Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lasagna Rolls with Homemade Pasta Sauce

I adore lasagna rolls - they are such a great (and easy!) comfort dish for entertaining.  I think that our special addition, a slow-cooked, homemade pasta sauce, truly enhances the dish.  After the sauce spends all day in the slow cooker, it smells and tastes absolutely amazing!  Sometimes I bake the rolls without the sauce and add it before serving, and other times I bake them with the sauce (Side note:  The noodles will absorb a good amount of sauce, so keep some on reserve if you bake them with the sauce.)  Share this dish with the ones that you love, they will love it too!  Best dishes and yummy dreams!

Lasagna Rolls
Adapted from:  G. Dowell in a Taste of Home magazine

1 box of regular lasagna noodles
1 large container of low fat ricotta cheese
2 cups of italian cheese (shredded)
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. parsley
1 (or more) tsp. Italian-blend seasoning
pepperoni or prosciutto (optional)

1.  Boil lasagna noodles according to package directions in water, olive oil, and salt.  Separate and set aside.
2.  Mix remaining ingredients together (except for optional meats).
3.  Spread mixture on a lasagna noodle, then top with meat.

4.  Roll up the lasagna noodle and place in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
5.  Top with sauce and freshly grated Parmigiano, or Romano cheeses.

6.  Bake on 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
7.  If you saved the sauce, then top with sauce and serve!

Thanks for reading, loves! xo

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Week One of Christmas Cookies: Holly Jolly Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I can't say that I'm super-crazy about eating a bunch of cookies.  I may eat a few each week, but I find a greater joy in making them for others.  Something about Christmas makes me want to bake and look at the products in a pretty glass container, but not necessarily eat them... strange, huh?  Each year I make one type of Christmas cookie per week - this year I'm leaving a few at home each week, and then sending the rest to work with my husband for his employees to enjoy, or taking them to work for my coworkers.  I love that homemade cookies can bring a smile to other's faces.  I especially love that my little one can eat them now, and she sure does enjoy them too!
I found this great recipe last year - it is a Peter Pan Peanut Butter and M&M recipe.  Peanut butter is definitely one of my favorite things, but I liked the fact that they had oatmeal and chocolate too.  They are yummy and if you are truly a holiday cookie-eater, then you will love these!  Best dishes and yummy dreams!

Holly Jolly Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

1 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar, tightly packed
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 package of red and green M&M's

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spread parchment paper on cookie sheets.
2.  Combine flour, oats, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
3.  Blend peanut butter, butter, and both types of sugar with a hand mixer in a separate large bowl until smooth.
4.  Beat in egg and vanilla with the hand mixer.
5.  Gradually add the flour mixture and blend on low. 
6.  Stir in M&M's with a spoon.
7.  Roll mixture into 1 inch balls, place on a cookie sheet, and press down the dough with a fork.
8.  Bake for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The BEST Dessert: Peanut Butter-Toffee Cheesecake Brownies

You know those desserts that are so good that it seems like you are dreaming?  You know those tasty treats that have you up at night, sneaking to the fridge in all your disoriented, half-asleep glory?  Now, I'm not a night-eater, but I have been caught at the fridge, all disheveled, for these brownies.  These are, hands down, the BEST dessert I've ever made. I found this recipe about a year ago in the Parade magazine that comes with the Sunday paper.  It was actually part of a Pillsbury/Jiff ad - not anything I'd normally pay attention to, but the name caught my eye.  Do I love peanut butter? Yes.  Cheesecake?  Uh, yeah.  Toffee?  Uh huh... keep talking.  Brownies?  I'm yours.  This dessert is the perfect addition to a holiday party.  I recently served mine in mini martini glasses (the perfect way to walk around and hold this treat!) over French Vanilla Gelato.  Double yum.
Best dishes and yummy dreams!  Enjoy!

1 box of Pillsbury brownie mix
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. water
2 eggs
1 package of softened cream cheese
1 14 oz. can of sweetened, condensed milk
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 c. of milk chocolate baking chips
1 bag of Heath milk chocolate toffee bits
3 tbsp. whipping cream

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13*9-inch pan with non-stick spray.
2.  In a medium bowl, stir brownie mix, oil, water, and eggs with a spoon and spread into baking pan.
3.  In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, milk, and peanut butter until smooth.  Stir in 1 c. of toffee bits, spoon over batter in pan and spread evenly*.
4.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until knife comes out of the center clean.  
5.  Refrigerate for 1 hour. 
6.  In a microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips and cream uncovered for 40 to 60 seconds.  Stir until smooth.  Spread over cheesecake layer and sprinkle with remaining toffee bits.  
7.  Refrigerate, best served cold!  

*- I have not been able to figure out how to keep the cheesecake layer from sinking to the bottom!  I've even partially baked the brownie layer first - no luck!  They still taste amazingly yummy, but they never look like the picture that I cut out with the recipe! 

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spiced Chocolate and Vanilla Martini

Well, this week officially marks the start of the holiday season!  Are you feeling like you might need a little "help" making it through seeing all of your special visitors?  No worries - I've come armed and ready!  This drink started out as a plan for a pumpkin martini - do you know how difficult it is to find pumpkin liquor?  There was an option to boil pumpkin and make a pumpkin simple syrup... but let's be honest - who's going to slave over the stove for a cocktail?  Not this chick.  I prefer my cocktails to be effortless ... and strong.  So, as I roamed the liquor store, this little gem evolved!
This is a great drink to serve with all of those yummy holiday desserts - it's actually like it's own little dessert in a glass!  The cinnamon is a must and makes it extraordinary.  So sit back, take a sip, and enjoy!  Best dishes and yummy dreams!


Spiced Chocolate and Vanilla Martini

Makes 2-3 drinks
(I'm obviously more of a cook than a bartender.  I used measuring cups instead of shot glasses.)

1/4 c. Absolut Vanilla vodka
1/2 c. Creme de Cacao
1/2 c. whipping cream
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1.  Pour all ingredients into a martini shaker and shake with ice.
2.  Pour into a martini glass and enjoy this treat!
Shown with chocolate-dipped cinnamon sticks and a little chocolate drizzle on top!
*At first I used equal parts vodka and creme (1/2 c. each)... Whew!  Only make it that way if you don't want to remember your visit with those "special" holiday guests!  Ha

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November Improv Cooking Challenge: Creamy Chicken, Pumpkin, and Pepper Jack Enchiladas

I love a good challenge.  I'm so excited to take part in the Improv Cooking Challenge!  We were given two amazing fall ingredients for November:  pumpkin and cream cheese.  Love.  As I thought about the great potential that these two ingredients bring to the table, I decided to give myself an additional challenge... no recipes.  So, as much as I adore a sinfully sweet treat, not having a recipe at hand makes baking a "no go" for me!  So, as I was recalling some of my favorite creamy dishes - chicken enchiladas came to mind...add pumpkin?  Why not?!  As I've said before - I love to "hide" vegetables in dishes - such a smart idea!
These enchiladas are rich, creamy, spicy, savory, and most of all ... delicious!  We were excited (because I knew it could be a total flop - sans recipe).  They were even husband approved (and he's a tough critic)!  He made my night when he said, 'These taste like they could be on a menu somewhere!"  Awww.  Enjoy - we did!  Best dishes and yummy dreams!


Creamy Chicken, Pumpkin, and Pepper Jack Enchiladas
By:  Little Mommy

All purpose seasoning
Adobo seasoning
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 package of boneless, skinless, chicken tenderloins
1/3 of a medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1/3 package of 1/3 less fat Philadelphia cream cheese
3/4 c. pumpkin
1/4 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. diced tomatoes (or 1/2 c. Rotel)
1/2 can of green chilies (optional)
3/4 c. - 1/2 c. shredded peppeer jack cheese
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne
6 flour tortillas

1.  Rinse, trim, and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
2.  Place the chicken in a saute pan with 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Sprinkle  the chicken with all-purpose seasoning, Adobo seasoning, and parsley.  Cook thoroughly and set aside.  
Chicken cooling (before chopping into smaller pieces)

When cooled, chop into smaller pieces (consistency of shredded chicken).  
 3.  In a sauce pot, saute minced onion in 1 tbsp. olive oil until tender, add garlic (I grated it into the pot using microplane grater) and cook for 1 minute longer. 

4.  Add in cream cheese, pumpkin, and pepper jack.  Stir until all cheeses are melted. 
5.  Add in chicken stock, tomatoes (or Rotel), chilies, chicken, and all spices.  Stir thoroughly. 

6.  Heat 6 flour tortillas in the microwave for 20 seconds.  (This makes them easier to work with - they won't break.)
7.  Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  
7.  Divide mixture equally between 6 tortillas, place the mixture inside each tortilla, wrap up the tortillas, and place the enchiladas into the baking dish.
8.  Top with more shredded pepper jack.  

Bake on 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Mini Southern Treat: Shredded BBQ Chicken and Southern Slaw on Buttery Garlic Toast

I love minis!  I can't help but visit blogs with mini pies, cakes, pizzas... you name it, I love it!  I think my obsession with mini portions is that they allow you to have a rich, decadent taste of something, without going totally overboard.
Lately, I've seen a bunch of pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, and a bunch of minis ... so, I combined the two!  These tasty little treats would make a great appetizer, or small meal at a holiday party.  They can give a little "kick" to typical holiday food spread!  
On a delightful side note... these sandwiches aren't even that rich and decadent in calories.  They are shredded chicken breast sandwiches.. so it's perfectly fine to have more than one... or two... or three ..... ;)
Best dishes and yummy dreams!


Shredded BBQ Chicken and Southern Slaw on Buttery Garlic Toast
BBQ Chicken recipe adapted from:  Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking magazine recipe for Shredded Chicken and Pumpkin Grits 
Slaw recipe adapted from: Southern Food

BBQ Chicken:
3 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts - rinsed and trimmed
1 1/2 c. of your favorite barbecue sauce (We love Sweet Baby Ray's)
1 c. chicken stock
1/8 c. molasses
1/8 c. hot sauce
1 tbsp. ancho chili powder

1 bag of pre-shredded cole slaw mix
1/2-1/4 grated sweet onion
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 c. cider vinegar

1 loaf of fresh french or italian bread
"I Can't Believe it's Not Butter" spread
garlic powder, red pepper flakes, parsley

Preparing the chicken:
1.  Place the chicken into a large skillet and add all listed ingredients.
2.  Cover the skillet and cook on medium until chicken is cooked through.
3.  Take the chicken out of the skillet and shred it with a fork.
4.  Return the chicken to the skillet with the sauce and allow it to simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Preparing the slaw:
1.  In a sauce pan, cook all of the ingredients together on medium (except for the cole slaw mix) until the sugar dissolves.
2.  Cool the mixture, stir, and pour over cole slaw mix.
3.  Refrigerate for 8 hours before serving.

Preparing the buttered toast:

1.  Slice the loaf into thick slices.
2.  Coat each side with "butter" spread and place the slices on a baking sheet.
3.  Sprinkle one side with garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and parsley.
4.  Bake on 350 degrees until golden brown.

Make a sandwich and enjoy!

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Carrabba's Fabulous Minestrone

Carrabba's is one of the few chain restaurants that I absolutely adore.  I always get a huge bowl (not a cup) of their minestrone, along with a meal - and the server always asks:  "Do you know how big our bowl of soup is?"  Yes, and not to worry, I'll eat every bit of it.  Once, our waiter called me Kobayashi.  Hey, I am Little Mommy, Big Appetite, right?
Back to the subject at hand... their minestrone.  Delish.  I came across this copycat recipe online and was so excited to make the soup at home.  Carrabba's twin?  Not exactly, but almost.  I will say, it's one of the best vegetable soups I make though.  Definitely a keeper!  The original recipe was for a huge amount (1 gallon of chicken stock) so, I modified and changed - everything.  Hmmm, maybe that's why it wasn't like Carrabba's!?  Regardless, give it a try ... tis the season for soup and this one won't disappoint!
Best dishes and yummy dreams!

"Copycat Carrabba's Minestrone"
Adapted from: a recipe
Serves 6

1 medium sweet onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced or grated
olive oil
2 containers of Swanson chicken stock - about 50 oz.
1/2 container of Swanson beef stock - about 10 to 15 oz.
1 15 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes, diced with juices (I recommend San Marzano)
3 c. thinly shredded cabbage (use pre-shredded cabbage-only coleslaw bag)
1 15 oz. can of garbonzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 zucchini, sliced in 1/2 inch thick pieces
3-4 potatoes, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces
6-8 slices of prosciutto, chopped
1 c. aged Romano cheese, grated
1 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. salt and pepper

1.  Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven and add carrots, celery, and onion.  Cook until veggies are tender.

2.  Add the garlic and cook a minute longer.
3.  Pour in chicken and beef stock, and diced tomatoes.
4.  Add all beans, cabbage, zucchini, potatoes, prosciutto, grated cheese, and spices. 
5.  Bring to a boil, then lower and let simmer for about 4 hours.  

6.  Top with grated Romano cheese.

Thanks for reading, loves xo

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Baked Egg Rolls: The Less-Guilty Pleasure

Even the best set plans are thwarted by forces unseen...sigh.  I had every intention of making baked wontons for two weeks now ... I scheduled it, talked about it, and finally went to the store - road block.  I got to the organics section to pick up the wonton wrappers (which they ALWAYS have) and the only packages they had were marked Oct. 31.  Of course ... it kind of went with the theme for the week:  gas leak at school, hit a car on the way to work, got puked on inside and outside of my shirt by my little one, got lost in the 'hood.. who am I kidding - I work in the 'hood ... the list goes on.  This week will not get the best of me .. onto plan B - baked egg rolls!  Which, I'm sure, are just as yummy!
The thing that I adore most about homemade Chinese food is that it can be so healthy, flavorful, and include tons of awesome veggies (and you don't have to wonder what exactly is in the dish??!)!  I was never much of a veggie fan growing up, but when it came to stir frys and soups - I was game for any vegetable.  Still am!  The ingredients for the filling can easily be altered and new things can be added.  I'd love to try different veggies next time - like some kind of seaweed, or bok choy.  I created the sauce - yes, I know it contains some uncommon odds and ends, but the flavors are spot on... not too salty, not too sweet - tons of flavor.  If you don't keep Tiger Sauce, Duck Sauce, Sriracha, or sesame oil at home, I highly recommend them.  You can use them for so many dishes (not just Asian foods!).
My biggest concern with this recipe was that they might not come out crispy, but no fear - they are perfectly crispy, not at all soggy...just delicious.  I had 4 ... in about 2 minutes.  Best dishes and yummy dreams!


Little Mommy's Baked Egg Rolls

Preparing the chicken:
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 large breasts)
All-purpose seasoning
dash of Sriracha
olive oil

Preparing the filling:
1 small red pepper, diced
4 scallions, diced
1 small bag of coleslaw mix
1 can of water chestnuts, diced
1 cup of mushrooms, (diced after measuring)
1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
2 cloves of garlic, grated or chopped

Sauce for filling:
1/8 c. soy sauce
1/8 c. chicken stock
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. Sriracha
2 tbsp. Duck Sauce
2 tsp. Tiger Sauce

1.  Rinse the chicken and cut it into bite-sized pieces, sprinkle with all-purpose seasoning.
2.  Cook chicken in a skillet with olive oil and a dash of Sriracha.  Set aside and allow the chicken to cool.
3.  After cooled, chop into smaller pieces for egg roll filling.
4.  Place all veggies into the skillet with 1 tbsp. of Canola oil.

5.  Cover the veggies with sauce ingredients and cook until cabbage is tender.  Add the chicken to the mixture.
6.  Place 2 heaping tablespoons of the mixture into an egg roll wrapper.  See pictures below on how to wrap the egg rolls!

Place the egg roll wrapper so it looks like a diamond.  Place the filling just below the center.

Roll the bottom corner up and tuck it under the filling.

Fold the side corners in.

Roll the egg roll up!  Wet the final corner so that it sticks to the wrapper.

7.  Spray a pan with nonstick spray.  Place egg rolls on the pan and spray the tops generously with nonstick spray.

8.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  

9.  Enjoy with extra Duck Sauce - it makes all the difference!
The recipe makes 8-10 egg rolls.  Eat right away - they aren't the greatest to reheat!  Keep in mind that the wrapper will not taste like a fried egg roll - but, they are sooo good in their own way!

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