Sunday, September 28, 2008

Buffalo Chicken and Cheese Dip

My friend Robyn made this last weekend for her husband while he watched football and I was super jealous so I made it for us today to eat while we watch the Jets win. I love buffalo anything so this definitely lived up to our expectations.

8 oz. pkg. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup light ranch salad dressing
1/2 cup FRANK'S® REDHOT® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce or FRANK'S® REDHOT® Buffalo Wing Sauce
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese
10-15 oz. shredded chicken. I used a store bought rotisserie chicken, removed the skin and shredded the meat. Much easier than cooking breasts and doing it.

1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese into deep dish 9-inch pie plate or 1 1/2 qt. deep casserole.
2. WHISK in salad dressing, Frank's RedHot Sauce and cheese until smooth. Stir in chicken. Top the cream cheese with the mixture and top with a little shredded mozzarella cheese
3. BAKE 20 min. or until mixture is heated through.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

I had really high hopes for these because I adore butternut squash raviolis. I did take a short cut and not make my own dough which I think did them a disservice. The wonton wrappers were easy and fast but they stuck together when I drained them. I should have drizzled some olive oil on the ravioli as soon as I put them in the colander. They were still really good but I was very unhappy with the sticking together problem. I served them with a simple cream sauce and my sister's excellent eggplant parm (maybe the best eggplant parm I ever had). The eggplant came from her garden which I think really made them taste so good.


1 large butternut squash - halved lengthwise, peeled and seeded
2 teaspoons butter
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
50 wonton wrappers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Place the squash cut side up on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon butter in the hollow of each half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the squash with a sheet of aluminum foil tucking in the edges.

Bake squash in preheated oven until tender and easily pierced with a fork, 45 to 65 minutes.

Scoop the cooked squash into a bowl, and mash until smooth. Mix in the allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and Parmesan cheese until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper

Fill a deep pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil.

To make the ravioli, place a wonton wrapper on a clean, flat surface. Brush edges with the egg white. Place about 1 tablespoon of the squash mixture in the middle of the wonton. Cover with a second wonton wrapper. Repeat with remaining wonton wrappers and squash mixture until all have been used.

Drop the ravioli into the boiling water, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove, drain, and keep warm until sauce is prepared.


1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
3 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of nutmeg

Place flour in a medium saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg; stir until smooth.

Chocolate Chip Blondie's

I'm not usually a baker or a dessert person but every once in a while we bake around here and of course, my stepdaughter Emma pitches in. So yesterday we made blondies and they were great. We used Lovestoeat's idea of mixing white and milk chocolate chips. Great dessert. We really liked them!

This recipe originated from Cooking Light, although with the amount of butter in it, there's nothing "light" about them. This is definitely more Paula Deen-esque

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1- 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1. In a bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Add vanilla and eggs and beat until well blended.

2. Stir in flour, salt, and baking soda until well combined. Stir in butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and walnuts. Butter a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and spread dough level in pan.

3. Bake in a 350° regular or convection oven until top is browned and a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then cut into 24 rectangles. Serve warm or cool.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Crockpot Chili

There's nothing like coming home and dinner being ready. With a little prep in the morning, I gave myself a nice, relaxing evening. I got to walk the dog, collect wood for kindling for the fire, and eat all by a normal time tonight. Ahhhh, the crockpot, a beautiful invention.

I do have to apologize for my picture. I know it is not pretty but I was really hungry and unwilling to wait!

1.25 ground turkey
2/3 large container fat free beef broth
1 can kidney beans
1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP ground cumin
1 TBSP paprika
1 large shallot, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 TBSP hot sauce (optional)
1/2 red chilli pepper, seeded (optional)

Combine all ingredients into the crockpot and cook on the lowest setting for 8-10 hours. Top with 1/4 cup low fat mexican cheese blend and 2 TBSP light sour cream.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spinach and Cheese Lasagna Roll Ups, Take 2

This is my second take on this twist on lasagna. I originally did it a few weeks ago but after seeing it on Elizabeth's Edibles blog using bechamel sauce as a base, I thought I'd have another go. I also used whole wheat lasagna noodles. You can definitely tell the difference between them and the regular noodles so although I feel better about being healthier, it didn't taste quite as good. I served them with a side of cheesy garlic bread that I assembled myself. I do have to note, I enjoy the homemade garlic bread much more than the frozen stuff in the supermarket.

Potato Leek Soup

Now that fall is also officially upon us, I have been having the itch to make soup. I had to decide between butternut squash soup or potato and leek soup and I just couldn't make that decision, so DH did it for me. I hit my local Farmer's Market today and picked up the leeks, along with tons of other yummy, and well-priced, veggies. I found the recipe I most closely followed on the Food Network site but I did make some of my own changes so here is my take on potato leek soup.

2-3 leeks, cleaned and dark green sections removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Heavy pinch kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
14 ounces, approximately 3 small, potatoes, peeled and diced small
1 quart low sodium chicken broth
1 pint light cream
3 slices of cooked turkey bacon, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

Chop the leeks into small pieces.

In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 15 minutes.

Add the potatoes and the chicken broth broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes. Add in the light cream at the end.

Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Add in the chopped bacon. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Baked Eggrolls

This recipe has been starred in my Google Reader for a few weeks. I love egg rolls and dumplings but frying them (like I did the last time). When I saw they could actually be baked, I knew I had to try it. A Year in the Kitchen was where it was originally posted. I didn't have cabbage on hand so I chopped up some mushrooms and threw them in there. Thanks Ashlee for the great idea and for giving me a great lunch!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I got an E for Excellent!

My fellow blogger and friend over at A Taste of Home Cooking gave me an E for Excellent blogging award. This the first I've ever gotten and I'm really excited.

In turn, I'm going to pass this along to some of my favorite bloggers.

Lauren at Lauren's Kitchen
Sarah at Simply Living
Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Edible Experience
Lovestoeat's Weblog
Ashlee at A Year in the Kitchen

Now it's your turn to spread the love. Please find at least 10 more blogs of any kind which you deem to be excellent (but if you only know of a few, that's OK too).
Post about the blogs you picked, linking back to me and to them. Once you’ve posted, return here to let me know your post is up, and of course let your 10 award winners know too.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jamaican Banana Bread

Tonight I was mindlessly thumbing through one of my favorite cookbooks All-New Complete Cooking Light and came to this recipe for Jamaican Banana Bread. It jumped out at me because it's more flavorful than regular banana bread but really only 6 more calories per serving. The book and the online version do differ slightly as the book says to use butter not margarine which, since the original recipe was done in 1997 it's been proven that butter is actually healthier than margarine, leads me to believe it was updated for the book. The bread recipe also calls for a topping but I omitted that since I didn't feel it was necessary. Also, I was out of pecans so I used almonds and they worked just fine!


Cooking spray
2 tablespoons stick butter, softened
2 tablespoons tub light cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 bananas)
1/2 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons dark rum or 1/4 teaspoon imitation rum extract (I used Captain Morgan)
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
2 teaspoons lime juice (I used the juice of one lime)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 375°. Coat an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray; set aside.

Beat 2 tablespoons margarine and cheese at medium speed of a mixer; add 1 cup sugar, beating well. Add egg; beat well.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir well. Combine banana and next 5 ingredients (banana through vanilla); stir well. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Stir in 1/4 cup pecans and 1/4 cup coconut.

Pour batter into prepared pan; bake at 375° for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan. Let cool slightly on a wire rack.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I was leafing through Cooks Country by America's Test Kitchen this weekend and came across Grilled Stuffed Chicken Breasts. I have made these before and never really perfected it. I decided to try it once again. Their recipe called for basil and fontina, of which I had none so I improvised with fresh chopped spinach and mascarpone cheese. We baked instead of grilled which I think I'm just not a big fan of. Grilling is definitely the way to go. They also could have used something sweet, like sundried tomatoes in the stuffing. It was a good dinner but probably not something I would do again. Here's how mine came together.

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
Juice of 2 lemons, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Marinate the chicken in 2 garlic cloves and the juice of 1 lemon for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the lemon zest, juice of one lemon, 1 garlic clove, spinach and cheese into a bowl. Remove the chicken from the marinade and cut a pocket into each breast. Stuff the chicken with the cheese mixture and seal with a wooden toothpick. Bake for 30 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Us!

My husband Dave and I celebrated our first anniversary this weekend. Technically it is today, September 14 but we went out last night. We went to Hotoke in New Brunswick for sushi. Excellent food and really a wonderful ambience. Then we headed to Soho for a drink before the 10:30 comedy show at The Stress Factory. The comedians were great and we had so much fun. An excellent 1st anniversary and here's a picture of the happy couple!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Super Sloppy Joe's

Another quick meal idea tonight before we headed out to Back to School Night. Super Sloppy Joe's, a Rachael Ray recipe. We used ground turkey to make it healthier and with all the other flavors in it, it was still delicious. I'm also submitting this to Joelen's Culinary Adventures: Chef Spotlight: Food Network Celebs contest. I put mine on a whole wheat bun and had a side of tater tots. It was like being a kid again!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tonight's Dinner: Alaskan Cod with Pineapple Rice and Sauteed Vegetables

I am not really a fish eater. Not because I don't like it but really because I'm never sure how to cook it. These Alaskan cod filets I got from Trader Joe's made it easy. I seared them on a hot pan for 5 minutes on each side then covered and cooked them (just to be sure) another two minutes. They came out flaky and yummy. I coated them first in flour, the seasoned mine and Dave's with a cajun spice mix and Emma's with lemon pepper seasoning. Served with pineapple rice inspired by A Taste of Home Cooking and sauteed vegetables (onions, broccoli, zucchini, and mushrooms in a little soy sauce). A healthy and well-rounded dinner.

Best Jeans of the Season

Ok, this is not a cooking post but I couldn't help share my love of the newest pair of jeans I purchased this weekend. I normally don't shop at the Gap, as my stingy wallet doesn't really ever want to part with the amount of money the Gap asked for their clothing. However, my wallet was feeling especially nice this weekend so we ventured in there. And I'm so happy we did. Just like most other women in the world, I have a hard time finding jeans that fit well and look good. These jeans did both: the low rise bell. I love them so much I'm going back for another pair. My wallet even told me that it was a good thing we went in there! Check them out here!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Chicken Marsala

My friend over at A Taste of Home Cooking made chicken marsala recently and it looked so good I had to copy her and make it for dinner too. I looked it up online and found the basis for my recipe here at Cooking Light and I made a few very minor changes. I added sundried tomatoes and a shallot along with the mushrooms and upped the quantity of broth and marsala wine to 2/3 a cup because I had 6 chicken breasts (yay for leftovers!) I paired it with my broccoli salad and mashed potatoes which gave us a very wonderful dinner for this rainy day.

Dinner Divas: Apple Pie!

I did it! I made my own crust! OK, it's not really that hard and having the food processor do most of the work really does help. Still, I'm really proud of myself that it came out so good. It's not the prettiest pie crust but my first time around, my worries were focused more on taste and texture than beauty. Thanks Dinner Divas! I am happy you picked this recipe this month and helped me to conquer my fears of homemade pie crust.

Here's the recipe and instructions at Food Network... I'm too lazy to repost it all (it's pretty long!)

I'm also submitting it for Joelen's September Tasty Tools: Bakeware

And some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Broccoli Salad

It's raining here today which is the perfect excuse for a cooking day. I made this to go with our dinner I'm making later, chicken marsala. We needed a vegetable but I didn't really want a salad so while going through my recipe binder, this one popped up. My Mom often makes it for parties so I asked her awhile ago for the recipe and this was the first time I had the chance to use it.

3 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used 1/4)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped raisins
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup low fat plain yogurt (I used fat free)
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 TBSP sugar (I used Splenda)
1 TBSP lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, mayo, sugar, and lemon juice. In another bowl combine the broccoli, onion, raisins, sunflower seeds, and feta. Toss in the yogurt dressing and season with the salt & pepper. Cover and frigerate for 2 hours.