Monday, November 30, 2009

Crockpot Lime Chicken Tacos

Our friends Leslie and Ryan came over last night for dinner (and so Ryan could graciously rescue our computer from crazy viruses) so I decided to make Lime Chicken Tacos to go with the White Bean Chicken Chili Leslie brought over.

I am sure I got this recipe from the NJ Nestie board, but I couldn't for the life of me find the link. I've changed it around a bit the few times that I've made it and its always delicious.

I spray my crockpot with cooking spray and add in 2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts. Then I mix about a 1/3 cup lime juice with a generous tbs of chili powder and pour it over the chicken. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Once the chicken is cooked, I shred it in the crockpot, I mix in a little more chili powder and some cumin. Then I add a sliced green pepper, sliced onion and a cup of frozen corn. Let it cook for 1-2 more hours and its done!

I served it with flour tortillas, some shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa and chopped tomatoes.

Here's our whole Southwestern Spread!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Trot and Pumpkin Cheesecake - Thanksgiving 2009!

We started a new Thanksgiving tradition this year by running the Turkey Trot 5k in Morristown. Zach and I woke up early, dropped Cecily off at my mom's house and headed to Guinty Field (a 5k course we've run 2 other times) to run. We met up with Kathy and her two daughters and joined almost 1500 others in this fun Thanksgiving race. My time was 33:15, definitely not my fastest 5k, but since it was 4 days after a half marathon, I'll take it!

Our Thanksgiving consists of two stops, my Aunt's house for my family and my in law's house. Fortunately they are only 10 minutes apart, but we do a lot of eating on this day!! Good thing we ran in the morning!

My contribution to Thanksgiving was a Pumpkin Cheesecake. I decided to try Paula Deen's Recipe after watching her make it on her Fall Harvest show.

I couldn't get a great picture of it, but it was delicious. Very easy to make and really tasty.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen, 2007


1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For crust:
In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

For filling:
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

I have to include some other pictures from Turkey Day. Here is my mom's turkey. My sister and I attacked the stuffing with forks before it could even make it over to my Aunt's house. SOOO good!
Cecily all dressed up for the Holiday

Can't get over how cute this coat is

Zach and I

Monday, November 23, 2009

Philadelphia Half Marathon Race Report

We did it!!!! Zach and I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon yesterday morning. It was an awesome race! Zach's first half (SO proud!!) and my 3rd.

We headed down to Philly late morning on Saturday and went to the expo to pick up our race packet. We did a little shopping too. Zach picked up a great Philadelphia Half Marathon hat. I *gasp* managed not to buy anything.

The sun didn't want to cooperate but here are Zach and I at the expo

Then we met up with Carolyn who graciously put us up for the weekend. Love you Car!

Sunday morning, Zach and I woke up at 5am and got ready for the race. We walked to the start line after grabbing some Starbucks. We coordinated with Kathy to meet by the Rocky statue (porta potty meet up turned out to be a bad idea, there are tons of those!!) and had enough time to make a last minute bathroom stop before heading to our corral.

There were several different start times since there were 20,000 + runners, so we had to wait until about 7:30 to get started. It was chilly at the start but the sun was up and looked like we were going to have a gorgeous, cool run. By mile 2 I had warmed up enough to tie my jacket around my waist and run in only a tank top. I love fall racing!

The first several miles seemed to fly by, we were all running strong and having a great time. It is so neat to see a city that way and the crowd support was amazing. We had our names printed on our bibs so people could cheer us personally. It was very cool.

By mile 8 I needed a porta potty stop so Kathy and Zach walked while I waited in line and then caught up. It stinks losing 4 minutes in a line for the bathroom but you gotta do what you gotta do. The last 5 miles had some decent hills but nothing we couldn't handle. We passed some super energetic spectators who performed for us.

I knew we were in good shape to beat my goal of under 2:40 (my previous PR for a half marathon was 2:44) so I kicked into high gear for the last mile. We headed down for the last .1 to the finish with crowds on either side cheering us in. It was really exciting!! Kathy, Zach and I crossed the finish line and all felt like a million bucks. Our official time was 2:38:53.

Zach and I after the finish
Kathy, Zach and I

The medal

All cleaned up, showing off my hardware
I would highly recommend this race to anyone. Really nice course, great crowd support and well organized. Id love to run the full marathon here one day.

Here are our splits, if anyone is interested :)

Mile 1 - 11:29
Mile 2 - 11:00
Mile 3 - 11:00
Mile 4 - 11:39
Mile 5 - 11:38
Mile 6 - 11:20
Mile 7 - 11:34
Mile 8 - 16:08 (bathroom stop)
Mile 9 - 11:30
Mile 10 - 12:30
Mile 11 - 11:48
Mile 12 - 12:30
Mile 13 - 11:55
.1 - 11:20 pace
Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cecily and I had the afternoon free and since I just read this blog entry on Living Eventfully, we decided to make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies since I had all the ingredients on hand.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields 60 cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 scant teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups (12-ounce bag) MILK chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet since that is what I had)
Nonstick cooking spray or parchment paper

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line them with parchment paper (if you bake frequently and haven't tried parchment paper yet, do yourself a favor and buy some.) and set aside.

Using a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth.
Beat in both sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs 1 at a time.
Mix on medium high for 3-4 minutes.

Turn speed on mixer to stir or low and add the vanilla and pumpkin puree.In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
Slowly mix the flour mixture into the batter in thirds until just incorporated.

Do not over mix.

Stir in the chips.

Scoop the cookie dough by heaping teaspoons (i use a small cookie scoop. cookies are more uniform.) onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 13-16 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown around the edges. (i pulled them out right at 13 minutes and the were soft and perfect. your oven is different so watch them and do not over bake.)Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.

Cecily helping me scoop the dough onto the cookie sheet

All ready for the oven

Cecily and I enjoyed 1 or 2 of these after they were done baking. Yum! Love warm cookies. The rest I am going to package up as a gift for my friend Carolyn. Zach and I are staying at her place Saturday night in Philadelphia, since we are running the Philadelphia half marathon on Sunday.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Baked Rice Pilaf

Believe it or not, this dish is my 3.5 year old's favorite. She LOVES tilapia! Since it was just me an Cecily for dinner tonight, I decided to make it since its quick and easy. I am not sure where I originally got the recipe, but I've simplified it over time and it has become one of my "go to" dinners.

I keep a frozen club pack of tilapia in the freezer at all times. They are individually wrapped so I can take out as many as I need. They defrost so fast which is also a plus.

Heat the oven to broil. Mix roughly 2 tbs of dried basil with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan. This is for 3-4 filets.

Once the filets are defrosted, I take them out of their package and pat dry with a paper towel. Then I put fresh cracked pepper on each side and place on a baking sheet that I sprayed with cooking spray.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 3 minutes. Take the baking sheet out, flip the filets and coat with the Parmesan mixture.

Broil with the oven door open until the cheese is brown and bubbly, usually about 3 more minutes or so.

I served it with a Baked Rice Pilaf recipe that I saw on Chef Mommy's blog. I steamed some asparagus, cut it up and mixed it into the rice when it was finished. SOO yummy! I will definitely be making this rice again!

This meal was Cecily Approved!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Grilled Rib eye with Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese Sauce

Tonight I put Zach to work on the grill again. I marinaded Rib eye steaks in Worcestershire sauce and minced garlic. Then I sliced up a large onion and sauteed it in olive oil until they were nice and caramelized.

The best part of the meal was the blue cheese sauce. My father in law had a similar sauce in a steak house and decided to try to remake it at home. It came out great and he passed it along to us. I don't even like blue cheese and I love this sauce!!

Simmer 1/2 cup beef broth with about 6 cloves of minced garlic
Add 1 tbs of butter
Whisk in about 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese

I served it with steamed broccoli


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rigatoni with Red Peppers, Almonds and Bread Crumbs

The other night I watched Giada's Ingredients in 15 minutes episode of Everyday Italian and she made this recipe. My husband said "ohh" when he saw the roasted red peppers so I added it to my "to do" list.

I made a few additions. I marinated about a pound of chicken breasts in Italian dressing and had Zach grill them and cut into bite size chunks. I also added small bits of fresh mozzarella and a generous handful of shredded asiago cheese.


1 pound rigatoni pasta
3 cups purchased garlic-flavored croutons, (about 5 ounces)
1/4 cup slivered almonds (about 1 ounce), toasted
1 cup julienned roasted red bell peppers
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl.Place the croutons and the almonds in a food processor. Pulse until it becomes the texture of bread crumbs. Add the crouton and almond mixture to the hot pasta. Add the peppers and the olive oil. Toss to combine and serve.

We all really enjoyed this dish. Very easy and tasty!
Monday, November 9, 2009

Grilled Pork Chops, Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus

Tonight I made grilled pork chops served with applesauce I made in the crockpot early today along with garlic mashed red potatoes and roasted asparagus.

For the chops, I used a dry rub recommended by Allison. Here are the ingredients. Zach grilled the chops for me. I don't think I'll ever make pork chops any other way. This was SO GOOD.


1 tsp pepper
1 tsp mustard seed
1.5 tsp paprika
1.5 tsp brown sugar
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Lightly rub pork chops with EVOO and then press rub into meat.

The rub:

Chops ready for the grill:

The idea for the potatoes came from

8 medium red potatoes, quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled (I used minced garlic since I didn't have fresh on hand)
2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine
1/2 cup fat-free milk, warmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used shredded Asiago)


Place potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender. Drain well. Add the butter, milk and salt; mash. Stir in Parmesan cheese.
And I roasted the asparagus for 15 mins on 450 after drizzling with olive oil and salt

Crockpot Applesauce

I saw this recipe in A Year of Slowcooking blog and thought it would be a great thing to make since I love applesauce so much. An easy healthy snack to have on hand. Plus I am making pork chops tonight and thought it would be a nice addition to that meal! I used 6 honey crisp apples and adjusted the recipe accordingly.

Crockpot Applesauce


This makes enough for 4 people. If you would like to freeze or can, use more apples.

--4 large apples, skinned ,cored, and cut in quarters
--juice from 1 lemon
--1/2 tsp cinnamon
--1 tsp vanilla
--1 T brown sugar
--1/4 cup H20

The Directions.

I used a 4 quart crockpot for the applesauce.
Skin, core, and cut your apples into quarters. Plop the pieces into your crockpot. Add the juice from the lemon, and the water. Pour in the vanilla (I used imitation--we were out of the good stuff), and add the cinnamon and brown sugar.
Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. When the apples are super tender, mash with a potato masher or large fork. My apples were very tender after 6 hours, and I used a fork.

All the ingrediants in the crockpot ready to go:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mommy's Minestrone

This recipe is adapted from the Easy Minestrone recipe on the box of Ronzoni Tubettini. My mom has been making this since I was a kid. This version makes a very large pot of soup, so cut in half if you don't have a big crowd (or big appetites!)

Original Recipe

One large onion, finely chopped, saute in olive oil

While sauteing, coarsely chop small bag of peeled carrots and a bag of celery hearts. Saute carrots and celery together in a separate pan until tender

remove onions, carrots and celery with slotted spoon and place in large soup pot
in the same pan as the onions, brown 2 lbs of ground turkey (can be spit in the two pans, will cook faster and they are already dirty!)

add to the pot with a slotted spoon
add 2 48 oz cans of fat free reduced sodium chicken broth and a few cubes of bouillon to taste to the meat and veggies. Bring to boil and simmer for 45 mins or so

skim some of the fat off the top
add a bag of frozen spinach (just add it frozen, no need to defrost), a can of chick peas (drained), basil and oregano (about a tsp each)

cook 8oz of tubettini or other small soup pasta in a separate pot on the side. Add to soup
serve with Parmesan and crusty bread

Beauty and the Beach 5 Miler Race Report

Yesterday morning, my friend Kathy and I ran the Beauty and the Beach 5 miler in Long Branch, NJ. This all women's race was held in Pier Village, the start and finish of the NJ Marathon that we ran last May. This was my first 5 mile race, so what ever time I finished was a personal best, but I was hoping for under 55 minutes.

It was a crisp morning, perfect running weather for me. Kathy and I started out at a 10:30 pace that felt very comfortable. I was unsure whether we would be able to hold that pace the whole 5 miles, but as the time went on it seemed to get easier and easier. Here are our splits:

Mile 1 - 10:42
Mile 2 - 10:18
Mile 3 - 10:23
Mile 4 - 10:33
Mile 5 - 9:51

I am getting faster!! Not bad for expecting to run 11-11:30 min miles! Kathy and I crossed the finish line in 51:40. We were thrilled!

Even though it was a little disorganized at the start, it turned out to be a really nice event. It was neat running with 400 or so women, all different ages, shapes, sizes, etc. Plus we got great long sleeve tech shirts and necklaces instead of medals!

Kathy and I after finishing

Shorerunner, the store in Pier Village that sponsored the event

Our shirt

And necklace

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