Thursday, January 31, 2013

Herb-Rubbed Pork Chops

You know those evenings when its suddenly 5 o'clock and time to get ready for dinner, and you realize that you forgot to marinate your chicken breasts, or start the soup in the crock pot, or maybe the chicken wings you were going to make are suddenly rotten and smelly?  What...No?  You don't have those nights?  Well, kudos to you then.  However, if you are like me and have those types of night, much more often than you would like to admit, then this recipe is for you.  I have had this recipe on file to try for quite some time now, but haven't gotten to it.  But earlier this week one of those aforementioned situations happened to me, and I was stuck with no idea of what to make for my hungry brood (can you call a family of 4 a brood?!).  I flipped to this recipe, saw that I had every item needed for it, and cooked it up in less than 15 minutes.  The herb-rub was so easy to throw together and was full of flavor.  The pork chops cooked up juicy and tender, and I couldn't have been more pleased with this easy and delicious week night dinner!  So if you are ever in one of those pickles that leave you wondering what in the world you are going to feed to your sweet little faces, give this a try.  Or you could plan it into your weekly menu and make it on purpose...I will do that next time, because it was definitely good enough for that too!

Herb-Rubbed Pork Chops

Makes 2 servings, but can easily be doubled or tripled for more servings

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 pork chops (3/4 inch thick and 6 ounces each)  The original recipe said to use bone in chops.  Mine were not bone in and they worked wonderfully.  So I say use whatever you have or desire!
1-1/2 teaspoon olive oil, divided
6 Tablespoons chicken broth

In a small bowl, combine the parsley, marjoram, sage, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Brush both sides of pork chops with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Rub with herb mixture.

In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chops in remaining oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.  Remove and keep warm.  Add broth to skillet, stirring to loosen browned bits.  Bring to a boil.

Return chops to the pan.  Reduce heat and cover and simmer for 4-5 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.  Serve chops with pan juices.

Recipe Source:  Slightly adapted from Taste of Home

I have shared this recipe at many of these fun link parties!  Check them out!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

 I baked these sweet things up a couple of weeks ago, and I'm not quite sure what has taken me so long to post them.  They are good...really good.  These are the second of the two decadent peanut butter desserts that I mentioned in this post a couple of weeks ago.  I don't know about you, but I love me a good peanut butter cookie.  Now stuff one of those peanut butter cookies with a mini Reese's peanut butter cup, drizzle it with some milk chocolate, and that good peanut butter cookie has now become down right irresistible.   Like I said, these are really good.  Make them!  Please!
Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
*Just a couple notes about this recipe.  The dough needs to chill in the refrigerator for about an hour before baking, so make sure to plan ahead.  Also, it says to bake on an ungreased cookie sheet, but I always grease because I am terrified of stickage (yes I just made that word up), and they turned out beautifully.  Also, the original recipe said that reduced-fat or generic brands of peanut butter are not recommended for this recipe.  I don't know why...just thought I should pass that along to you, lest you make these and they turn out bad and I am blamed...haha!

Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 package (13 ounce) miniature peanut butter cups

1 cup (6 ounce) chocolate chips (the original recipe called for semisweet, but I used milk because that's   the best chocolate there my ever so humble opinion.)
1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon shortening

In a large bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Combine the flour and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle.

Roll into 1-1/4 inch balls.  Press a miniature peanut butter cup into each; reshape balls to make sure the chocolate is completely covered.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.  

For drizzle:
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and shortening; stir until smooth.  Drizzle over cooled cookies. 

Recipe Source: Taste of Home 

I am linking up at these wonderful blogs.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chicken & Spinach Lasagna

I love lasagna.   It would be fair to say, actually, that I absolutely adore all things Italian.  Carbohydrates are among my greatest weaknesses.  I could eat pasta, pizza, and breads of any type all day every day.  No exaggeration.  Those restaurants that serve all-you-can-eat bread at the beginning of your meal (think Olive Garden or Johnny Carino's) are my most favorite places in the world to eat.  Anyway, I love a good old fashion lasagna filled with beef or sausage, but I have also fallen in love with this recipe.  It is still a red sauce lasagna, but with a slight twist.  Instead of the traditional browned sausage or beef, this is filled with shredded chicken.  Add that to the feta, mozzarella cheese, and creamy ricotta/cottage cheese/spinach mixture, and you have a winning combination.  My husband Jason was never a lasagna lover (when he was young, he hated anything made with noodles!  Weirdo!!), so I was a little nervous for his reaction when I served this up the first time.   Turns out, I had no need to fear...he loved it and has since asked for it many times!  We really love this lasagna and I think you will too!

Chicken and Spinach Lasagna
*This recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups cooked chicken, so plan accordingly.  I usually just boil my chicken breasts with some broth and then shred when it is done.  I know there are several other popular methods like this one or this one.  To make your life even easier, you could simply shred a store-bought rotisserie chicken.

1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup cottage cheese
5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, chopped
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
9-12 uncooked lasagna noodles
3 1/2 cups cooked, chopped or shredded chicken
4 cups favorite pasta sauce
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 cups packed shredded mozzarella
dried or fresh parsley for garnishing (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, cottage cheese, spinach and egg, oregano and black pepper.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  Prepare lasagna noodles according to package directions.  Drain.  Rinse with cold water and drain again.  Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.  To assemble lasagna, spoon 1 cup of sauce over bottom of pan.  Arrange 4 lasagna noodles, 3 lengthwise, 1 crosswise,  (I never use the crosswise noodle and it works great), over sauce.  Top noodles with another 1 cup of sauce, followed by 1/3 of the chicken, 1/3 of the feta, and 1/3 of the mozzarella.  Arrange 4 more lasagna noodles (or 3, if you choose), followed by 1 cup of sauce, 1/3 of the chicken, all of the ricotta/spinach mixture, 1/3 of the feta, and 1/3 of the mozzarella.  Repeat layering with 3 or 4 more noodles, sauce, chicken, feta, and mozzarella.  Sprinkle with parsley over the top.  Cover loosely with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving. 

Recipe Source:  Adapted from Taste of Home

I linked up to these great blogs:

Addicted to Recipes
Mom's Test Kitchen
Jam Hands
Skip To My Lou
Pint Sized Baker
Inside BruCrew Life
Reasons To Skip the Housework
My Girlish Whims
Lil' Luna

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Herb & Cheese Stuffed Burgers

I know what you are thinking, who needs a recipe for a hamburger?!  Am I right?  I know, I get it.  I am generally not one to pull out a recipe for a hamburger.  Just like everyone else, I pull the meat out of the fridge, form some patties, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and top them with a slice of cheese...good to go.  And as delicious as a plain old hamburger is in it's own right, these little babies are a good way to go as well.  With only slightly more work involved than the old regular burger, you can instead, have this tasty version, stuffed with a creamy cheddar and cream cheese mixture.  And thanks to the rosemary and sage, there are little pops of unexpected flavor throughout.  So if you are tired of the same-old, same-old, go ahead and give these a try!

Herb & Cheese Stuffed Burgers

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoon cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoon dried parsley
3 teaspoon Dijon mustard, divided
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 Tablespoon dry bread crumbs
2 Tablespoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried sage leaves (I used rubbed sage and it worked great)
1 pound lean ground beef
4 hard rolls, split (I used hamburger buns, and though they worked good, I will try hard rolls next time)
Lettuce leaves, tomato slices optional

In a small bowl, combine cheddar cheese, cream cheese, parsley and 1 teaspoon mustard.  Set aside.
In another bowl, combine the onions, bread crumbs, ketchup, salt, rosemary, sage and remaining mustard.  Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.  Shape into eight thin patties.  Spoon cheese mixture onto the center of four patties and top with remaining patties and press edges firmly to seal.
Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 inches from heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees and juices run clear.  Serve burgers on rolls or buns, with lettuce and tomato if desired.

Recipe Source:  Very slightly adapted from Taste of Home

I shared this recipe at these great blogs:

Sweet Bella Roos
Taste and Tell
The Country Cook
Foodie Friends Friday
Tidy Mom
The Best Blog Recipes
Tater Tots & Jello
What's Cooking With Ruthie
Or So She Says
I Heart Nap Time
Addicted To Recipes
Jam Hands
Skip to My Lou
Pint Sized Baker
Inside BruCrew Life
Reasons to Skip the Housework
Lil' Luna

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cheese & Corn Chowder

I am so excited to share this, my favorite soup of all time, with you!  There isn't really much I can say about it, except that it is amazing!  The first time I made this soup nearly two years ago, I said to Jason that we had just consumed heaven in a bowl.  Big words, for just a small bowl of soup...but it really was that good.  I have made it countless times since then, and it has been every bit as good, each and every time.  Lucky for me, my family loves this just as much as I do and not a complaint is muttered, whenever it is on the menu.  I hope you love it as much as we do!

Cheese and Corn Chowder

Makes 12 cups

5 strips of bacon, diced
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
a pinch of cayenne pepper
6 cups chicken broth
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (I have left mine unpeeled many times)
1 cup diced or cubed, cooked ham (optional...but highly, highly recommended!)
4-5 cups frozen corn
1 cup heavy cream (I have used half-and-half with good results; it is just much less creamy)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 ounces cream cheese

Saute bacon in a skillet.  Once it is crispy, transfer it to the pot that the soup will eventually be housed in.  Now saute the celery and onion in the bacon grease, adding the spices.  Once the vegetables are soft, add the flour, coating the veggies.  Stir and cook for about a minute.  Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring to combine.  Add the potatoes and corn and bring to a boil simmering about 10-12 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  Stir in cream, cheddar cheese, and cream cheese.  Simmer just until the cheese melts.

Recipe Source:  Slightly adapted from Simply Yum

I shared this tasty recipe at these blogs:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chicken with Rosemary Butter Sauce

It seems as if I am on a Rosemary kick lately.  This is my second post in a week that involves both chicken and Rosemary.  However, this delightful little chicken dish could not be more different than this Rosemary & Lemon Roasted Chicken that I posted last Sunday.  This recipe is simple and fast enough for a weeknight dinner, but elegant and delicious enough for a Sunday night meal or company. The butter sauce is amazing drizzled over a tender baked potato, so nine times out of ten, that is what I serve along side this dish.  As a side note, I have also used this same recipe using boneless pork chops, rather than the chicken, and I liked it just as much, if not more.  It is really a versatile sauce and also pairs wonderfully with roasted veggies like asparagus.  Also, the recipe calls for only 5 ingredients (including the chicken!), and there is a high likeliness that you already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen.  It is kind of a go-to meal when I need something simple and delicious!

Chicken with Rosemary Butter Sauce

Serves 4
*If you are planning on serving 4 people with this and would like to also use the sauce for potatoes or other vegetables, considering doubling the sauce.  That way you will have plenty to spare.  Also, because this is a thin sauce, I think it is infinitely better if your chicken breasts are on the thinner side.  If you don't have thin breasts, just slice them in half.  That way you will have a better sauce to chicken ratio.

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
4 Tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 Tablespoon minced dried Rosemary (You can use 1 Tbsp. fresh Rosemary if you prefer, but we have found that we like the taste of the dried better)

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook chicken in 1 Tablespoon of butter for 4 to 5 minutes or until juices run clear.  Remove from heat and keep warm.  Add broth to the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring to loosen browned bits from the pan.  Add cream and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Cook and stir until slightly thickened.  Stir in rosemary and remaining butter until blended.  Serve sauce over chicken.

Recipe Source:  Taste of Home

I shared this recipe on several blogs:

Chef In Training
Inside BruCrew Life
Pint-Sized Baker
Lil Luna
Buns in My Oven
Somewhat Simple
Sweet Bella Roos
Taste and Tell
The Country Cook
Foodie Friends Friday
Tidy Mom
Tater Tots & Jello
What's Cooking With Ruthie
Or So She Says
I Heart Nap Time

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Peanut Butter M&M Cupcakes

I have two delicious, decadent, and incredible peanut butter treats that I could share with you tonight, and it was a tough choice which one to go with!  They are both crazy good and totally unhealthy!  Just keepin' it real here.  But, come on people.  I said peanut butter M&M in a peanut butter cupcake stuffed with whole peanut butter M&Ms that soften on the inside during the baking process, but somehow are still able to keep their crunchy candy coating shell, that are then topped with an insanely creamy and rich chocolate frosting.  How can that be healthy?!  It cannot.  So step off the healthy track for a minute (if you are on it; if not, even better), eat an M&M cupcake, and realize it was totally worth it!  I strongly encourage you to eat these babies with a tall glass of milk.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter M&M Cupcakes


1 (18.25 ounce) Yellow or white cupcake mix
1 cup sour cream (light is fine, don't use fat free)
3 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups peanut butter M&Ms


1/4 cup melted butter (no substitutions)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 pound powdered sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated or regular milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.  Combine all cupcake ingredients, except M&Ms into a large bowl.  Using an electric mixer on medium low speed, mix for 30 seconds, scraping the bowl frequently.  Turn the speed to high and beat for another 3 minutes.  Gently fold in the peanut butter M&Ms.  Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full.  Bake 18-22 minutes or until tops are golden.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the chocolate frosting by combining all ingredients in a medium bowl and beating them together on medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.  Top each cupcake with frosting and, if desired, an extra M&M.

Recipe Source:  Adapted from Our Best Bites.

I joined the Linky Party at:
Bloom Designs
Somewhat Simple
Sweet Bella Roos
Tidy Mom
The Country Cook
Foodie Friends Friday
Tator Tots & Jello
Six Sister's Stuff
I Heart Nap Time
Chef in Training
Jam Hands

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Taco Soup

Three months ago, I would have done just about anything for "soup weather."  After enduring nearly 5 grueling months of triple digit temperatures, October hit and I was more than ready for it to dip low enough to wear sweater boots, jackets, and gloves, to warm up with a nice bowl of hot soup, and to cuddle up on the couch with a blanket and glass of hot cocoa.  Unfortunately that isn't how it works in the Phoenix valley...Halloween is usually too warm to wear a costume, we go to the park on Thanksgiving, and I'm running my air conditioner until December!  This week though, the valley has been hit with the coldest temperatures it has seen in 25 years and I am here with 2 kids who each only own one light jacket!  You would think growing up in Utah and Idaho, and enduring negative temperatures during this last Christmas season, I would be immune to these just-above-freezing-temperatures, but I am not.  I am freezing my butt off and cannot wait until it gets back up to the 70's this weekend!  This is about as "soup weather" as we get in this part of the world.  So while we are freezing, I am taking full advantage and making bowls and bowls of soup this week!  Chances are, you are in a much colder part of the world than I am, in which case I strongly recommend this hearty and delicious taco soup.   Using an old recipe given to me by a friend several years ago, and an easy recipe for homemade taco seasoning, I came up with this version and all in my family were quite pleased.   It has just enough spice for my taste, and served with the most delicious corn bread muffins of all time (recipe coming later this week), it is an easy and filling weeknight dinner.  The recipe makes about 10 1/2 cups, so if you have a small group to feed, you might consider halving the recipe.  Also, if made exactly the way the recipe reads, it only has about 175 calories per 1 cup serving!  That leaves you some wiggle room to add on some shredded cheese, sliced avocado, and sour cream...and 2...or 3...or 4 of those delightful cornbread muffins!  Here's the recipe:

Taco Soup

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cups water
2 undrained 14-16 ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 undrained 14-16 ounce cans dark red kidney beans
1 drained 14-16 ounce can corn
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Brown ground beef/turkey and onion in a skillet.  Drain fat and transfer to a large pot.  Add in all of the other ingredients and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve with shredded cheese, sliced avocados, and sour cream if desired.

*Note:  If you prefer, you can use a packet of taco seasoning in place of all the spices.

Recipe Source:  The Unsophisticated Kitchen with help from this recipe for homemade taco seasoning. 

I joined the linky party at:

Tidy Mom
The Country Cook
Foodie Friends Friday
Tater Tots & Jello
Six Sister's Stuff
I Heart Nap Time
Chef in Training

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Rosemary & Lemon Roasted Chicken

Oh man...this roasted chicken is amazing.  I found and tried this recipe (originally titled Sunday's best chicken) several years ago and we adored it!  At the time, my husband, Jason, proclaimed it to be the best meal I had ever made.  And it definitely was.  For some reason though, this little beauty was tucked deep inside my recipe binder, untouched and unmade again until today.  Boy have we been missing out!  The lemon and rosemary combine together to make a delightful, yet subtle flavor, and the chicken is tender and moist.  We all loved it!  This recipe will not be tucked away any longer.  This baby is definitely going into our Sunday dinner rotation!

Rosemary & Lemon Roasted Chicken

2 to 3 medium lemons
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 roasting chicken (6 to 7 pounds)  Mine was just over 5 and it worked lovely
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Finely grate the peel from the lemons to measure 2 Tbsp and set aside.  Coarsely chop 2 lemons.  Place chopped lemons and rosemary sprigs in the chicken cavity.

Place chicken on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.  Brush with oil.  Combine the minced rosemary, pepper, salt, and lemon peel.  Rub over the chicken.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees, basting occasional with drippings.  Cover loosely with foil if the chicken browns too quickly...Mine did not though.

Let chicken stand for 15 minutes before carving.  Discard lemons and rosemary sprigs.

Recipe Source:  Taste of Home December/January 2010

I linked up:
Foodie Friends Friday
Chef in Training

Friday, January 11, 2013

Broccoli & Garlic Pasta

If you happened to ready my About page, then you already know how I started my marriage as a dreadful cook.  Absolutely dreadful.  I mentioned how I burned spaghetti once, and that is not even a lie.  For three years, I really did nothing to improve upon my cooking or baking skills.  Our go to meals were frozen pizzas, Stroganoff hamburger helper and, burritos made with canned refried beans and enchilada sauce.  Occasionally we would treat ourselves to a frozen Jenny-O turkey loaf with both white and dark meat...that is right, we were living totally gourmet.  Upon entering the grocery store, we made a bee-line for the frozen food section every time to see what treasures we could find for meal time.  The only real meal either of us ate during the week was that blessed Sunday dinner when we went to either my parents or Jason's.  It wasn't until I quit working when my first baby was one years old that I decided we needed to make some changes.  I was going to be leaving my job of 7 years to be a stay at home mom full time and I planned on jumping head first into total domesticity.  Of course, as they rarely do, things didn't quite play out the way I had anticipated.  I didn't realize there would be such a learning curve in becoming a domestic diva!  But obviously there is.  And here I am on my 5th year of being a stay-at-home mom/wife and there is still so much to learn and so far to go.  Anyhow, after I quit my job, I was on a mission to discover some quick and easy meals that I could make that would still impress the husband.  Although, its not as if that should have been too difficult considering what he had been living on for 3 years!  This was one of the first recipes that I found and tried and we still enjoy it today.  It is great in its simplicity and even my kids will eat it!  Double win!

Broccoli & Garlic Pasta

12 ounces uncooked linguine or fettuccine
5 cups broccoli florets
3 garlic cloves minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups chicken broth, divided
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
Shredded Parmesan cheese for serving

Cook pasta according to directions on the package.  In a large skillet, saute garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for 1 minute or until fragrant.  Do not let garlic burn or it will turn bitter.  Add the broccoli, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup of chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 3-5 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Drain pasta and add to the skillet.  Stir in parsley and Italian 
seasonings and remaining broth.  Serve immediately, with generous amounts of Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Source:  Heavily Adapted from Taste of Home

I linked up:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Buttermilk Banana Bread {The Best Recipe}

Several months ago I took dinner over to to a friend's family after she had a baby.  I had some bananas and buttermilk that really needed to be used up, and I had remembered seeing the recipe on my favorite food blog before.  So I threw a loaf together and packed it up and sent it to her.  It was a risky move, as I had never used this recipe before, and I thought it might be a tad on the tacky side to send a loaf with some nibbles taken out of it.  Several days later, this friend told me that in 15 years, she had never let a bit of banana touch her lips, but that she had eaten nearly the entire loaf by herself, and would only allow her husband small bites every now and then.  I was over joyed that I hadn't sent her a disgusting dessert!  So today when I had some bananas that were nearing the end of their days, I instantly thought of this recipe.  Let me tell you friends, if there is one banana bread recipe that you need for the rest of your days, it is this one!  It is utterly moist and flavorful and perfect.  I could easily have consumed one of those loaves all by myself!
Did you notice the half eaten loaf in the back?  My little 5 year old came in from school and really wanted some.  I told him he had to wait a few minutes so that I could take some pictures, but he was not handling the banana bread photo session very well.  In fact, his exact words were "Mom, everyone already knows how to make banana bread!  I don't care about your photography!"  So I gave in and cut him a bit.  Then the boy who wants to eat nothing more than Kit-Kat bars and spaghetti, inhaled 2 whole slices...not a crumb left on his plate!  That is a true testament of how great this stuff is!

Buttermilk Banana Bread

1/2 cup of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of mashed bananas (I didn't measure my bananas out, but just used 3 medium ones)
4 Tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Grease and flour 1 large loaf pan.  I used 2 smaller pans and they worked great.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs, bananas, buttermilk and vanilla until the batter is well mixed.  Add in the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Mix until well combined. Divide batter into greased pan(s) and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Recipe Source:  Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Healthy Chicken & Vegetable Stir Fry

 I don't know about anybody else, but as for me, I need a total makeover on my health after the holidays.  I am talking major.  For me, the bad holiday eating seems to start somewhere about mid October.  I can go the whole year without purchasing one full sized candy bar, but those dang mini ones packaged in Halloween colors and images, just scream at me to pick them up...and consume them...a whole lot of them.  Then when Halloween finally comes to a close and those bags of candy are marked down 75%, it just seems like a waste of time and energy to pick up on my good health habits again, what with Thanksgiving being right around the corner and all.  So I don't.  I make it my goal to consume as many pumpkin, toffee, and chocolate chip filled desserts as possible.  Then as soon as Thanksgiving is all said and done, something wonderful happens...Hershey's candy cane kisses.  Three full bags, and a few holiday pounds later, its somehow January and I have some major bad habits to reform.  And that's where this delicious, simple, and very healthy chicken and vegetable stir fry comes in.  It is packed with vegetables and flavor and makes a super simple weeknight meal.  With less than 150 calories in a one cup serving, you can pair this with 1/2 cup of brown rice,  and you have yourself a satisfying meal for just about 225 calories.  It is perfect served along side fresh fruit, like cantaloupe or watermelon slices, and you will feel so healthy eating it that you just might not feel so guilty about consuming that entire carton of leftover peppermint ice cream hiding out in the back of your freezer.  Ahem...not that I did that or anything.

Chicken & Vegetable Stir Fry

4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
2 Tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh cauliflower's
1 1/2 cups fresh broccoli florets
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 small onion, halved and sliced
1 small can water chestnuts
1 red pepper, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (depending on your level of spice tolerance)
2 1/2 cups hot cooked rice

Combine the cornstarch, broth and soy sauce until smooth.  Set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet or wok, stir fry the chicken in 1 tablespoon of oil until no longer pink.  Remove from heat and keep warm (I never do anything to keep mine warm and it stays warm enough).

Stir fry the cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, onion, red pepper, and water chestnuts in remaining oil until crisp-tender.  Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes and cook one minute longer.

Stir cornstarch mixture and add to the pan.  Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Add chicken and heat through.  Serve with rice.

Recipe Source:  Adapted slightly from Taste of Home

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pulled Beef Sandwiches

I believe the most common "pulled" sandwich is pork, right?!  Well, I love it.  However, my meat loving hubby much prefers the beef roast over the pork.  Last year he had this idea in his head for a pulled beef sandwhich.  Maybe that was already a thing, but I had never had or heard of it.  He went to the store, picked out the roast, and took care of the kitchen I mean.  His idea turned out amazing!  We have since made these big old morsels of goodness many times...for birthday and football parties, out of town guests, and just for an easy at-home Sunday dinner.  We have always gotten rave reviews from everyone!  They are definitely one of our favorite meals!  I highly recommend giving them a try!

Pulled Beef Sandwiches

3-5 pound beef boneless chuck roast
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
32 ounces beef broth
Bottle of bbq sauce (we like Famous Dave's Sweet & Sassy)
Mozzarella, Cheddar or Provolone cheese slices
French bread rolls or hamburger buns

Rub the olive oil on all sides of the roast and sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper.  Heat a skillet on medium-high heat and sear roast on each side until brown.  Transfer roast to slow cooker and poor beef broth over the roast.  Cover with lid and cook on high for 5-7 hours, depending on size of roast.  My 3 pound roast usually takes about 5 hours.  When roast is cooked through and tender enough to tear apart with 2 forks, remove from slow cooker to a plate, and empty the beef broth from the slow cooker.  Shred the roast, return it to the slow cooker, and mix in bbq sauce to taste.  We don't ever use the whole bottle of sauce, but it depends how much bbq flavor you want.  We like the taste of the beef so we try to go a little lighter on the sauce.  Heat on high until warmed through, about 20 minutes. Serve on rolls or buns with sliced cheese.  Our go-to rolls for sandwiches of any kind are these delicious french bread rolls from  Mel's Kitchen Cafe.   They are really amazing and pretty simple to throw together. Everything tastes better on homemade bread and these are no exception!

Recipe Source:  The Unsophisticated Kitchen

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