she is getting older and can follow directions pretty well. Dinner ended up being leftovers because cookie making took precedence. The smile made it all worth it!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Marinara Meatballs with Pasta


It's getting warm here in Arizona. I think we are in it for the next 3 to 4 months. What a great blessing the air-conditioner is this time of year. I will endure the hot summer because I know that from October through May we get to enjoy pretty nice weather. This time of year when it gets hot I tend to crave salad's. In fact, I've had a salad for the past 3 days in a row. It's very hard for me to eat heavy and hot things, even in the air-conditioning. I had a package of ground turkey in the fridge that needed to be used so I decided to make my favorite meatball recipe. I wasn't really craving them and I would have rather had another nice big salad but no lettuce could be found in the house. I have to say though they really hit the spot and I'm glad I made them after all. These are so quick and easy to make. I use ground turkey but you could use ground sirloin or hamburger meat if you prefer. When we were in California last week I stocked up on my favorite marinara sauce from Trader Joe's.


I love this stuff so much that I could just eat it with a spoon. Use homemade if you prefer. I hope everyone had a wonderful Monday and a great rest of the week. Enjoy!

Marinara Turkey Meatballs with Pasta

1 lb ground turkey
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 egg
3/4 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
26 oz tomato basil marinara sauce or homemade
Dried pasta noodles of your choice (I used whole wheat)

Heat oven to 425 F.

In a bowl combine turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, dried basil, garlic salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese; mix until just combined. Shape into 1 inch sized meat balls and place on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Bring a large saucepan of water to boil and cook noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan combine the marinara and the cooked meatballs. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover, and turn heat to low. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve meatballs and marinara over noodles and sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

This post is linked to Good Cheap Eats
Friday, June 3, 2011

Mixed Grill Kabobs


I love grilling! I think the reason I love it so much is because I don't have to dirty pots and pans so my kitchen stays somewhat cleaner. I also love that grill flavor that only comes from a BBQ, an indoor grill pan just doesn't cut it. I've got a super simple one for you today. This will suit both beef and poultry fans. I found this recipe in the June 11 Family Circle magazine. Here how it goes. You buy a bottle of this Vidalia Onion dressing which by the way smells amazing.


You then marinate your beef, chicken, and veggies in 3 separate bags for about 30 minutes. Then it is time to skewer them and grill. Super easy, healthy, and delicious. Use whatever veggies you wish. I think button mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, pepper's, or onions would be great. I hope everyone has an awesome weekend.

Mixed Grill Kabobs
adapted slightly from Family Circle magazine

1 lb sirloin, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 medium squashes, trimmed, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
2 medium zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1 bottle of Ken's Vidalia Onion dressing

Soak a dozen 12 inch bamboo skewers in warm water. Combine steak and 1/2 cup dressing in resealable bag. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to marinate.

Combine chicken and 1/2 cup dressing in resealable bag. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to marinate.

Combine all the veggies in a separate resealable bag and 1/2 cup dressing to marinate along with the meats.

Heat gas grill to medium high or charcoal grill to medium hot. Thread beef and veggies on skewers and then chicken and veggies on separate skewers.

Grill chicken kabobs 4 minutes per side, until cooked through and beef kabobs for 3 minutes per side until cooked through. Serve with extra dressing for dipping.
Thursday, June 2, 2011

Carrot Quick Bread


Ahhhh, finally back home from our week long vacation in sunny California. We had the best time ever and really wanted to stay just a little longer. Now that we are back to reality I am happy to get back on schedule. As soon as we arrived home I worked like mad to get everything unpacked, washed, and put away. I'm the type of person that can't relax until all these things are done after we've been gone. I was so excited to get back into my own kitchen and bake today. Although I had access to my sister-in-law's kitchen while on vacation I was happy to be back in my own where everything is familiar to me. The drive home from California to Arizona is about 5 hours. It seems more like 10 when you are riding with a 3 and 4 year old. I try to bring along a stack of magazines to browse through, it makes the time go by faster. I was flipping through a Better Homes and Gardens and found a recipe for this delicious sounding Carrot Bread with Cream Cheese Icing. I love sneaking putting vegetables in my baked goods. This recipe called for a whopping 2 cups of carrots so there is lots of tiny carrot flakes all through the bread, SCORE! I swapped in whole wheat white flour as well to up the nutrition a bit but you could use all purpose or a mixture of half and half. Anyway you make it you're going to love it. This bread is so moist and delicious. Just look at all the yummy carrot deliciousness:


I left off the cream cheese icing. I was out of cream cheese and I think it is sweet enough without it. I have included the recipe in case you want to try it. This bread would be perfect for breakfast, brunch, or even just a snack. I hope you enjoy!

Carrot Bread with Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe Source Better Homes and Gardens

2 cups whole wheat white flour or all purpose flour
2/3 cups packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups shredded carrots
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cups milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 recipe cream cheese icing, recipe below if desired

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of an 8x4x2 inch loaf pan, set aside.

In a bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, soda, and salt. In another bowl combine carrots, eggs, milk, and oil; add to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check the loaf 10 minutes before end of baking. If it is browning too quickly, cover loosly with foil for the remainder of the cooking time. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove and cool completley on a rack. Glaze with cream cheese icing if desired.

Cream Cheese Icing
Whisk together 2 Tbsp of cream cheese, 3/4 cups powdered sugar, and a little milk (3 to 4 teaspoons) until smooth and glazelike. Drizzle over Carrot Bread.
Sunday, May 29, 2011

TRADER JOE'S DINNER & OUR VACATION


Sorry I haven't had a post all week. We've been on vacation in Southern California all week. Disneyland was the first stop on our list of things to do. We had a great time and the weather was PERFECT. The remainder of the week has just consisted of lots of relaxing by the pool and walking around the beautiful shopping areas around here. I have to give a big thanks to my sister-in-law who has allowed us to "borrow" her beautiful home for the week. It's been great being able to save money by making our own meals. I'm NOT one who loves to eat out (especially fast food) so having access to a full kitchen has made me very happy. I'm also very happy because there is a Trader Joe's right down the street from her house. I've love this place and they never disappoint. We were able to pick up the basics to make healthy meals at home. Here is a sample of one of them. I picked up a bag of frozen turkey meatballs...


and a jar of the most amazing tomato basil marinara I've ever had...


and a bag of brown rice noodles. Mix them all together and add a side dish of broccoli florets...


and you get a fast, easy, and nutritious dinner in minutes. I also made some whole wheat garlic toast on the side but I didn't get a picture of that. I did however get a picture of what happens when you mix marinara sauce with a 3 year old. Just a warning, this picture is very frightening for someone who isn't use to 3 year old eating habits.


What you can't see is that I have the seat of this nice dining room chair covered with a towel, maybe I should have covered the back as well but she didn't get anything on it.

We have two days left of vacation and plan of doing lots of fun things every minute of the day! Hope everyone has a great week!
Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas


I was having another Mexican food craving and it just had to be satisfied. I was able to do just that with an exceptional recipe I found on a blog called Bun's in my Oven, slightly similar in name to my own blog. She just raved about this recipe and said that she makes it part of her dinner rotations quite often because it is one of her families favorites. I loved the idea of cream cheese mixed into the filling and was excited to try it out for myself. I adapted the recipe just a tad by adding black beans (my kids like them) and switching out the enchilada sauce for salsa. Oh, and I used plain Greek yogurt in the place of the sour cream. These did not disappoint me. I really, really liked them. I would say that I like them just as much as the Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas I have on my blog. I used a mix of both corn tortillas and whole wheat flour tortillas. Either one will work for this recipe so use what your family likes best. I hope you enjoy and have a great week.

Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas
slightly adapted from buns in my oven

  • 5 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 10 ounces enchilada sauce or 2 cups of salsa
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (canned corn works just fine, but drain it first)
  • 1 cup black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 4 oz. diced green chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 8 flour or corn tortillas
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9×13 dish with cooking spray.
In the bowl of your mixer cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, and 1/2 of the enchilada sauce or 1/2 cup of the salsa. Stir in 1/2 cup of each type of cheese.
In a second bowl toss together the chicken, corn, black beans, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper, green chiles, and half of the scallions. Add the chicken mixture to the cheese mixture and combine well.
Spread about half of the remaining enchilada sauce or salsa in the bottom of the baking dish.
Spoon the filling into each tortilla, roll the tortilla up, and place in the baking dish with the seam down. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce or salsa over the top of the filled tortillas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with the remaining scallions and serve.

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momof2girls
One of the many jobs I have as a stay at home mom is to cook. I love being in the kitchen and creating yummy dishes to feed my family. I started this blog as a way to virtually capture my most valuable recipe creations and finds. I hope you enjoy!
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