Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pistachio Jell-O Salad

Today is gonna be HARD!!  I sent my baby (who is 4 and doesn't like me calling him my baby!) off to preschool this morning!  I. AM. ALL. ALONE!!!  I always thought I'd look forward to this day, but it is really going to take some time to get used to!  I should really do some cleaning, but all I want to do is just sit around and eat. (YES...I am an emotional eater:)!!)  And this is one of those things that I would just love to be able to snack on all morning while my baby's gone...bowl of Pistachio Jell-o in one hand a box of tissues in the other....

Pistachio Jell-O Salad
1 small box of Instant Pistachio Pudding
1 (12 oz.) carton of Whipped Topping
1 pint (2 cups) Cottage Cheese
1 can (22 oz.) Crushed Pineapple, drained
2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix whipped topping, cottage cheese, pistachio pudding, and pineapple together in a large bowl.  Then add the marshmallows and pecans and gently mix in.  Place in the fridge for about 30-45 minutes before serving. 

I just couldn't help but add a picture of my baby Rhett on his 1st day of school! 
He looks so grown-up!!

Will this get easier??  Please lie to me if you have to!:)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Black Bean Soup

This soup is so hearty and filling I absolutely loved it!!  Don't let the look of it throw you, it is an excellent dish!  The whole family really enjoyed this one!

Black Bean Soup
Recipe from Our Best Bites
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
3/4 cup diced carrots 
3/4 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (3.5 ounce) can diced green chilies
2 (15 ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano leaves
1 bay leaf
1 lime, juiced
Optional toppings: sour cream, tortilla chips, shredded cheese (or crumbled feta!), chopped cilantro, etc.

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and saute for 4-5 minutes.

Add the black beans, chilies, and beef broth.  Stir to combine and then add the salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and bay leaf.  Simmer uncovered for about 20-25 minutes or until carrots are tender.  Remove from heat.  Remove bay leaf from soup.

Transfer the soup to a blender.  Place lid on blender but remove the stopper in the lid to let heat escape.  Cover the hole with a paper towel to avoid splatters.

Puree soup until desired consistency is reached.  Squeeze in the juice from one lime and pulse to combine.

Ladle into bowls and top with desired toppings. (We topped ours with either feta or mozzarella cheese and cilantro.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Italian Chicken and Vegetable Skewers

For those who don't's diet time here at our house!:(  We (Tony--the hubby--and I) did a little too much bingeing this summer and need to get back in the habit of eating wonderful HEALTHY foods.  This skewer was so perfect for our diet and is really good!  I don't think you can actually count it as a diet food, but it fit within our boundaries and was so delicious!  We will make this one even when not dieting!

Italian Chicken and Vegetable Skewers
Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites
(sorry it's not the best actually was taken with my phone!!  Our camera is having issues...we need to replace it...anyone have some good suggestions on what kind to buy that will take fabulous food photo's???)

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 bottle of fat-free Italian dressing (or your favorite homemade recipe)
1 medium yellow squash, cut into bite size pieces
2 bell peppers, various colors, cut into bite sized pieces (we used green & purple...found at the produce stand down the street...really good!)
1 small red onion, cut into chunks
2 tomatoes, cut into chunks (we used 2 red tomatoes & then some yellow pear tomatoes)
12 white mushrooms, cut in half

Place your cut up chicken in a shallow dish and pour half of the bottle of Italian dressing over the top.  Cover and let marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours. 

Gently toss the vegetables with the other half of the Italian dressing. Set aside.

Thread the meat and veggies onto some skewers.  There will be more veggies than meat.  A good rule is to do 3 veggies and then meat, 3 veggies then meat...etc.:)  TIP: If you are using bamboo skewers you can soak them in water for 30 minutes before use so they don't burn when you put them on the grill.  I would recommend investing in some metal ones though...whether or not I soak my skewers they always end up burning.  But, they taste good either way!:)

Preheat your grill to about 400 degrees.  Cook the skewers for about 10-12 minutes turning at the half way point, or until the chicken is done and the veggies are tender-crisp. 

Enjoy...these were wonderful!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

Kyla had so much fun making these!  They are really simple because of the boxed cake mix and can of frosting, but you'd never know it.  The caramel, walnuts, and extra chocolate turn this ordinary cupcake into a wonderful delight!

Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes
Recipe from Taste of Home
1 package Chocolate Cake Mix (we used Devil's food cake)
24 caramels
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
Chocolate frosting
Additional walnuts, optional

Prepare cake mix batter according to package directions for cupcakes.  Fill 24 paper-lined muffin cups one-third full; set remaining batter aside.  Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes or until top of cupcake appears set. 

Gently press a caramel into each cupcake; sprinkle with chocolate chips and walnuts.  Top with remaining batter.  Bake 15-20 minutes longer or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Cool for 5 minutes before removing form pans to wire racks to cool completely.  Frost cupcakes with chocolate frosting.  You can either just spread it on with a knife or pipe it on like we did.  Kyla's actually getting pretty good at the piping!:)  Sprinkle with additional nuts if desired.

Linked up HERE!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce

I love pasta dishes and this one is so light and wonderful!!  It's a great way to use some fresh garden tomatoes and basil leaves!  Really delicious!  And really quick and easy to throw together...BONUS!!:)

Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman
3/4 cup Fresh Basil Leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesean Cheese
3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
2 cloves garlic, peeled
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
12 ounces Pasta (Cavitappi, Fusili, or macaroni...cause that's what I had!)
2 whole Tomatoes, diced

Cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. 

Add basil leaves, 1/2 cup Parmesan, pine nuts, and salt and pepper to a food processor or blender.  Turn machine on, then drizzle in olive oil while it mixes.  Continue blending until combined, adding additional olive oil if needed.  Set aside.  (you can also use a jar of pesto from the store if you'd rather not make your own, but the fresher the better!)

Heat the cream and butter in a small pan over medium-low heat.  Add the pesto and stir.  Drain pasta and place ina serving bowl.  Pour pesto cream over the top.  Toss to combine.  Add diced tomatoes and toss quickly.  Serve immediately.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Our Dearest Kyla!

This last week was a NIGHTMARE!!  I got so sick (still getting over a pretty nasty cough that is just lingering!).  My hubby and the kiddo's were amazing!  Tony (the hubby) was not only preparing for school to start (he teaches 2nd grade) and stressing about that, but he also had to take care of me and the kid's!  He made dinner all last week and took the kid's to the school to "help" him so that I could get some rest.  I don't know what I'd do without him!!!

And then there's Kyla.  I knew this whole blogging thing would come in handy someday.  I thought I was preparing her for when she goes to college and gets married and has a family of her own to take care of and cook for.  Well, the benefits were felt this last week.  She made breakfast every morning for her brothers!  She made Mom's Waffles, french toast, Mexican Quiche, & scrambled eggs and toast.  What a blessing to me! 

And I'm feeling all sentimental today because my baby girl just started MIDDLE SCHOOL!!  She was so excited.  I dropped her off this morning and sat in the car and watched her walk up to the school and mingle for a minute and then enter the school doors....I may or may not have shed a few tears!

Here she is when she started Kindergarten:
How did she get from that to this?????
Seriously!!!  Where did the time go??

We're so lucky to have her in our family!  What a wonderful young woman she's turning out to be! (and a fabulous cook!):)

Oh, and stay tuned for a that I'm on the mend I actually feel like cooking again!!:)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mint Brownies

I just can't help myself from making every brownie recipe I find!  I think I've got about 7-8 more brownie recipes I've yet to try as well.  It's a problem...I know.  These brownies were a super soft cake like brownie, and the mint frosting and chocolate glaze was wonderful! 

Mint Brownies
Recipe from Our Best Bites
4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1 cup butter
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1-2 tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
green food coloring

Chocolate Glaze:
1 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips (I used semisweet)
6 tablespoons real butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with foil, and spray with cooking spray.  (I just used the spray in glass pan and it worked just fine!)  Chop both the unsweetened chocolate and butter into chunks and place together in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.

With an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla for 2 minutes.  While the egg mixture is being beaten, measure out the flour and combine with the baking powder.  While the mixer is running, slowly add the melted chocolate and beat to combine.  Turn the beater speed to low and add in flour by spoonfuls.  Mix just until combined.  Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a knife poked in center comes out clean.

Cool completely on a metal rack.  When the brownies have cooled to room temperature, prepare the frosting.  Combine all the frosting ingredients, starting with 1 1/2 tablespoons of milk, and beat until light and fluffy.  Add more milk by the teaspoonful as needed.  Spread frosting evenly over the brownies and then chill the brownies in the refrigerator.

While the brownies are chilling, prepare the chocolate glaze.  Place chocolate chips and 5 tablespoons butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes and then carefully spread on top of the frosting layer.  Return the pan to the fridge to cool.  When chocolate has hardened, cut into squares and serve!

Monday, August 15, 2011


This is one of my Dad's favorite drinks.  And since my Dad & Mom were coming to stay with us this last weekend Kyla and I decided to make it for him.  It was a perfect thirst quencher for the hot day!

4 1/4 cups water, divided
2 cups sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (knox, for example)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups pineapple juice
food coloring
7-up or Gingerale

Dessolved gelatin in 1/4 cup of water.  Set aside.  While the gelatin in dissolving, boil 1 cup of water.  Add the sugar to the boiling water and boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the dissolved gelatin, 3 cups water, lemon juice, pineapple juice, and food coloring.  (Green works the best, but you can try any color you'd like!)  Pour into shallow pans and freeze (cake pan works great!) overnight.

When ready to serve, scrape the frape with a metal spoon and fill up your glasses.  Then pour in the 7-up or Gingerale and you've got yourself a drink like no other!:)

Enjoy this on these last few hot summer days we have left!:(

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Butter Pecan Crumb Cake

Last night the hubby was craving some cake...and he wanted me to just make him a box cake with store-bought frosting...can you believe the nerve???:)  Well, I found a Butter Pecan cake mix and thought I could come up with something wonderful to do with it.  And I believe I did!  This was really good.  We ate it after the kiddo's were in bed so didn't get their opinion.  But they all were wanting some for breakfast this morning (but being the good Mom I am...never mind I won't finish that sentence:)), so if my kiddo's begging to have some for breakfast is any indication.... 

Butter Pecan Crumb Cake
1 Butter Pecan Cake Mix
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon maple extract

1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine all cake ingredients.  Beat for 4 minutes at medium speed.  Your cake mix will look really light and fluffy.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (you want it to be starting to brown on the edges but not set up and browning in the center). 

While the cake is cooking, combine the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Cut the margarine into the mixtures until it resembles course crumbs.  Then mix in the pecans.  After the cake has been cooking for 20-25 minutes pull it out of the oven and sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the cake.  The cake will fall a little, that is normal from the weight of the crumbs...don't worry!:)  Put the cake back in the over for another 10-15 minutes or until the crumbs have caramelized on the cake.  Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes.

You can serve it warm with some ice cream or whipped cream...Oh My!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Alfredo Sauce

This sauce is absolutely to die for.  It is so super yummy without being too heavy as some Alfredo sauces I've tried!  But I got to say the best things about this recipe...Tony (the hubby) LIKES IT!!  He has never been an Alfredo fan and so I hardly ever make it, although I really, really like it.  He told me that it is the best Alfredo he's ever had...WIN FOR ME!!:)  Now I can have Alfredo again and not feel guilty for making something that the hubby doesn't like!!'s low fat & super easy to make!!

Alfredo Sauce
recipe from Our Best Bites
We served it with Fettuccine and grilled chicken on top!

2 cups low-fat milk (I used skim...wonderful!)
1/3 cup (3 ounces) low-fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a blender, blend the milk, cream cheese, flour, and salt until smooth.  Set aside.

In a large non-stick saucepan, melt the butter on med-high heat and add the garlic.  Saute the garlic for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add the milk mixture to the pan.  Stir constantly until mixture comes to a simmer.  Continue stirring while simmering until mixture starts to thicken...about 6 minutes. 

Once the sauce has started to thicken, remove from the heat.  Whisk in the Parmesan and immediately cover the pan.  Allow the sauce to stand for at least 10 minutes before using.  It will continue the thicken upon standing.

Serve immediately or refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days.

We served it over Fettuccine noodles and topped it with grilled chicken.  Also, we used it to dunk our Twisty Breadsticks into...delicious!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Twisty Breadsticks

Oh. My. Goodness!  These breadsticks were so delicious!!  It is as simple as it gets for a yeast dough recipe, but the results are over the top...seriously...really, really good!  I made them Saturday night, and then again Sunday night because we ate them all and I wanted some more (but Sunday I doubled the recipe so we'd have some leftovers...and guess what I ate for breakfast this morning???...:))  These are delicious with some Alfredo sauce (the best recipe I've ever had...will post it tomorrow). 

Twisty Breadsticks
recipe from Our Best Bites
This is not the best picture...sorry...I'm having camera issues!!

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 1/2 cups flour, divided

Combine water, sugar and yeast in the bowl of your mixer (or regular bowl) and let stand for about 10 minutes until the yeast is bubbly.  Add in the salt and stir.  Add 2 cups of the flour and mix well until smooth.  Gradually add more flour until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of your bowl and is a little sticky. 

Spray a glass or metal bowl with cooking spray and place dough in the bowl.  Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes or until double in bulk. 

Remove dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface.  Roll into a rectangle about 9 inches wide and 18 inches long.  Cut into 12 strips with a pizza cutter.  Twist the dough being careful not to stretch it out too much.  Place on a greased baking sheet (using cooking spray).  Cover the pan with a cloth and allow the dough to rise for about 30 more minutes. 

When there's about 15 minutes left preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  When done rising bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Rub some butter on the top of the breadsticks and then sprinkle with Garlic Bread Seasoning (recipe to follow!) or you could just sprinkle with Parmesan, garlic powder, and Italian seasonings.

Garlic Bread Seasoning
recipe from Our Best Bites
1/2 cup powdered Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons marjoram
2 teaspoons parsley

Shake all ingredients together in an airtight container.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

You will absolutely LOVE these...stay tuned tomorrow for the Alfredo sauce that is KILLER with these!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pineapple Jerk Chicken

Holy Yumminess! This is the perfect meal for me! There's just something about chicken and pineapple and cilantro that just calls my name!:) This is one that will be made time and time again!

Pineapple Jerk Chicken
(for the life of me I cannot find where I got this recipe...sorry!)
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-3 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 a pineapple, cut into bite sized pieces (or a 14 oz can of tidbits)
1/2 cup jerk marinade (I love Lawry's Caribbean Jerk!)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
In a large skillet, heat half of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until browned. Add the remaining olive oil and increase the heat just a little. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook until chicken is done. Add the pineapple and jerk marinade and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the black beans and cilantro. Cook until beans are heated through. Serve over rice.

Yummy goodness!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mom's Waffles

Kyla's favorite breakfast food is Waffles!! And even though I prefer them to pancakes I still don't make them near often enough! This is my Mom's recipe (hence the title:)!) that is really delicious! Give it a go!

Mom's Waffles
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups milk
1/2 cup oil

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix the liquids (except eggs) in a seperate bowl. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir. Add the egg yolks and mix. Beat the egg whites until "frothy" and then fold them in. And it's ready to go! Enjoy!
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