Thursday, June 30, 2011

I love Italian night!

Tonight's breakfinner was Cajun Pasta Fresca. I added Cajun chicken on top as well and it was crazy good. Next time I'll use less salt in the tomatoes because I think my Cajun seasoning already has quite a bit. Here it is!

I just finished this and it's making me hungry again! And you guessed it. Tonight's the night we've all been waiting for. It's time for maple glazed cinnamon roll cupcakes. That should keep me busy while Jim's at work. I'm very excited.

Also, a little anecdote I've been meaning to mention here. In a moment of weakness last week, I gave in to a vending machine craving. I could only walk by the new Peanut Butter Snickers so many times before I caved. And honestly, I was not impressed. It wasn't even that peanut buttery. You'd be hard pressed to find a peanut butter chocolate combo I don't like, but this is one. So if you haven't tried it yet, don't worry about it. That's all.....for now!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Burglar Alert

I just ate leftover healthy turkey loaf, so I made some burglar to spice it up.

Look's delicious huh? Here's how I make it (adapted from allrecipes).

Bulgur Wheat with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts
(makes 2 servings)


1 cup water
1/2 cup dry bulgur wheat
1 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon margarine
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1/8 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon chopped dried apricot
1 tablespoon pine nuts
2 green onions, chopped


1. Bring water to a boil in a pot, and mix in bulgur, bouillon granules, and butter. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.

2. Fluff cooked bulgur with a fork, and gently mix in the onions, dried fruit, and nuts.

There you have it, easy as pie. Also, here's a picture of Cricket!

I've been meaning to mention this short anecdote. In a moment of weakness last week, I gave in to a vending machine craving. I could only walk by the new Peanut Butter Snickers so many times before I caved. And honestly, I was not impressed. It wasn't even that peanut buttery. You'd be hard pressed to find a peanut butter chocolate combo I don't like, but this is one. So if you haven't tried it yet, don't worry about it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Turkey loaf again and Baby Bakers

Well it's my first night working the night shift, I'm getting ready to leave for work in a bit... I had a grand master plan involving using my weekend to adjust fully to the night shift schedule, and it worked until this morning...first night, up until 5am, second night, 8:30am. This morning I was supposed to be up until at least 11am, but was asleep on the floor by 6. It's Cricket's fault for cuddling me so cutely.

Thus, we ate the "dinner" that we were going to eat at 9am tomorrow for breakfast tonight, and I'm just going to go to bed when I get home instead, because surprise! I'm not superwoman. It's going to take a little more time to fully adjust the way we want to. So anyway, I made turkey loaf again because it's so filling yet so healthy and I love it. Also I made baby baked potatoes with garlic...delicious.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Today I made Luau Chicken which was a delicious and different dinner for us. The original recipe makes 6 servings, so I halved the chicken used but I kept all the veggies and the sauce in the original portions.

First, I cut up the chicken and cooked it in a splash of chicken broth with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Then I added the onions, peppers, and water chestnuts and cooked them with the chicken until they were tender. Meanwhile I simmered the pineapple juice, soy, brown sugar, pineapple tidbits, cornstarch, ginger, garlic salt, and ketchup for about five minutes. Then I combined the two and added some red pepper flakes and simmered it for awhile, transferred it to a casserole dish and baked it for about an hour. After it was done, I put some green onions and sliced almonds on top which I think was a nice texture. Delicious! I've made this before without the water chestnuts and almonds and it was much better this time around!

Also, now that I had some natural light, I tried another photo of the egg tarts since last night's didn't do them justice in my opinion. Here's the result:

Jim loved the egg tarts so I must have done something right!

Glazed Salmon and Egg Tarts

I managed to stay up until 5am which was pretty good, and now I'm in the midst of phase 2 of the adjustment to night shift. It was really great to have a day off and spend some time with Jim and the little bug (Cricket). I made salmon for dinner (or lunch for us, rather) and it turned out GREAT.

Sweet and Hot Glazed Salmon

Seriously, I can't believe how delicious this was. The glaze consisted of apricot nectar, honey, soy sauce, ginger, cinnamon, red pepper, and dried apricots. Sounds like a weird mix, but it was so good.

After dinner and after Jim left for work, I needed a little project to keep me busy so I started my latest baking project, Portuguese Egg Tarts.

They don't look like much, but they were delicious. Here's the recipe, adapted from allrecipes.

Portuguese Egg Tarts
(makes 6)


1 unbaked pie crusts (I use Pillsbury)
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup white sugar, or to taste
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray 6 muffin cups with cooking spray. Cut the pie crust into circles about 3.5 inches in diameter, you want about 6 crust circles.

2. Beat together the egg yolks, sugar, cream, milk, and vanilla extract in a bowl until light and foamy, about 3 minutes; strain the filling through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl.

3. Press a dough circle into the bottom and about 1 1/2 inches up the sides of a prepared muffin cup; repeat for remaining dough pieces. Spoon each crust about 80 percent full of the egg yolk mixture.

4. Bake in the preheated oven until the crusts are golden brown, the filling is set, and the tarts are lightly browned, 20 minutes.

Also, my wedding shoes arrived this week. I'm currently wearing them around the house to try to break them in. I think they're going to go great with the dress.

So the next step in wedding planning is making the rest of the decorations and finding a veil! Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I realized something this week

Don't judge me when I say this. I have worked steadily since I was 14 years old but I have never worked a 40 hour work week before. Sure I've gone from school to work but I don't count school as work. No, shamefully, this has been the first week where I've worked 40 consecutive hours in a row, and certainly the first time it's happened in a four day stretch. But, thankfully, now it's time for my 3 day weekend. I don't have to be back at work until Tuesday, at which point I'll start working ten hour night shifts. That brings us to now. You may notice that it's 12:30am. That's because I'm using this weekend to try to adjust to my new night shift schedule. I'm going to stay up as long as I can tonight, which will probably be another fifteen minutes or so considering I've been getting up at 5am. But enough of my whining! Everyone works! Get to the food already.

Well not quite yet. First let's talk more about my work life. I find that despite how good I've been at sticking to my diet under normal circumstances, when I'm working long shifts sitting at a desk, all I want to do is eat and all I can think about is how hungry I am. My normal breakfast and lunch is just not getting me from 5am to 5pm. I've tried divvying up my allotted calories into like a 100 calorie snack every two hours, but that didn't work either. And to make matters worse there's a coffee shop at my work as well as numerous vending machines filled with new and exciting candies like peanut butter snickers (which are actually not delicious, surprisingly). Also, as a reward for making it through my first long week of work, Jim and I went out for Mexican food tonight...which was delicious but resulted in my using up of a "cheat day". I have put on about a pound and a half this week from snacking and not working out, and I'll have to face the music tomorrow to see what kind of damage the Mexican did, but I can't imagine it's going to be good. So. I think I'm going to leave my cards and all cash in the car every day when I come in to work, that way I can't cheat, and maybe allow myself an additional hundred or two calories while I'm at work, just so I can get through my day. If anyone has any other good suggestions on how to avoid snacking when you sit at a desk bored out of your mind for long hours, I would love to hear them.

Now for the good stuff.

I've gone ahead and planned out my dinner menu this week, as usual and I'm going grocery shopping tomorrow. I've tried to plan meals that are quick and easy for the days that I work, and some fun baking projects for the next couple days to keep me busy and give me something fun to cook. Jim and I want to transition into getting up around 7pm, getting to work by 9pm, eating "lunch" around 2am, getting home around 7am, and eating "dinner" around 9am, then asleep by noon. So that will be a little weird.

Here's my menu for this week: Sweet and Hot Glazed Salmon and garlic mashed potatoes, Luau Chicken and rice, Turkey loaf and Syracuse salt potatoes (yes, readers in Syracuse can rest assured that the name had a lot to do with my choice of that particular side dish), Chicken Breasts Pierre and Cajun Pasta Fresca, Beef Tips and Noodles, Yakisoba Chicken, and Lime Chicken Soft Tacos. Some of those I've already blogged about but that's okay because of my two new and exciting baking projects for this week:

Portuguese Egg Tarts (did you know that's how you spell Portuguese? What's that second U doing in there?)

and even more excitingly, something I'm going to try to retool/invent

Maple Pecan Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes (an amalgamation of about 3 different recipes that I like)

Anyway, I'm exhausted and it's only 1am so wish me luck!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Szechuan Shrimp...and I'm so tired!

I'm so exhausted but this shrimp was super quick and easy to whip up.

Szechuan Shrimp

Sorry the blog is so lame tonight...I am just ridiculously tired. Tomorrow is my last day of work this week and I promise I'll cook up a storm to make up for it during my little three day weekend.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

10 hour work days = Quick and Easy Chicken

I worked my first 10 hour shift at my new job yesterday. I've done that before in the restaurant industry but there you're moving around and interacting so much it doesn't feel like such a long time. Sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen is much different. Those of you who knew that all along, please feel free to bask in the glory of having been oh so very right.

So I got home and all I wanted to do was eat something fast and spend the rest of my time with Jim before I had to go to bed and he had to go to night shift. Thus:

Quick and Easy Chicken

My natural light pictures didn't turn out so this was the best of the lot. I'll do better next time. Anyway, it was pretty good, could have used some garlic and red pepper flakes, and I'll do that next time. But the sauce was really good and I was very successful in thickening it up. I added a spoon of corstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water toward the end and it thickened up very well. I also doubled the sauce. For dessert we had rice and mango, which is one of our favorite desserts at the Thai restaurant we go to, but they serve sticky coconut rice and mango, which is ten times tastier, sweeter, and more fattening. But delicious. If you've never tried it, do. Mango is my favorite fruit by far.

Anyway, gotta run, squeezing this post in before work. Have a good one!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Maple Garlic Heaven Pork

Let me tell you a little something about Jim. He is a pork chop connoisseur. Me, not so much. I've never been much for them. I've been experimenting with them since I started cooking seriously just for a change of pace from chicken and fish, but this recipe may have just turned me into a serious pork chopaholic. Jim was already a fan in general, but I think this one topped the charts, even for him. I served it with some baked asparagus and leftover mashed potatoes from the other day. Ahhh.

Maple-Garlic Marinated Pork Chops

Absolutely fabulously delicious. I followed some photo advice from Jen and took this in natural light...I think it looks better. Also, Jim helped a lot with the presentation. He's sweet. So are these pork chops.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Christmas in June

So as I threatened, I made those Italian chocolate spice Christmas cookies that I've been obsessing over for awhile. It turns out the recipe I found on allrecipes was really close!

Since Jim started working nights (his first one last night) I had all day while he slept to whip these up. I refrigerated the dough overnight to make it easier to roll into balls.

I baked them for just 10 minutes because my oven tends to bake hot.

Then I covered them with the chocolate glaze (and a few drops of red food coloring to make it shiny), which was very messy.

And Jim recently told me that he thinks I need to work on my food presentation for the photos because they don't come out looking as good as they here's my effort at making them look cuter. I really just need to learn some more about photography.

So there you have it, best cookies in the world and only 95 calories a pop.

Here's the secret recipe.

Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies


3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
Red food coloring


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

Cream the butter, white sugar, eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, stir the flour, 2/3 cup cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture. If too sticky add more flour, if too dry add a little milk.

Add nuts and mix with hands. Roll into little 1/2 - 1 inch balls.  Place on the cookie sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes, cookie should be firm. Do not overcook.

Remove from oven, let rest on the sheet for a few moments and remove to wax paper. When cool, frost with confectioner's sugar and cocoa glaze.

To Make Glaze: Combine 4 cups confectioner's sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, add about 1/2 cup milk and about 2-3 drops of red food coloring. If a thicker consistency is desired, add more powdered sugar a little at a time. Pour small amount of glaze over each cookie.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

As Jim knows very well...

I can't cook if my kitchen is a mess. And I have trouble functioning in other areas of my life if I can't cook. Is this problem debilitating and ridiculous? Obviously. Does this mean I have kitchen-specific OCD? Perhaps. But either way, it stands to reason that the night I decide to tackle a gourmet meal (maple glazed salmon with a glaze reduction, oven roasted garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli) clearly would be the night that my garbage disposal would malfunction.

Correction. Just now as I sit and write this, my wonderful, handsome, brilliant fiance managed to fix it using only his wits, a plunger, and his bare hands.

So now that crises have been averted, let's get to that gourmet dinner I mentioned. First of all, even in my agitated state, I could tell that this meal was delicious. Possibly the most tasty salmon I've ever made and most certainly the best mashed potatoes possibly ever prepared by myself or anyone else for that matter, throughout human history, until this day. Here you go!

Maple Salmon


Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

As you can see, we made a serious dent in them. For these, I used evaporated skim instead of real milk, for added creaminess minus the fat. And, as I'm still in the learning stage of my cooking prowess, I had no idea how to roast galic, but this website helped a lot. Apparently you can roast the whole head at a time by peeling off the bulb's outer layer, cutting about 1/4 inch off the top of all the cloves, drizzling with oil and putting them covered with foil in a muffin pan. Easy as pie, and twice as delicious, if you love garlic. I'm so garlic-saturated right now that I feel like I did after eating at the Stinking Rose in San Francisco, which was delicious and probably my favorite restaurant in the world, albeit I did go into a garlic coma after my meal there.

Here's the recipe, adapted from allrecipes of course.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
(makes about 8 servings)


2 medium heads roasted garlic
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
salt and pepper to taste


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and chop.

2. Stir in butter, evaporated milk, salt and pepper. Squeeze the softened cloves of roasted garlic into the potatoes. Blend potatoes with an electric mixer until desired consistency is achieved.

Now I may have to start my new baking project, namely, an attempt at previously mentioned favorite chocolate Italian Christmas cookies ever! More on that later.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

One of my favorites...

Pesto Chicken Florentine

Jim and I both love this one. The more spinach you put in it, the better.

So delicious. I had to pre-wrap one serving as leftovers for myself this weekend as Jim's going to be gone all day Saturday for a softball tournament and usually he can down almost all of this before I finish mine!

I neglected to put up last night's dinner, which was chicken tortilla soup. It's full name is "six can chicken tortilla soup" because it only requires six canned ingredients. I always add a cup of rice cooked to thicken it up. Then I crumble a tortilla chip on top and melt cheese. It's great. You really have to spice it up, and I like to squeeze a couple limes in it if I have them on hand too. Great, simple, and fast...I love it. Plus, low cal! With the rice and the chip, only 250 calories!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Shrimp Durango and Tabboulleh

Last night's dinner was Shrimp Durango which is always good as shrimp is one of my top five favorite foods for sure. This pasta incorporates a light white wine and butter (margarine in my case) sauce with lime and a little red pepper. I made a few adjustments of my own which included cooking the shrimp in garlic before hand and adding a little lemon juice to the sauce as well. Delicious!

I also whipped up some quinoa tabbouleh for a good lunch for the rest of the week. Jim's not such a fan, but I can't get enough of it. If you have never heard of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) check it out. It can be a little expensive but it lasts awhile and it is a rice like substance, but packed with protein as well. In addition to "burglar" it's my other go-to grain. Tabbouleh is a traditional Lebanese food and I love it's fresh light taste. It's also a healthy, low cal lunch idea.

On a side note, I believe I owe an apology to my reader(s) who are also on diets and find the pictures of decadent Italian Christmas cookies torturous. I know that not everyone can look at pictures of food and recipes for hours a day like I do and somehow use that as motivation to continue dieting. I usually look and look and fight the urge to bake goodies, and then finally cave and allow myself to have one (sometimes one per day) and vicariously enjoy the rest of them by watching Jim gorge himself (maybe "gorge" is the wrong word but when you're on a diet it certainly feels that way!). But beware, I may have to make at least one of those types of cookies around Christmas time, like it or not.

Also concerning my diet, I recently hit the 15 pounds lost mark! I often cruise the knot website for wedding ideas, and at the start of my diet I would read the "getting in shape" forum there in search of inspiration. Oftentimes I found it, and I wanted to share the ideas that have worked for me with other soon-to-be brides attempting the wedding diet. So here's what I wrote (warning, it's long):

I promise I'm really not trying to brag, I just know that toward the beginning of my wedding diet I would spend so much time on this site and others looking for inspiration or ideas from other people that I could see working for me. The way I've managed it is really pretty simple, and nothing that surprising.

First off, I've started drinking 8-9 glasses of water a day or more.

Second, I started counting calories religiously. It sounds daunting, but if you register for free on livestrong, it's so easy and if you do it for about a week it becomes second nature. I can't stress enough how important tracking your calories is because a bite here and there can really add up, and I think I misbehave more when I don't have to hold myself accountable for what I eat. Also, livestrong takes your age, weight, height and activity level into account when prescribing a calorie goal for you. Since I work a desk job and exercise not super often, mine was "sedentary" with a goal of losing 1lb per week. If you log your weight daily or weekly, the calorie goal will adjust to keep you at your goal of weekly weight loss. You can also track calories burnt though fitness, but bear in mind the site overestimates quite a bit.

Third, I started eating in a LOT more. Breakfast at home, pack a lunch, and cook dinner almost every night. We eat out like once every two weeks now. It's also free and easy to register at allrecipes which has a ton of great meal ideas with the calories all figured in for you, it really takes the guess work out of it. Also, by spending time cooking each night I found that keeping busy helped me to not eat out of boredom. Not to mention we're saving a ton of money this way.

I really believe that losing weight is 80% diet, 20% exercise so I still tried to exercise 3-5 times a week, usually just a quick 20 minute 30 day shred workout, or stationary bike for about 30 minutes. My fiance and I also go golfing together which is a great workout when you add up all the walking, but I never beat myself up when I couldn't fit in a workout, I just made sure to very carefully track what I ate.

Skinny Cow. I am one of those people who NEEDS a treat every night, and these suckers are about 140 calories a pop. I would factor mine in at the start of my day so it would be built into my daily calories.

Don't beat yourself up if you have to have a "cheat day" but don't have one any more than once a week tops. My fiance and I had a few weekends out of town with friends, and during those times I'd try to make healthy choices for breakfast and lunch and then let myself go a bit at dinner. Just don't binge...don't worry, but don't use it as a free pass to go hog wild.

Just follow these guidelines (especially the calorie counting) strictly and the weight will come right off. I am 5'3'' and weighed 136 in wedding is October 9th so I knew I wanted to crack down and get in shape. I weighed in at 119 today and my clothes are very baggy. I even wore the "skinny jeans" that I had given up hope of ever fitting into again just the other day. I do weigh myself every day, which some people disagree with, but as long as you bear in mind that your weigh fluctuates a pound here or there, I don't think it's detrimental. Just weigh in at the same time each day (I prefer the morning, before doing anything else). Anyway, that's what's working for me and I hope it works for you. Good luck!

I later added:

I'm really glad to hear that others have had such good success doing these same really is that simple. I think it clicked for me when I just looked at the math...

There are 3500 calories in a pound of fat so it is very feasible to lose a pound a week, you just really do have to watch the numbers.

In the course of my weight loss I've had a few weeks where my weight just wouldn't budge for like two weeks, which would drive me nuts, but hang on, I found that if I hit a plateau and I kept with healthy habits I would suddenly drop like two pounds after like two weeks of nothing.

I forgot to mention that I try not to deprive myself of foods I love, I just choose smaller portions. For example I love carbs, so I eat sandwich thins for lunch and for Mexican night I find really low cal tortillas (they do exist). I mentioned Skinny Cows which are a lifesaver, but for days where my calories have been too high even for the 140 in a skinny cow, I have some dark chocolate hershey's kisses in the freezer and I'll eat just one or two of those. Another food I love is cheese, and I do a laughing cow wedge at lunch and dip celery or crackers in it. (Special K Multigrain have 90 calories in 17 crackers!) Also, I'm somewhat of a soda addict and it has been really hard letting go of that. I know a lot of people won't agree, but every now and then when I'm really having an urge for one, I'll have a Cherry Coke Zero. I know, I know aspartame is the devil, but they have no calories and it satisfies me when I have to watch my fiance eating like....5 cake pops. Also, I chew sugar free gum like I'm getting paid to do it, it keeps my mouth busy.

Best of luck for eveyone else in their continued pursuit of a healthy lifestyle!

Anyway, just thought I'd share that here as well. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chicken Casserole!

I've been kind of missing my family back home lately (good thing we're going back in July!) and reminiscing about all the comfort foods of my childhood. My mom was a great cook and one of my favorites for dinner was her chicken and rice casserole. I made this in my quest for a good home-comfort casserole, but this one adds broccoli and celery for a little bit of a healthy touch. It was really good, next time I'll use more spices. I left out the mushrooms and water chestnuts and topped it with about a quarter cup of breadcrumbs.

Along those lines of nostalgia, I've been looking up all sorts of Italian recipes, which got me thinking about my family's Christmas cookies. You see, it's been a tradition in my family forever that around Christmas time, all my aunts and my Nana and sometimes the cousins would get together at Nana's house and bake up a storm of cookies. I'm going to make a concerted effort to get those recipes when I visit home, but I know they included such favorites as:

Fig Cookies

Sesame Cookies



Russian Tea Cakes

The only one that I just can't seem to find any version of ANYWHERE is this chocolate spice cookie with nuts and frosting that was actually my favorite. A google image search produced this, which is about what I remember them looking like:

So hopefully I can scrounge up that recipe when I'm home! This will be my first Christmas (as a married woman!) away from home, so I was thinking I could bring a little taste of our family's Christmas to my new in-laws in the form of some of these. And yes, I'm planning my Christmas baking and it's not even July yet. Insane, I know.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More Cake Pops!

We had Salsa Chicken again for dinner tonight which was great, except I made spanish rice as well with habaneros, which overspiced Jim a little, sadly. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now for dessert. Jim and I went to the farmer's market this morning with the sole purpose of berry hunting. We got blackberries (the most underrated berry in my opinion) and fresh strawberries. I decided to commemorate by making chocolate covered strawberry cake pops (minus the stick, so really just cake balls).

First, while the cake was baking, I chopped up some of the strawberries into tiny pieces, making sure I sampled a few along the way just to be sure they were delicious.

Next, the cake!

Then, I crumbled it, added the remainder (about 1/3) a can of cream cheese frosting, and a little vanilla as well, then the strawberry pieces.

Finally, the ball forming, dipping and decorating!

Tadaa!!! And that, my friends is a crazy Saturday night around here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chop chop!

I'm not a huge pork chop person but my fiance is, so I'm constantly trying out new recipes for them. This recipe for Chinese pork chops was a real winner! I chose it because it was so low in calories for my diet, but it was incredibly delicious as well. I followed the recipe, but I only marinated them for about four hours. I did poke a few holes in each chop with a fork so it would absorb the marinade better. Finally, I reduced the remainder of the marinade and poured a little on top of the pork chops right before serving. Delicious!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Parmesan Shrimp Penne

Jim and I have had a great week. It has been very low key at work and we have a half day tomorrow. So to celebrate, I made my favorite comfort food, pasta with plenty of parmesan. Tonight it was in the form of Penne with Shrimp which was a great recipe to start with. I always like to spice things up though, so I seasoned the shrimp before cooking with garlic powder, black and red pepper, and salt. For the sauce, I used a lot more minced garlic than called for, as we LOVE garlic, and I drained the petite diced tomatoes and added a ton (accidentally, though it turned out well) of basil, some oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. A splash of white wine and some spinach finished it off beautifully. I just ate and I'm getting hungry again. Boy, how I love Italian!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cherry Chicken Deliciousness!

I couldn't wait for cherry's to come into season so I could try out this recipe. Well let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

Even my salad-hating fiance loved it! I modified the recipe a bit, because I didn't have fresh ginger root (I used 1 tsp ground ginger) and I got really sick of grating carrots after about a tablespoon. Also, I realized too late that I had already torn up all my romaine lettuce for the "wraps" and so I just served the cherry chicken mixture on a bed of lettuce. With steamed rice the whole meal came out to about 430 calories.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Travel on the cheap!

My fiance Jim is a big believer in travelling the world. I found a really fun link that shows you how to do it on the cheap, for real. I just thought I'd post it really quick mostly for him before I forget.

Tonight's dinner was spicy delicious pollo fajitas and Spanish rice and I made both pretty much entirely according to the directions, with some minor exceptions. I used about double the marinade and let the chicken sit in it for almost 45 minutes.

Now I adore Mexican, but I sometimes shy away from it because of all the extra calories that get added by the tortilla. But I came across these delicious low calorie babies at the store the other day!

Only 71 calories a pop!

For the rice, I didn't have any celery so I just used more green pepper and doubled the spices and the garlic, which is something I pretty much do as a rule.

For dessert, I addressed a dual-part problem that has plagued baked goods afficianados throughout the ages. Here's the problem, a) the concept of a "snickerdoodle" is great, but where's the snickers?!?! Now I've come across "real snickers cookies" recipes, but they all involve a peanut butter cookie dough. And b) my fiance Jim is probably the only non-allergic person in the world who doesn't love peanut butter. Crazy, I know. But since he is my main audience in addition to the main eater of my baking projects, I'm left with no choice but to pander to him. (Yes I know Snickers have peanuts in them, he loves peanuts, just not their buttery cousin.) So I addressed this two part conundrum with my first official cookie invention: Snicker Cups.


2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 packages bite size Snickers


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda, set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture.
3. Drop by approximately tablespoonfuls into an ungreased mini muffin cup pan. Bake for about 9-10 minutes.
4. Immediately press one snickers upside down into each cookie and allow to cool in pan for about 3 minutes before removing to cooling rack. (If you have trouble removing these from the cups, I find a butter knife around the edges works wonders.)

This should yield about 50 cookies.
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