Monday, November 29, 2010

The mystery that is my husband

We've discussed this many times, Jon-boy claims he doesn't do hot dishes.

And yet, he continues to ask me to save and make recipes that are hot dishes! He definitely keeps me guessing.

Tonight we had a jumble of ingredients that I somehow managed to make into a meal. Jon took the first bite and said to me, "Save this recipe, I don't know what you did, but save it. It's so good!" Well, good thing I have a good memory! ;)

So, here's to the mystery boy.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Quick Chicken & Pasta Skillet
Serves 4
277 calories per serving

9 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast- diced
3 cups dry rigatoni pasta
1/4-1/3 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TBS olive oil
1 very large tomato, diced
1 cup tomato sauce
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp dry Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Simmer pasta until al dente. Drain.

In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add diced chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until chicken is almost done, 7-10 minutes.

Add dry Italian seasoning, diced tomato, and chicken broth. Simmer, uncovered 10 minutes.

Add tomato sauce. Toss in drained pasta.

Stir in fresh parsley.

Top with shredded cheese. Cover the skillet to melt the cheese. Leave covered for about 5 minutes before serving to allow the pasta to finish cooking through in the sauce. Serve hot.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cupcake Love

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in America. My parents drove up to join us for a lovely meal together.

My mom and Jon waited so patiently while my dad and I took pictures of the yummy food :)

There are many different traditional meals throughout the country. I am from the Midwest. So, my menu reflected tradition for where I grew up. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, jellied cranberries, cranberry relish, raw veggies, pull apart biscuits, pie, and cupcakes. My dad made the 'taters and delicious pie. Mom made up the veggie tray. Jon helped me prep the turkey. Great food and even better company.

After we cleaned up, we went for a drive around St. Simons Island. We stopped by the ocean to say hello.

When we got home we sampled my cupcakes. They are from the cookbook "What's New, Cupcake" by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson

Aren't they cute?! They were yummy too! Jon said the frosting is his new favorite(that's huge from a man who doesn't really like frosting)

One final thought before I post the recipe: I am thankful for the countless blessings God has given us this past year, but I am even more thankful for what He will do in our lives over the next year. Remember to always be thankful for what you have and what will come.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

"Cherry Pie" Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 box Duncan Hines snack size confetti cupcake mix (Makes 12)
1 can vanilla frosting
2-3 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
4 drops yellow food coloring
1 cup red m&m's or other small red candies

Prepare the cupcake batter according to the package directions. Pour batter into metallic paper cupcake liners. Bake according to package. Cool completely, in the pan(s) on a wire rack.

Tint the vanilla frosting with the yellow food coloring and the cocoa powder to make a light brown for the pie crust.

Spread some of the frosting on top of a cupcake, leaving 1/4 inch of the cupcake edge exposed. For the cherry filling, arrange the m&m's close together on top of the cupcake. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes and candy.

Piping may be done one of two ways-

Option 1. Spoon the remaining light brown frosting into a ziplock bag, press out the excess air and seal. Snip a small (1/8-inch) corner from the bag. For the lattice crust, pipe 4 or 5 lines across the top of a cupcake, about 1/2 inch apart. Pipe 4 or 5 more lines, on the diagonal. Pipe a beaded edge around the top of the cupcake. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes and frosting.

Option 2. Use a piping bag with a small tip (I used a small basket weave tip.)Pipe the lattice following the same directions as above. Change piping tips to a basic round tip to do a small bead around the edge for the crust.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Relish the moment

It's no secret that Thanksgiving is next week.

This year, we won't be with my grandparents since they are still back in Minnesota. But, it's not Thanksgiving without my grandma's cranberry relish.

My grandma was kind enough to send me the recipe so I could make it this year. :)

My lovely Grandparents and me at their home this summer. Thank you Kathleen Bade for taking the picture!

I will also share a hungry girl recipe for cranberry relish that is reduced sugar.

I always enjoy seeing what different families serve for Thanksgiving. This year this is what is on our menu:

Mashed Potatoes
Dressing- it's not going in the birds kiddies, it is therefore dressing, not stuffing.
Cranberry relish
Cranberry jelly (this is for Jon's benefit, I can't stand the slurping noise as they come out of the can, shaped like the can. Eww)
Flaky layers biscuits
Fresh veggies
Cupcake "pies"
And last but not least- Dad is making a pumpkin cream pie!

Here, take a peek at the cupcake design:

So, whats on your menu?

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Gram's Cranberry Relish
From the 1947 Jackson Methodist Cookbook
Original recipe by Mrs. J. Wm. Rossiter
(Her husband was the pastor who married my grandparents in 1946.)

4 c. "picked over" cranberries
3 c. apples
1 orange partially peeled (I leave about 1/3 on)
2 cups sugar

Put fruit through food chopper or grinder. Add sugar. Let stand overnight.

Good as is, or make the following additions:

Prepare 1 (4oz) raspberry jello, using only 1 1/3 c. hot water.

Add the relish, plus 1 c. chopped celery and 3/4 c. broken walnuts.

Hungry Girl Cranberry Relish
Serves 12
63 calories per serving

One 12-oz. bag whole cranberries
One 11-oz. can mandarin orange segments in their own juice
1 cup peeled and finely chopped apples
1 envelope (1/4 oz.) dry unflavored gelatin
2/3 cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
1/4 cup Almond Accents in Original Oven Roasted
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon

In a medium pot, combine cranberries, Splenda, and sugar with 1 3/4 cups water. Set stove to medium heat, cover pot, and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for 10 minutes, uncovering to stir occasionally. Meanwhile, in a small dish, combine gelatin with 1/4 cup cold water, stir well and set aside.

Turn off heat and stir in gelatin mixture, stirring until dissolved and thoroughly combined. Stir in cinnamon and apples and mix well. Transfer mixture to a bowl, and refrigerate for at least 5 hours (overnight is best).

Once chilled and set, remove mixture from the fridge and give it a good stir. Drain juice from the can of orange segments. Roughly chop orange segments and drain any excess liquid from them. Slightly crush almonds so that they break into smaller pieces. Add chopped orange segments and almond pieces to the cranberry sauce, and mix thoroughly. Serve with lean turkey, pork, or chicken, or anything else you like cranberries with!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Leftover Magic

I, like many cooks, am on a budget. I plan my meals out weekly, I cut coupons, and I stretch meals with veggies and inexpensive grains.

A few weeks ago when I was shopping for my week of preplanned meals, I spotted a deal on boneless beef ribs. They were a great price so I opted to purchase them. (I typically don't stray from my list to my husbands dismay. If it's not on the list, it doesn't go in the cart)

Since I had all my meals planned, I stuck them in my freezer to await a new week. I made ribs the same way I usually do- rubbed, cooked low and slow in the oven, then sauced. I made the entire 1 1/2 lb package knowing we'd have leftovers.

I chopped up the 4 leftover ribs and put them in the fridge. (Quirky side note- I mark my leftovers with a tag that reads "No Touchy" if I intend to use them for other meals. This way when we are making lunches, neither Jon nor I will inadvertently use up the ingredients)

So what magic did I perform? BBQ Biscuit Cups. I served them with fresh green beans and leftover chilled couscous salad.

I have made this recipe before with ground beef. I will include ingredient amounts for both preparations.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

BBQ Biscuit Cups
Serves 8
240 calories

4 fully cooked boneless ribs, chopped *
8 Pilsbury Grands Biscuits
4 TBS BBQ sauce of your choice (I use Sweet Baby Rays)
1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded cheese of your choice (I used reduced fat cheddar)

* You may use 6 oz lean ground beef. If you do, I recommend adding in some diced onion and garlic. Also, I would add a dash of liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce.

Preheat oven to 350.

If using leftover ribs: warm them up slightly and chop roughly. Add BBQ sauce. Set aside.

If using ground beef: brown with recommended ingredients. Add BBQ sauce. Set aside.

Spray 8 cups in a muffin tin lightly with cooking spray. Gently press out biscuits into a disk. Press into the muffin tins. Fill each cup with some of the beef.

Bake for 10 minutes. Top each biscuit with cheese. Return to oven and bake 3-5 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2-5 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Adventures Abound

With so many adventures to be had here, most days Jon and I just don't even know where to begin.

We went pecan picking with my parents the other day.

Jon and I shelled 15 pounds of pecans. Super tasty! I made pecan turtles with some of my pecans. The rest were either frozen or bagged up for other people.

After we got pecans, we went shopping for Operation Christmas Child. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this project I suggest checking out the website:

The short version is this- people donate a shoe box full of items- toys, school supplies, hygiene items, etc for a boy or girl. These shoe boxes are given to underprivileged children all over the world. It is a very important ministry in sharing God's love. I was very happy that my parents invited us to help with this project.

Jon and I have been taking many walks around our house and local beaches. We are enjoying exploring the area. On this particular day we saw loads of geese. Jon decided he wanted to be "The Thinker." I love the fountain in the background same picture of him.

We went to St. Simon's Island today just as high tide was ending. We saw lots of birds: pelicans, gulls, sand pipers, and more that we don't know the names of yet.

As the tide went out, a small island the birds were on turned into a peninsula. I of course turned into a little kid and ran into the flock of birds making them scatter. It was a lot of fun for me.

There were many sea creatures to look at after that- horse shoe crabs, several varieties of jelly fish, and a sea cucumber to name a few. Jon and I really enjoyed it.

We love the variety of each visit. No two days are ever quite the same. On our way home I snapped a picture of the surrounding marshes. The sun was starting to set so color is spectacular.

There is a beautiful bridge we occasionally take to get to Jekyll Island. I didn't take these two pictures, but I really wanted to share it with you. The bridge is called the Sidney Lanier Bridge.

So, that is a review of the last few days. The adventure that is our life. God has truly blessed us.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Carmel Turtles
Makes approximately 40 turtles

1 bag carmels
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups slightly chopped, toasted pecans (You want bigger pieces, but I don't like to use whole halves)
1 bag milk chocolate chips
1/8 bar paraffin wax (optional)

Melt carmels in a medium sized sauce pan. Stir in vanilla. Add pecans. Stir to coat.

Drop pecans onto wax paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray. (About 1 TBS per mound)

Cool completely.

Melt chocolate and wax together in a double boiler or in the microwave. Dip each turtle, evenly coating the entire candy. Tap off any excess chocolate. Return to wax paper.

Cool completely. May be frozen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pure Joy

I have a dear friend who often reposts items that are of great importance to her. Today, I will do the same.

“Decision is a risk rooted in the courage of being free.”
-Paul Tillich

We took a huge risk.

We moved across the country to a new city in a new state.

God blessed us from the beginning.

We trust Him.

We are courageous.

We are free.

We are blessed.

Most of all-
We are happy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Let's get creative!

So, the pantry is pretty slim pickin's until tomorrow (grocery shopping day). And what do we do when things are slim? Get creative!

I haven't built up my pantry just yet, but what I had was perfect.

I had heart healthy Bisquick. Campbell's Selects Healthy Request Chicken noodle soup. Healthy request cream of chicken soup. And a freezer full of veggies. Anyone know where I am going with this?

Chicken and dumpling soup! I adore this classic dish, but rarely take the time to make my own stock, shred the chicken from the bone, mix up my dumpling batter and blah blah blah. It's a lot of work!

Tonight, I made the most amazing chicken and dumplings in about 25 minutes. It tasted like I slaved all day over a hot stove.

I am sure you could make this in a slow cooker, but it's super quick and easy on the stove top.

I took this picture for my mom, who loves my curly hair. I am sharing it with you because well, it's November and my grass is still green. :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Chicken and Dumpling Soup
Serves 3
245 calories per

1 can Campbell's Selects Healthy Request Chicken Noodle soup
1 can Healthy Request cream of chicken soup, undiluted
2/3 cup mixed frozen veggies
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup Bisquick Heart Healthy mix
1/4 cup skim milk

Mix soups, veggies, and water together in a pot with a lid. Bring to a simmer.

In a small bowl mix Bisquick and milk. Drop by teaspoonfuls into the simmering soup.

Reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer uncovered for 5-6 minutes. Cover and simmer 10 minutes longer.

Allow to cool slightly before serving.

* You can always add fresh herbs to your dumpling batter for extra flavor, but I didn't have any on hand. Enjoy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Apple Cobbler

Be forewarned, I have about a million thoughts roaming around my brain right now. So this particular blog entry is going to be a little all over the place. If you want to skip my ramblings here's the short version: Mom came to visit. Brought me apples. I made apple crisp. Jon brought it to work to win friends. Done. ;)

For those of you who enjoy peeking in on my thoughts please continue:

My mom came for a visit the other day. Best. Day. Ever. I love spending time with my mom. She is one cool lady.

We went for a walk in my new neighborhood. We found a duck pond with four mismatched duck species, a lovely subdivision with plenty of curious folks keeping up the neighborhood watch, and of course we found good conversation.

Before she came over, my mom stopped by a farm stand in her town. She brought me apples and tomatoes. Fresh picked. In November. Yea, I feel right living here.

Tomarrow's forecast is for 79 and sunny skies. I couldn't be more thrilled.

The cat is enjoying the back patio area, though he loathes the harness he is required to wear to go exploring. We let him out once without it and he tried to explore the neighbors yard...

Jon and I have turned into little kids as we experience life here- going to new places, smelling new odors (high tide and low tide have definite smells), and trusting each other and God. We see life with fresh eyes and renewed energy. It's definitely a good place to be.

BUT, getting back to those apples. I read up on them to see the best use. They were Arkansas Black Apples. They are very waxy and crisp. Most websites recommended them for eating only after storage for a few months(they are REALLY hard when you first pick them). The alternative was to use them to bake desserts. Hmm yes, I can do that.... :)

I created an apple crisp from what I had on hand. It turned out yummy. Jon brought some to work today and apparently his coworkers were drooling at the sight of it. (Mission "Make Jon Popular" is underway apparently LOL)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Apple Crisp
Serves 8
145 calories per

3 medium apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
1/3 cup white sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup flour
1 packet cinnamon flavored weight control oatmeal- dry
1/3 cup unpacked brown sugar
3 TBS Best Life margarine or I can't believe it's not butter

Preheat oven to 350.

In a 9x9 baking dish toss together apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.

In a small bowl combine all ingredients for the topping. Combine until crumbly.

Scatter over apples.

Bake for 45 minutes, until apples are tender. Let cool 15 minutes before cutting into 8 slices.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

By Jon's Request

The other night I made a new recipe called Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta Toss. It came from a cookbook entitled "A busy cook's cookbook." Most of the recipes are 20 minutes or less.

Jon called me after he got off work to inform me he was "starving!" I grabbed the ingredients for the pasta toss, and dinner was on the table 15 minutes later- just in time for my hungry hubby to arrive home. He devoured it! He said I must share this one. And so I shall :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta Toss
Serves 3-5

1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/4 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
5 oz spiral pasta or other pasta shape (I prefer 3 minute quick cooking)
2.5 oz bag, precooked bacon pieces
1/2-1 (10 oz) can healthy request tomato soup, undiluted*
1/2 cup reduced fat, shredded cheddar cheese

Brown beef, onion, and garlic together in a skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Drain any fat on paper towels. Crisp bacon up in the same skillet.

While the beef is browning, bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain well.

Mix pasta, beef, bacon, and soup together. Top with cheese. Serve hot.

*You can use the soup one of two ways- You can use 1/2 can of soup and add water to dilute to your preferred thickness. OR you can use the entire can for a thicker, richer sauce.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I can't believe I haven't shared this recipe with you yet! Jon absolutely adores these potatoes. It's just a simple, basic gratin, but it looks so elegant when it's done.

I honestly thought there was NO way this recipe was going to work when I made it. There was so much milk and I didn't see how the potatoes were going to soak it all up. Don't be afraid, it really does work. Somehow, those taters soak every last bit up. :)

I can't remember for the life of me where I got this recipe, but it is super easy and delicious.

I use my mandoline to cut my potatoes to an even thickness. If you don't have one, get one. They come in a variety of sizes now. You can even get hand held mandolines that fit into a kitchen drawer. Once you try it, you'll never go back to slicing veggies with a knife.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Jon's Favorite Potato Gratin
Serves 4
140 calories per serving

1/2 TBS salted butter
garlic powder
1 c. skim milk
1 clove garlic, minced
2 TBS finely chopped onion or shallot
garlic salt and pepper to taste
dash of nutmeg
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes sliced thinly ( 1/8")

1/4 c. ( 1 oz) shredded Gruyere cheese OR Swiss cheese
1/8 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Rub a small baking dish with the butter and sprinkle with the garlic powder.

Combine milk, onion,garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and potatoes in a large nonstick skillet; Bring to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are almost tender (About 7-8 minutes).

Pour mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle with cheeses.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.