Friday, January 31, 2014

Slow Cooker Cherry Flan

This is super easy and quite delicious!  Just remember that it is a flan, not pudding or bread, so the flavor will be a bit more on the eggy side.  With that in mind, I just love the combination of the flavors.  The cherries do stand out beautifully.  Enjoy!
-butter flavored cooking spray
-5 eggs
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-3/4 cup flour
-1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-14-16 oz frozen pitted, dark sweet cherries, thawed
-whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for topping (optional)
-chocolate syrup, for topping (optional)
Coat the inside (bottom and sides) of the slow cooker with butter flavored cooking spray.
Using your electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and salt at high speed, until thick.  Add the flour and beat until smooth.  Add the milk and vanilla.  Mix well.
Pour batter into prepared slow cooker.  Distribute the thawed cherries evenly across the batter.  Cover and cook on low for 3.5-4 hours or until the flan is set.
Serve as is or with desired toppings.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cranberry Punch

This is a delicious and super easy beverage.  I love the flavors together.  Enjoy!
-4 cups cranberry juice, chilled
-1 cup orange juice, chilled
-1 cup pineapple juice, chilled
-2 cups ginger ale, chilled
Combine all ingredients, stir and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Super Easy Slow Cooker Whole Chicken and Homemade Broth

This is awesome for a Sunday dinner or one of those busy, busy days when you can't even remember your own name. :)  I used a 5 pound chicken, so make sure to adjust the time according to the weight of your bird.  What't even nicer about this recipe is that you get to make an awesome chicken broth from the juices and bones that are left.  Super easy, yummy and simple.  Enjoy!
-cooking spray
-1 whole chicken (mine was about 5 lbs)
-your favorite spices*** I used seasoned salt, garlic powder and black pepper
Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray.
Wash the chicken, remove all the giblets, then pat it dry.  Rub your favorite spices all over it, including on the back, wings, thighs, inside the cavity and under the skin.  Place in the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.
The chicken will be super tender and moist.  Yum!
Take all the meat off the bones and leave the bones (and skin, if desired) in the crockpot along with all the juices.  Add 5 cups of water.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours (pretty much over night).  Strain the liquid so that none of the bones, skin and whatever else is there gets into your container.  Now you have about 7-8 cups of wonderful chicken broth that you can use in other yummy recipes.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pasta with Sausage, Red Potatoes and Green Beans (Serious Comfort Food )

My mother in law surprised us a while back with some Catullo meats from Ohio.  We were spoiled rotten! :)  I still had a few links of their garlic basil pork sausage in my freezer and knew that I had to use them soon.  So, this dish was absolutely perfect for it.  Even if you do not have Catullo sausage, or even the garlic basil combination, you can still make this dish.  Just substitute with your favorite sausage.  This dish is serious comfort food.  It's super filling, insanely delicious and it will leave you very happy. :)  It's also quite quick to put together.  Enjoy!
-8 oz uncooked pasta (rotini, penne, small shells, any kind you like)
-4 small red potatoes, washed well and quartered
-12 oz garlic basil sausage or your favorite sausage, casings removed
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1/2 small onion, finely diced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 cup chicken broth
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 Tbs butter/margarine
-2 cups frozen green beans
-1 tsp dried parsley leaves
-salt and pepper, to taste
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta, drain and set aside.  Cover to make sure it stays moist and doesn't clump.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the potatoes and cook until fork tender.  When the potatoes are almost ready, add the green beans and boil together for 3-4 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
Brown the sausage in large pan.  Sprinkle the pepper flakes and break down the meat.  Add the onion and garlic.  Cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the broth and simmer for another 3 minutes.  Stir in the oil and butter.  Once butter is melted add the cooked pasta, potatoes and green beans.  Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper.  
Lower the heat and sprinkle the cheese on top.  Without stirring, cover the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Scoop onto plates and enjoy!  
Adapted from a Food Nanny recipe.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Easy and Delicious Chili

I love this recipe because is easy, quick and delicious.  And yes, you use salsa in this one.  Great taste!  Enjoy!
-2 lbs lean or extra lean ground beef
-1/2 onion, finely diced
-1 tsp black pepper
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-2 (15 oz each) cans tomato sauce
-1 cup medium thick and chunky salsa (your favorite brand)
-1 (1.25 oz) package mild chili seasoning
-1 (15 oz) can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
-1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
In a large saucepan, brown the beef with the onion, breaking up the meat clusters.
Add the rest of the ingredients.  Give it a good stir, lower the heat (to low), cover and let it simmer for 60-70 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Oh, what a delight!  It's like chocolate heaven in the mouth!  Super yummy, moist, chocolaty, easy and quick...  I barely snapped this picture of it as my family gobbled it up in a few minutes!  Delicious!  Enjoy!
-1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-3 eggs, beaten
-1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300 F.  Coat a round cake pan with butter flavored cooking spray.
Melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently.  Remove form heat and stir in the sugar, cocoa powder, beaten eggs and vanilla.  Stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed.  Pout into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Let it cool in the pan.  Slice and serve.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chicken Yakisoba

This has become an instant family favorite!  The flavors are insanely delicious!  It's also quick, easy, very filling and super tasty.  I also LOVE all the veggies in it.  You have to make this soon.  You'll love it! :) Enjoy!
-2 Tbs vegetable oil
-2 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into strips
-1/2 tsp ground ginger
-1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
-1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
-1 large carrot, grated
-1 cup broccoli pieces
-2 (3 oz each) packages ramen noodles, seasoning packets discarded
-1 tsp sesame oil
For the sauce:
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
-2 Tbs ketchup
-1 Tbs (or 1/2 tsp, if you don't like spicy) Sriracha hot sauce
-1 Tbs sugar
Heat oil in large skillet or wok.  Add the chicken strips.  Season with ginger and cook until no longer pink.  Add all the veggies and cook for about 7 minutes or until nice and tender.
While that's going, boil some water and cook the noodles for 3 minutes.  Drain and stir in the sesame oil.  Mix and set aside.
Combine all the sauce ingredients and mix very well.  Pour over chicken and veggies.  Give it a good stir.  Add the noodles and stir.  Cook for a couple of minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Parmesan Hash Brown Cups

 This is such a wonderful side dish.  The flavors are wonderful and I love how crispy they are on the outside, yet they're tender and moist on the inside.  Great dish!  Enjoy!
-20 oz frozen shredded hash browns
-3 green onions, finely chopped
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a 12 muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.
Mix all ingredients together until well combined.  Fit all the the mixture evenly into the 12 muffin cups.  Press it down with a fork until the entire mixture is used (it might seemed like a lot, but it will shrink a little during baking).
Place pan in lower third of the oven.  Bake in preheated oven for 60-75 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest in the pan for 5 minutes.  Gently scoop them out and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Super Skinny Vegetable Soup

This soup is almost zero calories per serving!  It's just a bunch of veggies cooked together in broth, which is very low in fat.  If you want to make it truly vegetarian, then swap the beef broth with vegetable broth.  Either way, this soup is a delight and is very filling too.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
-1 onion, finely diced
-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
-1 carrot, grated 
-4 cups beef broth (or vegetable broth)
-1 Tbs tomato paste
-1/2 small cabbage, roughly chopped
-1/2 cup frozen or fresh green beans
-1/2 tsp oregano
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 small zucchini, chopped
Coat a pot with cooking spray.  Add the onion, garlic and carrot and saute for 5 minutes.  Add the broth, tomato paste, cabbage, beans, oregano, salt and pepper.  Give it a good stir and let it simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the zucchini and simmer for 5 more minutes.  Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Easy Country White Bread

My friend Rodica posted a picture of this bread on Facebook.  Yes, I did start to drool!  :)  I made it as soon as I could fit it into my schedule.  It's actually very easy and fairly quick for homemade bread.  On top of it all, it is delicious!  I also love the fact that when I sliced it, it didn't collapse, like other homemade breads do.  This is definitely a keeper!  Delicious!  Enjoy!
-3 cups lukewarm water
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 1/2 Tbs yeast
-1/3 cup vegetable oil
-1 Tbs salt
-7-8 cups all purpose flour
In your mixer's bowl (if you don't have a stand-up mixer, you can mix it by hand) add the water,sugar and yeast.  Let it sit for 10 minutes.
With the hook attachment on, turn the mixer on the low speed.  Add the oil, salt and 7 cups of flour (1/2 cup at a time).  Mix well.  Knead until the dough is smooth, elastic, a bit sticky and pulls away from the bowl-about 10 minutes.  Add more flour is the dough is too sticky.
Cover the bowl with the dough with plastic wrap (spray the plastic wrap with cooking spray so that the dough doesn't stick to it!).  Place in warm spot in your kitchen and let it rise for an hour or until doubled in size.  Mine really doubled! :)
Punch the dough down and divide it into two.  Form 2 loaves and place them in greased 9" pans (just coat them with some cooking spray, including on the sides).  Coat some plastic wrap with cooking spray and cover the loaves.  Again, let it rise until the top of the dough is a couple of inches higher than the pans (about 1 hour).
 Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the loaves form the pans and immediately place on cooling rack.  Slice and enjoy!  YUM!
Recipe slightly adapted from here.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chocolate Pie with Coconut Crust

Need I say more than the title?  This pie is heavenly!  The combination between the chocolate filling and the coconut crust is absolutely perfect.  Enjoy!
For the crust:
-4 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
-11 oz sweetened coconut flakes (make sure you actually weigh this one, as you don't want the crust to be too thin or too fat)
For the filling:
-1 cup heavy cream
-1 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Place a pie dish on top of a cookie sheet and set aside.
Mix the butter with 2 cups of the coconut flakes (you can use the food processor or do it by hand).  Mix until well incorporated.  Move mixture into a bowl and add remaining coconut.  Using your hands, mix very well.  Press mixture on the bottom and sides of the pie plate.  Cover the edges of the pie crust with foil.  Bake in preheated oven  for 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes so that the edges cab brown a little too.  Remove from the oven and place pie dish onto wire rack until completely cooled.
Bring the heavy cream to a boil.  Place the chocolate chips in a bowl.  Pour boiling cream over chocolate and let it sit for 10 minutes.  Mix until chocolate is completed melted.  Pour mixture over cooled crust.
Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (up to a day).
Slice and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Slow Cooker Pastrami Sandwiches

This is very easy and super delicious!  Enjoy!
-2 lbs pastrami, deli thin slices
-1 cup beef broth
-1 tsp black pepper
-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
-hoagie rolls
-yellow mustard
-sliced cheese (I like the smoked provolone)
-pickle slices
Place pastrami, broth, black pepper and cayenne pepper into your crock pot.  Cover and cook on low for two hours, stirring every 30 minutes to prevent crusting the meat (don't worry about the heat escaping the slow cooker-the meat is already cooked).
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Assemble sandwiches by placing cheese, mustard, pickles, meat and a little bit of broth in hoagie rolls.  Wrap in foil and bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Spicy Pasta with Tilapia

This dish is simple, easy, light,  yet delicious and quite filling.  It is not too spicy, if you're concerned about that.  There's just a tiny little kick to it.  If you're really not into spicy food, then simply leave out the red pepper flakes.  Great dish!  Enjoy!
-1/2 lb tilapia fillets, cut into chunks
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
-3/4 tsp red pepper flakes, divided
-1/2 cup apple juice
-1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes in puree
-1/2 cup water
-10 oz spaghetti
-fresh or dried parsley for garnishing
Place the tilapia chunks in a medium bowl.  Add 1 Tbs of the oil, 1 garlic clove (minced) and 1/4 tsp of the pepper flakes.  Toss until well combined, cover and place in the fridge until needed.
Heat the remaining Tbs oil in a large skillet.  Add the remaining garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.  Add the apple juice and simmer for about 4 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and water.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the directions.  
When the pasta is almost done, add the tilapia mixture to the tomato sauce, and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Season with salt.
Drain the pasta and add to the tilapia mixture.  Toss well.  Divide among bowls and garnish with some parsley.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Slow Cooker Dijon-Maple-Rosemary Chicken

Simple, easy, delicious!  This is yet another wonderful dish for one of those busy, busy days.  Enjoy!
-cooking spray
-4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
-3/4 cup Dijon mustard
-1/2 cup pure maple syrup
-2 Tbs red wine vinegar
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-2 tsp dried rosemary leaves
Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray.  Layer the chicken on the bottom.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken.  Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Angel Food Cake Pudding Roll

That's a mouthful!  However, this is one of the easiest and yummiest desserts ever!  And it's pretty low cal too!  Wonderful and easy!  You can choose any flavor pudding you like.  Of course I went for chocolate this time, but definitely can't wait to try it with a different one.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
-1 (16 oz) box angel food cake mix
-1 (3.9 oz) box chocolate (or any flavor) pudding
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Mix the cake according to the box instructions.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top is dark golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let it cool completely in the pan.
Meanwhile, prepare the pudding according to the package instructions.
Spread a sheet of wax paper on our kitchen counter.  Carefully, invert the cooled cake on top of it.  Spread the pudding all over the top.  Roll it carefully and wrap it in wax paper.  Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  When ready to serve, remove from the fridge and cut into slices.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Slow Cooker Potatoes with Butter and Thyme

This is a great side dish, put together in no time.  I love the flavor the bacon, bay leaves and peppercorn give it.  The potatoes are nice and soft, but not mushy.  Great side!  Enjoy!
-5 slices bacon, roughly chopped
-2 tsp thyme, divided
-4 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
-2 tsp salt
-2 bay leaves
-6 black peppercorns
-4 cups chicken broth
-4 Tbs unsalted butter, sliced
Layer the bacon on bottom of slow cooker.  Sprinkle half the thyme on top.  Add the potatoes, salt, bay leaves and peppercorns.  Pour chicken broth over potatoes.  Sprinkle remaining thyme and the butter on top.  Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.  
Remove bay leaves and peppercorn.  Scoop out the potatoes with a slotted spoon and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Slow Cooker 5 Bean and Beef Chili

This is just perfect for one of those busy, cold days.  It simmers in the crockpot the whole day and you have a wonderful, filling and delicious meal waiting for you.  Enjoy!
-1 1/2 lbs lean or extra lean ground beef
-1 large onion, finely diced
-1 (15 oz) can light red kidney beans, drained
-1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained
-1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained
-1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
-1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained
-2 (14.5 oz each) cans petite diced tomatoes with jalapenos, with the juice
-2 (1.25 oz each) packets mild chili seasoning mix
-1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
-1 cup water
-salt and pepper
-any toppings desired for serving (cheese, sour cream, green onions, crackers, cornbread, etc)
In a large skillet, brown the beef with the onions.  Break up the clumps.  When done, pour everything, including juices, into your slow cooker.  Add all the beans, tomatoes, seasonings, tomato sauce, water, salt and pepper.  Give it a good stir.  Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.
Serve into bowl and top with desired toppings or enjoy it as is.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Charleston Shrimp and Grits

Quick and delicious!  This dish is a little bit different than the regular shrimp and grits, but it is still quite a delight.  I love all the veggies in it, plus the Canadian bacon is much lower in fat than the regular bacon but still gives it a nice, smoky flavor.  Super easy too!  Enjoy!
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 small onion, finely diced
-3 Canadian bacon slices, chopped
-1 green bell pepper, cleaned and finely chopped
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/4 cup white grape juice
-1 tsp cornstarch
-1/2 cup chicken broth
-1/2 cup half and half
-14 oz shrimp, peeled, deveined with tails removed
-cooked instant grits
-green onion, chopped, for topping
Heat the oil in large skillet.  Add the onion, bacon and bell pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.  Add the grape juice and let it bubble for 1 minute.
Mix the cornstarch with the chicken broth.  Add to the skillet along with the half and half.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened (about 3 minutes).  Stir in the shrimp and cook for 3 minutes.
Serve the shrimp mixture over the cooked grits and top with the green onions.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Skinny Stuffed Peppers

I love, love, love how this dish turned out.  And only 300 calories per serving (1 pepper)!  Great flavors and quite filling too.  Make sure though to give yourself plenty of time to make it, as the cooking itself is around 1 hour and a half.  But it's well worth the wait.  Great dish!  Enjoy!
-4 bell peppers (any color you want)
-salt and pepper
-1 tsp + 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 small onion, finely chopped
-8 oz lean or extra lean ground beef
-1 tsp dried oregano
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp ground cumin
-2 Tbs tomato paste, divided
-1 cup chicken broth
-1/2 cup long-grain white rice
-1/3 cup dry lentils
-1 1/2 cups water
-1 tsp dried dill
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Cut the tops off each pepper, but do not discard them.  Clean the peppers until no more seeds are found inside.  Dry them off and place them in an 8x8 baking dish.  Sprinkle the inside of each pepper with a little salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tsp of the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the garlic and onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the beef, oregano, cinnamon and cumin.  Mix well.  Cook until beef is no longer pink (make sure the crumble it as it cooks, so that you don't have clumps).  Add 1 Tbs of the tomato paste and mix until well incorporated.
Stir in the broth, rice and lentils.  Season with some salt and pepper.  Give it a good stir and remove skillet from stove.  Set it on the counter for a few minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed.  Give it another stir and divide the mixture equally between the 4 prepared peppers.
Mix the water with the remaining 1 Tbs olive oil and 1 Tbs tomato paste.  Mix well then pour in the baking dish, around the peppers.  Cover tightly with foil and place in preheated oven.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Carefully transfer the peppers onto a different dish.  Pour the liquid into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Season with salt and pepper, and add the dill.  Let it boil until thickened and reduced to about 1/2 cup of sauce.
Serve it along with the stuffed peppers.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a Food Network recipe.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Best Holiday Punch

This is super easy to put together and so, so, so delicious!  Enjoy!
-2 liters ginger ale, chilled
-3 cups pineapple juice, chilled
-4 cups white grape juice, chilled
Mix everything together, pour into glasses and enjoy!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Black-Eyed Peas Hummus

The tradition goes on in our family to have black-eyed peas on New Year's Eve.  This year I tried something a little different: a hummus!  It turned out great and it went perfect with the tortilla chips.  Of course, pita chips would go very well too.  This is very simple, quick and delicious!  Enjoy!
-1/4 cup sesame seeds
-2 Tbs vegetable oil
-1 (15 oz) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
-1/4 cup lemon juice
-2 garlic cloves
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp chili powder
Lightly toast the sesame seeds (make sure they do not turn brown).  Place them in a blender along with the vegetable oil.  Blend until it forms a paste.  Pour into food processor.  Add the remaining ingredients and process until creamy.  Pour into serving bowl and enjoy!


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