Wednesday, September 28, 2011

For the Love of Cauliflower... who knew??

I'm almost embarrassed to make this post.  As a "mommy foodie," it seems that I should be fully aware of the glorious possibilities of cauliflower.  AND, as an english teacher, I probably should have known how to properly spell "cauliflower" (and not to start a sentence with "and")... what can I say?  My days of playing "crowd-control" have turned my brain to mush.  
Problem:  my precious little one was stuck in a vegetable rut.  She insisted on zucchini all day and everyday.  I'm pretty insistent about her having a variety of foods, so this stubborn food phase irritated me to no end.  I tried everything... or so I thought.  I realized that I've never given her cauliflower (what?!) wait, I never even made cauliflower.  Crazy, I know.  I think that's because I grew up eating it in those broccoli, carrot, cauliflower frozen vegetable medley mixes.   Yuck.
While searching recipes, I stumbled upon several in which pureed cauliflower was made into a bowl of "fake-out" mashed potatoes.  Really??  There's no way that someone could mistake that bland veggie for a delicious cloud of mashed potatoes... right?  So, I kept searching and found a highly-rated roasted cauliflower recipe.  Perfection!  My little one loved it too!  Now, I suppose it's time for a mashed cauliflower recipe - I'm a believer.  If you have any delish cauliflower recipes - please link them up in the comments!  I'd love to see and try some new ones now that this delish veggie has made it's way into our kitchen to stay!
Best dishes and yummy dreams!


My little angel watching the cauliflower get crispy!

Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower
By: Shellery  on

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large head cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

  • 1.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.
  • 2.  Spread the florets on the pan.
  • 3.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the garlic, salt, and pepper over the cauliflower.
  • 4.  After baking for 20 minutes, add the cheese on top and broil for 2 minutes.
  • 5.  Top with fresh parsley.

  • Enjoy!

  • Thanks for reading, loves xo  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Apples Three Ways: Grilled Apple "Pizza", Chunky Applesauce, and Apple "Sandwiches"

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away," right?  I love apples and am not sure if the saying is entirely true, but I'm a willing participant.  The other day, a brand new "Taste of Home" magazine was in my mailbox.  I don't remember ordering it (surprise, surprise) but I can't get enough of food magazines, so I was thrilled to look through it.  Of course, there were pages dedicated to fall apple recipes and it dawned on me that I've never tried to make homemade applesauce. Thus, the apple-inspired weekend began.   So, I made the applesauce (mostly for my little one - but we loved it too!)  and I found this adorable apple "pizza" recipe too.  I lightened up the "pizza" and it's a "deliciously fall" dessert.  I have also included a third apple recipe that I found while browsing around in "blogland" the other night.  It is the most adorable apple "sandwich" from an equally adorable blog (please visit!):

Grilled Apple Pizza 
adapted from R. Sandlin in "Taste of Home"

3-5 tart apples, peeled and sliced
Refrigerated pizza crust
1 tbsp. butter
Splash of apple juice
3 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
*extra melted butter for grilling
Optional:  cream cheese frosting, caramel sauce, raisins

1.  Brush the pizza crust with a little bit of butter and cook on a covered grill until golden brown.
2.  Meanwhile, place apples and tbsp. of butter in a saute pan and cook until apples are tender (this is where I added the splash of apple juice to avoid adding more butter).
3.  When apples are softened, add cinnamon and sugar.
4.  Place apple mixture on baked pizza crust.
5.  Top with anything of your choice!  We used raisins, caramel, and cream cheese frosting.

***I baked the crust in a pie pan in the oven due to the never-ending rain we're experiencing and it worked well - but it would be fun to do this on the grill!

Chunky Applesauce
adapted from D. Amrine in "Taste of Home"

4 cups of chopped, peeled tart apples (I recommend Braeburn, Granny Smith apples are a little too tart)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1. tsp cinnamon
dash of vanilla extract

1.  Cook apples with cinnamon and sugar in a covered dutch oven until tender.  Stir occasionally.
2.  Mash with a fork and add vanilla.
3.  Serve warm or chilled.

*This would make a great topping to a pork dish, or on ice cream.

Apple "Sandwiches"
By:  Crystal at "Mrs. Happy Homemaker"

 to see the ingredients for this adorable recipe!  It's a must try for apple and peanut butter lovers!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Skinny Mini Chicken Pot Pies

Although I'm not much for casseroles and heavy meat dishes, I do love chicken pot pies!  My mom found a recipe for a lighter version of pot pie and shared it with me years ago.  As time passed, I kept the same base for the recipe (skim milk and flour), but made the rest of the recipe into a creation of my own.  I like to use a store-bought topping to save time, but feel free to make a homemade one!
I prefer making these pot pies in little ramekins so that the dish is portioned and everyone gets the same amount of topping (my favorite) and vegetable "goodies".  The ramekins are great too because they come with little lids - quick and easy way to store leftovers!
Please enjoy this lighter version of a heart-warming, classic dish!
Best dishes and yummy dreams!


Skinny Mini Chicken Pot Pies
Printable recipe

1 package of boneless skinless chicken tenderloins  (1-2 lbs.)     
    (*Shortcut:  use a shredded rotisserie chicken)
all-purpose seasoning
2 garlic cloves, minced
 28 oz. package of frozen mixed vegetables
24-32 oz. of chicken stock
1/2 c. flour
1 c. skim milk 
1 small onion, chopped
1 can of refrigerated reduced fat croissant dough
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. fresh parsley
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
sprinkle of cayenne

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
1.  Sprinkle all-purpose seasoning on chicken tenders and saute in a nonstick pan until cooked through.
2.  Remove chicken and allow to cool.  When cooled, shred and set aside.
3.  In a sauce pot, place frozen vegetables enough stock to almost cover the veggies.  
4.  Add sliced onions to the veggies and boil on medium heat until the veggies are tender.
5.  In a small container with a lid, add skim milk, flour, and spices.  Shake to combine.
6.  Add the milk and flour mixture to the pot of veggies.
7.  Add the shredded chicken to the pot and stir.
8.  Allow the mixture to cook for about 2 minutes, add more stock if mixture is too thick.
9.  Spray ramekins with nonstick cooking spray and pour veggie and chicken mixture into the ramekins.
10.  Top each veggie mixture with one sheet of croissant dough (you can slice the dough into a design if you'd like).
11.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until the topping has browned.


Thanks for reading, loves xo

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

For Our Precious Little Ones: Cheese Sauce Recipe

Ah, the perils of a non milk-drinker.  I know people say not to lose sleep over it... but (as a new mom), I can't help but worry... is she getting everything she needs?  My little one has not taken to milk well.  It's just not her thing - and I totally understand because it's never been mine either.  Unless, however, it's disguised as a yummy cheese sauce!  This recipe has helped to ease my mind.  We no longer need to force milk into my protesting little one as long as she gets yogurt, healthy fats, and some good, yummy, gooey cheese!  This recipe is great for dipping pieces of bread, veggies (broccoli is a fave of my girl), and pouring over noodles.  Who needs the toddler ...high sodium... mac and cheese??? Not us!  I just cook some wheat noodles in a bowl of water in the microwave (when in a hurry) and when they are ready - top them with this cheese sauce.  Here's to best dishes and yummy dreams for our little ones too!

Visit this site for more yummy Annabel baby food recipes!!!

Basic Cheese Sauce:
1 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 c. milk
1/3 c. grated cheese
*1-2 tbsp. grated parmesan (I add this - awesome source of calcium)

Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour to make a roux.  Slowly stir in cold milk, bring it to a boil, and then cook over low heat until thickened and smooth.  Stir in grated cheese.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Spinach Salad with a Spicy-Sweet Dressing

I'm very picky about salads.  Each night I usually make a salad with dinner.  I don't use iceberg...I don't even buy it - to me, it's a waste of an opportunity to use a better type of "green" - one that has vitamins and nutritional value.  I believe that ordering a salad out is a tell-tale sign of the quality of a restaurant.  My favorite places have beautiful (green) salads (even awesome side salads)! Putting thought into a great side salad definitely shows that the rest of the dishes are probably also well-thought out and full of quality ingredients too!
At home, I like to use romaine and spinach (organic), with shredded carrots, sunflower seeds, and other "yummies."  I am also not much for salad "recipes" (unless it's a chicken salad).  I don't usually have a salad as my meal either ... call me crazy, but I feel like a need more substance for something to qualify as a meal.  Yeah, yeah I know that some salads can be very substantial, but I've never really looked forward to eating just a salad.  Until now.... I still don't eat just a salad, but I DO look forward to making and eating this salad!  I love the ingredients, the nuts make it semi-hearty, and the dressing is delish!
My mom gave me this recipe.  I swear she told me long ago that she got it from someone at her church, but when I just asked, she told me that she thought she found it in a cookbook, but can't remember which one.... the point is - it's not our recipe, per se, but we have proudly "adopted" it.  Try it and you will love it!  Trust this picky salad-eater.  Best dishes and yummy dreams!

Spinach Salad with a Spicy-Sweet Dressing

Baby spinach, washed and dried
Romaine, washed and torn
Dried Cranberries
Raw, or lightly salted cashews
Sunflower seeds
Apples, cut into bite-sized pieces
(All amounts as desired)


1/4 c. canola oil
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, or 1 tsp. dried
1/2 tsp. salt
dash of pepper, or red pepper sauce

Shake the dressing in a container and pour immediately.

With sweet and sour chicken added!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Baby's "Stock" and Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Apple Recipes

My "Cooking for Baby" book by Lisa Barnes was so helpful when I was making Ashlyn her first foods.  This recipe is a great stock recipe that you can use to make baby risotto, soups, and other savory pureed recipes.  It can be frozen in covered ice cube trays for up to 3 months.  It's great because you don't have the sodium and preservatives that are found in some of the store-bought stocks.

"Baby's Stock"

6 asparagus spears
1 cup of largely chopped leeks
1 cup sweet potato cut into chunks

1.  Put 1 pt. cold water into a pot and add veggies.
2.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, and cover pot.
3.  Simmer until veggies are soft and liquid has taken on color. (About 1 hour of simmering)
4.  Strain broth using a sieve and store.  

You can use this stock to make this recipe (one of Ash's favorites) found in "Top 100 Baby Purees" By Annabel Karmel

Chicken with Sweet Potato and Apple

1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 c. chopped onion
4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup stock

Heat butter in pan, add onion and saute.  Add the chicken and saute until cooked through.  Add the sweet potato and apple and pour in stock.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Puree and serve or cool and freeze.

*A note in the book: "Chicken is an ideal 'growth' food, as it is packed with protein and vitamin B12, which is not found in plants.

Spicy and Sweet Three Bean Slow Cooker Chili

I grew up eating my mom's homemade chili - one of my favorite dishes.  I never cared about learning how to make it when I was younger, I just wanted to eat it.  Bless her heart (my mother) - every summer she would tell my sister and I that we were making one meal a week so that we could learn how to cook.  Despite her best intentions, we never did (make a meal, that is).  Fast forward a few years - I got married and developed an interest in cooking.  It took a lot of Food Network to gain all of the free knowledge I had missed out on!  My mom's chili recipe would often float into my thoughts, but when I would ask her how she made it, she would always tell me that she didn't have a recipe..."a little of this... a little of that..."  I never got a recipe out of her, and still haven't.  I just know that my mom's chili is more savory-sweet than salty, it has green peppers (which normally make me cringe, but I love in this).
So, after years of making my own chili recipe with ...gasp... a "chili seasoning packet" - I finally decided to put together my own recipe.  I spent some time looking at a good amount of recipes, taking mental notes on ingredients that we would like, and putting the combinations to the test.  We love this chili recipe - it reminds me of my mom's chili, but with a little more spiciness.  My little one loves it too!
Best dishes and yummy dreams!


Little Mommy's Slow Cooker Chili
Serves 6-8

1 package of 97/3 lean ground beef (1 pound - 1 1/2 pounds)
2 small sweet onions, diced
1 small green pepper, sliced 
2 garlic cloves
2 cans of kidney beans (15 oz. each)
1 can of pinto beans (15 oz.)
1 can of cannelini beans (15 oz.)
15 oz. can of tomato sauce 
15 oz. can of diced tomatoes (with juice) 
1/4 c. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano, cumin, pepper, and salt
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 c. of light beer

1.  Cook, drain, and rinse beef.  Place in the slow cooker on low.
2.  In a pan over medium heat, saute onion and peppers in olive oil.  When the veggies are tender, add grated garlic and saute for a minute longer.
3.  Add sauteed veggies and remaining ingredients into the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours (the longer the better).
4.  Add desired toppings and enjoy!

I shared this in the Texas Star Chili Cook Off!

My little one enjoying the chili!

Thanks for reading, loves xo

Monday, September 5, 2011

Copycat P.F. Changs' Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Brown Fried Rice

Usually every "copycat" restaurant recipe that I've tried has left me slightly disappointed....  until now!  I found a delicious "copycat" recipe - it's a slightly time consuming recipe, but well worth the time it takes.  I altered this recipe a bit to cut down on the sugar in the original recipe, and added some extra veggies.  In order to save a little bit of time, I like to chop the veggies and cook the rice the night before.  I usually make homemade fried rice - I'll attach that recipe too!  Who doesn't like a 2 for 1??  Enjoy!
Best dishes and yummy dreams!


P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Recipe adapted from:  Todd Wilbur "Top Secret Recipes" via

Serves 2-4

Printable recipe 

2 tbsp. canola oil (divided)
1 package of boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins (1.5-2 lbs.)
all-purpose seasoning
1 container of water chestnuts, chopped
1 c. finely chopped fresh broccoli
1 c. chopped mushrooms
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 head of Boston Bibb Lettuce, washed and separated

Stir Fry Sauce:
2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. rice wine vinegar

Special Sauce:
(for pouring on wraps)
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. water
2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. hot mustard
2 tsp. water
1-2 tsp. sriracha

1.  Place chicken tenders in pan with dash 1 tbsp. of canola oil and sprinkle with all-purpose seasoning.  2.  After chicken is cooked, take it out of the pan to cool, then chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
3.  Mix together ingredients for stir fry sauce.
4.  Heat a wok with 2 tbsp. of canola oil.  
5.  Place the diced veggies (water chestnuts, broccoli, mushrooms, onion, and garlic) into the wok.  
6.  Add the chicken and the stir fry sauce into the wok.  Thoroughly heat the mixture. 

Special sauce:
1.  Heat the water and mix with sugar until the sugar dissolves.  
2.  Add all other ingredients except for the last mention of water and hot mustard.  
3.  Heat the 2 tsp. of water and mix it with mustard to make a uniform mixture.  
4.  Add the mustard and water to the other sauce ingredients.  Shake or mix well.  

Place chicken mixture on a piece of Bibb lettuce, pour on special sauce, roll, and enjoy!

Little Mommy's Fried Rice

1.  Cook 2 dry cups of brown or white rice according to package directions.  Set aside (usually best if prepared the night before).
2.  Heat a wok and scramble 2 eggs.  Remove the eggs and set aside.  
3.  Add 1 tbsp. canola oil to the wok and saute chopped sweet onions.  After 5 minutes, add the rice.  
4.  Add frozen peas and carrots, 2 Tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce, 2 tsp. oyster sauce, and 1/2 Tbsp to 1 Tbsp of sesame oil.  
5.  Stir fry until the rice becomes crispy, add the egg back into the mixture.

Thanks for reading, loves xo

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Spicy Pork Chops with a Ginger Maple Sauce

Years ago, when I saw this recipe, I almost passed it over.  The thought of maple syrup and pork chops didn't sound appealing.  But, I had all the ingredients on hand ... and I was a little intrigued by the chili powder addition.  I'm so glad that I made this - to this day, it's one of my husband's favorite dishes.
I found this recipe in Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking magazine nearly four years ago and I have been making it ever since (with a few of my own changes, of course)!  I, probably much like you, have had my share of dry, flavorless pork chops - but this dish is the exact opposite!  8 basic ingredients (not counting salt and pepper) - so simple and delicious!  Enjoy!
Best dishes and yummy dreams!


Spicy Pork Chops with a Ginger Maple Sauce
Recipe adapted from:  Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking Magazine

olive oil
4 boneless pork chops
small sweet onion
1 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1 rounded tsp. chili powder
1/2 rounded tsp. black pepper
1/2 rounded tsp. cinnamon
1/2  tsp. salt
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup maple syrup

1.  Slice the small onion and saute in a large pan with olive oil and powdered ginger. 
2.  Combine chili powder, pepper, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.  
3.  Trim the fat off of the pork chops and then place each side of the pork chop in the spice mixture to coat.  
4.  Move the onions to the side of the pan and place the pork chops in the pan and brown each side (30 seconds each side).  
5.  Add in the chicken stock and syrup, cover, and simmer until pork chops are cooked through (this will not take long and varies according to thickness).
 The key is to touch the center with your finger, they should feel firm, but still "give" a little.
If you enjoy a thicker sauce, you may want to add a bit of cornstarch.  We enjoy the thin sauce.... it runs down into the rice and blends perfectly!

We love to pair this with a wild vegetable rice, applesauce, and asparagus. 

If you enjoyed this recipe, I'd love for you to follow my Facebook page, subscribe to my feed, follow me on GFC, or pin my pictures!  Thanks a million! xoxo