Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grilled Garlic Parmesan Zucchini

I am not sure what has been going on here but we have had extremely warm weather. Yesterday was a high of 67 degrees, in January! The great thing about nicer weather is that you can grill supper instead of being stuck inside. This recipe is simply scrumptious! These zucchini "boats" would go well with a grilled sirloin steak or some grilled bbq chicken.

Don't worry if you do not have a grill or don't feel like grilling these. You can cook these in the oven/broiler.

Grilled Garlic Parmesan Zucchini
Serves: 4 to 6
Adapted by: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-garlic-parmesan-zucchini/

3 green zucchini - medium sized
3 tablespoons light butter
2 cloves of minced garlic OR 1 teaspoon minced garlic in oil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped OR 1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 cup reduced fat, grated parmesan cheese

-Preheat grill for a medium-high heat and spray nonstick cooking spray on the grates or brush with some olive oil. This helps prevent the veggies from sticking.
-Cut all 3 zucchini in half, then slice each half into 3 slices lengthwise, which will give you 6 slices of zucchini per vegetable.
-In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, and parsley and spread the mixture on one side of each of the zucchini pieces. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top of each piece.
-You will grill these skin side down, toppings side up.
-Grill zucchini for about 8 minutes or until the cheese has melted and they are done to your desired tenderness.

*For those cooking these indoors, you would just place all the zucchini pieces on a baking sheet and bake under the broiler for 8 minutes or so. You will want to cook them on low and watch them carefully to keep them from burning.

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

BBQ Meatloaf Muffins

Meatloaf is a favorite in our household. I wanted to make it for my husband because we had not had it in quite a while. I wanted something a little different and came up with this recipe to make. I got my inspiration from a recipe on SkinnyTaste (www.skinnytaste.com). I think this would be a huge hit with kids. I really enjoyed the individual sized portions. A big meatloaf has several portions, but you don't always think about that when you are cutting it and putting it on a plate. This recipe is great for portion control.

We had this meatloaf recipe with some oven roasted cauliflower and broccoli and fresh orange wedges.

BBQ Meatloaf Muffins
Serves: 6

1 pound lean ground beef (we use organic, grass-fed)
3 teaspoons low sodium worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
black pepper for seasoning
1/2 small green bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs OR 5 saltine crackers (make sure to crumble the crackers real well)
3 tablespoons bbq sauce
bbq sauce for topping

-preheat oven to 350 degrees
-in a mixing bowl, add all ingredients and mix together until thoroughly combined
-In a cupcake muffin pan, spray nonstick cooking spray.
-Divide the raw meat mixture into 6 equal pieces and put 1 piece in each muffin section.
-Top each meatloaf muffin with additional bbq sauce to help keep it moist during baking
-Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the meat is at least 160 degrees.
-Remove from oven and serve on a plate with desired sides


Friday, January 27, 2012

Turkey Scaloppine with Herbed Gravy

I have to admit, I first saw this recipe and didn't think much of it. I have since changed my mind. Last night was my yoga night, so we always have to cook something quick and light. My husband and I were thrilled with this recipe and are even looking forward to the leftovers at lunch today.

This turkey recipe is healthy and extremely tasty. I served these turkey cutlets with lima beans and some steamed carrots. We had chopped nectarines on the side.

Turkey Scaloppine with Herbed Gravy
Serves 4-5
Adapted by: http://www.meals.com/Recipes/Turkey-Scaloppine.aspx?recipeid=32175

1 pound boneless turkey breast cutlets
Garlic Powder and black pepper for seasoning
3 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 cup low sodium chicken broth OR dry white wine - chicken broth is what I used
1 tablespoon light butter
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped OR 1 teaspoon minced garlic in oil
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning - I used McCormick poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon chicken flavor bouillon granules (you will find this near the soup/broth section)
1 tablespoon cornstarch

-Place flour, garlic powder, and black pepper in a small bowl and coat turkey cutlets on all sides.
-In a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat, add your extra virgin olive oil. Once the pan is heated you will add your turkey cutlets. You will cook the turkey cutlets for approx 4 to 5 minutes and then flip over and cook until the turkey cutlets are cooked fully. *I covered my pan and that helped get them cooked on the center, while the outsides got nice and crispy.
-Once the turkey cutlets are completely cooked, remove from the pan and set on a plate in the microwave to stay warm.
-Return nonstick skillet to the heat source and add the water, chicken broth or wine, butter, garlic, poultry seasoning, and chicken bouillon. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. You may wish to season with additional black pepper. Simmer for 1 minute.
-In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch and a small splash of water and mix together. Add this mixture to the sauce pan. The mixture will start to thicken up. This is when you will remove the pan from the heat source.
-Add your turkey cutlets back to the pan and make sure to coat them in the gravy mixture.
-Serve on a plate and pour some of the gravy on top.

Enjoy! :)

*Trust me that this recipe seems quite simple but it is full of flavor. Just make sure not to overcook the turkey cutlets or they will be dry.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Teriyaki Stir-Fried Vegetables

Fresh veggies are simply the best! We had a bunch of fresh veggies, so I decided to make a veggie stir fry.
I love stir fry recipes because you can change them each time you make them. This time we had fresh broccoli, carrots, yellow onion, red bell pepper, and green bell pepper. If we had mushrooms or zucchini, I would have included them as well. I think zucchini is delicious when you saute it.

This recipe is simple and really would go well with almost anything. I cooked up some thin sliced center cut pork chops that were marinated in a simple soy sauce marinade and some brown rice. We had sliced peaches on the side.

For those doing weight watchers, 1 serving of these veggies is 2 points plus.

Teriyaki Stir-Fried Vegetables
Serves 4

1 medium to large green bell pepper, sliced
1 medium to large red bell pepper, sliced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced - red or yellow would work
carrots, sliced into coins - I just buy the bag of fresh carrots that are already sliced up
1 pound fresh broccoli florets, chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup low sodium teriyaki sauce - I use kikkoman
soy sauce - optional

-Heat a wok or a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil.
-Once the pan is hot, add all your veggies to the skillet. You will only cook these veggies for a short time because you are cooking them at a high heat.
-Season with pepper or garlic powder to taste.
-Saute the veggies until they are crisp-tender. I cooked the veggies for 5 minutes.
-Once the veggies are almost finished, add your teriyaki sauce and combine thoroughly.
-Serve a portion on a plate and top with a small amount of soy sauce

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Glaze

For those that do not know, I just started eating asparagus maybe 2 years ago. I absolutely love it and usually cook it once a week in our house. I'm always trying new ways to enjoy this amazing green veggie. Here is a super easy side dish recipe for you to try in your own kitchen. Asparagus is a very nutritious vegetable and this is just one of many ways you can incorporate it into your meals at home.

An added bonus for this recipe is that each serving is less than 75 calories. :)

Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Glaze
Serves: 4
Adapted by: http://www.food.com/recipe/asparagus-with-balsamic-butter-weight-watchers-0-points-382166

1 1/4 pounds asparagus
nonstick cooking spray
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots OR red onion
1 tablespoon light butter
1 teaspoon quality balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon lite salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper

-Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus spears and wash off
- Place asparagus in a steamer basket and cook 4 to 5 minutes. You want the asparagus to be crisp-tender. If you don't have a steamer basket, you can just pan cook the asparagus with a touch of olive oil for the same amount of time.
-Place cooked asparagus on a serving platter.
-Return hot skillet or sauce pan to the stove and heat over medium heat. Spray nonstick cooking spray and add the shallots. You will saute them for 1 or 2 minutes.
-Remove from heat and add the butter and balsamic vinegar. Stir all ingredients together and pour over the cooked asparagus. Season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Weight Watchers: Turkey Rolled w/Roasted Red Pepper and Mozzarella

As I mentioned previously, my husband is doing weight watchers and I am supporting him by making lots of weight watcher friendly recipes. Here is a very simple and delicious main dish that I think you would enjoy in your household. We served this dish with some oven roasted cauliflower and broccoli, and some fresh orange wedges.

For those doing weight watchers, this recipe is 4 PointsPlus per serving.

Turkey Rolled W/Roasted Red Pepper and Mozzarella
Serves: 4
Adapted by: http://www.weightwatchers.com/food/rcp/RecipePage.aspx?recipeid=56141

1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon lemon zest, coarsely chopped
1 pound boneless, skinless turkey breast (each portion should be 4 ounces, which is 1 serving)
1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers (you can roast your own or buy the kind packed in water)
1/2 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Spray a broiler rack with nonstick cooking spray or cover with nonstick foil.
-In a small bowl, mix together the parsley, garlic, rosemary, and lemon zest.
-Layer turkey breasts in between 2 sheets of wax paper; pound the turkey breasts until flat. Remove the wax paper.
-Rub each pounded turkey breast with parsley mixture, place a red pepper slice over each and sprinkle with some mozzarella cheese. Roll up each turkey breast and secure with toothpicks. Place on the broiler rack, seam-side down, and bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked completely.

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Whole Wheat Pancakes with Fresh Blueberry Syrup

This is a wonderful breakfast recipe. Although I should tell you we sometimes make these for supper as well. Breakfast for dinner is always a bonus in our household.

These pancakes are scrumptious and so easy to make. When I make these pancakes, the batch usually makes 16 pancakes and a serving is 2 pancakes. I like to wrap these in saran wrap, in sets of 2, and freeze for consumption during the work week. My husband loves being able to take them out of the freezer and microwave them for just a little while and have a warm breakfast in the mornings.

While syrup is always a delicious topping for pancakes, sometimes it is nice to have something a little different.  I tried out a new blueberry syrup recipe and will share it below as well. These are a weight watchers friendly recipe and I hope you like these. Did I mention these are a very healthy option when you want pancakes because they are low in fat and made from whole grains. :)

We usually have these pancakes with a piece of lean meat, such as turkey sausage, or some fresh fruit or yogurt.

Whole Wheat Pancakes w/Fresh Blueberry Syrup
Serves: 7 or 8 (2 pancakes per serving)
Adapted by: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/06/whole-wheat-pancakes.html

-2 cups white whole wheat flour - I use King Arthur
-4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon lite salt
-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-2 teaspoons sugar OR 1 teaspoon Splenda Sugar Blend - I use Splenda sugar blend
-2 large eggs OR 3 large egg whites - I use egg whites
-2 cups skim milk OR lowfat buttermilk - I have used both; it just depends on what I have
-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
-nonstick cooking spray

-In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients, which include flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and sugar.
-To the dry ingredients you will add the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Stir dry and wet ingredients together just until combined. Do not overmix.
-Heat a griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
-Pour approx 1/4 cup per pancake onto the griddle and cook pancakes. You will know it is time to flip when you see bubbles and the edges are beginning to set.
-Once pancakes are cooked, place on a plate to cool or enjoy immediately.
-If you are freezing these, cool completely and then wrap in saran wrap tightly and freeze. You will reheat in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds or until they are not frozen and are heated thoroughly.
-Enjoy with maple syrup, sugar free syrup, or the blueberry syrup below.

Blueberry Syrup for Pancakes/Waffles
Serves: 6 to 8 servings
Adapted by: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/06/blueberry-compote.html

2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed
2 tablespoons sugar OR sugar equivalent - I use Splenda sugar blend
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

-In a medium nonstick pot, add the blueberries, sugar, water, and cornstarch. Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, making sure to stir occasionally.
-You can leave the blueberry mixture as it is or you can use a fork and mash some of the whole blueberries to make a less clumpy mixture. I enjoy this syrup with chunks of blueberries.
-Serve on top of waffles or pancakes.

*Tip: This blueberry mixture is really good on top of plain oatmeal as well.

Enjoy! :)

Baked Egg White & Veggie Muffin Cups

I eat eggs every single morning with breakfast. Eggs are great because they are full of protein and loaded with lots of good nutrients for your body. Some people prefer to eat whole eggs, but I prefer egg whites because they don't have all the cholesterol that a whole egg has and they are fat free. I do eat whole eggs occasionally but not very often.

These egg muffin cups are so adorable and quite tasty. I like to make a batch of these on Sunday and then refrigerate them and eat a few each morning for breakfast during the week. All you do is heat them in the microwave for 10 seconds and enjoy. The best thing about these is that you can customize them to exactly how you want them. Here is the recipe for how I usually make them. Feel free to get creative and make this recipe your own.

Baked Egg White & Veggie Muffin Cups
Serves 12 egg muffins


12 extra large egg whites OR 12 large eggs - I use egg whites
nonstick cooking spray
12 muffin baking pan
small green bell pepper, chopped
small red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
lean ham or turkey sausage, diced - I use lean ham
reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
pepper for seasoning
dried parsley for seasoning

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Spray nonstick cooking spray in all 12 muffin cups (this is important because you don't want them to stick when you try to remove them)
-In the bottom of each muffin section add some bell pepper, onion, meat, and shredded cheese.
-On top of the veggies, add 1 egg white or whole egg to each muffin section.
-Season the top of each muffin section with pepper and dried parsley
-Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until completely cooked.
-You will want to check them after about 12 minutes. My oven takes the full 20 minutes to bake these.
-Remove from oven and let cool approx 5 minutes before removing them from the muffin pan.
-Once completely cooled, I usually wrap these up in two's in saran wrap and place them in the refrigerator for the week.
-To reheat, you will place the desired amount on a plate and microwave for 10 to 15 seconds or until heated.


*Tip: you can add any kind of veggie you wish to add and some people prefer to add a small pinch of cream to make the eggs creamier.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crock Pot Italian Minestrone Soup

You already know that I have an obsession with soup. I make new soup recipes weekly and am rarely disappointed. This soup recipe is extremely healthy and very flavorful. My husband is doing weight watchers so my hope is to start posting a lot of weight watcher friendly recipes, just in case others are doing the same program.

This soup is filling and very hearty, so I served it with some fresh fruit. It does have a high carb count, so you may wish to serve it with fruit or an italian side salad. I believe mini whole grain cornbread muffins would be delicious with it as well. Just try not to have but one or two because you don't want that many carbs at one meal.

Crock Pot Italian Minestrone Soup
Serves: 6 large servings
Adapted by: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/11/crock-pot-minestrone-soup.html

1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28oz can diced tomatoes (I use the version that is seasoned with basil and oregano)
1 15oz can white cannellini beans or white navy beans
3 cups reduced sodium and fat free chicken broth
1 oz parmesan cheese - you will grate this on top once it has cooked
1 fresh rosemary sprig OR 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil OR 1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 cup chopped italian parsley OR 2 tablespoons dried parsley
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cups chopped spinach
2 cups small pasta shells - make sure to use whole wheat versions to make healthier

-Drain and rinse the beans.
-In a crockpot, combine chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
-Approx 45 minutes before the soup is going to be finished cooking, add your zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes.
-With 15 minutes before the soup is done, add your pasta. Cook an additional ten to fifteen minutes.
-Remove your bay leaves and season with additional seasonings if necessary.
-Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Easy Baked Corn

My husband absolutely loves corn. He asks for it all the time, but I rarely make it because it really doesn't have a lot of nutritional value and it is a starchy veggie, which I try to avoid most of the time. Once in a while I get an itch to cook it as a side dish for supper though. Here is a simple and tasty corn recipe that goes well with just about any main dish.

Easy Baked Corn
Serves: 4-6 servings
Adapted by: http://cyndisrecipes.blogspot.com/2006/08/easy-baked-corn.html

1 15oz can cream style corn
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg, beaten or eggbeater equivalent - I use eggbeaters, which is 1/4 cup
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup skim milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon light butter, cut in small pieces

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, egg, sugar, milk, salt and pepper. Add creamed corn and mix thoroughly.
-In a small baking dish, spray with nonstick cooking spray, and pour corn mixture into the dish. Top the dish off with your pieces of butter.
-Bake until thick and slightly brown, which will be about 25 minutes or so.

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One Pot Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

If you go on the internet and do a search for homemade macaroni and cheese, you will see hundreds of recipes. In the past few years I have tried several different recipes, always trying to substitute ingredients to make it healthier. Some have been a major fail and others a huge success. I always am looking for the next best recipe when it comes to this dish though. This recipe is one of the easiest recipes I have found so far and it tastes delicious and creamy.

Macaroni and Cheese should always be made from scratch in my opinion. If you look at the boxed kinds, I bet you can't even pronounce half the ingredients. It is really quite simple and tastes so much better.

Since Macaroni and Cheese is a heavier meal, you really only need some lean protein or a salad to go with it.

One Pot Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
Serves: 4-6 servings
Adapted by: http://realmomkitchen.com/9966/one-pot-mac-and-cheese/

2 cups whole wheat or whole grain elbow macaroni or pasta of your choice
2 cups skim milk, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon light butter
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon lite salt
1/2 cup grated monterey jack cheese (if you can find it in reduced fat, definitely use it)
1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
pepper to season

-Place uncooked pasta in a colander and rinse with water, allow to drain. Place uncooked pasta in a large sauce pan.
-To the sauce pan, add the milk, butter, dried, mustard, and salt. Stir all ingredients together.
-Bring the contents of the sauce pan to a boil over medium heat. Once it is boiling, turn to low and simmer.
-You will cook the macaroni for 15 to 20 minutes or until the milk is mostly absorbed, making sure you stir frequently to prevent burning the dish or having it stick to the pan. You can add more milk if you think it is necessary.
-Once most of the milk is absorbed or 15 to 20 minutes has passed, add your cheeses and stir to combine.
-Remove the sauce pan from heat source and cover with a lid and let sit for 5 minutes.
-Stir the macaroni and cheese and season with additional salt and/or pepper.
-Serve on a plate

Enjoy! :)

Thai Pork and Peanut Stir Fry

A few years ago, you wouldn't catch me eating any kind of dish that contained peanut butter unless it was in a dessert or on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Now that I am older and wiser, I realize just how good peanut butter can be in main dishes. This recipe is a prime example of this. I served this main dish with some steamed brown rice and fresh mandarin oranges.

Thai Pork and Peanut Stir Fry
Serves: 2 (can be doubled for 4 servings)
Adapted by: http://recipes.prevention.com/Recipe/thai-pork-and-peanut-stir-fry.aspx?cm_mmc=Recipe-of-the-Day-_-771204-_-01112012-_-Thai-Pork-and-Peanut-Stir-Fry

1/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup broccoli florets, sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
10 oz boneless pork tenderloin, cut into inch-thick strips
salt and pepper for seasoning

-In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, peanut butter, and sugar until smooth; set aside.
-In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a skillet on high for 1 minute. Add the onion, broccoli, and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes, making sure to stir to prevent scorching/burning. Place on a plate and keep warm in microwave.
-Salt and pepper your pork tenderloin. Heat the additional teaspoon of canola oil and add your pork. Cook about 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Add in your onion, broccoli, and garlic mix. Add your bowl of chicken broth mixture. Cook an additional minute and make sure to toss all ingredients together.
-Serve on a plate with some brown rice

Enjoy! :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with Raspberry Cheesecake Buttercream

Every now and then you have to indulge, right? Well here is an absolutely scrumptious cupcake recipe for you to try out. This is perfect to make for when you have friends over or if you have a coworker with a birthday coming up. When I make these, I try to only leave 1 or 2 at home and then give the other cupcakes to friends/family. They are simply irresistible!

One healthy tip I will offer is that you could always make mini cupcakes with this recipe. This way you still get to have something sweet, but not a ton of calories and fat. I have a mini cupcake baking tray that has 36 mini cupcakes spaces and I have used this recipe to make them this way. You will just need to watch how long you bake them for. They obviously take a lot less time.

I plan on baking the mini cupcake version of these for my coworkers and friends for Valentine's Day this year.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with Raspberry Cheesecake Buttercream
Serves:  24-30 cupcakes (depends on how big you make them)
Adapted by: http://www.goodlifeeats.com/2011/02/chocolate-cupcakes-with-raspberry-buttercream.html

Ingredients for cupcakes:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips/morsels
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon lite salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar OR sugar substitute equivalent (I use splenda sugar blend equivalent)
3/4 cup butter, softened (I use light butter but it does slightly alter how the cupcakes turn out)
1 cup light sour cream
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Ingredients for Raspberry Cheesecake Buttercream:
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup or 4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
4 - 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
5 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed and divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your muffin baking tray with cupcake cups or spray nonstick cooking spray to prevent sticking.
-Place chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl and microwave in 15 second intervals, making sure to stir each time, until chocolate chips are melted. Set aside to cool.
-In a large mixing bowl, sift together your flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
-In a separate large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar for 5 minutes, or until it is pale and thick. I use my kitchenaid stand mixer for this, but a handheld mixer works just fine. Add in the butter and mix together with sugar and eggs until combined. Add in the melted chocolate, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Beat entire mixture until combined thoroughly.
-Now you will want to combine the wet and dry ingredients. To your wet ingredient bowl, add some of the flour mixture and beat together until blended. Now, add some of your buttermilk and blend together. Repeat with the flour and milk mixtures until all is blended together and you have a smooth batter.
-Spoon batter into the cupcake tins and bake for 18 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.

For frosting:
-Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, you will add the butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl for 1 to 2 minutes or until fluffy. Slowly add 1 cup of powdered sugar to the butter/cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Add half of the raspberries and mix until combined thoroughly. Add remaining powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until incorporated.
-You want the frosting to be creamy and smooth, so only use enough powdered sugar to reach this consistency.
-Add the vanilla extract and remaining raspberries and mix until light and fluffy, which is an additional 2-3 minutes.
-Chill frosting in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to help hold its shape.
-Spread onto cooled cupcakes and serve.

Enjoy! :)

Steakhouse Mushroom Burgers with Creamed Spinach Sauce

3 words...Oh My Gosh! I am so excited to share this recipe with you. It is by far one of my very favorites I have come across. These burgers are beyond delectable. This recipe requires a little effort but I promise you it is worth it. This is a heavier meal, so you will want to pair it with something simple, such as fresh cut veggies or a simple side salad.

Because it is winter time, we grilled these burgers on an indoor grill pan and they turned out just fine. I believe you could use a george foreman grill or any other type of indoor grill or grill pan to cook these if you don't want to brave the winter elements. Another helpful tip would be to use a cast iron skillet and cook on the stove.

Steakhouse Mushroom Burgers w/Creamed Spinach Sauce
Serves: 4 - 6 burgers (depends on how big you make the burger patties)
Adapted by: http://www.pink-parsley.com/2011/05/steakhouse-mushroom-burgers-with.html

Ingredients for the burger patties:
6 oz mushrooms, diced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced OR 1 teaspoon minced garlic in oil
1 pound lean ground beef OR ground turkey breast (recommend the beef for this recipe; I used grassfed beef)
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme OR 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (I used dried thyme)
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley OR 1 teaspoon dried parsley (I used dried parsley)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 slices of toast, buttered - now the recipe calls for texas toast but that is a bit more indulgent than I prefer; I used Nature's Own Light Sourdough Bread instead and it was delicious and much healthier
Reduced fat grated parmesan cheese

Ingredients for the spinach sauce:
2 tablespoons light butter
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup half and half, plus more as needed (I used fat free half and half)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper for seasoning
small pinch of red cayenne seasoning
small pinch of nutmeg
4 cups chopped fresh spinach OR 1 box frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained of all excess liquids (I recommend fresh)
1 tablespoon grated reduced fat parmesan cheese
1 lemon for lemon juice

-Preheat your grilling surface to medium high
-In a saute pan, add 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and heat on medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and brown for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook an additional 1 minute. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
-In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef with soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, mustard, herbs, and the cooked mushrooms. Gently work the bowl to combine all the ingredients with a fork or your hands. Divide the mixture into 4 to 6 burger patties.
-Grill your burgers until cooked to your preference. We like our burgers medium well, so we cooked each side for about 4 minutes.
-In a medium saucepan, add the butter and melt over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the flour to the butter and onion mixture and whisk for 1 minute.
-Whisk in the half and half, chicken broth, salt, cayenne, and nutmeg. Bring the sauce to a low boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, making sure to whisk periodically to prevent scorching/sticking. The sauce will start to thicken up.
-Add the spinach, stir into mixture, and cook until wilted (should take just a few minutes). Add in the parmesan and lemon juice. Season sauce with salt and pepper to your preference. You may need to add more half and half if it is thicker than you want it.
-Toast your bread in a toaster and spread a small amount of butter on each once toasted.
-Place a piece of toast on a plate and put one burger patty on top of it. Add some of the creamy spinach sauce on top of the burger and toast. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and serve.

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Biscuit Recipe

*WARNING...This is a dog treat, not meant for human consumption.

This is a first for my cooking blog. I have just started to experiment with making homemade dog treats for our two dogs. Honestly, if you look at all the junk that is listed in the ingredients on dog treat boxes, you would think twice about what you are actually giving to them. Making homemade dog treats are so easy and a much healthier alternative. Believe it or not, they are actually cheaper than the store bought kind anyways. This is my first recipe I wanted to share. I hope any of you that have dogs will try these out and let me know what you think.

Just so you know, our dogs love these treats. They go crazy for them!

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits
Servings: depends on how thick you roll out the dough and what shapes you cut the dough into (I was able to get almost 40 dog biscuits with this recipe)
Adapted by:  http://whiteonricecouple.com/canine/dog-biscuits-recipe/

2 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup vegetable oil OR natural applesauce
1 cup water

-In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, brown sugar, and salt and combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and the peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Add the oil and stir together.
-You will add the water a little at a time. You only want to use enough water to make the dough smooth and workable.
-Once the dough is mixed and ready, you will want to cover the mixing bowl with a kitchen towel and let it sit for 20 minutes to rest.
-Whle the dough is resting, preheat oven to 375 degrees and grab two baking sheets and line them with wax paper.
-Once dough has rested, remove it from the mixing bowl and place on a silicone baking mat or whatever surface you wish to roll dough out on. Make sure to sprinkle a generous amount of flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Roll the dough out to about 1/2 '' thick. Use cookie cutters to cut desired shapes out of the dough. I use a sharp knife tip and make my own designs, which are dog bone shapes.
-Place the cookies onto the baking sheets and bake for approx 40 minutes or until they are slightly browned and fairly hard. They will harden up more as they cool down.
-If you make your cookies thinner than 1/2'' thick, they will not take the whole 40 minutes. It is best to check these at 30 minutes and then cook as necessary.
-Let treats cool completely before serving to your dogs.
-Store any leftover treats in a gallon size ziploc bag.

Hope your animals love you for making these! :)

Baked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

I am obsessed with oatmeal. I feel like people either enjoy eating oatmeal or they really dislike it. My husband just can't get over the texture of oatmeal, so he never eats it. He doesn't complain that I make it for myself 5 or 6 days a week for breakfast, which is sweet of him. Whenever he is traveling, I find myself eating oatmeal for dinner as well. :)

Oatmeal is such a healthy breakfast option because it is whole grain goodness and there are so many different ways you can incorporate oats into your meals, whether it be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I came across a baked oatmeal recipe and knew it was the perfect dish for me to make on a Monday and enjoy all week for breakfast. A great thing about this dish is that it really fills you up, so all you might need is a few pieces of turkey sausage or some scrambled eggs, and you are good to go. Another wonderful thing about this recipe is that it is made from all natural ingredients, which is something I am striving to do as much as possible this new year.

Baked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Serves: 4 to 6 smaller pieces or 2 to 4 larger pieces
Adapted by: http://www.simplyscratch.com/2011/11/baked-apple-cinnamon-oatmeal.html

1 apple, cored and diced into small chunks - I used a honeycrisp apple
1 1/3 cups old fashioned oats - not instant or quick cooking
1/4 cup golden raisins - regular raisins would work just fine as well
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon light melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon lite salt
2 cups of milk OR heavy cream - I use skim milk (*note that heavy cream will drastically increase the amount of calories and fat in this dish and I don't recommend doing that; add a pinch of heavy cream after it is done baking if you want it creamier)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-In a bowl, combine the apples, oats, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix all ingredients until combined. Add the melted butter and stir together.
-In a greased oven safe dish, add the oat mixture and top the entire baking dish with the 2 cups of milk.
-I used a 9x9 baking glass dish
-Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until most of the milk is absorbed.
-You will want to eat this warm, so remove it from the oven and put some in a bowl. Sprinkle additional toppings if you wish, such as more cinnamon, a little more milk or cream, chopped nuts, etc...
-I eat it just like it is with a little maple syrup drizzled on top.
-Cover the leftovers and refrigerate for up to 4 days. When you want to heat some up, spoon some in a bowl and microwave just until warmed. You may find it is a little dry so you will have to add more cream or milk to make it creamy again after microwaving it.

Enjoy! :)

*Feel free to get creative with this baked oatmeal recipe and come up with different fruits and toppings to go into the recipe. I've tried this with fresh peaches and diced strawberries instead of the apples. I also like the combination of fresh cut bananas and berries instead of the apples. The options are limitless.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vegetable Beef Soup

We have had some very unseasonably warm days this winter so far, which makes me sad because my favorite part about the winter months is making big pots of homemade soups, stews, and chili. We finally have a cold snap coming for a few days so I knew I wanted to take advantage and make some delicious, homemade vegetable beef soup. This is a great recipe because it isn't a heavy dish and it offers tons of nutrition with all the different vegetables. Some whole wheat grilled cheese sandwiches go perfectly with this soup recipe.

Vegetable Beef Soup
Serves: 6 to 8 portions
Adapted by: http://barefeetinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2011/11/rustic-vegetable-beef-soup.html

1 pound lean ground beef OR ground turkey breast - i used lean grassfed ground beef
2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup corn, frozen OR 1 cup canned corn, drained - prefer frozen because less sodium
1 cup cut green beans, frozen OR 1 cup canned green beans, drained
28oz petite diced tomatoes
3 cups reduced sodium beef broth
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 - 2 teaspoons minced garlic
sea salt and black pepper, to taste

-In a large pot, add your ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Brown the beef until it is browned and cooked completely. Drain the cooked beef really well before returning it to the large pot.
-Add onions, carrots, celery, corn, green beans, tomatoes, beef broth, and all seasonings to the pot and stir well to make sure it all gets mixed together.
-Bring soup to a boil and then turn to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes or until veggies are fork tender, but not mushy.
-You may want to add additional seasonings if you think it needs it. We always add more pepper but we like spicier foods.
-Serve in bowls with hot grilled cheese sandwiches or wheat crusty bread pieces

Enjoy! :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Healthy Whole Wheat Pie Crust & Broccoli Quiche

This post is going to have 2 different recipes. The first recipe is a great whole wheat pie crust that can be used for just about anything. I use it to make chicken or beef pot pies, dessert pies, and quiche. It is super easy to make and much healthier than any store bought pie crust. I've actually never seen a wheat pie crust at the stores, which is quite sad if you ask me. An added bonus to this recipe is that you can freeze the dough and pull it out whenever you need a pie crust. It only takes about 1 hour to thaw.

The second recipe is a delicious broccoli quiche, which is perfect for breakfast but can also be used as a dinner. I never thought I liked quiche until I started experimenting with making the dish and found that I really enjoy it. Quiche is very adaptable and you can add just about anything to it. I like to add variations such as red and green bell pepper, red or yellow onion, garlic, asparagus, etc...

Whole Wheat Pie Crust
Serves: 1 pie crust (recipe can easily be doubled to make a double crust pie or 2 single crust pie dishes)
Adapted by: http://www.cheekykitchen.com/2010/07/perfect-whole-wheat-pie-crust-homemade-pop-tarts.html

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour OR white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon lite salt
1/2 cup cold butter, sliced into small pieces
4 to 5 tablespoons cold milk

-In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter (or 2 forks if you don't have a pastry cutter). You will know the dough is ready when the largest pieces of butter in the mix look like peas. You will cut the butter for several minutes.
-One important rule is do not touch the crust with your bare hands, regardless of what you think. You don't want to make the butter warm by using your hands. The butter needs to stay very cold because that will help the crust stay flaky when it bakes.
-Once you have cut the butter into the flour mixture, you will add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, just until the dough is moistened enough to hold the dough together. I always end up using about 5 tablespoons.
-Quickly form the crust into a ball and refrigerate until ready to use.
-If you are using right away, roll out a silicone baking mat and sprinkle flour onto it so the dough doesn't stick.
-You can sprinkle flour on top of the ball of dough as well. Use a wooden roller and roll the dough out until you have it big enough to fit into a pie dish.
-You will want to spray your pie dish with nonstick cooking spray before you put the dough in the pie dish.
-Fill pie crust with whatever you want and bake according to the recipe.

Broccoli Quiche
Serves: 8
Adapted by: http://www.weightwatchers.com/food/rcp/RecipePage.aspx?recipeId=110271

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 clove of garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup low-fat or fat free shredded cheddar cheese
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
10 oz chopped broccoli
1 tablespoon grated reduced fat parmesan cheese

*I use 4 egg whites and no regular eggs in my quiche

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-Add olive oil to a small nonstick skillet and heat over medium  heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for about 2 to 3 minutes.
-Place the onion and garlic in a large mixing bowl and add the ricotta cheese, cheddar cheese, egg whites, mustard, oregano, and salt and pepper. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Add broccoli and gently fold into the mixture. Spoon mixture into the prepared pie crust. Sprinkle the top of the quiche with parmesan cheese.
-Bake in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. You will want to let it rest about 10 minutes before cutting it into pieces.

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Grilled Chicken Salad on Whole Wheat Pita

Growing up, I absolutely hated tuna fish sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches, or anything like macaroni salad because I hated mayo based dishes. As an adult, I still do not like mayo at all but I have found that you can use it in certain recipes and you would never even know the dish had mayo in it. This chicken salad is one of those dishes that I don't seem to mind that mayo is in. It is extremely delicious when stuffed into a whole wheat pita. A side of fruit is perfect with this meal.
Grilled Chicken Salad on Whole Wheat Pita
Serves: 5 to 6 servings
Adapted by: http://mybizzykitchen.com/2011/06/07/season-52-yum/

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar - use a quality balsamic vinegar, not a cheap one or you will regret it
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper - just a pinch of each
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup light mayo OR 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon lite salt

whole wheat pitas or wheat sandwich bread

-In a small bowl, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and italian seasoning and make sure to stir it thoroughly.
-Place chicken in a dish and pour olive oil marinade over it. Place in refrigerator and marinate for 1 hour or more. I put the marinade on the chicken the night before and marinate it for a good 24 hours.
-Discard marinade and grill chicken breasts on outdoor grill or on an indoor grill.
-Once chicken breasts are cooked, let cool on a plate and chop up into bite-size pieces/chunks.
-In a medium bowl, put all the chopped chicken in it. Add the celery, onion, cherries, mayo, mustard, and salt. Combine all ingredients together.
-Take a whole wheat pita and stuff with 1 serving of the chicken salad and serve.

Enjoy! :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Creamy Oven Baked Chicken

Looking for a delicious chicken dish? Well, this is one that will not disappoint. I love the creaminess of this dish and how simple it is to make. It is a perfect "comfort food"!

This recipe goes really well if you serve it on top of some hot brown rice. I also served some pan roasted garlic asparagus to go with this dish. YUM! :)

Creamy Oven Baked Chicken
Serves: 4 to 6
Adapted by: http://bakeitafterall.blogspot.com/2010/03/judys-chicken.html

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup shredded, reduced fat swiss cheese or mozzarella cheese (I prefer part skim mozzarella)
1 can Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom soup
3/4 cup light or fat free sour cream (i use fat free and it tastes just fine)
1/2 cup white wine - your preference
salt and pepper
garlic powder
nonstick cooking spray
1/4 to 1/2 cup italian style breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-In a 13x9 baking dish, spray nonstick cooking spray and set all the chicken breasts in the dish. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Top each breast with some of your shredded cheese. *If you are watching calories or fat, just use a small sprinkle of cheese on each breast, which is what I do.
-In a mixing bowl, add the sour cream, mushroom soup, and wine and stir together until blended thoroughly. Pour this mixture on top of the seasoned chicken breasts.
-Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of the dish.
-Bake uncovered in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the chicken is completely cooked. My oven took about 45 minutes for this dish.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pan Seared Steak with Mustard Cream Sauce

I don't know about you, but sometimes I get bored with the usual grilled steaks with steak sauce on top. I found this recipe and knew instantly that I wanted to try it out. This is a wonderful recipe for the winter because you can make it inside, rather than on the grill. I served this steak dish with some oven roasted butternut squash and homemade wheat dinner rolls.

Pan Seared Steak with Mustard Cream Sauce
Serves: 2 to 4 servings
Adapted by: http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2011/08/pan-seared-steak-with-mustard-cream-sauce.html

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 boneless flank steak or boneless sirloin steak - about 1 pound
1 shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons) OR 2 tablespoons minced yellow onions - recommend the shallot
1 1/2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons heavy cream - I used fat free half and half and it worked just fine
1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard or coarse brown mustard

-In a large skillet or cast iron skillet, heat oil in pan over medium high heat. Season your beef with salt and pepper and then place in the skillet. You will brown the first side for 2 minutes without touching it. After 2 minutes, flip steak and reduce heat to medium and cook until well browned on the other side. You will cook the steak until it has reached the temperature you desire. We cook our meat to medium/medium well, which took about 8 minutes total.
-Remove steak from skillet and place on cutting board to rest before slicing.
-In the same skillet, keep about 1 tablespoon of fat/juices from the steak in the skillet and add shallot and cook on low until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and crank the heat to medium high again. You will simmer rapidly for 30 seconds, making sure to scrape up any of the browned bits that have formed on the bottom of your skillet. Add the chicken broth and simmer, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add the cream to your skillet and cook an additional minute. Finally, add the mustard and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Remove from heat.
-Slice your steak into small strips and place on a plate. Pour sauce on top of your steak and eat.

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

100% Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Chopped Walnuts

I am sure a lot of you have decided that your new year's resolution is to lose weight, if you are like most everyone else in the country. I am making it a goal of mine to provide healthy indulgences that you can enjoy periodically throughout the year. Here is my first healthier cookie recipe of 2012.

If you are going to make something that contains flour, please try to use white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour. It is so much better for you! Yes, it does change the texture of a lot of baked goods but it doesn't change the overall taste of most recipes. If you are trying to make the switch in your house, try to do 3/4 of flour whole wheat and use all purpose flour for the remaining 1/4.  This recipe will have a few options on how to make them.

These cookies are absolutely delicious and they are a healthier version that what you are going to find in a supermarket. Just because you are making them whole wheat does not mean you can eat 5 of them in one sitting. To avoid eating too many of these, try packaging them up and giving them to family and friends, or take a bunch of them to work to share with coworkers.

100% Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Chopped Walnuts
Serves: approx 6 dozen cookies
Adapted by: http://barefeetinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2011/09/100-whole-wheat-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

1/2 cup light butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar OR sugar substitute equivalent
1/2 cup light brown sugar OR brown sugar substitute
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg OR 1/4 cup egg whites OR eggbeaters substitute (I used egg whites)
1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour OR whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon lite salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts - OPTIONAL but nuts contain healthy fats that are good for your heart when eaten in moderation

-preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Once this is done, add the sugars and beat for 3 to 4 minutes. This is what helps make the cookies fluffy and light.
-Once you have completed that step, add the egg and vanilla and beat well.
-In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients together. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and make sure to combine it well.
-Once all the dry and wet ingredients have been incorporated, add the chocolate chips and walnuts and stir to combine.
-Use a small scooper and place small balls of dough onto a nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or just until the edges are browned.
-Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy! :)

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

One of my new year's resolutions is to cut back even more on processed foods in our household. I think I do a fairly decent job of cooking things from scratch, but I want to improve this year and be even more diligent in the ingredients I use to cook with this year. One of my first recipes this new year were making homemade wheat hamburger buns. I figured it couldn't be that difficult and I know they are far healthier because I know exactly what ingredients are in them. These hamburger buns were extremely delicious and I was very proud of the outcome. They were served with BBQ Jalapeno Turkey burgers and some sweet potato tator tots (recipe to come soon). YUM!

There are two ways you can do these buns. The first way is that you can prepare the dough and then freeze the buns until you are ready to bake and eat them or the second way you can do these are to bake the buns and then use what you need and freeze the remaining for a later date. My preference is to cook them completely and cool and then freeze in a freezer bag.

I used a breadmaker to make my dough, but you are more than welcome to make these without a breadmaker. The website I got this recipe from shows how you will make these without a breadmaker. I just find that a breadmaker makes it more time efficient for me.

One more thing, you could roll the dough into hot dog bun shapes and use this recipe for hot dog buns.

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns
Serves: Serving size depends on the size of the buns you make (I got 10 buns but I made them smaller)Adapted by: http://breadbaking.about.com/od/burgerandsandwichbuns/r/Light-Wheat-Hamburger-Buns.htm

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup milk, room temperature (just set out about 20 minutes before you are making the dough)
2 tablespoons brown sugar OR 1 tablespoon pure local honey - I used honey
3/4 teaspoon lite salt
1 tablespoon soft light butter or margarine
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
Egg wash - consists of 1 beaten egg and a splash of water

-In your breadmaker pan, add all liquid ingredients first, which is your water, milk, honey, and butter.
-Now add to the breadmaker pan all of the dry ingredients, except for the yeast. This is your salt and flours.
-Make a small dent in the top of the ingredients and pour your yeast in the hole you created.
-Set your breadmaker to the dough setting and press start. The process takes 1 1/2 hours on my breadmaker.
-Once dough is done, remove from breadmaker pan and separate dough into smaller pieces (however many buns you wish to make). Roll each separate piece into a ball and place each on a nonstick baking sheet.
-Once all rolls are on the baking sheet, cover with a cloth and let rise for 45 to 60 minutes. They will double in size.
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and cooked completely. My oven only took 11 minutes to cook these buns.
-Cool on a baking rack and serve or store in freezer for later

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Butternut Squash Penne Pasta

I have a slight obsession with squash right now, so hopefully you like recipes that contain squash. Butternut squash is very good for you and can be used in so many different ways. I thought I would try something more savory than sweet and this is the recipe I chose to try. It is quite delicious, in my opinion. Yes, it is a different spin on a pasta dish but I think you will be thoroughly pleased if you give this recipe a chance. This recipe is very filling, so you will probably not need any side dishes to serve with it but a small serving of fresh fruit would be a great bonus to the meal.

Butternut Squash Penne Pasta
Serves: 8 to 10 large portions (recipe can be cut in half to reduce portion sizes)
Adapted by: http://debbidoesdinnerhealthy.blogspot.com/2011/03/butternut-squash-penne-pasta-presto.html

Large butternut squash - peeled and chopped into small cubes/squares
1 pound ground turkey breast OR 1 pound lean ground beef
1 large onion - chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, minced or 1 to 2 teaspoons minced garlic in oil
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth (might need more than 1 cup)
14 oz whole wheat pasta of your choice (penne pasta is what I bought but any shape of pasta is fine)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/4 cup grated reduced fat parmesan cheese - OPTIONAL

-preheat oven to 450 degrees.
-In a bowl, combine the cut up squash with some olive oil cooking spray or a teaspoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Transfer bowl of squash to a large nonstick baking sheet. Roast in the oven until tender, which will be 30-35 minutes. You may want to stir or flip the squash halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and set aside.
-In a large saute pan, add the ground turkey breast and onions and saute until the turkey is browned and cooked, which will be 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook an additional 1 minute. Add in the tomatoes and broth and bring entire pan to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the squash to the pan and stir together. Add additional salt and pepper to season, if needed.
-In a large stockpot, boil some salted water and cook pasta just until the pasta is tender. Once finished cooking, drain and return to the pot. Add the turkey and squash mixture to the pasta, half of the chopped cilantro, and half of the parmesan cheese. Stir together until combined.
-Transfer pasta dish to serving bowls and top with remaining cilantro and grated parmesan cheese.

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cajun Pork

I know what you are thinking...you see the term "cajun" and are probably thinking this dish will be spicy. I assure you that this dish is extremely delicious and not spicy at all. Although, if you like spicy foods, you can definitely spice up this dish to have some heat.  This is a very simple recipe to make and it is loaded with delicious flavors.

Cajun Pork
Serves: 6 servings
Adapted by: http://www.bhg.com/recipe/pork/cajun-pork/

nonstick cooking spray
2 1/2 to 3 pound boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of any fat - cut into 1'' cubes
2 medium yellow bell peppers, cut into 1'' pieces/chunks
1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
1 14.5 ounce can Del Monte diced tomatoes with green pepper and onions, undrained
1 16 ounce package frozen cut okra (not the breaded kind)
1 1/2 cups brown rice, cooked according to package
Hot pepper sauce - OPTIONAL

-Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add cubed pieces of pork shoulder, season with salt and pepper, and cook until all sides are browned. Drain any fat that accumulates in the pan.
-In a slow cooker, add the browned pork chunks. Add the bell peppers and the cajun seasoning. Top with the can of tomatoes.
-Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
-Add the frozen cut okra pieces about 30 minutes before you are going to serve the meal.
-Serve mixture on top of cooked brown rice and sprinkle hot sauce on top of plate, if desired.

Enjoy! :)

Roasted Acorn Squash with Walnuts and Cranberries

I tried acorn squash for the first time just a few days ago and absolutely loved it. I had never eaten it before and was very skeptical, but it was one of the best side dishes I have eaten in recent months. I was amazed that I liked it so much and knew instantly I would start trying dishes to see what other ways I could make the squash. This recipe is the first one I attempted myself and was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed this recipe tremendously and I have a sneaky suspicion that you will fall in love with it as well. This recipe was served with garlic roasted turkey cutlets and some fresh strawberries and kiwi. A bonus of cooking acorn squash right now is that it is in season and quite affordable. It is also loaded with nutrients and can be made either as a savory dish or as a sweeter dish. My recommendation is you try cooking several different dishes containing the squash. Get creative and enjoy!

Roasted Acorn Squash with Walnuts and Cranberries
Serves: 4
Adapted by: http://www.inspiredtaste.net/2186/roasted-acorn-squash-with-walnuts-and-cranberries/

2 acorn squash
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon lite salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar or brown sugar splenda blend (I used the splenda blend)
3 tablespoons light butter or margarine
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries (I used craisins)

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Cut each squash in half and use a spoon to scoop out any seeds and cut each half into 4 pieces/chunks.
-Place all of the squash pieces in a baking dish (I used a 13 x 9 baking dish that was sprayed with nonstick cooking spray)
-Drizzle olive oil, salt, pepper, and brown sugar onto all of the squash pieces
-Bake the squash for 1 hour in the oven; check the squash and continue cooking until the edges are caramelized and the squash is softened. My oven only took 1 hour to cook the squash.
-In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the butter, the walnuts, and the cranberries and cook, stirring frequently, until the butter is melted.
-Drizzle the melted butter mixture over the squash pieces and serve

Enjoy! :)