Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winter Salad

Christmas is over and New Year's is on the way. How about an easy salad with balsamic roasted vegetables to feel better about all those treats you've been having? This takes some time to cook, so it's a good one to make on the weekend and refrigerate for a quick meal during the long work week.

This is my new addiction............

Pick out whatever veggies you want. I used a baseball sized beet, two carrots, an apple, two small whole onions, and Brussels sprouts. I also had some leftover chicken breast I wanted to use up.
Try to use veg that is on sale or in season to make this affordable.

Beets take a long time to cook (but are so worth it), so start out by peeling and chopping them to your desired shape. Add some olive oil to coat, and salt and pepper. Mix it all together. Bake them in a 425 degree oven for about 45 minutes. The goal is to get them soft and sweet and caramelized. After they are pretty much cooked, you can add your other veg, depending on how long they take to cook. For example, carrots take longer than apples to cook. It doesn't have to be perfect, and you will learn by trial and error how long they take to be done. Just test them out with a fork to see how far along they are.

For the chicken, I sliced it up, seasoned with salt and pepper, added to the veg, mixed it all together, and cooked for at least 15 minutes to ensure it is done.

When everything looks nicely caramelized and tender, douse it all with a few turns of balsamic vinegar, mix together to coat the veg and chicken, and roast for another 10 minutes, or until it has mostly evaporated. This makes everything taste a hundred times better!!!!

Let everything cool down a bit before topping your favorite greens with the veg and chicken mixture.

You may need a little dressing on your greens so here's how to make a simple balsamic vinaigrette:

In a small bowl, add some balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the same amount of olive oil as balsamic. It's as easy as that!

Toss desired amount into your greens and mix up with your hands to ensure every leaf gets a coating.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tis the Season! Overnight Coffee Cake

It's the week before Christmas, a wonderful time if you can take a few minutes to breathe and take it all in. Well, I have the perfect recipe to relax with! Overnight Coffee Cake. My friend Kathie found it online a few years ago and it's a hit!

I tried something new this year- mini muffin coffee cakes. They are bite size deliciousness. It only took 20 minutes to cook, instead of the 30-35 minutes the original recipe calls for. It was just a little more of a pain to grease and flour the muffin tins.

I've also done these in mini loaves as gifts. It's a very versatile recipe and makes plenty of servings for your eating pleasure.


Overnight Coffee Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar, divided
3/4 cup (1 & 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Coat a 9" x 13" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (or crisco), then flour. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, the butter, milk, and eggs. Beat until well combined; pour into baking dish, cover, and chill for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon with the pecans. Sprinkle over the chilled batter and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cut and serve warm.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas..........................

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Butternut Squash and Artichokes with Shells

I found this dish on the back of the Barilla pasta box and added some nice additions! It's easy, cheap, and healthy. I found it was a good way to use up some veggies I had in the house that otherwise would've gone to waste. How much do you throw away each week? I hate wasting food, especially since it is so expensive lately. This time of year, butternut squash is about 35 cents a pound, so take advantage.
Basically, this is cooked vegetables with pasta. So easy.
A lot of these ingredients are fresh and unprocessed which makes it incredibly healthy during this season of indulgence. Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees


olive oil, kosher salt, pepper
small onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
can of quartered artichokes
one small butternut squash, peeled and diced
one small broccoli floret, chopped (optional, had some left over that was steamed)
roasted red pepper, sliced (optional, i happened to have some handy)
one pound of box of pasta, preferably medium shells
handful of fresh parsley chopped
handful of parmesan cheese

Put a large pot of water on to boil the pasta.

Put squash in a large baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper and lightly coat with olive oil.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until it is just tender.

While it is cooking, heat the largest skillet you have over medium heat. Add olive oil to just coat the bottom of pan and add onions. Saute them for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, drain the artichokes from their liquid and prepare the other veggies if using.

When onions are soft enough for you, add artichokes, broccoli, peppers and cooked butternut squash and mix all together. Heat through over medium heat while the pasta is cooking.

IMPORTANT! Reserve a coffee mug full of the starchy pasta cooking water!!

When pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the veggie mixture. Add the chopped parsley and the  cheese. Take off of the heat, mix together, and add some of the reserved pasta water to your desired consistency. If you don't do this,  the pasta will soak up all the juices from veggies and it will get dry.

Serve with warm bread.............mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.............................

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce

This dish is pretty much Chicken Piccata, although I think it is probably easier than the real thing. It's a great meal during the week because it is quick, easy, and healthy (except for the butter, but hey, everything in moderation, right?) It uses ingredients that are readily available and easy to keep handy.

You will need-

Chicken breasts (i use two, one each for Ron and I)

salt and pepper

3 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups of chicken broth

fresh lemon juice


a big handful of fresh parsley chopped

Put some water on to boil for pasta, i used angel hair because it only takes 4 minutes to cook. You only need about  a third of a one pound box for two people.

Put chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to even thickness with a meat mallet or with the back of a small heavy skillet. This is loud, but a lot of fun at the end of a long work day!
Halve the chicken breasts to make four pieces.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Put the flour in a shallow dish and dredge the chicken in it.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes or so. Turn the chicken over and add the broth, lemon juice, and capers.

Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. While it is simmering, baste the chicken with the sauce.

Remove the chicken from the pan to a plate and keep warm. Bring the sauce in the pan to a low boil until it thickens up a bit more.
When your pasta is done, drain it and add it to the sauce. It will soak up some of the delicious sauce.

Remove pan from the heat and add in the parsley. Stir to combine. Put some pasta and sauce mixture on a plate and top with the chicken. If you want, you could top with more fresh parsley and spoon more sauce over the chicken.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

This first dish is dedicated to Ramonita, who said she NEEDS the recipe, and finally got me up off my butt to share with all of you!!!

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup
from Rachael Ray's Top 30 Comfort Foods Book

This dish costs about $5 to make, so not only is it extremely good for you,
but it's great for your budget!

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion
1 can chicken or vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes in their juice
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of heavy cream or half and half
a teaspoon of curry powder
a teaspoon of ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt to taste

Heat a deep pot over medium heat. Add oil and butter.
When butter melts, add onion and saute until soft and tender, 10 minutes.
Add broth, tomatoes, black beans, and pumpkin.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and stir in cream, curry powder, cumin,
cayenne, and salt to taste. Simmer 5 minutes and make sure seasonings are to
taste. Serve with guacamole and tortilla chips.

Due to the news about BPA's in canned foods and their possible harmful
effects, I was a bit hesitant to make this! I started to think of ways to make
it more fresh. You could make your own broth, which i have been doing lately
anyway. The beans could be made from their dry state. That takes a while, but
some say they taste so much better that way. For the pumpkin, you could either buy
a fresh sugar pumpkin, or even substitute fresh, roased, butternut squash. If you really
wanted to go canless, you could jar your own tomatoes in the summer! For now, the
easy way is for me, but maybe someday I will go all fresh.

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, February 14, 2011


I have been trying to save money every week on food. I've been keeping track of what i spend and where, and going to different stores for the best deals. I make a menu every week and stick to it for the most part. I do it on Saturday and then do my shopping. It's fun to make a menu according to what ingredients i already have and from the sales at Big Y. It seems like Stop and Shop is alot more expensive so i stay away from there usually. I go to Atkins for produce. It's cheap and looks SO much better than the regular grocery store. Then I head to BJ's. A gallon of milk is 2.22 there! At big y there is usually a gallon on sale but it is never less than 2.50. If i need a few other things there, it is worth the trip.

Menu for the week of 2/13/11

Sunday- Stuffed Cabbages and rolls
Monday- Leftovers
Tuesday- Cheese Stuffed Shells
Wednesday- Egg salad sandwiches
Thursday-Leftover stuffed shells
Friday- Tuna Melts

Thursday, January 6, 2011

                                                     our first "hike" on 12/29/10
                                                   she LOVES being in the snow!
                                                                    Isn't she cute?