Sunday, October 30, 2011

Healthier Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff was not something that I grew up having as a child. I did not even try it until I was in college. I really had no idea what I was missing.

My husband on the other hand did grow up having Beef Stroganoff and told me it was one of his favorite meals as a child.

I knew I had to come up with a way to make it a little healthier than the original version, so here is my rendition.

Healthier Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff


1-1/2 lbs Stew meat
1 Large carrot
1 Medium onion
2 Garlic cloves
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 Cup water
1 Can healthy request cream of mushroom soup
2 oz Fat free sour cream
4 oz Plain Greek style yogurt (you can use 6 oz of sour cream and skip this ingredient if you like)
1 Tsp pepper
1 Dash olive oil
Cooked egg noodles

Heat lightly oiled skillet to medium and add meat and vegetables. Cook for 2-4 mins, just to get a light brown on the meat. You are not trying to cook the meat through just sealing in the moisture and creating more complex flavors.

Combine cream of mushroom soup, sour cream/yogurt, worcestershire, garlic, and water.

Add meat and vegetable mixture to crock pot. Top with cream sauce and cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Serve on top of egg noodles.

*This serves about 4 people, please adjust amounts if you have more members in your family.

Pumpkin Prune Muffins

Please don't let the name fool you. These Pumpkin Prune Muffins are delicious.

I was a little nervous about making these muffins with prunes, but they really did turn out great.

I happen to have several bags of prunes around the house because of a huge sale over the summer on Sunsweet prunes at my local grocer. I came across a Cranberry Pumpkin Muffin recipe on one of my favorite blogs and thought maybe I can substitute chopped up prunes instead of cranberries.

Here are my small changes to the original Cranberry Pumpkin Muffin recipe. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Prune Muffins


2 Cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1 Tsp baking soda
1 Tsp cinnamon
1/2 Tsp nutmeg
1/2 Tsp salt
1 Cup pure canned pumpkin
1 Cup of Sunsweet prunes, chopped
1/2 Cup oil
1/2 Cup skim milk
1/4 Cup molasses
1 Egg

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix all dry ingredients together in one bowl. Mix all wet ingredients together in a separate bowl. Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients until well combined.

Grease muffin pan with butter or cooking spray. Pour muffin mixture into pan about 2/3 full. Cook for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into muffin comes out clean.

*This recipe is for about 20 muffins. I made only 12 really large muffins instead.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What is up with the rolls?

If any of you are wondering I thought I would explain why I have bread rolls pictured in so many of my pictures on the blog.

Well, a few weeks ago my husband took part in a local fundraiser. At the local fundraiser they served barbecue, slaw, potatoes and bread rolls. Although the fundraiser was a success they had an enormous amount of rolls left over. My husband volunteered to take 6 bags of rolls off their hands.

We froze most of the rolls, but have been trying to use them as much as we can (without consuming too many carbs). Therefore you may see them quite frequently on the side of our main course.

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana with fresh bread (Thank you Dawn for the inspiration of this menu item; recipe coming soon!)

Tuesday - Baked Refried Bean Taquitos, Rice with Vegetables and Cooked Bananas

Wednesday - Slow Cooker Lasagna with Side Salad

Thursday - Vegetable Hamburger Soup with Rolls

Friday - Lentil and Cheese Loaf with Sweet Potato Casserole and Green Beans

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Homemade Pizza and Salad

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lentils and Cheese Loaf

With the increase in meat prices it is especially important for our family to have a strict grocery budget. I could easily spend all my budget on meat and produce alone. Therefore, creating two to three vegetarian meals a week really does help to stay within that grocery budget.

My meat lovers of the family were pretty skeptical of this Lentils and Cheese Loaf. Each of them surveyed it over and over again before then taking a bite. I would not reveal what it was that they were eating until after a few bites. I was pleasantly surprised that no one said they did not like it. My husband said it is no replacement for traditional meatloaf, but was a great vegetarian substitute.

*I would like to apologize for the horribly, blurry photos of this recipe. We desperately need a new camera.

Lentils and Cheese Loaf


2 Cups of reduced-fat cheddar cheese
2 Cups cooked lentils (see packaging for cooking instructions)
1/2 Cup onion
1/4 Tsp pepper
1/4 Tsp dried thyme
1/2 Cup breadcrumbs
1/2 Cup Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing, crushed
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 Tbsp butter
2-3 Tbsp pasta sauce + extra for topping
*You can substitute tomato sauce for the topping if you like

Preheat oven 350°. Mix all ingredients together except for extra pasta sauce/tomato sauce used for the topping.

Transfer to a loaf pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover and bake for 45 mins.

Heat extra pasta sauce/tomato sauce and add on top of loaf.

I have to say that this recipe was very simple. Definitely something you can make ahead of time and just pop in the oven.

I served the Lentils and Cheese Loaf with a side salad and bread.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Honey Mustard Rosemary Chicken with Vegetables

A really cool thing I learned about honey is that it is hygroscopic or attracts water. So when using honey in a recipe, foods will keep their moisture longer.

In this recipe the vegetables and chicken are cooked together with honey, therefore they tend to retain their moisture, instead of drying out.

I normally do not use bone-in chicken for this recipe, but Harris Teeter had an amazing deal last week for split-chicken breasts ($1 a pound). This recipe is good with chicken breasts (boneless or bone-in) and chicken thighs.

Honey Mustard Rosemary Chicken with Vegetables


2-3 lbs chicken
(remove skin if applicable)
1 Baking potato, peeled and cut into wedges
1 Large carrot, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped

1/4-1/2 Onion, sliced

4 or more whole garlic cloves, skins removed
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Sprigs rosemary
4 Tbsp mustard

2 Tbsp honey

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425°.

In a large bowl toss vegetables and fruit with oil, salt and pepper. Pour vegetable mix into a 9 X 13 baking dish. Arrange garlic cloves throughout the vegetables and top with rosemary.

Arrange chicken pieces on top of vegetable/fruit mixture and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Combine mustard and honey.

Remove chicken from baking dish and stir vegetable/fruit mixture. Place chicken back on top of mixture and coat with honey mustard.

Return to oven and continue to cook for 10-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked thru.

This is really a meal in itself, so I chose not to serve an additional side just some bread.

*Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Shenandoah Growers Organic Fresh Herbs.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Creamy Vegetable Bow Ties

If you want an easy nutritious side dish to serve your family, try this Creamy Vegetable Bow Ties recipe.

I really used whatever vegetables I had on hand so you can customize it to your family's likes.

My oldest son asked if he could please have this creamy pasta for lunch at school tomorrow, yay!

Creamy Vegetable Bow Ties


1/4 Box bow tie pasta, cooked
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tsp oregano
1/2 Tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 Tsp garlic powder
2 Cups fresh vegetable of your choice, chopped (I used carrots, green beans, mushrooms, and broccoli)
1 Fresh tomato, chopped
4-5 Tbsps low fat cottage cheese or ricotta
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Prepare pasta according to package, drain and set to the side.

Heat oil in skillet over low heat and add oregano, italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Cook for about 2 mins.

Turn heat to medium and add all vegetables except tomato. Saute until vegetables are tender.

Add cooked pasta, cottage cheese and fresh tomato, heating thru for about 3 mins. Continue to stir until cheese has melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve and sprinkle each individual serving with parmesan cheese.

This was a great side dish, but would make a light vegetarian main dish as well.

For this particular night I served this pasta along side Refried Bean Taquitos and Broccoli and Cheese.

Baked Refried Bean Taquitos

If you have been reading my blog you probably already know that I try to make a vegetarian meal one night and a meat dinner the next night. This can be quite challenging when you have two family members that love their meat.

I have found that if I make the vegetarian meals Mexican style I almost never get a complaint.

For tonight's dinner we had Refried Bean Taquitos, Creamy Vegetable Bow Ties and Broccoli with Cheese. Everyone loved the taquitos, which was really no surprise. The surprise was 3 out of 4 enjoyed the Creamy Vegetable Bow Ties.

Refried Bean Taquitos


1/2 of my Refried Bean Recipe
8-10 Wheat Tortillas (I used diff. sizes because that is what I had on hand)
1 Large Tomato, Chopped
3/4-1 Cup cheddar or monterey jack cheese
Olive oil to brush on top

Preheat oven to 400°

Place tortillas on a microwave safe plate and top with a damp paper towel. Heat for 30-45 seconds.

Fill the middle of each tortilla with refried bean mixture, tomatoes and cheese. Roll tortilla to wrap close and place seam down in 13 X 9 baking dish.

After you place each tortilla in the baking dish brush olive oil on the top to prevent the tortilla from splitting open.

Cook for about 15-17 mins.

Homemade Oatmeal Packets

My kids eat oatmeal almost everyday during the winter. They love the expensive Quaker fruit and cream oatmeal packets. I am determined to find a less expensive, healthier way to make these packets.

After searching online I have come up with a recipe that I think would work for our family. It can be easily adapted to individual likes as well.

I made cranberries and cream packets as well as cinnamon and brown sugar. My oldest liked the cinnamon and brown sugar and I liked the cranberries and cream. The jury is still out on which ones my husband and my youngest prefer.

Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Oatmeal Packets


1/4 Cup Quick Oats
1 Tbsp finely ground quick or rolled oats (optional) - add if you like your oatmeal a little thick
1/8 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp brown sugar
1/4 Tsp cinnamon

Place ingredients into each packet, seal and shake. When ready to use add milk or water and heat in the microwave for 45-60 seconds.

Cranberries and Cream Oatmeal Packets


1/4 Cup Quick Oats (I purchased these in bulk for $1.89 at Aldi)
1 Tbsp finely ground quick oats or rolled oats (optional) - add if you like it on the thicker side
1/8 Tsp salt
1 Tbsp powdered milk or powdered cream
1/2 Tsp sugar
18-24 dried cranberries or other dried fruit

Place ingredients into each packet, seal and shake. When ready to use add milk or water and heat in microwave for 45-60 seconds.

The only reason I used dried cranberries instead of blueberries is because of cost. The cranberries were much cheaper, but once I get a coupon for the dried blueberries I will try them as well.

*You may need to add additional sugar if you like your oatmeal on the sweet side like I do.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Our Dinner Menu Plan

When times get hectic and out of control this picture reminds me of why I do what I do each week, for those two little blessings that God gave my husband and I. I hope you will take a moment out of your day to reflect and enjoy your many blessings as well.

Here is our dinner menu plan. Recipes will follow throughout the week.

Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - Baked Refried Bean Taquitos with Creamy Vegetable Bow Ties and Broccoli with Cheese

Tuesday - Honey Mustard Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Wednesday - Lentil and Cheese Loaf with a Side Salad and Bread

Thursday - Chicken Tacos with Avocado Spread and Tomato Salad

Friday - Healthier Beef Stroganoff with
Green Beans

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Homemade Spinach Calzones and Fruit

I hope you have a fantastic week!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crock Pot Pumpkin Chili

Can I just say that I love pumpkin? I know I have posted a few recipes with pumpkin lately, but I just can't help myself.

Pumpkin is such a nutritious and versatile ingredient.

Let me give you some nutritional facts about pumpkin:
  • Low in calories
  • Contains no saturated fat or cholesterol
  • Rich in Dietary Fiber, Antioxidants, Minerals and Vitamins (especially Vitamin A)
Now I am sure you have used pumpkin for making desserts and breads, but what about chili? It may sound rather odd, but my whole family can attest that this pumpkin chili is flavorful, hearty and delicious.

Crock Pot Pumpkin Chili


1 lb 93% lean hamburger or ground turkey
1 Medium onion, chopped

1 Small green pepper, chopped

1 Celery Stalk, chopped

1 Small carrot, shredded

2 Cloves garlic

Hand-full of fresh mushrooms chopped (optional)
1 Cup pinto beans
1 Can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes

1 1/2 Cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie puree)
1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder

1/2 Tsp black pepper

1/2 Tsp salt
1 -2 Cups broth (chicken, beef or vegetable)

Optional toppings:

Shredded cheddar cheese

Sour cream

Chopped green onions

Heat skillet and add beef, onion, peppers, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook until almost browned and add mushrooms and pinto beans.

Once hamburger is browned add tomatoes, pumpkin, chili powder, pepper, and salt. Stir to combine and then begin adding broth. Add as much or as little as you like depending on how thick or thin you like your chili.

Add chili to crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours.

Serve topped with cheddar cheese, sour cream and green onions.

This chili tastes great with honey cornbread muffins.

*Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Pacific Natural Foods.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Our Dinner Menu Plan

Monday - Prosciutto Pasta Toss with Side Salad and Rolls

Tuesday - Tuna Balls, Black-eyed Peas, and Collard Greens

Wednesday - Crock Pot Pumpkin Chili with Sweet Cornbread

Thursday - Ginger Scallion Ramen Noodle Salad and Teriyaki Salmon

Friday - Refried Beans and Rice, Guacamole, Fruit and Homemade Tortilla Chips

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Pizza Dinner with friends

* These are all subject to change. Recipes will follow throughout the week.

Prosciutto Pasta Toss

I have been sick for the past few days, so the last thing I wanted to do last night was make an elaborate dinner. I began searching through my tried and trusted recipe book of our family favorites and came across a super simple recipe that I thought I must share with all of you.

The original recipe for Prosciutto Pasta Toss can be found on the Taste of Home website. I made a few additions, but overall followed the recipe.

Prosciutto can be expensive, although my local supermarket, Harris Teeter, does place it on sale every couple of months. In this case, I purchased sliced Prosciutto da Parma 3oz size for $3.99 (50% off the original price).

I am kind of glad my husband was not here for dinner last night because there would not have been any leftovers. My oldest son ate two helpings and I sent him to school today with the leftovers.

Prosciutto Pasta Toss


1 Package spaghetti or linguine of your choice (I used Ronzoni SmartTaste)
1/4 Cup olive oil
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 Tsp pepper
1/4 Medium yellow onion
4 Cloves garlic
3 oz Thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1/2 Cup no-salt canned sweet peas (you can frozen if you like)
1/4 Cup fresh basil, chopped (optional)
1/4 Grated parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add onions, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Cook until onions are translucent. Add garlic and prosciutto and cook for a couple minutes more.

If using frozen peas, add them to the pasta in the last 3 mins. of cooking time. If using canned peas add them to the prosciutto skillet right before you add the pasta.

Drain pasta and add to prosciutto mixture. Stir to combine. Place in individual bowls topped with chopped basil and grated parmesan.

This goes great with a side salad and fresh bread.

*The reason I use canned peas instead of frozen is just a personal preference. I am not a fan of frozen peas and I like the fact that I can get no-salt peas if I buy them in a can.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baked Crunchy Chicken FIngers

As a family we try not to eat out very much. Not only does it save money, but it is also much healthier. If we do eat fast food, our restaurant of choice is Chick-fil-a. Their chicken strips and nuggets alike are delicious.

Although, I can not duplicate Chick-fil-a's chicken strips, I have come across a great baked Chicken Finger Recipe that my kids love.

Baked Crunchy Chicken Fingers


4 oz Fat-free sour cream or plain greek-style yogurt
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Cups dry stuffing mix (crushing into small pieces) or fresh breadcrumbs
2 lbs Chicken tenderloins or breasts cut up into strips
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Mix sour cream with mustard and add a touch of salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Put stuffing mix in another shallow dish.

Dip each chicken strip into the sour cream mixture and then press into stuffing mix. Put coated chicken strips onto baking sheet and spray the tops with cooking spray.

Bake for 20 mins. or until cooked through and lightly golden brown.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Swiss Steak with Carrots and Potatoes

Trying to stay on a budget is pretty hard, as I am sure all of you know. Food prices have escalated lately and it seems more so in the meat department than any other. Therefore, I have been searching for recipes that incorporate cheaper pieces of meat and just as much flavor.

When I was child my mom would make Swiss steak for dinner. She made it so tender you had no idea you were eating a cheaper cut of meat. I would love to get that same Swiss steak recipe from my mom, but from my previous experience of exchanging recipes with her, she never seems to give me the entire recipe. There are always missing components. I think it is because she throws dinners together and forgets what she puts in them each time. Therefore, I resorted to searching for just the right Swiss Steak recipe online.

Alton Brown on the Food Network has an excellent recipe for Swiss Steak. I have adapted it just a little to incorporate more vegetables and I am cooking it in the crock pot instead of the oven.

Swiss Steak with Carrots and Potatoes

2 lbs Cube steak
2 Tsp salt
1 Tsp pepper
1/2 Cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 Cup vegetable oil
1 Large onion, thinly sliced
1 Green Pepper, thinly sliced
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Celery Stalk, chopped
1 Large carrot, chopped
2 Medium-sized red potatoes, peeled, chopped and, parboiled
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 (14.5 oz) Can diced tomatoes
1 Tsp oregano
1 Tsp paprika
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 Cups beef broth

Heat oil in skillet on medium. Salt and pepper each side of steaks. Dredge cube steaks in flour and place in skillet. Cook about 2 mins. per side. Remove steaks and place in crock pot.

(I think I added a little too much oil, because I had to pour some out before adding the veggies)

Add onion, celery, green pepper, and carrot to skillet. Cook for about 2 mins. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Add tomato paste, oregano, and paprika. Stir to combine flavors. Add diced tomatoes, worcestershire sauce and beef broth. Continue to stir adding the potatoes last.

Carefully, add vegetable mix to the crock pot over the steaks and cook for about 4-6 hours on low.

I served this over brown rice.

* I do not believe I would add the potatoes the next time I cook this recipe. They really did not add anything in my opinion, but you give it try and see what you think.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I still have some pumpkin puree left even after making Pumpkin Mousse Pie, Pumpkin Oatmeal, and Pumpkin Pancakes. We are currently out of granola bars, therefore what is a mother to do, but make her own, right? Dare I say Pumpkin Granola Bars....wait how about Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars?

I found a delightful recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars and had to give it a try. Let's just say these granola bars are going to go fast. Now why did I not think ahead and double the recipe. I guess I will be making more this weekend.


(This is what it looked like before they entered the oven)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Israeli Couscous with Tomato, Spinach and Pine nuts

As I was putting my menu plan together for the week I came across a vegetarian recipe in the new October All You magazine and thought it would work perfect for our vegetarian nights.

The recipe was called Red Quinoa Pilaf with Tomato, Spinach and Pine Nuts. I had all the ingredients for this recipe except quinoa, so I included it on my grocery list and set out to get it. Much to my surprise quinoa was quite expense, $4.99 a box, leaving me no choice, but to find a replacement. I decided to purchase Israeli couscous instead because it was only $0.99 a bag and it seemed like an obvious substitute.

Therefore, I have renamed this recipe and made a couple of other changes and I will list them below. I hope you enjoy!

Israeli Couscous with Tomato, Spinach, and Pine Nuts


1 cup of Israeli Couscous
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 large tomatoes, diced (I used one large and 10 grape tomatoes chopped)
3 cups of vegetable broth
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup fresh baby spinach, chopped
Feta cheese (optional)

Heat one tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and add couscous. Heat until couscous is golden brown. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Add another tbsp of olive oil to the skillet. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes and vegetable broth to the skillet and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, carefully transfer to crock pot. Add couscous and salt and pepper.

(I know we desperately need a new camera)

Cover and cook on low until the liquid is almost all absorbed about 2 hours. If it becomes too dry add more stock.

Place pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat and toast until light golden brown. You must turn and shake these constantly to prevent burning. Transfer to a bowl.

In the minutes of cooking add spinach and pine nuts to crock pot. Once spinach is wilted, transfer to individual bowls and serve. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I also added a sprinkle of feta cheese on top of each for even more flavor and served with a side salad.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pumpkin Mousse Pie

It's fall and I have an incredible craving for pumpkin. I have always wanted to cook my own pumpkins and have fresh pumpkin for a variety of recipes. Well, this year I decided to do just that.

I cooked two whole small pumpkins in the oven brushed with olive oil for about 60 mins. at 400°. I let them cool and then cut them open to retrieve the pulp and pumpkin seeds. I washed the pulp away from the seeds, coated them with olive oil and a couple dashes of salt, and roasted for a few mins in the 400° oven.

I then removed the flesh of the pumpkin and decided to make some pumpkin recipes. First I started with a simple and super delicious family favorite dessert. I made this dessert last year for Thanksgiving and it was a complete hit. As you can see by the picture we only have a little over a slice left and I just made this last night.

Pumpkin Mousse Pie


1 1/4 Cup cold fat-free milk
1 Package vanilla flavor instant pudding or sugar-free vanilla pudding mix
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (here is a recipe for pumpkin pie spice mix)
1 Cup fresh or canned pumpkin
1 Tub whipped topping or sugar-free whipped topping
1 Graham cracker reduced fat pie crust or homemade

In a large bowl beat milk, pudding mix, and spice with a wire whisk for about 2 mins. Whisk in the pumpkin. Fold half of the whipped topping into the mix.

Spread into pie crust and top with remaining whipped topping.

Refrigerate for 2 or more hours. Must be stored in the refrigerator.

What is your favorite way to use pumpkin? I would love to have your feedback.

**Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Chicago Metallic.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Vegetable Soup with Pinto Beans

Last night's dinner was not entirely a success. My intentions were to make a delightful, wholesome Vegetable Soup. Look at all those fresh, yummy ingredients.

Well, I purchased a bucket of dried pinto beans from a co-op last week and really wanted to use them in this soup to make it spectacular. When I mean a bucket, I mean 45 pounds of beans.

I soaked the beans overnight and decided to add them to my soup to cook all day. Well, needless to say the soup was delicious, but the beans were not soft.

Next time I will remember to cook the beans by themselves before putting into anything else.

I cooked the soup in the crock pot for about 4 hours, so this is another great crock pot meal. If you do not have dried beans, I think canned beans would work just fine. My plan is to "can" some of the beans I purchased so that they are ready to use immediately next time, without all the extra fuss.

Vegetable Soup with Pinto Beans


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Medium onion, chopped
1 Carrot, chopped
1 Celery, chopped
4 Cloves garlic, minced
2 Red Potatoes
1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Green Beans
3 Cups diced tomatoes
1 Cup or more fresh or frozen corn
2 Cups semi to fully cooked pinto beans or you can use canned
3 Cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth (I used a combination) - My broth came from the Chicken Pastry recipe before I added the pastry
1/4 Tsp thyme
1/4 Italian seasoning
1 Bay leaf
2 Tsp salt (if you use canned tomatoes you may want to decrease the salt)
1 Tsp black pepper

Heat olive oil in pot. Add onions and celery and saute until translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Add all the remaining vegetables except the corn and tomatoes. Add the thyme, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Saute for a couple of minutes. You are not trying to cook the vegetables completely here just get the flavors to mix and to saute a little.

Transfer vegetables to crock pot and add tomatoes, corn, broth, bay leaf and beans.

Cook for about 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Remove bay leaf and serve in individual bowls topped with grated parmesan cheese and more salt and pepper if desired.

This soup is perfect for fall!

*You can also cook on the stove instead of the crock pot at a simmer until potatoes are tender.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

While eating my salad with avocado for lunch today, it just came to me that I have yet to post the creamy and oh so delicious Chocolate Avocado Mousse recipe that is a family favorite.

For all those people out there that do not like avocado, please keep reading. My mother absolutely dislikes avocado (texture and taste), but she LOVED this avocado mousse. If your kids do not like avocado, just try this recipe and I am pretty sure they will change their minds.

Here are my changes:

Chocolate Avocado Mousse


4 oz Semisweet chocolate
1 Tbsp water
2 Avocados
2 Tbsp cocoa
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 Tbs honey
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup natural peanut butter

Place chocolate and water in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir chocolate and continue to cook in microwave until chocolate has melted completely.

Place avocados in food processor and pulse. Add cocoa, maple syrup, honey, salt and chocolate, process. Once ingredients are combined add peanut butter and continue to pulse until completely combined.

Serve in individual bowls and enjoy!

*This treat is very rich so a little goes a long way

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chicken Pastry

My husband is an amazing cook. He is the type who does not follow recipes or measure ingredients, just naturally talented. Well, I have been trying to get approximate measurements for his hearty Chicken Pastry for years. Several friends have requested this recipe and I think I now have it all ready to post.

Let me just explain the difference in pastry and dumplings. The "pastry" in chicken pastry is basically dumplings that have been rolled flat, thin and cut into strips. Dumplings are thicker, dough-like and formed into a ball shape.

My husband is from Pennsylvania and traditionally they make dumplings instead of pastry for this type of stew. However, after tasting my mom's fantastic Chicken Pastry he decided to come up with one all his own using pastry instead of dumplings.

Chicken Pastry

1 Whole Chicken 3 1/2 - 5 lbs (this depends on how much you would like to make)
1 Medium onion, chopped
3 Celery Stalks, chopped (save celery leaves for more flavor)
1 Large carrot, chopped
1 Tsp thyme leaves
2 Tbsp salt
1/2 Tbsp pepper
1 Bay leaf
1 Clove garlic minced - optional (I have cooked it without the garlic and it is still fantastic)
1/2 box of Anne's frozen flat pastry strips or homemade

Remove and discard giblets from chicken. You can use them if you like, but I usually toss them out. Wash chicken. Place chicken, onion, celery, and carrots in a large stockpot. Add enough water to cover chicken.

Add thyme, salt, pepper, bay leaf and garlic and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil began to simmer it (light boil) for about 45 mins. Give the chicken leg a little pull and if it separates from the meat it is done.

Remove pot from stove and place chicken on a large cutting board to cool.

Remove pastry from freezer. Bring stock back to a boil and add pastry 4-5 at a time (Use about 1/2 of the box of pastry). Remember the pastry will expand.

Boil for about 8-10 mins, stirring constantly to prevent sticking.

Add chicken back to the pot and boil for additional 2 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and cover. Let the stew rest for 30 mins and then serve.

This recipe pairs well with Honey Cornbread Muffins.

*You can substitute rice instead of pastry if you like

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Healthy Taco Salad

When looking for new recipes whether on the internet, in cookbooks or magazines, I always find myself gravitating toward Mexican style foods. Maybe it is because these types of recipes seem to be so flavorful or because they go over well at our house. If you find yourself longing for Mexican cuisine, but want to stay on the healthier side than you will love this Taco Salad recipe.

If you eliminate the beef in this recipe you could make it vegetarian instead.

Healthy Taco Salad


1 lb 93/7 lean ground beef or ground turkey
1/2 onion + more if you would like some on top for serving
1 tsp garlic
3 tsp taco seasoning
8-10 oz yellow corn
14.5 oz can pinto beans or black beans
4-6 tbsp salsa
Salt and pepper as desired
Tortilla chips (homemade or storebought)
2 cups of shredded romaine or spinach lettuce
1 cup of tomatoes, diced
Shredded cheddar or monterey jack
Fat free sour cream
Guacamole or avocado spread

Brown ground beef with onions on medium heat. Add garlic when beef is almost brown.

Add taco seasoning, corn, pinto beans and salsa. If desired add salt and pepper. Simmer for about 15 mins.

Serve in bowls on top of tortilla chips with tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and guacamole.

My husband and I also toss a few jalapenos on top because we like it a little spicy.