Friday, July 31, 2009

Polish-Style Lasagna

I had a bunch of lasagna noodles left over from making Italian Veggie Pie. And I didn't want anything else with tomato sauce. So I did a search for a "use what you have" recipe. came through for me with this one. I did change it a little. This could serve as a side or light dinner. I like that it's 6 ingredients and quick and easy to make. (And my kids like that it's carb-overload)

Lasagna noodles, 6-9 cooked according to package directions
1 onion, sliced
3 T butter
2 cups dry potato flakes
1 8oz block cream cheese
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Saute onion in butter for 2 minutes or until translucent. Cook potato flakes according to package direction *except omit the milk. Add the cream cheese instead. In sprayed casserole dish, layer noodles and potato mixture ending with noodles. Here's where I changed it: to keep noodles from dying out, I sprinkled lightly with sharp cheddar cheese. Top with sauted onions. Heat at 350 for 20 minutes or until bubbly.
Another idea would be to sprinkle with bacon bits (real ones, not from a jar). And you could always use leftover real mashed potatoes which would probably be even better. Also, some people suggested serving it with a hot cabbage cole slaw, which sounded great to this German girl! But I know most people don't like cabbage. (If you are interested in this look up "fried cabbage" and you'll get several recipes).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Taco Seasoning

This is a simple taco seasoning that I use as it does not have msg. I figure it saves a little money too. Usually I don't use the whole amount for a recipe (usually for chicken tacos). Use however much you like. I apologize that I don't have an exact science of how much to use!

1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (if children are eating this I don't use as much)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt

* In a small bowl, mix together all the spices.

I love using this with chicken tacos (Suzanne's recipe).

Homemade Pizza Sauce

Here is a recipe for pizza sauce I got from the same website: I like it a lot. The first time I made it I didn't add enough spices. The second time I sprinkled quite a bit and added a tiny pinch of red pepper flakes.

Homemade Pizza Sauce
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
Garlic powder
Italian seasoning
Crushed red pepper (optional)

"Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency. I leave mine slightly chunky. On the seasonings, I just sprinkle them in to taste. If I use crushed red pepper, I only use a few flakes because my kids don't like spicy things, but it definitely adds a nice kick to the sauce to use it. I also substitute for whatever I don't have: basil leaves for oregano, garlic salt for garlic powder, etc. This recipe is open to interpretation. Use what you like and it will be delicious."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Slow-Rize Pizza Dough

I got this recipe below from the website I love it. I am just going to put her recipe in quotes. It is her writing not me! She suggests making it the night before. It is best for the dough to rise 24 hours in the refrigerator. It is super easy to make and very good. She also has a recipe for pizza sauce. I will post it too.

Slow-Rize Pizza Dough
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 1/3 cup water
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt.

"The beauty about making this recipe the night before is you can just throw all the ingredients together cold (no warming the water) and stick it covered in the refrigerator. That is all I do - mix the dough to the desired consistency (I like my dough pretty soft) and really try not to overflour it and then place it in a greased bowl covered with saran wrap in the refrigerator. Be sure to take it out of the refrigerator a few hours before you make the pizza so the dough has time to warm and relax. This recipe makes 2 medium-sized pizzas. (It feeds our family of two adults and two children and we eat a lot of pizza.)

Directions for baking pizza:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. (If using a pizza stone, let stone heat for at least 30 minutes in the oven before baking pizza.) If baking in a sheet pan, press dough onto sheet pan and top with sauce and toppings. Bake for about 12 minutes (checking often) until crust is browned and cheese is golden and bubbly. If baking on the preheated pizza stone, slide pizza onto stone and bake for about 8 minutes. Makes 1 large pizza.

Trade Secrets: Here are a few things I swear by when making homemade pizza:
1) use a baking stone if at all possible (and a pizza paddle works wonders - I just have a really cheap wood one and it works great for sliding the pizza in and out) - it really produces better pizza than using a metal pan - but if you don't have a stone and are using a metal pan, still cook the pizza at a high temperature (maybe 25-50 degrees less than if using a stone)
2) about 45 minutes before making the pizza, I stick my pizza stone in the oven and crank the oven up to 500 degrees and let the stone get nice and piping hot - I bake the pizzas at either 475 or 500 degrees, depending on how thick I am doing the crust that night (higher temp for thinner crust)
3) finally, I never use pre-grated cheese. As I mentioned in an earlier post, most pre-grated cheese is coated with a substance that prevents it from clumping, but it also prevents it melting into yummy gooey-ness like cheese you grate yourself (I always use mozzarella for pizza)."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Chicken Marsala

Jonathan and I came across this recipe on the other night and I gave it a whirl for supper. It is delicious and is very simple to make. Jonathan said, "This would be something I'd love to eat even if it wasn't on Weight Watchers." So, here it goes!

Chicken Marsala

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup mushrooms, fresh, sliced
1 lb. uncooked, boneless, skinless chicken breasts (four 4 oz. piece)
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup Marsala wine (I bought Marsala cooking wine)
1 1/4 cups canned beef broth, reduced-sodium, divided
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until tender and releasing liquid, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, place chicken on a plate and season both sides with thyme, salt, and pepper. Move mushrooms to outer edge of skillet once cooked. Place chicken in center of skillet and saute until golden, about 2-3 minutes per side.
3. Add wine to skillet; simmer 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of broth and simmer, uncovered, until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 8 minutes. (I scraped the bottom of the pan to get all the good stuff off of the bottom and into the sauce, just like Rachael Ray tells you to).
4. Dissolve cornstarch in remaining 1/2 cup of broth in a small bowl; add to skillet. Simmer until sauce thickens, stirring constantly and incorporating mushrooms into the liquid, about 1 minute. Serve chicken with mushroom sauce spooned on top. Yields about 3 oz of chicken and 1/3 cup of sauce per serving.

***I served this with roasted asparagus and whole grain pasta mixed with butter and parmesan cheese. It was yummy!
***For anyone interested in the weight watchers points here, one serving is 4 points (chicken and mushroom sauce only).

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

2 (10 oz) packages of frozen chopped broccoli - thawed and drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
4 oz Velveeta
1 cup uncooked instant rice
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl. Stir well. Spoon into a 2 quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until throughly heated. Yield: 8 servings

Variations on Recipe
You can make this lower fat by using light Velveet and reduced fat cream of mushroom soup.

I add cooked shredded chicken to the dish to make it the entree instead of a side dish.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We interrupt this recipe station for a quick commercial. If you are looking for ways to save money on groceries and the like, you must check out my friend, Katie's, website. She is featured in the August edition of First for Women. It's fun to pick up a national magazine and see a friend featured.

Monday, July 13, 2009

"In a Crunch" Corn Dip

This is a great recipe for a group gathering. Not the healthiest of dishes, but great nonetheless.

2 (11 oz) cans mexicorn, drained
1 (4 1/2 oz) cans chopped green chilies, drained well
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
3/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. Pour into a baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned.

Pour into serving bowl and serve with warm with corn chips.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Apples & Walnuts with Stilton Cheese

OK, I know this is gonna sounds really crazy. But it's delicious! I saw it on the Style show a few years ago. This is a great thing to add to your fall menu as apples will be in season.
6oz Stilton cheese (this is expensive-if you don't want to splurge or can't find it, substitute another blue cheese such as gorgonzola)
1T extra virgin olive oil
1T red wine vinegar
2 T heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper
6 sweet eating apples (Braeburn,Gala,Red Delicious,Fuji,Pink Lady-I like to mix and match them), unpeeled, and cut into 1/2" dice
4 celery stalks, thinly slices
2 T dried raisins (I like golden ones for this)
1T fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (toasted if you want)

Take about 1/3 of the cheese and put it in the bottom of a large bowl. Add olive oil. Mash these with a fork. Then add the vinegar and continue to mash and mix. Add cream and pepper and mix well.You see where we're going with this- make a thick, chunky dressing. Add the apples, celery, raisins, and lemon juice to the bowl and mix well. Crumble remaining cheese and sprinkle it and the walnuts over top.
* variation sub pears for 2 of the apples or currents or cranberries for the raisins

Thursday, July 9, 2009

This recipe comes all the way from our friend, Janie, in Italy.

I know this isn’t exactly the most healthy recipe, but it seriously came in handy today when I needed something for a 10am brunch I was just told about at 9pm last night! It’s from the Duncan Hines yellow cake mix box, and it’s wonderful! Super soft and moist!

1 pkg Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Classic Yellow Cake Mix
1 pkg (4-serving size) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
4 large eggs
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 10-inch Bundt pan or tube pan. Combine ingredients in large bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes (I skipped this and just did it by hand with a whisk). Pour into pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 25 minutes. Invert onto heat-resistant serving dish. Cool completely.
Serve as is or drizzle with glaze, top with fruit, etc.

Makes 12 servings.

Remedies for Ordinary Sides

Here are a few ideas on how to jazz up your veggie side dishes.
Corn-on-the-cob: add "salted" butter and a sprinkle of chili powder and cumin
for a smokey flavor, toss them on the gril
Whole Kernel Corn: add diced zucchini and saute in olive oil with a dash of oregano
Brocolli: saute in butter on medium-low until tender, then add walnuts, turn up the heat a little and add a dash of white wine-cook 1 more minute (thanks Karen for these two)
Green Beans: onion flakes and soy sauce (Krista S. taught me this)
Spaghetti Squash: add jarred pesto to it
Potatoes: add caesar salad dressing and an extra dash of parmesean
Summer Squash: add diced green onion and garlic powder & sautee in butter
Carrots: steam them and add lemon juice, honey and a dash of dill weed

Other ideas everyone? Post in the comments

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chicken Gnocci Soup

This is a copycat recipe of the soup they serve at Olive Garden-with a few changes of mine.
1/3 c olive oil or butter
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup onion,diced
1 lb chicken, diced
1/3 cup flour
1/2 carrot, shredded
1 stalk celery
1/2 cup fresh chopped spinach
3.5 cups whole milk
2.5 cups half-and-half
3 cups chicken broth
17.6 oz gnocci
Melt butter or heat oil in a soup pot. Add chicken and cook thoroughly. Mix in flour and stir until well cooked into chicken. Remove chicken from pot and set aside. Saute garlic, onion, carrot, celery in the same pot the chicken was in and cook until tender. Put chicken back into pot. Add milk, cream, broth. Cook about 10 minutes, adding gnocci the last 3-4 minutes.

Peanut Butter Banana Pudding

This recipe is from the Weight Watchers Cookbook, Just Like Home. It's a no-cook version of the classic dessert.

1 3.4 oz French Vanilla Instant Pudding - NOT the fat free version
2 cups cold milk
1/3 cup peanut butter
8 oz low fat or fat free sour cream
6 bananas
Vanilla Wafers
1 8 oz cool whip (fat free or low fat version)

Prepare pudding mix as stated on the box with 2 cups of milk. Add peanut butter and sour cream. Mix well with a wisk. Layer bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish with vanilla wafers. Add 1/3 of puding mixture/cut bananas and whipped topping. Continue layers one more time. Add another layer of vanilla wafers on the top and garnish with bananas.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lettuce Wraps

Everyone in our family likes these! They can be messy, so you could easily just make these into a salad instead. Great for making ahead. Easy. I am giving a rough estimate of amounts. Add ingredients in proportions that suit your tastes.
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 pound cooked chicken, diced
1 can water chestnuts, diced
4 stalks lettuce, diced
1/4 cup red or green onion, diced
5 T fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
1/8 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/8 cup soy sauce or tamari (naturally brewed soy sauce)or bragg's
1/8 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Rinse and pull lettuce apart into individual serving sizes. Put everything else into a large bowl and toss well. Serve chicken mixture in lettuce leaves, roll or fold, and enjoy. We like it with a side of mango slices or pineapple. If you want to stretch this meal, you could add rice to the chicken mixture or serve it on the side.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Balsamic Beef and Begetable Kabobs

My friend, Johanna, made the wonderful kabobs. Sooo yummy!

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T canola oil
2 T Worcestershire sauce
ground black pepper to taste
1 lb very lean beef tenderloin or top sirloin
2 small onions - peeled and quartered
1 lg. bell pepper - cut into 12 pieces
8 whole cherry tomatoes or 4 plum tomatoes, halved
4 tsp horseradish sauce

**You can use other veggies like whole mushrooms, chunks of zucchini, or yellow summer squash.

In a bowl, combine vinegar, oil, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Mix well. Cut meat into 16 cubes. Put meat in flat dish in one layer and cover with vinegar mixture. Marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes. (Best when left all day or even overnight.)

Divide all ingredients out evenly between 4 skewers. On a hot grill cook for 12 minutes turning twice. Serve with teaspoon of horseradish sauce of each plate.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Blackberry Cobbler

Since we are busy moms, just use a store-bought crust. Actually use 2. If you make your own crust-we don't want to hear about it (just joking.) This is delicious for dessert after Sunday lunch. For a special treat, serve with cool whip or vanilla ice cream. Wait 3 hours, then go have a nice jog!
3 c blackberries
1 c sugar
3 T flour
1 T grated orange or lemon peel
4 T butter
2 regular pie crusts
Combine flour, sugar and lemon or orange peel in a large bowl. Stir well. Add berries. Dot bottom crust with 2 T butter. Add filling. Add top crust pinching around edges to seal. Poke a few holes in top crust. Dot with 2 T butter. Cook at 400 for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 325 and bake for about 30 more minutes.
*To make your own whipped cream: Chill a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup heavy whipping cream and 1/8 cup sugar. Using a hand mixer set on high, whip the cream for 4-5 minutes or until it is the texture you like. Serve immediately. We love this with just fresh peaches or strawberries.

Blackberry Freezer Jam

Or really Any Berry Jam. I just have blackberries because I had 3 very good pickers and because it's my favorite!
3 c blackberries
5 c sugar
1 box "sure jell"
6-8 half pint freezer-safe jars with lids
Crush berries coarsely (I used one of the jars)
Add sugar to berries. Stir well and let sit while you do the next step. Put 1 c cold water in a small saucepan. Dissolve sure jell in it and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Add this to the berry mixture. Stir vigorously for 2 minutes. Pour into jars leaving a little space at top. Put lids on immediately and let sit for a few hours (I've read everything from 2 hours to 24-I did mine overnight). Place in freezer. Remove an hour before you want to serve it. How easy is that?