Thursday, September 27, 2007

Lemon Herbed Salmon

I've only recently begun adding salmon to our dinner rotation (at Joe's request and thanks to a nice big box of salmon filets we fount at BJ's) so I'm still on the lookout for a killer salmon recipe. The first time I made salmon I used this recipe, and it was fantastic, however Joe insn't a huge fan of sweet flavors at dinner so I wanted to try something more savory this time around. This recipe came from All Recipes, and was pretty good. It had a nice buttery lemon flavor, but both Joe and I are still unsure about the crumb topping on the salmon - it may be better suited for chicken. But we both enjoyed it, it was easy, and I wouldn't hesitate to make it again. I made several changes to the recipe, but the basics are still the same. I served the salmon with garlic and olive oil cous cous (thank you Acme, for your sale on Far East products) and my new favorite side dish, Green Giant Steamers Sugar Snap Peas - yum!

Lemon Herbed Salmon

2 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs (I used way less, about 1 cup)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (I used dried)
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (again, I used less, maybe 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme (I ommitted)
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (I used 2 tablespoons of lemon juice)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I ommitted)
6 tablespoons butter, melted and divided (I used 4 tablespoons)
1 (3 pound) salmon fillet

In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Parmesan cheese, thyme, lemon peel and salt; mix well. Add 4 tablespoons butter and toss lightly to coat; set aside.
Pat salmon dry. Place skin side down in a greased baking dish. Brush with remaining butter; cover with crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

I just had to try more than one recipe from new Williams-Sonoma cookbook, and I thought cookies would be a good choice as they are easy to share with co-workers, and some of Joe's lucky students. I had pretty much all the ingredients for the Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies on hand, so they were the winners. These cookies were pretty tasty - the first batch I baked a little too long and they were super crispy, but which is not how I like my cookies. I reduced the baking time on the next batch and they were more chewy, which is my preference. Either way though, they are very yummy!

Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
12 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350. Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugars until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until smooth. Stir in the oatmeal, chocolate chips and walnuts, if using.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough onto prepared sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and cool completely.

Cinnamon-Walnut Coffee Cake

The hotel I stayed in on my most recent business trip had several stores on the ground floor, one of them being a Williams-Sonoma. During the breaks in our meeting, my co-worker and I spent our time in the Williams-Sonoma, and I felt inclined to buy something. Okay, I felt inclined to buy MANY things, but in my attempts to be budget conscious, I purchases only their Food Made Fast Baking cook book. Every recipe in there looks amazing, and I was dying to try some out. Joe was going away for the weekend with his brother, so I asked him to choose something from the cookbook for me to have waiting for him when he got home on Sunday and he chose this cake. It turned out great and smelled wonderful while baking, plus I was quite pleased with the pretty cinnamon swirl in the center. I did think it was slightly dry, but I don't think coffee cakes tend to be super moist. Next time I think I will try it with pecans, as I'm not a huge walnut lover. But I will definitely make this again!

Cinnamon-Walnut Coffee Cake

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon orange zest, finely grated (I omitted this)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan (I used a 9-inch round). In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter, sour cream, eggs, orange zest, 3/4 cup of the sugar and the vanilla until blended. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until smooth.

In a bowl, stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the cinnamon and walnuts. Spread half of batter evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with half of walnut mixture. Top with the remaining batter, spreading it evenly, and sprinkle with the remaining walnut mixture.

Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes (mine took 35). Let cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Friday, September 21, 2007

EZ Ziti

After being away for work for a few days, I was anxious to make a home cooked meal for dinner Friday night. Joe and I were in the mood for pasta (when aren't we?) and I was inspired by the sausage baked ziti my co-worker had ordered at a restaurant the previous evening. I wanted to create something similar, but a healthier. I'm not going to write down a recipe, since I sort of just tossed things together, but here's the gist:

Prepare whole wheat pasta (ziti or penne) according to package directions and slice and brown sausage of choice (I used sweet Italian chicken sausage). Toss cooked pasta with marinara sauce, sausage, ricotta cheese (I used nonfat) and shredded mozzarella. Pour pasta into greased baking dish and top with more marinara and cheeses. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Yummy and easy. I toasted some garlic Italian bread and we were good to go. It was a great way to start the weekend!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Semi-Homemade Steak

Sure, Sandra Lee has her flaws. She creates ridiculously complicated and silly "tablescapes" and feels the need to decorate her kitchen to match her meal. And some of her recipes barely qualify as "cooking" and are certainly not gourmet. Yet I own two of her cookbooks and make several of her recipes on a regular basis. Sometimes you just need a quick recipe that doesn't require too much work. And besides, I am a fan of quick and easy. This steak is one of our favorite simple recipes. Since I am not a big fan of red meat, poor Joe rarely gets to enjoy beef or steak as I don't usually make it. However, these pinwheels are an exception because the steak is nice and thin, making it more acceptable to me. The original recipe can be found here, along with the suggested side dish of Rosemary Mashed Potatoes. I've simplified the recipe even more based on our tastes, and my version is below. I served my pinwheels last night with roasted red potatoes and corn.

Steak Pinwheels

2 pieces round steak, center cut
1 package stuffing mix, prepared according to package directions
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Lay steak flat on clean work surface and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover steak evenly with stuffing. Roll up steak lengthwise to create a pinwheel effect, enclosing stuffing completely. Skewer seam with toothpicks. Place the steak roll, seam side down, on a foil-covered cookie sheet (I use a glass baking dish - my cookie sheets do not have edges, and when I used them previously the steak juices leaked off the tray and into my oven, making a big, smokey mess). Sprinkle roll with salt and pepper. Roast until steak is golden brown and cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Caramel-Cashew Brownies

Freakin' yum. These brownies are amazing. They are also super rich, so I recommend cutting them into small squares before serving. A little of these goes a long way, but they are incredibly delicious. I found the recipe on the Food Network website. This was my first attempt at brownies from scratch, and I definitely picked a winner!

Caramel-Cashew Brownies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces plus extra for greasing
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
3/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks

Carmel-Cashew Topping:
1/4 cup cream
Approximately 40 store bought caramels
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 to 3/4 cup raw cashews

Make the brownies:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line an 8-inch square baking dish with a sheet of aluminum foil, making sure to cover the corners and sides. Lightly butter the aluminum foil, including corners and sides.
In the bowl of a double boiler set over simmering water, combine the butter and chopped unsweetened chocolate. Stirring often, heat until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and salt. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until well blended. Fold in the sifted flour and stir just until the flour disappears. Stir in the semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Baking time will be longer if you are using a metal pan. Do not overbake. Transfer the dish to a wire rack and cool completely.

Make the Carmel-Cashew Topping:
Pour the cream into the bowl of a double boiler set over simmering water. Unwrap caramels and put them into the bowl. Stirring frequently to prevent sticking, combine the cream and caramels until the mixture becomes homogeneous and smooth. Take the mixture off the heat and keep stirring until the caramel becomes a little thicker and the mixture begins to cool down. Add a pinch of salt and the vanilla and stir. Coarsely chop the cashews and fold them into the caramel mixture until nuts are completely coated with caramel. Pour mixture over the top of the cooled brownies and spread evenly.

Refrigerate the brownies until the caramel is set, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove brownies from the pan by grabbing the sides of the aluminum foil and lifting them from the pan. With a serrated knife, cut the brownies into 2-inch squares. These can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days or in a covered container in the refrigerator for 4 days.*
*I suggest storing these in the fridge, since the caramel is very sticky.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

You win some, you lose some. Tonight's dessert was a big winner, but this dinner - not so much. There was nothing wrong with it, mind you, I actually thought it was quite good. But it was during this meal we discovered that Joe does not like blue cheese, and unfortunately this pizza had lots of blue cheese on it. So Joe had leftovers while I ate the pizza. I may try it again and leave out the blue cheese, but I personally thought the blue cheese was what made it unique. If you like your food spicy and like blue cheese, give this a try! The recipe is from Rachel Ray.

Wingless Buffalo Chicken Pizza

3/4 pound chicken breast cutlets*
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 teaspoons grill seasoning, (recommended: McCormick Montreal Seasoning) eyeball it*
1 pizza dough, store bought or from your favorite pizzeria Cornmeal or flour, to handle dough
2 tablespoons butter (I omitted this)
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
2 to 3 tablespoons hot sauce, medium to spicy heat
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, a few generous handfuls
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 scallions, thinly sliced (I omitted this)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Preheat grill pan to high.
Place chicken on a plate and drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the chicken then season with grill seasoning. When grill is hot, add chicken and cook about 3 minutes on each side. Stretch dough to form pizza using cornmeal or flour to help you handle it. If you let it rest and warm up a few minutes it will handle even easier. Set pizza on pizza pan to the side and clean board.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter and stir in Worcestershire, hot sauce, and tomato sauce.
Remove the chicken from grill and thinly slice it. Add chicken to sauce and coat. Cover the pizza dough with the saucy Buffalo chicken, cheeses, and scallions. Bake 18 minutes or until crisp.

*I cheated and used the pre-cooked Perdue chicken pieces. I didn't grill, season or even heat up the chicken on the stove, I simply stirred it right into the sauce. The chicken heated through in the oven and I thought it worked great.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Maple-Glazed Grilled Salmon

This was some delicious salmon! My friend Dorothy passed this recipe on to me with a glowing recommendation, so I was eager to try it. It definitely didn't disappoint! The flavor was sweet and tangy but not overpowering - a nice light glaze. Dorothy came across this recipe in a stack of magazine cut-outs from her mom, so I'm not sure exactly where it came from, but it's great!

Maple-Glazed Grilled Salmon

3/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (I didn't have any vinegar so I omitted this)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard (I used regular Dijon mustard)
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 salmon fillet (2 pounds)

In a bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients (everything but the salmon) and mix well. Pour 1/2 cup into a large resealable bag, add the salmon. Seal bag and turn to coat, refrigerate for up to 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade.

Before starting the grill, coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray. Drain and discard marinade from salmon. Grill salmon skin side up over medium-hot heat for 2-4 minutes. Transfer to a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 17 in. x 21 in.). Spoon some of the reserved marinade over salmon. Fold foil around fillet and seal tightly. Grill 5-6 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Brush with remaining marinade.

Yield: 8 servings

Nutritional Analysis: One serving (4 ounces cooked salmon) equals 254 calories, 12 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 67 mg cholesterol, 179 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 23 g protein. Diabetic exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 starch.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pasta with Spinach, Beans and Asiago Cheese

Mmmmmmmm. That's all I can say about this recipe. I saw this in my September 2007 Cooking Light and had to try it. It was so easy and had a unique flavor that Joe and I both really liked. I added some garlic chicken sausage for extra protein but otherwise followed the recipe pretty closely. I will definitely be making this again!

Cavatappi with Spinach, Beans, and Asiago Cheese

8 cups coarsely chopped spinach leaves
4 cups hot cooked cavatappi (about 6 ounces uncooked spiral-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese
Fresh ground black pepper (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and toss well. Sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper, if desired.

4 servings (serving size: 2 cups)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 401(27% from fat); FAT 12g (sat 3.4g,mono 6.2g,poly 1.2g); PROTEIN 18.8g; CHOLESTEROL 10mg; CALCIUM 306mg; SODIUM 464mg; FIBER 6.7g; IRON 6.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 54.7g

Drop Biscuits

I love bread. Who doesn't, really? And I feel that any sort of pasta dish requires some nice warm bread or rolls to go along with it. I originally planned to just buy some frozen rolls to go along with tonight's dinner but started feeling ambitious and thought it would be better to try to make some from scratch. I wanted an easy and quick recipe, preferably one that didn't require yeast. I came across this recipe for Drop Biscuits on the Cooking Light website and it was perfect. These were extremely easy to make (baking them in muffin tins rather than on a sheet is great!) and the biscuits came out soft and dense. I added garlic powder to my dough before baking to give these a little kick, but I think I might leave that out next time, as they seem like they'd be delicious without. I made mine larger than recommended and wound up with 8 biscuits.

Drop Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chilled butter or stick margerine, cut into small pieces
1 cup fat-free milk
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450º.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk; stir just until moist.
Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until golden. Remove biscuits from pan immediately, and place on a wire rack.
1 dozen (serving size: 1 biscuit)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 119(31% from fat); FAT 4.1g (sat 2.5g,mono 1.1g,poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 2.9g; CHOLESTEROL 11mg; CALCIUM 97mg; SODIUM 270mg; FIBER 0.6g; IRON 1.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 17.6g

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Oh how I love my crockpot. If I could live with only one kitchen appliance for the rest of my life, I would choose my crockpot. I use it at least once a week, typically on Mondays. It's great to come home to a finished dinner and a delicious smelling house at the start the week. I have tons of crockpot recipes in my rotation, and this is a super easy one that I throw together regularly. I hesitate to really call it a recipe, because it includes only three ingredients, but its yummy nonetheless.

Crockpot Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup diced onion
1 bottle barbecue sauce

Place chicken in crockpot and cover with onion and barbecue sauce. Cook 8 hours on low setting. Using two forks, shred the chicken. I serve this on toasted whole wheat rolls topped with shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Have plenty of napkins on hand - this gets messy!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Better Than Friskies

So last night's dinner wasn't exactly gourmet, but that didn't bother Roger. Chicken sausage beats canned cat food any day...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Cinnamon Buttermilk Muffins

A few months ago we got new neighbors next door, and we've slowly been getting to know them. They invited us over for brunch tomorrow, and although I was told not to bring anything I always feel the need to bring something, so I decided to try the Williams Sonoma Cinnamon Buttermilk Muffins from Annie's blog.

The muffins didn't disappoint! They were easy to make and taste just as good as bakery muffins. The cinnamon sugar topping really makes the muffin! I followed the recipe exactly and wouldn't change a thing, although next time I will make significantly less topping, as I ended up throwing out most of the melted butter and cinnamon sugar mixture. Thanks, Annie, for introducing this great recipe! I can't wait to share these tomorrow with our neighbors.

Cinnamon Buttermilk Muffins
7 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the topping:
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease 9 standard muffin cups with butter or butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray; fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping.To make the muffins, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well until pale and smooth.In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Add to the butter mixture in 2 additions, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. Stir just until evenly moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each three-fourths full. Bake until the muffins are golden, dry and springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins and let stand until cool enough to handle.

To make the topping, in a small, shallow bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Put the melted butter in another small bowl. Holding the bottom of a muffin, dip the top into the melted butter, turning to coat it evenly. Immediately dip the top in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, coating it evenly, then tap it to remove excess sugar. Transfer the muffin, right side up, to the rack. Repeat with the remaining muffins. Let cool completely before serving.
Makes 9 muffins.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

This is what an angel must taste like...

Excuse my title, its an obscure reference to my favorite comic strip, Get Fuzzy. In that particular installment, Satchel the dog makes the above comment after tasting a Fig Newton for the first time. Unfortunately, my Crockpot Angel Chicken from last night didn't taste quite as heavenly as Satchel's Newton. The dish was certainly easy and wasn't bad, it just wasn't spectacular. I found the taste of the cream of mushroom soup to be overpowering to the rest of the ingredients. I don't think I'll make this again, since I have an arsenal of much better crockpot recipes, but I've certainly had worse dinners.

I beleive the original Angel Chicken recipe is from All Recipes, but I used a version modified for the crockpot that I found on Bake Space. I served the chicken over whole wheat angel hair pasta with a side of steamed snow peas.

Crockpot Angel Chicken

6 boneless chicken breasts (I used 4)
1/2 cup butter
1 pkg dry italian salad dressing mix
1 can golden mushroom soup (I used Healthy Request cream of mushroom soup)
1/2 cup white wine or 1/2 c. chicken broth
4 oz. onion & chive cream cheese
1 pkg angel hair pasta, cooked according to box directions

Place chicken in crock pot. In sauce pan melt butter. Stir in italian salad dressing mix, soup, cream cheese & wine. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 4-5 hours (mine cooked on low for about 8 hours and plenty moist and saucy). Pour over cooked pasta.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Back to School

Whenever Joe and I are going out to eat or getting takeout our first choice is usually Italian, and typically, one of us will order penne vodka for our entree. Since we both love the dish so much in restaurants, I've recently begun trying to recreate the dish at home. Last night was my second attempt - the first recipe (an old family one from my friend Kim's grandmother) was good but too spicy and not really what I had in mind. So I decided to try the recipe for Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce from the September 2007 issue of Cooking Light and see how that measured up. I also chose this recipe becasue I wanted to make a special dinner for Joe, since it was his last day of summer vacation before returning to school to educate the youth of Freehold Township for another year.

The finished dish was quite tasty, and Joe certainly enjoyed it, but still not really like the version we have in favorite restaurants. This could have to do with the fact that this recipe called for only 1/4 cup of cream, and I can only imagine the amount of cream in the restaurant versions! Still, the dish was easy and delicious (and relatively guilt-free) and I will definitely make it again - while continuing my search for the "perfect" vodka sauce! I served the pasta with some grilled shrimp and made a copy cat version of the Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits - Joe's favorite of all breads. These were also very good - easy and pretty close to the Red Lobster version.

Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce

1/2 pound uncooked penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup vodka
1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup whipping cream (I used light cream)
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil (I omitted this)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and keep warm.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add vodka; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by about half. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, broth, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Place tomato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Process until smooth. Return tomato mixture to pan; stir in cream. Cook 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in cooked pasta, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and basil. Serve immediately.

4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 354(25% from fat); FAT 9.9g (sat 3.9g,mono 4.1g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 8.5g; CHOLESTEROL 20mg; CALCIUM 36mg; SODIUM 662mg; FIBER 3.1g; IRON 1.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 48.6g

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

2 cups Bisquick (I used lowfat)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
few pinches of dried parsley flakes

Mix the Bisquick, milk, and cheese together until dough forms. Mix for about 30 seconds. Form into balls and place on an ungreased cooking sheet. Bake in oven at 450 for 10 minutes. While they are in the oven, combine melted butter, garlic salt, and parsley. Remove from oven and pour melted butter mixture over buscuits while still hot. I turned off the oven and then put the bisquits back in and let them sit and soak up the butter.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Less than a week into having my own blog, I've been tagged - twice! First by Mari of Mari's Munchies and then by Tiffany of Tiffany's Temptations . So I guess I have to share my 8 facts, since you're all dying to know ;)

1. My favorite thing to eat in the whole world is chocolate chip cookies, as you may have guessed from the theme of my blog. Nothing makes me happier than a soft, giant cookie. My favorite store-bought cookies come from Quick Chek, and being the wonderful husband that he is, Joe often stops there and picks me up treats.

2. I will not go upstairs to bed until the couch cushions are fluffed, the TV remote is neatly sitting on the coffee table and the house is generally in order. I am slightly obsessive compulsive like that.

3. I am addicted to Yankee Candles, but only the dessert-scented ones. Keep your "Fresh Linen" and "Gardenia" scents and give me "Chocolate Chip Cookie," "Creme Brule," and "Vanilla Cupcake."

4. Animals just crack me up. Show me a cat slipping off a windowsill or a dog bumping into a wall and I will laugh until I cry.

5. I was filmed for a Tae Bo infomercial last fall. While my footage ended up on the cutting room floor, I did get to spend the day working out with and talking to one of my fitness idols, Billy Blanks. He is a wonderful and inspiring person and it was a great experience.

6. One of my favorite places to be is the gym. I love socializing with people there and taking different classes. I also teach a class of my own called BodyAttack.

7. I get way too much pleasure from my cats. I love my dog Tucker, don't get me wrong, but I ADORE my kitties, Roy and Roger. They make me happy every day, and there's nothing better than being snuggled in bed with Roy in my arms Roger on my feet.

8. My husband Joe is the best friend I've ever had. We've been together for over 10 years and he is truly the love of my life. I am grateful every day that we found each other so young and are able to experience nearly our entire lives together.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Easy Chicken and Sweet Potato Casserole

I've had this recipe for Aimee's Quick Chicken from All Recipes saved for several weeks and finally got around to making it last night. The reviews I read mainly said the dish was good but very salty, so I decided to modify a bit. I left out the teriyaki sauce completely as it seemed unecessary, and I used sliced mozzarella cheese in place of the parmesan. Otherwise I followed the directions and it was easy and flavorful. The recipe is below with my modifications. I served this with Light Sweet Potato Casserole, also from All Recipes. This was also easy and tasty.

Quick Chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 ounces Dijon mustard
1/4 cup bacon bits
4 slices mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Place chicken in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Slather mustard evenly over chicken. Sprinkle with bacon bits, then cover with cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 30 minutes.

Light Sweet Potato Casserole
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup egg substitute
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan or Dutch oven; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Drain.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the sweet potatoes, milk, egg substitute, brown sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth. Transfer to a 1-1/2-qt. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.
Nutritional Analysis: One serving (2/3 cup) equals 160 calories, trace fat (trace saturated fat), trace cholesterol, 187 mg sodium, 36 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Doofus Cake

Also known as Texas Sheet Cake, but based on my performance while preparing it, the first name is a better fit. I've heard nothing but rave reviews about this cake on my cooking board, so when my September issue of Cooking Light arrived featuring the cake, I knew I had to try it. Joe and I are having a Labor Day cookout so I had the perfect reason to bake. I've never made a cake and/or icing from scratch before, but the recipe seemed pretty foolproof. Rest assured, nothing is impossible for this fool to screw up!

I prepared the batter for the cake and poured it into my prepared pan. As I was doing this, I thought, "Wow, this cake doesn't have any sugar! I wonder where it gets its sweetness?" Then I thought, "IS it sweet?" and tasted the batter. Ew, ew, ew! Returned to the recipe and realized I had left out the 2 CUPS of sugar required. Poured the batter back into the bowl, beat in the sugar and returned the batter to the pan...and realized I never greased the pan this time around. Dumped the batter back into the bowl, greased the pan, returned batter and baked. Cake came out looking perfect and the icing was made without incident. The finished cake was beautiful. So beautiful in fact that it distracted me from the fact that the cake was piping hot out of the oven, and I grabbed the pan with both bare hands to move it from the counter. OUCH! This cake better taste damn good...

I followed the recipe exactly, except that in my oven the cake took 35 minutes to bake in my 13X9" pan as opposed to the 22 the recipe recommended.

Texas Sheet Cake

Cooking spray
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter or stick margarine
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons butter or stick margarine
1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°.
To prepare the cake, coat a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons flour. Set prepared pan aside.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour and next 4 ingredients (2 cups flour through salt) in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Combine water, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; pour into flour mixture. Beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake at 375° for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.
To prepare the icing, combine 6 tablespoons butter, milk, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and gradually stir in powdered sugar, pecans, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Spread over hot cake. Cool completely on wire rack.
Note: You can also make this recipe in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 375º for 22 minutes.

20 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 298(30% from fat); FAT 10g (sat 5.5g,mono 3.2g,poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 3.1g; CHOLESTEROL 44mg; CALCIUM 25mg; SODIUM 188mg; FIBER 0.5g; IRON 1.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 49.8g