Monday, December 13, 2010

Crockpot/Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I've made this more than once on a Sunday afternoon. The measurements are pretty loose but it always turns out absolutely delicious. Plus, the aroma of beef stew makes the house seem all the more cozy on a winter weekend afternoon.

Layer scrubbed and cubed potatoes and carrots in the bottom of your slow cooker. I like using the Yukon gold small potatoes. Add a sliced onion, if you wish.

On top of the vegetables, place about 1.5 pounds of round steak, cut into large chunks. 
Sprinkle a package of dry onion soup mix over the top.

Pour one 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes over the top. Then add one tomato can full of water.

Sprinkle one tablespoon of paprika over the top.

Cover and cook for 5-6 hours on high, or 8-10 hours on low. 
Stir only once, about halfway through the cooking time.

I served it with some fresh bread. (Freshly made from frozen bread dough, anyway.) Yum! 
Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Baked Pita Chips

Thanks, Lauren and Dylan, for sharing this pita chip recipe! Very easy and quick to make, and delicious. Go ahead and substitute any spice you'd like. The original recipe (below) is from the magazine "Real Simple." I used whole wheat pitas and a chile lime spice mix. We enjoyed them today with guacamole, but they would be good with any kind of dip or hummus.

Easy Pita Chips

4 pitas
1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)
1 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Split the pitas horizontally to make to make 8 rounds. Brush the insides of the pitas with the oil. Cut the rounds into wedges and divide between 2 baking sheets.

Sprinkle with the Parmesan, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. The chips can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Apple Crisp II

Apple Crisp is the sort of dish that you really can't mess up. Pretty much any combination of apples, sugar, butter, and a little cinnamon, will produce a delicious dessert, especially when served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This recipe is all over the internet, with many variations. Go ahead and play with it and make it your own, adjusting the ingredients as you please. I must admit that it's the real butter that makes this so tasty, so go with the real thing here.

Apple Crisp

4 cups medium tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (4 cups) (I used Macintosh)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place apples evenly in an 8-inch square baking dish OR a 7x11 baking dish. 

Combine sugar, flour, oats, and spices. Cut in butter with a knife or pastry blender. Sprinkle over apples.

Bake about 40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Peach Cobbler in a Mug

I just made this about 20 minutes ago and I had to rush to post it. So yummy and fun to make! I'm looking forward to trying it with blueberries, or maybe even apples.

Peach Cobbler in a Mug

1 Tbl. butter (I use Smart Balance)
2 Tbl. brown sugar, not packed
2 Tbl. flour
2 Tbl. milk
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 peach, peeled and sliced

Microwave butter in a mug until melted. Add brown sugar, flour, milk, baking powder, and cinnamon to mug. Stir, then add peaches on top of batter. Do not stir. Cook for 2 minutes in microwave at 70% power. Remove and let stand until cool enough to eat.

Add some vanilla ice cream to help cool it down! Enjoy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

There are some pretty good recipes out there that call for Bisquick baking mix.  Instead of avoiding them,  try using this replacement: Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Baking Mix.  I have had really good luck using it as a substitute in recipes for pancakes, biscuits, etc. 

The recipe that follows really adapted well to using this whole grain substitute. I hope you enjoy it!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

[measurements in brackets are for 13x9 pan]

1/3 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky) [3/4 cup]
1 large egg [2]
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract [1 tsp.]
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar [1 cup]
1 cup all-purpose baking mix [2 cups]
1 cup dark chocolate chips, divided (semi-sweet is fine) [2 cups]

Stir together peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Stir in brown sugar, baking mix and 1/3 cup [3/4 cup] chocolate chips. Spread mixture in a lightly greased 8x8 baking pan [13x9].

Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and sprinkle evenly with remaining chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes and then spread evenly over top.

Cut into triangles, bars, or squares.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Red Potato Salad

Summer is in full swing. What that means to us is simple meals on the grill with a side dish of steamed asparagus or a salad with ingredients fresh from our garden. Delicious, but nothing really post-worthy. 

Nothing fancy here, either. Believe it or not, potato salad is not unhealthy. Use small red potatoes (also called new potatoes), since they haven't had a chance to develop as much starch as their full-grown elders. Then, keep your proportions right so as not to drown the salad in mayo. It's not about the mayo anyway, we are showcasing these yummy potatoes!

Red Potato Salad

Cut 3 lbs. of small red potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Cover with water, add a teaspoon of salt, and bring to a boil. When they are at a full rolling boil, remove from heat, cover, and steam for 5-10 minutes--just until you can easily pierce them with a sharp knife, no longer. This prevents your potatoes from being too mushy.

In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine: 3/4 cup light mayo, 2 tsp. prepared mustard, 3/4 cup sweet or dill pickle relish with juice (I prefer dill), and a dash of cayenne pepper.

Look at these ingredients. Nothing fancy here! Mince 2 cups celery and peel 4 hard-boiled eggs. Chop 3/4 cup sweet onion. You can be doing all of this while the potatoes are boiling and steaming.

When potatoes reach desired tenderness, drain them well and place in a large bowl. While still warm, gently mix in the dressing. 

Then gently stir in the celery, chopped eggs, and onion, and some freshly ground black pepper.

Lightly dust with a little paprika over the top and it will look just like Grandma used to make! Especially if you use a Pyrex mixing bowl. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cookie Dough Dessert

Mmmm, this is like eating cookie dough without the salmonella risk and whatnot. Don't try to make this into cookies though, it won't work.

Cookie Dough Dessert

1 cup fat free milk
1 (15 oz.) package part skim ricotta cheese
1 (4 serving size) package sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
Mini chocolate chips
Walnuts or pecans, chopped

Whisk milk and ricotta cheese together in mixing bowl until blended. Whisk in pudding mix until well blended. Divide into 4 serving bowls. Top with mini chocolate chips and chopped nuts. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nacho Casserole

Feliz Cinco de Mayo! 

This dish is easy to make and very flavorful. The perfect busy weeknight meal. Enjoy!

Nacho Casserole

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 small onion, chopped
1 jar salsa (16 oz.), divided
3/4 cup water
1 can (4 oz.) Diced Green Chiles
1 packet low sodium taco seasoning mix
4 cups slightly crushed nacho chips (don't measure, just estimate)
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded cheese: cheddar or cojack
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 11x7-inch baking dish.

Cook beef and onion in large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is browned. Drain and discard excess fat.

Stir in one-half the jar of salsa, water, chiles, and seasoning mix; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Layer half of the broken tortilla chips on bottom of prepared baking dish. Cover evenly with half of meat mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve with remaining salsa and sour cream.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Blueberry Crisp

Dump cake. You may have heard of it, and, if you have, you have probably made it. It has its merits. It is quick to make. A crowd pleaser. It also could use a few improvements. Often, you would get a bite of dry cake mix. Ick. And the canned pie filling used for the fruit base can taste a bit gummy and fake.

Now that I have whetted your appetite with my description, I present to you a BIG improvement on Dump Cake. 

Combine one package dry cake mix (I used Pillsbury Reduced Sugar white cake mix) with 1/2 cup butter or Smart Balance (not light). Cut the butter into the cake mix with a fork or pastry blender.

Place 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries in a 9x13 baking pan. No need to defrost, if frozen.

Spread cake mix mixture over the top.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes at 350 degrees, until nice and brown. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. I like Reddi-Whip, since it is a real dairy product.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Italian Barbecue Sliced Steak Sammies

I can't stand the term "sammies" but this is Rachael Ray's recipe so I typed her title verbatim. These turned out super delicious, thanks mostly to the barbecue sauce. This sauce would also be tasty on grilled chicken. 

We tried this recipe after I handed the cookbook to Randy last week and asked him to pick out a few recipes. Me, I'd choose chicken, but he likes red meat.  It is a treat to enjoy in moderation.

I made a few changes: The recipe calls for Italian bread, but we just used plain old wheat bread, toasted with no butter or garlic. Also, I did not salt the steaks or the sauce. And, I used our toaster oven not the big oven. Enjoy!

Italian Barbecue Sliced Steak Sammies

1 Tbl. olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
Salt and black pepper
6 Tbl. butter, melted
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
1 large loaf of crusty Italian bread, split and cut into 4 sections
4 (12-ounce) strip steaks
8 slices Provolone

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill to high.

Heat a small saucepot over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Add the onions and cook until tender, 7 to 8 minutes, then add the brown sugar, vinegar, and Worcestershire. Stir to combine, then stir in the tomato sauce. Reduce the heat, season with salt and lots of pepper, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Combine the butter and garlic and brush the cut surfaces of the bread. Toast in the oven until golden, 15 minutes.

Drizzle the steaks with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill for 8 to 10 minutes for medium. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Switch the broiler on. Slice the steaks and layer a steak onto each quarter loaf of bread. Top with 1/2 cup of sauce and 2 slices of provolone. Broil until the cheese browns, about 1 minute.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spaghetti Sauce

Over-used Recipes Swap

This is almost as simple as opening a can or jar of spaghetti sauce but is so much more fresh and flavorful. Give it a try!

Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 Tbl. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram

Cook ground meat, onions, and garlic together in a large saucepan or skillet, chopping and stirring until meat is browned. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Parmesan Peppercorn Salad Dressing

The Liberty Inn in Beloit has the best house dressing. I have tried to replicate it here and Randy gave it a thumbs up. I don't know if I agree that it is quite as good as the restaurant's, but maybe that has more to do with the fact that I am being served a salad with the dressing, as opposed to having to whip it up myself. Food always tastes better if someone else does the cooking, right?

Parmesan Peppercorn Salad Dressing

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
3 Tbl. low fat mayo
3 Tbl. grated parmesan cheese 
3/4 tsp. dried parsley
3/4 tsp. dried chives
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and whisk well, or combine in a shaker container and blend by shaking it. Serve with additional freshly ground pepper over the top. Keep refrigerated and shake to blend well before serving. Best if used within 3-4 days.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bean with Bacon Soup

My husband absolutely loves Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup. Yes, the old fashioned type that requires that you add a soup can of water. 

I like to encourage healthy eating and thought that this flavor of soup would lend itself to a nutritious remake. I looked up several recipes online and found the basic ingredients and preparation method. The problem was that most of the recipes used dried beans and I wanted to stick with the quick cooking method associated with canned soup. So, I used canned beans with very good results. 

Give this soup a try, I think you will be impressed.

Bean with Bacon Soup

2 Tbl. butter or canola or olive oil (I used butter)
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
6 strips of already cooked bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups water
1 tsp. chicken bouillon powder
2 cans light colored beans, one drained and one undrained (see photo below for types of beans I used)
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Put butter or oil into a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots and onions and stir and cook for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add bacon to pan for the last 2 minutes of cooking time. Combine water and bouillon powder and add to pan. Stir in beans, marjoram, thyme, and garlic powder. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until heated through and bubbly. Using a potato masher, mash through the soup a bit to thicken.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

I made some Brownies. I left out the walnuts.

I frosted them with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting. These dessert bars are very rich so you only need a small portion.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces low fat cream cheese (neufchatel)
2 Tbl. creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbl. fat free milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine cream cheese and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl. Using a mixer, beat at medium speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar, milk and vanilla; beat until smooth. (If frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar; if it is too thick, add more milk.) Spread frosting over top of cooled brownies. Store in the refrigerator. This makes enough to frost an 8x8 or 9x9 inch baking pan of brownies or cake. The recipe can be doubled for a 13x9 inch pan.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


If you have one of these, you have a panini maker. No need to buy a special appliance when you can use your George Foreman. The ingredient list really is as simple as it looks. Enjoy your quick and easy meal!


Deli meat
Sliced cheese
Any kind of bread or bun
Any other sandwich filler (lettuce, pickles, tomato, roasted red peppers, sauerkraut, caramelized onions, etc.)
Condiments (mustard, mayo, etc.)

Make a sandwich out of your chosen ingredients. Place it on a preheated George Foreman grill. No need for spray, they won't stick. Close the lid. Keep an eye on them, they cook quickly. Don't worry about opening the grill and checking on them, you can't ruin them (unlike checking on waffles baking in a waffle iron!). 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Honey-Mustard Chicken and Sweet Potato Fries

So much flavor in one meal. Yum! I have made the sweet potato fries a few times now, and they have earned their way into our regular rotation. The spice I use makes them taste like barbecue flavored potato chips! I think you'll love them, too.

Honey-Mustard Chicken

6-8 boneless skinless chicken breast pieces
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. dried thyme

Combine mustard, honey, and thyme in medium bowl. Coat chicken with the mixture. Place chicken on a baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick coating. Bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Sweet Potato Fries

4-6 peeled sweet potatoes
Olive oil or canola oil
McCormick's Grill Mates Barbecue Spice

Cut sweet potatoes into wedges. Drizzle about 2 Tbl. olive or canola oil over potatoes in a large bowl. Toss to coat well. Dust liberally with barbecue seasoning. Line baking pan with foil and spray with non-stick coating. Spread potatoes evenly on pan. Bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chicken Sausage Patties

This is a Rachael Ray recipe. It is a healthy sausage with a very good flavor. You can make it into sausage patties or crumble and brown it and use it in a recipe calling for crumbled pork sausage. I haven't tried it yet, but I imagine it would even be good on pizza.

The photo above shows it being served with scrambled eggs and onions and cheese, served on toast.

Chicken Sausage Patties

1 Tbl. butter
1 green apple, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. fennel seed
1.5 pounds ground chicken breast
1.5 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. sweet paprika
Extra-virgin olive ooil

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add apples and onions and season with a little salt, pepper, and fennel seeds. Gently saute the mixture 5 minutes to soften and remove from heat to cool.

Heat a griddle pan or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Place chicken in a bowl and season with salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, allspice, paprika and a healthy drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Add in the apples, onions, and fennel and mix the sausage. Score meat into 4 sections and form 3 small, thin patties from each section, 2.5 inches across, 12 small patties total. Cook patties 3 to 4 minutes on each side and serve warm.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Healthy tiramisu doesn't seem like a reality. This recipe isn't exactly healthy, but it has far less fat and calories than the traditional recipe.

We enjoyed it as a birthday cake this weekend at a gathering of family where the majority was celebrating a January or February birthday.


2 cartons (8 oz. each) - OR 1-16 oz. carton - fat free or light dairy sour cream
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) reduced fat cream cheese (neufchatel), softened
2/3 cup sugar or Splenda
1/4 cup fat free milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup strong coffee
2 Tbl. coffee liqueur or strong coffee
2 pkg. (3 oz. each) ladyfingers, split
2 Tbl. sifted unsweetened cocoa powder

1. In a large bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed till mixture is smooth.

2. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of coffee and coffee liqueur.

3. In a 9x13 glass pan arrange one package of the ladyfingers, cut sides up. Brush with 1/2 of the coffee mixture and spread with 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat with remaining ladyfingers, coffee mixture, and cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with two tablespoons cocoa powder. Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving. (Can be stored covered in the refrigerator up to one day.) Makes 15 servings.

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