Thursday, March 29, 2012

Creamy Garlic Angel Hair

The sauce in this dish had an amazing flavor, similar to an Alfredo, but with a kick of sweet garlic. It’s terrific on its own, topped with chicken or shrimp, or even as a side.

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil 
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T light margarine
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
½ lb angel hair pasta
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup half and half
1 tsp dried parsley

Pre-heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté about 1-2 minutes; stir in the butter until melted. Mix in the salt, pepper, and chicken broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.

Add the pasta to the boiling liquid and cook as long as the package indicates (usually 3-5 minutes). Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the parmesan until melted. Remove the pot from heat and stir in half and half and parsley.

*Recipe modified from The Cheese Pusher

Monday, March 26, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Cordon Bleu

I am a big fan of this traditional French dish, but I don’t love the time and effort it requires – especially on a weeknight. This Crockpot variation had all the same flavors with a fraction of the work!

1 can cream of chicken soup 
1 cup skim milk
¼ tsp pepper
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6-8 slices deli ham
3-6 slices Swiss cheese
1 cup herbed dry stuffing mix
3 T butter, melted

In a small bowl, whisk together soup, milk, and pepper. Pour about 1/3 of the mixture in the bottom of the Crockpot. Layer the chicken breasts over the mixture and cover with slices of ham, followed by cheese. Pour the remaining soup mixture over the layers, ensuring that it coats completely. Sprinkle the stuffing on top and drizzle the butter over the stuffing. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours. Delicious served over egg noodles.

*Recipe modified from Chef in Training

Fun Spring Crafts for Kids

Spring break is a great time to explore your craftier side with your kiddos. These crafts are fun and easy for younger kids.

 Spring Placemat

You’ll need: brightly colored construction paper in 2 colors, scissors, glue 
Directions: Fold one piece of construction paper in half and cut 1” lines down the center, leaving an edge of about 1” on the sides. Cut the other piece of paper into 1’ strips. Weave the paper strips through the pre-cut lines, alternating colors. Secure each end with glue. For fun, use different colors for each family member.

Toilet Paper Vase of Flowers

You’ll need: 1 toilet paper roll, a strip of construction paper for covering the roll, green stems cut out of construction paper, flower tops cut out of construction paper, glue, scissors
Directions: Cover an empty toilet paper roll with construction paper and secure with glue. Cut strips of green paper for stems. Draw or trace flowers onto construction paper and cut out. Glue flower tops to stems and allow to dry. Glue flowers into “vase”, facing out.

Paper Plate Ladybug

You’ll need: a paper plate, red and black markers, pipe-cleaners, scissors, glue
Directions: Draw the template of a ladybug onto the back of the paper plate. Color in the template with red and black markers. (Depending on the child’s age, you can have them draw the template or you can draw it and have them color it in) Cut a pipe-cleaner into 6 equal pieces for the legs, and 2 equal, curved pieces for the antennae. Secure legs to the bottom and antennae to the top with glue. Allow to dry.

Handprint Butterfly

You’ll need: 2 pieces of construction paper (different colors) plus 2 small black strips for the antennae, marker, glue, scissors, stickers for decorating
Directions: Trace child’s hands out of one color of construction paper and cut out. Trace and cut out a long oval for the body out of a different colored paper. Attach black antennae and handprints to oval with glue. Allow to dry, and then draw on a face and decorate with strickers.

Tooth Fairy Pouch

You’ll need: 1 small favor bag (found in wedding or party supplies), glitter glue pen 
Directions: Draw or trace the outline of a tooth on the bag with glitter glue pen. Allow to dry completely. Put lost teeth in the bag under a child’s pillow and check the bag in the morning for a delivery from the Tooth Fairy!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sweet & Savory Broccoli Salad

I am a pretty picky eater as an adult, but I was even more finicky as a kid. Vegetables and I simply did not get along – especially those of the green variety. Broccoli was one of the worst offenders…until I tried this salad. This recipe made me fall in love with broccoli and it is as simple as it is delicious – I could eat this by the bucket. Maybe even by the trough.

2 heads broccoli, chopped 
½ cup poppyseed salad dressing (I recommend Brianna’s)
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup real bacon bits
1/8 cup red onion, diced

Chop broccoli and mix with dressing in a large bowl. Stir in raisins, bacon bits, and onion. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour. Serve cold.

Note: This salad can be served immediately, but is best after sitting for at least an hour to allow the flavors to combine.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mint Chocolate Chip Pie

This is a favorite of my husband's and when we were invited to a St. Paddy's Day dinner I thought this would be the perfect green dessert to bring. It is so easy and requires NO BAKING!

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 cups milk
1-1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
5 to 6 drops green food coloring
2 boxes instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup minisemisweet chocolate chips
1 large or two small graham cracker crust (or Oreo if you can find it!)

In small bowl, mix the heavy cream and sugar together until peaks form. This takes about five minutes with a hand mixer.  In another bowl, combine the milk, extract and food coloring. Add the pudding mixes to the milk and mix together for two minutes.  Fold the heavy cream mixture into the pudding mixture until combined. Add the chocolate chips.  Scoop into the crusts and refrigerate for 2 hours to set the pies.

5 Minute Mac and Cheese in the Microwave

Don't be skeptical...this is delicious.  The "five minutes" does not count the cooking of the noodles but the preparation of the cheese sauce. There is no flour or butter in this recipe, which I loved. I found this recipe on Pinterest and it is from the blog Picky Plate!

8 oz of cooked pasta
1 cup of whole milk
2 cups of shredded cheese
1/2 tsp salt (original recipe called for 3/4 tsp, I thought 1/2 was plenty)
1/2 tsp pepper

Cook pasta according to the directions on the package.  After pasta has been drained, place it in a microwavable bowl and add in the milk, cheese, salt, and pepper.  Stir together.  Microwave on high for three minutes.  Remove from the microwave and stir then microwave for another 2 minutes. 

Chocolate-Mint Brownies

Chocolate and mint is one of my favorite flavor combinations and St. Patrick’s Day was the perfect excuse to try out this new recipe from one of my favorite blogs: Six Sisters Stuff.

1 container (7 oz) marshmallow cream 
1/8 tsp mint extract
8 drops green food coloring, divided
1 box brownie mix (9x13 size) + corresponding ingredients
¾ cup white chocolate chips
1 cup vanilla frosting
10-15 Oreos or Grasshopper cookies, smashed into crumbles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together marshmallow cream, mint, and 4 drops of food coloring.

In a large bowl, prepare brownie mix per package directions. Spread batter into the pan and drop 4-5 T spoonfuls of marshmallow mixture onto the batter. Drag a butter knife through the batter to swirl marshmallow into a marbled pattern.

Bake 26-28 minutes, until cooked through. Cool completely, 1-1 ½ hours.

In a small, microwaveable bowl, melt chocolate chips in a microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave in 30-second increments, until melted. Stir frosting, 4 additional drops of food coloring, and melted chocolate into remaining marshmallow mixture.  Spread over cooled brownies and top with cookie crumbles. Cut into bars to serve.

 *Recipe from Six Sisters Stuff

Irish Guinness Stew

A hearty beef stew is one of my family’s favorite comfort foods – I’ve been making it for years. Since none of us are big corned beef fans, I decided to give our stew an Irish flare this St. Paddy’s day. The Guinness and the “secret ingredient” (chocolate – trust me on this one) added a rich, bold flavor that had us going back for seconds…and thirds.

3 T olive oil, divided 
2 lbs. stew meat
Salt and pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups Guinness, divided
1 tsp dried thyme
2 T semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 bay leaves
15-25 baby carrots, chopped in half
3 large parsnips, chopped
6-8 baby red potatoes, quartered
¼ cup flour

Preheat 2 T olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Season stew meat with salt and pepper. Add meat to oil and brown until cooked through. Transfer beef to Crockpot. Add remaining 1 T of oil and chopped onions to the pot. Sauté onions until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add broth, 1 ¼ cup of Guinness, thyme, chocolate, and bay leaves to the pot and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, chop remaining vegetables and add to the Crockpot with beef. Season with ¼ tsp of salt and pepper. Add the broth mixture to the Crockpot and cook on low for 7-10 hours.

Whisk together flour and remaining beer. Add to the pot during the last hour of cooking and increase temperature to high. Serve hot with crusty bread for dipping.

*Recipe modified from Blissfully Delicious

Friday, March 16, 2012

2 Quick and Easy Smoothies!

Recently my pregnancy cravings have left me wanting smoothies and I am not sure why. Luckily, happened to have some ingredients around to make two different frozen treats!

Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

1 ripe frozen or fresh banana
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder (next time I will try chocolate syrup...see below)
1/2 cup of milk (I used skim)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used vanilla flavored)
Handful of ice

Makes one smoothie.

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  Note: I used the cocoa powder and thought the smoothie was a bit gritty so next time I am going to try chocolate syrup. You can also replace the cocoa powder with protein powder.

Adapted from Make and Takes.

Fruity Smoothie

1/4 to 1/2 cup of fruit juice (I used cranberry apple)
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup of frozen strawberries
1 ripe banana (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup of Greek yogurt
Optional: 1-2 tbsp of honey

Place juice then the rest of the ingredients in a blender and then blend until smooth.  Makes one smoothie.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Warm Butterbeer

Okay, I’ll admit it: I am a Harry Potter fanatic. When I saw a Pinterest recipe for a Butterbeer latte, I knew I would try it, especially since I had all the ingredients on hand. With a couple of modifications, it resulted in a foamy, sweet concoction, similar to a caramel steamer. Yum!

2 T butter 
2 T brown sugar
1 cup milk or soy milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cinnamon

In a small saucepan, bring butter and sugar to a boil until caramel forms, about 2-3 minutes. Whisk in milk, vanilla, and cinnamon; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour into coffee mug. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Car Seat Cover

Baby T will be here in about a month!! I wanted to sew a cover for the car seat and stroller to help block the wind, sun or really any type of weather. This was pretty easy to sew and I was pretty happy with how it came out. You can find the tutorial on the blog Make It, Do It!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Grandma's Enchilada Casserole

Several years ago, we visited my husband’s family and, naturally, ended up having a lot of mouths to feed. Grandma concocted this casserole, which not only fed all of us, but had us all coming back for seconds (and me for the recipe). It’s great on its own, but even better scooped up with tortilla chips and topped with dollops of sour cream and guacamole.

 2 lbs. lean ground beef
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ packets taco seasoning or 3 T Homemade Taco Seasoning
1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
12-15 corn tortillas, cut into quarters
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 ½ cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, brown hamburger; add garlic and cook until meat is browned. Drain meat and add taco seasoning and tomato sauce. Cook about 2 additional minutes until heated through.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Layer tortilla quarters in the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. Add meat mixture and top with another layer of tortillas. In a small bowl, whisk together soup and milk. Pour over meat and tortillas. Top with cheese. Cover and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes. Let set 5-10 minutes before serving; top with sour cream.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parm is one of my all-time favorite Italian dishes, but it can be a bit time consuming to make. This Crockpot version is easy, tasty, and hands-off!

1 T olive oil 
1 egg, beaten
½ cup herbed stuffing mix
½ cup parmesan cheese
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
½ cup-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 jar spaghetti sauce or 2 cups Almost-From-ScratchTomato Sauce

Pour olive oil in the bottom of a large Crockpot. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg. Combine stuffing mix and parmesan on a plate. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Dip both sides of the chicken breasts in egg, and then dredge in stuffing mixture. Place chicken in the bottom of the Crockpot. Top with mozzarella and then with sauce. Cover and cook on low, 4-6 hours.

*Recipe modified from Chef in Training

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Nursing Cover

I made this same nursing cover a year ago for my best friend Shannon. A year later I found myself sewing up another nursing cover for myself. Baby T will be here in a few weeks!! The time has flown by. What I like about this cover is that it is reversible so you can choose cute fabrics. Choosing black as one of my colors probably wasn't the best idea since it could make the baby hot during feedings but I think it will be ok.  You can find the tutorial on the blog Make It and Love It!

Note: I only used a yard of each fabric to make my cover a little bit shorter than the one in the tutorial.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Key West Chicken Kabobs

Ready for the fresh flavors of a springtime barbecue? Try this light marinade to pump up the smoky flavor of grilled chicken. Cilantro-Lime Rice is the perfect side to enhance the citrusy flavor.

3 T soy sauce 
2 T honey
1 T vegetable oil
Juice of 1 lime
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

In a small, bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients. Add chicken to a large, resealable plastic bag; pour in marinade and toss until chicken is evening coated. Seal and refrigerate 3-6 hours.

Preheat grill over medium heat. Thread chicken onto skewers. (Tip: If using metal skewers, spray with cooking spray to prevent sticking. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for about 10 minutes prior to avoid fires.) Grill 4-6 minutes per side, until chicken is cooked through. Remove from grill and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving. 

*Recipe from Grocery Budget 101

Baked Oatmeal with Fruit

This warm breakfast is so tasty and comforting, you’ll forget it’s heart-healthy too.

3 cups quick-cooking oats 
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup skim milk
½ cup light margarine, melted
½ tsp vanilla
¾ cup diced, peeled apple (try Granny Smith)
1/3 cup fresh or canned peaches, diced
1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (thaw if frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, gently beat together eggs, milk, margarine, and vanilla. Slowly pour wet ingredients to combine with dry ingredients, mixing until completely combined. Fold in apples, peaches, and blueberries.

Pour mixture into baking dish. Bake, uncovered, 35-40 minutes, until cooked through in the center. Cut into squares and serve warm.

*Recipe from Taste of Home

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Diane Sauce

Kick up your next grill night, without adding a lot of extra calories, by adding this flavorful sauce to steak or chicken.

1 can beef broth, reduced sodium 
1 ½ T Worcestershire sauce
2 T coarse ground mustard
2 T flour
Zest of 1 lemon

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. In a small saucepan, bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Continue boiling until sauce thickens. Pour over grilled steak or chicken.

Baked Chicken Taquitos

When I first ran across the original recipe for this dish on Hungry Girl, I couldn’t help but think, “Canned chicken? You’ve got to be kidding me!” Somehow though, it just worked – and it was 98% fat free. This is a great lighter version of a fried classic and is perfect for a main dish or appetizer.

1 (large) can chunk white chicken in water, drained 
½ cup green salsa (Try World Table’s Salsa Verde)
10-12 corn tortillas
1/3 cup fat-free cheddar cheese, shredded
½ tsp. dry taco seasoning (Try Homemade Taco Seasoning)
Fat free sour cream for dipping (optional)
Taco sauce for dipping (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine chicken and salsa; mix thoroughly to combine, shredding chicken in the process. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain any excess liquid from chicken and stir in cheese and taco seasoning. Cover tortillas with a damp paper towel and microwave for 60-80 seconds, until pliable. Spoon about 2-3 T. of chicken mixture into the center of a tortilla. Spread chicken length-wise and roll into a tight cigar shape; secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Line rolled taquitos on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake 14-16 minutes, until tortillas are crispy. Serve with sour cream and/or taco sauce for dipping.

*Recipe modified from Hungry Girl