Sunday, October 30, 2011

Simple "Soup" for Toddlers ...Mommy loves it too!

We had Chinese takeout last night... which we rarely do, but after hosting a party and spending the entire day cleaning up - I couldn't look at another dish.  I know Chinese takeout is terrible for you... and I also question the place we order from, but's horrible to say... I eat it anyways.  In my haze of exhaustion, I did, however, have enough sense to not to feed the fat and sodium bomb to my little one - who normally eats everything we do... spicy, sweet, savory... she's game or it all (how awesome?!)!  So, I quickly whipped up this soup for her (I know I said I couldn't look at a dish, but for her - anything) - and I ended up eating the rest of hers - yummy!
Here's what I used:  I keep a handful of rotisserie chicken in the freezer from each one we use, just for instances like this one - when you need a little bit of meat for a quick dish.  I used fresh broccoli from our veggie tray the night before, and I had already steamed some carrots for her lunch, so I threw those in too!  I always have chicken broth or stock on hand, as well as noodles.  Enjoy this toddler treat... and mommy treat too!  Best dishes and yummy dreams!

Quick Chicken Soup for Toddlers

Small bundle of whole grain linguine 
I used this much pasta
1 c. of low sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. water
Fresh broccoli bites
A few pieces of frozen rotisserie chicken
Cooked carrots
Grated parmesan cheese (A favorite of my little lady!  Great source of calcium, and lower in fat.)

1.  Break linguine noodles into 1-2 inch pieces and place into a microwave-safe bowl.
2.  Add stock and water and microwave for 7 minutes.  
3.  Add broccoli and frozen chicken and microwave for 2 minutes longer.
4.  Add cooked carrots.
5.  Drain most of the liquid out, put the contents into a bowl, sprinkle parmesan cheese on the "soup" and let your little one enjoy!  

She enjoyed this with spinach, tomato, and cheddar grilled cheese!

I also shared this recipe with: 
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shredded Barbecue Chicken with Pumpkin Pepper Jack Grits

Wondering what to do with all of those cans of pumpkin you bought when you finally found them at the store?? You have to make this dish.  Really.  This recipe caught my eye about a year ago - I had never seen pumpkin with grits.  I love pumpkin and all of the health benefits and I rarely say "no" to barbecue chicken, so I was game for this recipe.  However, I'm definitely not a connoisseur of grits - I was born in Pennsylvania and my parents were born and raised there too - grits are not familiar territory.  This recipe was actually my first experience with grits and they are so yummy!  So, it's official, after 20-some years in the south, I am finally a "southerner".
I also love the fact that this recipe is a healthy alternative to a familiar dish.  Instead of the popular cheddar cheese grits with BBQ chicken (dark meat, on the bone) - it uses pumpkin to flavor the grits, a little bit of pepper jack, and lean chicken breast.  It is unbelievably flavorful - spicy, savory, and sweet.  Don't skimp on the toppings - the green onion, cheese, and tomato (says my husband since he's the tomato-eater) really take the dish to another level.
Best dishes and yummy dreams!


Shredded Barbecue Chicken with Pumpkin Pepper Jack Grits
Recipe:  Taste of Home's "Healthy Cooking" Magazine

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, trimmed and rinsed
1 c. chicken stock 
1 c. of your favorite BBQ sauce (We use Sweet Baby Ray's Original)
1/4 c. molasses (excellent source of calcium!)
1 tbsp. ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

4 c. chicken stock
1 c. quick-cooking grits
1 c. canned pumpkin
3/4 c. shredded pepper jack cheese

chopped green onion
seeded and chopped tomato
extra shredded pepper jack
sour cream

Preparing the chicken:

1.  Mix 1 c. chicken stock, BBQ sauce, molasses, cinnamon, and chili powder in a skillet.  Add chicken, cover, and cook over medium heat until chicken is cooked through.

2.  Take the chicken out and shred it with a fork, return it to the skillet and keep the mixture on low.

Preparing the grits:

1.  Boil 4 c. chicken stock.
2.  Add grits and pumpkin.  Stir until mixture reaches appropriate thickness (about 5 minutes).
3.  Add shredded cheese and stir.

Place grits in a bowl, top with chicken and any desired toppings!

Thanks for reading, loves! xo

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Crunchy Cinnamon Bagels with Spiced Cream Cheese

I've loved bagels as long as I can remember.  Not the ones that you buy in the grocery store stacked up in the plastic, but the fresh, crusty, bakery kind of bagels.  I'm a complete sucker for any little restaurant, cafe, or bakery claiming: "New York Bagels!"   One of my favorite things about going back to Pennsylvania is the little neighborhood bakeries with fresh, homemade baked goods... one thing my southern area sadly lacks.  The only thing that comes close is Panera, or Dunkin Donuts.  ha.  Which is why when I saw this recipe in my Healthy Cooking magazine, I cut it out and saved it knowing that I would eventually try my hand at making bagels.  I've held on to the recipe for quite some time... I don't have a mixer, or a bread machine.  I was amazed though that the whole "kneading by hand for 6-8 minutes" was a complete breeze (why did I wait so long??).  These bagels were easy to make, only considered "slightly time-consuming" because the completion of the recipe is spread out over 2 or more hours... but each individual part is really not time consuming - it's mostly a waiting game.
These bagels are delish - a truly indulgent morning treat!  Crunchy on the outside, and chewy on the inside.  I added my own spiced cream cheese ... love.  Pair this with my Caramel Cinnamon Hot Chocolate and you'll have the "sweetest" day!  Best dishes and yummy dreams!

Crunchy Cinnamon Bagels 
Recipe for bagels courtesy of "Heathy Cooking" Magazine

2 tbsp. dry active yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water (110-115 degrees F)
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 3/4- 3 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

Topping Ingredients:

1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon

1.  In a large bowl, mix the water and yeast and stir until yeast is dissolved.

2.  Add cinnamon, salt, sugar, and mix.

Water, yeast, cinnamon, sugar, and salt.

3.  Add enough flour to make a soft dough... not too sticky, or too dry.

4.  On a floured surface, knead for 6-8 minutes until dough is elastic and smooth.

5.  Coat a bowl with cooking spray, place dough in bowl, turning once to coat the dough.

6.  Cover and let sit for about an hour in a warm place until dough doubles in size. 

7.  Punch dough down and shape into 12 balls (I only did 8...I'm greedy), push finger through the middle making a 1-inch hole, shape into an even ring.

8.  Place bagels on a floured surface and cover, allowing them to rise again.

9.  Fill a dutch oven 2/3 full with water and bring to a boil.

10.  Place bagels into boiling water, cook for 45 seconds on each side.

11.  Place bagels on paper towel to thoroughly dry.  

12.  Spray a pan with nonstick spray, place bagels on pan, mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle the mixture on each bagel.

Topping ingredients

13.  Bake for 15-25 minutes on 400 degrees F.  

Spiced Cream Cheese

Cream cheese
Powdered sugar

Mix desired amount of each ingredient together and spread on bagel!  
For one bagel, I used about 2 1/2 tbsp. of cream cheese, 1 tsp. sugar, and dashes of each spice!

Bagels with the sunrise!
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I shared this recipe with the "cute" buttons on the side bar, as well as:
Tuesdays at the Table 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Grilled Pork Chops with an Apple and Onion Sauce

We use the grill all year long.  Just two days after a decent (and rare) snowfall last year, we were firing up the grill.  The "grilled taste" just makes me smile, and it means less clean up for the cook...bigger smile!  Although this recipe suggests using the grill (which indicates summer to most), it screams "fall" flavors!
 I love sweet and savory dishes (with a little touch of "spicy" too!).  This recipe is a loose combination of two recipes:  First, growing up, my mom often made a sweet and savory pork tenderloin and cranberry dish with egg noodles - It is still one of my favorites at her house.  Second, years ago I found a recipe in Taste of Home's Cooking for Two magazine that was a one-skillet meal with pork chops, apples, onions, and potatoes.
 I love to sneak in a veggie, so I added cabbage to the sauce.  Cabbage is such a great source of calcium (who knew?), fiber, vitamins A, C, K, and many of the B's, magnesium, and potassium.  It is also one of the strongest cancer-fighting veggies!  I love to sneak it into stir fry meals, as well as sloppy joes.
Please enjoy this sweet and savory fall treat-best dishes and yummy dreams!

Grilled Pork Chops with an Apple and Onion Sauce

4 bone-in pork chops
parsley, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper
3 medium apples (I used Gala)
1 large sweet onion
2 cups of shredded cabbage
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. apple pie spice
1/4 tsp. of nutmeg
dash of hot sauce

2 c. apple juice
4 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. of your favorite BBQ sauce (We use Sweet Baby Ray's)
wheat egg noodles

Preparing the Pork Chops:
1.  Trim the pork chops.
2.  Pat dry and drizzle olive oil on both sides of the pork chops.
3.  Mix together desired amount of parsley, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on both sides of pork chops.
4.  Place in refrigerator while preparing other ingredients.

Preparing the Sauce:
1.  Slice apples and onions and place in a saute pan with the cabbage.
2.  Add measured amount of salt, pepper, apple pie spice, and nutmeg to the pan.
3.  In a small bowl, mix together the apple juice, cornstarch and bbq sauce until the mixture is smooth.
4.  Add the mixture to the saute pan, cover, and cook on medium heat until fruit and veggies are tender.

5.  Prepare wheat egg noodles according to package directions.
6.  While the sauce and noodles cook, grill the pork chops until juices are clear.

7.  Place the pork chops on a bed of noodles and cover with the sauce.  Enjoy!

Thanks for reading, loves xo

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mini Chicken and Black Bean Burritos and Homemade Guacamole

We love Mexican food.  Tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, guacamole ... you name it, we eat it.  As much as we love eating Mexican out, I love the challenge of making healthy alternatives at home.  This recipe has evolved over the years - it's one of our favorites and is constantly changing because there are so many great "twists" you can put on this dish!  Our latest "twist" is the salsa and cheddar cheese sauce inside the burrito.  Yummmm!  This step is completely optional, as they are delicious (and a little healthier) without it, but who doesn't like a little cheese sauce??
This recipe incorporates one of the healthiest condiments - salsa ... rich in lycopene and vitamin C, and low in calories.  It also has black beans - great fiber - rice, chicken, and many other yummies.  I make these burritos in taco-sized tortillas instead of burrito tortillas, which allows for smaller portions.  They are slightly time consuming, but totally worth it!   
On a side note - you'll notice something about most of my recipes - chicken.  Specifically, chicken breast tenderloins.  We are a chicken family - it's healthy, light, can be cooked many ways, and can be made into just about anything!  I choose to buy tenderloins because we are a small family - two adults and one little princess.  It's much faster and easier to work with the tenderloins, as opposed to large chicken breasts - I can cook them in a third of the time after a busy day at work. 
Enjoy this yummy, lighter dish!  Best dishes and yummy dreams!  

Mini Chicken, Black Bean, and Cheese Burritos

1 package of chicken breast tenderloins 
Adobo seasoning
1 can of black beans
1 cup of jasmine (or another type) of rice
1 1/2 c. chicken stock
3/4 c. water
1 tbsp. taco sauce (medium)
1 package of tortillas (we use Mission Carb Smart Flour Tortillas)

Special Salsa and Cheese Sauce:
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. flour
1 c. cheddar cheese
1 c. skim milk
1 c. salsa 
(salsa and cheese amounts can be altered according to preference)

Burrito filling:
1.  Cut chicken breast tenderloins into bite-sized pieces, sprinkle with Adobo, and cook in a pan with olive oil.  After cooked, set aside to cool.
2.  Cook rice with chicken stock in a sauce pan and set aside.
3.  Chop the chicken into smaller pieces and add to a pan with rice, rinsed black beans, taco seasoning, water, and taco sauce.  Cook on medium and stir until combined and fully heated.  
Chicken, black beans, rice, and taco seasoning
Burrito filling mixed together!
Preparing the cheese sauce:
1.  In a separate sauce pan, melt butter and add flour, mix thoroughly.
2.  Add cold milk and cheese, stir until it thickens.
3.  Add salsa and stir. 
Cheese and salsa sauce

Preparing the burritos:
1.  Heat tortilla in the microwave for 30 seconds so they are easier to work with and will not tear.  
2.  Place approximately 3/4 c. of rice/chicken/bean mixture on one end of the tortilla.  Top with a spoonful of cheese sauce.
3.  Fold in the sides of the tortilla and then roll the tortilla up, tucking the mixture inside. 
4.  Place the burritos in a baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. 
5.  Top with salsa and bake for 20 minutes on 350 degrees.  *My husband likes them topped with enchilada sauce and cheese (... a burrito-chilada).  

When cooled, top with guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, etc.!  

Homemade Guacamole

4 ripe avocados, scooped out and mashed with a fork
1 cup (or more) of salsa
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder, or 2 chopped green onions

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Homemade Caramel Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

CAUTION:  The following recipe is not exactly healthy, instead, it is decadent, delicious, and certifiably sinful (and that's putting it lightly).  I adore hot chocolate any time of the year.  I don't really drink any milk (by itself), so I tell myself that hot chocolate is a good source of calcium and a great alternative to overly fattening desserts (which I do thoroughly enjoy... occasionally...or more often than that).
I've grown tired of the hot chocolate packets because, despite my best efforts, I can't get them to "declump"... not in milk, water, after stirring, shaking, grrrr.   So, I decided to make my own hot chocolate and solve the problem.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I will never, ever have a powdered mix did I even drink one in the first place?  It was, in one word ...beautiful...  and it can hold it's own against any dessert.  I found a delicious recipe on by Jeanie Bean.  I simply altered some of the ingredients (made it with less sugar, no half and half, and only used skim - so it qualifies as "healthy", right??) and added my own flavors (caramel and cinnamon).  I'm in love... it is rich, dark chocolate with a perfect paring of cinnamon and caramel.  This will definitely give you yummy dreams!  

Caramel and Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c. organic white sugar (you can probably even half this and it would still be delish!)
a pinch of salt
1/3 c. boiling water
3 1/2 c. cold skim milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. caramel sauce
whipped cream

Serves 4

1. Mix cocoa, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan.

2.  Add already boiling water to the sauce pan and stir.

3.  Heat until mixture boils, stir constantly.
It's boiling!

4.  Turn the heat down and allow mixture to simmer for about 2 minutes.

5.  Slowly add milk and continue to heat (but do not let it boil).

6.  Stir in cinnamon and caramel.
After adding cinnamon and caramel

7.  Pour and enjoy!

I plan to try peppermint oil next time instead of cinnamon and caramel.  The possibilities are endless... I love it!

I also shared this recipe with:
and the other "cute" buttons on the side bar!