Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

When I came across this recipe on Bella's Bistro, I knew it was the perfect dessert to bring to "Girl's Night In" at Allison's house this weekend. It reminded me of hanging out with girlfriends as a teenager, eating cookie dough straight from the container. This grown up version was delicious and really easy to make!

For an appetizer, I brought the Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites that I prepared on Friday and they were definitely worth the work because they were a HUGE hit!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip
from RecipeZaar inspired by Bella's Bistro


1/2C. Butter
1/3C. Brown sugar
1t. Vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce package) Cream cheese, softened
1/2C. Confectioners’ sugar
3/4C. Semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1/2C. Chopped nuts (optional)
Nilla wafers and/or Graham crackers sticks for dipping


In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar over medium heat. Stir continuously, until the brown sugar dissolves.

Remove from heat, whisk in the vanilla and set aside to cool.

Beat the cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar for 1 minute. Slowly beat in the cooled butter mixture and beat again for another minute.

Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, if using. Pour into a serving bowl and refrigerate.

Garnish with additional chocolate chips or nuts, if you choose.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Risotto with Roasted Red Pepper and Baby Spinach

Today was all about culinary challenges for me. I've never made risotto and have honestly been a little intimidated by it. Well, it was not that hard, but definitely a little tedious. The end result? Totally worth it. Super delicious and I really loved this flavor combination. This recipe, from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations, was excellent. I can see using the base recipe and adding any flavor combo I feel like, which Mary Ellen has done throughout her blog.

I am officially a big risotto fan! It was the perfect compliment to my Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

Risotto with Roasted Red Pepper and Baby Spinach
From Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations


•1 tbsp butter
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1 shallot, chopped
•2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
•Optional: a few dashes of red pepper flakes
•1 c arborio rice
•1/4 c dry white wine
•5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian version)
•1 roasted red pepper, chopped (to roast, put over an open flame until all of the skin is charred. Put in a bowl covered with plastic to sweat the skin off. After 10 minutes, peel the skin to reveal your beautiful roasted red pepper)
•1 c fresh baby spinach
•3 tbsp Parmesan cheese


•Heat olive oil and butter in a large saute pan
•Add shallots and garlic (and red pepper flakes); stir until tender, about 2 minutes.
•Add arborio rice and stir until coated
•Add the white wine and stir until absorbed
•Add the chicken broth, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Add more broth only when all of the broth in the pan has been absorbed by the rice. This entire process takes anywhere from 17 to 25 minutes.
•Near the end, stir in the spinach and red peppers.
•When you add your final ladle of broth, add the cheese.
•Serve immediately.

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites

Wow, these little guys are definitely a delicious appetizer, but they were also a big learning experience!!! Many lessons were learned while making these (twice). The biggest one was that wax paper is NOT the same as parchment paper!! My first batch tasted good, but they were a sticky, ugly mess.

On a positive note, I found out that making dough is very easy, and I will be doing that again, especially when making my own pizza or soft pretzels.

I'll be reheating these at "Girl's Night In" tomorrow at Allison's house. I can't wait!!

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites
Annie's Eats


For the dough:
1½ tsp. instant yeast
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
¼ cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2½-3 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:
½ cup small diced ham
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

To finish:
6 cups water
4 tsp. baking soda
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt (or pretzel salt), for topping

To make the dough, combine the yeast, brown sugar, water, milk, and 2½ cups of flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until a dough has formed. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until a soft, elastic dough forms. Add the remaining flour a 1-2 tablespoons at a time until the dough is tacky but not sticky.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, until the dough has doubled in size and bubbles on the surface, about 1½ to 2 hours.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Stretch or roll one piece of the dough into a 12 x 4-inch rectangle. Sprinkle some of the diced ham and the shredded cheese over one third of the dough closest to an edge, lengthwise. Roll up tightly, filling edge first, so that the filling is tightly sealed inside. Slice the log into 12 pieces and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Repeat with the remaining 3 portions of dough, and the remaining filling.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the baking soda and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Boil the pretzels in batches, cooking for about 2o seconds and turning once. They should be slightly puffed. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer them back to the baking sheet.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Brush the warm pretzel bites with the melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.

I am really glad I didn't let this complicated recipe intimidate me, nor did I give up when it didn't work out the first time!
Thursday, February 25, 2010

Crockpot Honey-Lemon Chicken with Potatoes

Rachael Ray made this crockpot meal on her talk show the other day, and since I am always looking to add to my crockpot repertoire, I decided to give it a try. While it was more work than your average slow cooker meal, it was worth it. All the flavors came together nicely and the chicken was super tender. I did take the chicken out prior to serving and pop them under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up the skin.

Here is the original recipe

Honey-Lemon Chicken with Potatoes
From Rachael Ray


•2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
•8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
•Salt and ground black pepper
•1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes
•1 small onion, chopped
•2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
•4-5 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and chopped
•2 lemons, thinly sliced
•1/4 cup honey
•1/4 cup chicken stock or water

To finish:

•Zest of 1 lemon, cut into strips
•1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
•1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
•Balsamic Drizzle (see below)


In a skillet, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.

Scatter the potatoes, onion, garlic, thyme and lemon slices in the bowl of a crock pot. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the browned chicken over the veggies and drizzle with honey. Add the stock or water, cover and cook, undisturbed, for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

Serve each portion topped with a combination of the lemon zest, parsley, toasted nuts and balsamic drizzle.

Balsamic Drizzle


•1 cup balsamic vinegar
•2 tablespoons brown sugar


Combine the vinegar and sugar in a small pot over medium-high heat and bring up to a bubble. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the liquids until they've reduced by about half and are thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Apple and Almond Steel Cut Oatmeal

One of my favorite things to have for breakfast is oatmeal. Up until now, I have always used instant oatmeal, but am interested in branching out to healthier ways to prepare this healthy breakfast.

The other day I decided to try to make overnight oatmeal using my crockpot. It was a complete fail. It burned on the sides and was overcooked and unappetising. Since I had already purchased steel cut oats, I wanted to learn how to make them the regular way. Can't be that hard, right? I watched this video on you tube and gave it a shot.

I boiled three cups of water and added one cup of steel cut oats. I had some sliced almonds on hand so I threw in a handful of those along with half of a golden delicious apple, cut into chunks. I decided a sprinkle of cinnamon and about a tsp of brown sugar was a good idea as well. I turned the heat down to medium low and hoped for the best.

After about 10 minutes the oatmeal was looking dry so I added about a 1/2 cup of milk and turned the heat all the way down. Half hour later it was done. Very yummy, especially the apples!
Monday, February 22, 2010

Cheeseburger Meatloaf Muffins

After being away all weekend at a fitness conference, I was really in the mood for a fun, somewhat indulgent meal for dinner. I happen to love meatloaf and have been trying to find one that Zach likes. When I read this recipe, I thought there was a chance!

It is from Rachael Ray. I decided to make them in my large muffin pan as individual loafs to add to the "fun" factor. They came out really tasty and cute! And my husband actually enjoyed meatloaf!

Here is the original recipe. I served it with tator tots and steamed broccoli.

Cheeseburger Meatloaf


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 red onion, finely chopped
2/3 cup ketchup
2/3 cup bread crumbs
2 large eggs
1/2 cup bread-and-butter pickle chips, chopped
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
8 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into 1/3-inch cubes


1.Preheat the oven to 400°. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.

2.In a large bowl, combine the ketchup, bread crumbs, eggs and pickles; mix in the onion. Crumble in the beef, add the cheese and mix together. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and shape into a 4-by-12-inch loaf. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160°, about 35 minutes.

I brushed ketchup on the tops of the muffins prior to baking

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Baked Chicken with Mashed Butternut Squash and Parmasan Roasted Green Beans

This meal is a staple for us in the winter, I can't believe how long its been since I've made it! The flavor combo on the chicken is so delicious. My friend Leslie makes her chicken the same way and she turned me onto it a few years ago.

I washed split breasts and placed them into a baking dish. Squeezed a half a lemon on top and sprinkled generously with Paprika and Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb. Then I add a drizzle of olive oil and dot the skin with a teeny bit of butter.

I baked it a bit differently this time and was really pleased with how juicy they were. For the first 10 minutes I put them in on 450 and then dropped the temp down to 350 for 45 minutes more. They were perfect!

All ready for the oven:

My side dishes were also really good and very easy. We love mashed butternut squash. Just boil water and then add in pre-cut and washed squash. Cook for 15-20 mins until fork tender.

Drain the squash and then place back into the pot. Add butter, salt and pepper and mash. That's it!

And finally the green beans. I just roasted them with olive oil, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese for 15 minutes

Friday, February 12, 2010

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

I've made chicken stroganoff in the crockpot many times, but never beef. I came across this version on The Crockstar and decided to give it a try. After about 3 hours in the crockpot I was ready to eat it. The yummy smell tortured me all day long! Zach and I both enjoyed this meal. Rich, delicious and filling.

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff
Inspired by The Crockstar

2 pounds cubed stew meat
2 cans Condensed Golden Mushroom Soup
1 large onion diced
1 can sliced mushrooms
3 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 water
8 oz of cream cheese
couple dashes of garlic powder
couple drops of hot sauce (original recipe called for hot paprika but I don't have that on hand)

In the slow cooker stir in all the ingredients, except the meat AND the Cream Cheese, together. Once combined add the meat and mix together.

Cook on Low for 8 hours. Cut up the cream cheese into cubes just before serving and turn crockpot on high. Stir the cream cheese in until all combined. You might have to put the lid back on and leave for 10 minutes.

Serve over egg noodles
Thursday, February 11, 2010

Smoked Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches

This is the 2nd recipe from The Neely's that I've made and was definitely not disappointed. Easy and delicious. Here is the original recipe.

Pat's Smoked Sausage and Pepper Sandwich
Recipe courtesy The Neelys


1 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced into quarters then lengthwise
(I used turkey)
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beer
1/2 cup Neely's BBQ sauce
4 fresh hoagie rolls


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausages and brown on all sides, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from skillet and reserve.

Add onions and peppers to the skillet and saute until tender and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste, beer, and BBQ sauce. Cook for a few minutes, then add the sausages back to the pan. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is nice and thick, about 10 minutes.

Slice the bread open, put on sheet tray, and toast in the oven while the sausage is simmering. Remove the bread from the oven and fill with the sausages and peppers.

Transfer to serving dishes and serve.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Beefed Up Biscuits

Or should it be turkeyed up biscuits? This is one of my favorite comfort food meals, but I like to lighten it up a bit by using ground turkey breast and reduced fat biscuits.

Since we got about a foot and a half of snow today, it was the perfect time for this meal, which I've been making for years. I got it from the NJ Nest, 5+ years ago. I believe it was Tina who originally posted it, any NJ Nesties who want to chime in a confirm?

Beefed Up Biscuits

1 lb ground beef
(I use ground turkey breast)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
(I use a little more, about 1/2 a green pepper, chopped)
1 cup (8 oz can) tomato sauce
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt
(I use garlic powder as well as 1/2 tsp cumin)
1 can (8 oz) hungry jack biscuits or Flaky Grands (I use reduced fat)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


In a large pan brown beef, pepper, and onions. Drain. Stir in tomato sauce, chili powder and garlic salt. Simmer while preparing dough

Separate each biscuit into two pieces, lay half on the bottom of a 9x9 pan and save the other half for the top. Put 1/2 cup of the cheese into the meat mixture and spoon mixture on top of biscuits. Arrange remaining biscuits and sprinkle cheese on top

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Biscuits should be a deep golden brown.

Turkey Mixture:

Ready for the oven:

All done!

And a shot of all the snow from my front door

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl Sunday

Every year we have a few friends over for a casual Superbowl get together. Since we had so much fun making homemade pizza last weekend, I made a few tonight for dinner. My friend Ryan's mom sent him down with "chop meat and macaroni", one of our fav dishes that she makes. Thanks Mrs. S!

We started off with a few appetiser's of course. I made a Lighter Buffalo Chicken Dip in the crock pot from Gina's Weight Watcher's Blog. It was really delicious and I am not usually much of a blue cheese fan.

Here is the recipe:

Lighter Buffalo Chicken Dip
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes

Servings: 11 • Serving Size: 1/2 cup • Calories: 111 • Points: 2.75 ww points

•4 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
•1 cup fat free sour cream
•1/2 cup Franks hot sauce (or whatever hot sauce you like)
•1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
•1 tsp white wine vinegar
•2 cups cooked shredded chicken*

Mix the first 5 ingredients together until smooth.

Add the chicken and put this in the crock pot on low for 3-4 hours.
Serve warm.
Makes 5 1/2 cups.

*I pouched a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts in chicken stock and a few bay leafs for 15 minutes, then shredded

Zach put together a more indulgent dip, browning sausage and melting in velveta and rotel. YUM

For our Pizzas, I made a white pie and a meat lovers. Here I am stretching the dough. I got a few good tosses in too!

White pie (Ricotta with two minced garlic cloves, mozz, sliced vine ripened tomatos and fresh basil)

Meat Lovers (My homemade marinara sauce, mozz, shredded cheddar, pepperoni and mild italian sausage)

And finally, also from Mrs. S, her famous chocolate cake with white icing

And for fun, here is my little baby bump :D

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sausage and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas

I think I can officially add caramelized onions to my list of pregnancy obsessions. SOOO good. I prepared them before leaving the house for boot camp class tonight and the house still smelled amazing when we got back almost an hour and a half later!

We happened to have a half pound of turkey sausage on hand so I browned it up with some chili powder and cumin. Zach makes killer quesadillas, always crispy and perfect, so he prepared them using flour tortillas, cheddar cheese, salsa, sausage and onions. Definite winner!

Here's a look at the inside

Monday, February 1, 2010

Crockpot Chicken Stroganoff

This dish is easy, low fat and delicious. Can't go wrong!

I've had this recipe for a long time, I believe it originated on the NJ Nest. I used to know the weight watchers points to go along with it, but I can't remember that now.

Crockpot Chicken Stroganoff

16 oz container fat free or lite sour cream
1 can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg lipton onion soup mix
1 container cremini mushrooms or 2 small cans of mushrooms*
1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders
3/4 lbs egg noodles
Chopped flat leaf parsley

Coat the crockpot with cooking spray. Mix the first 3 ingredients in the crockpot. Add chicken and mushrooms. Cover and cook on low f0r 6-8 hours. Serve over egg noodles and garnish with parsley.

*this is the first time I've used fresh mushrooms and while they were delicious, they did water down the sauce a bit. I think I will stick with canned from now on. I've also added sliced onion in the past which is a nice addition as well.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...