Thursday, November 15, 2007

Spicy Curry Chicken

This recipe showed up one day in my Google Reader, courtesy of Ally at Culinary Infatuation. I looooooove, love, love spices, and this recipe just sort of fit the bill for what I was looking for to make for dinner. It was really good, and Norm liked it, too. I served it over this tandoori rice mix that I picked up at the store. The rice was really good, but probably too much for the chicken, so next time, just a simple basmati or something. I took the leftovers for lunch, and it was even better the next day.

Curry Chicken
(Source: ***Culinary Infatuation***)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 1 1/4 lb cut into 1 inch cubes (used about a lb of thin sliced tenderloins, cut into large chunks)
1 Tbs. curry powder
1 Tbs. Garham Masala
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground ginger (unbelievably, I didn't have this on hand, so it was omitted)
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 cup lite sour cream (you could use yogurt, as I would but alas I did not have any and the sour cream worked the same) - I used non-fat yogurt
1 Tbs. olive oil (I sprayed the pan with Pam, and added maybe 1/2 T of oil)

Mix all spices together and add sour cream stir to combine. Add chicken coating thickly and marinate for an hour.

Heat skillet over med. heat and cook chicken for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Red Curried Tofu

I totally forgot about this recipe until I was in the grocery store the other night. Norm was going to be at the hockey game (I opted not to go) so I was free to make something that I know he would have zero interest in eating. He hates tofu for some reason with the fire of a thousand suns. I can't even get him to taste it at all when I cook it. Freak.

But I digress. This is super flavorful, and it's really good for you! When I was on Weight Watcher (the first time!), I ran this thru the recipe builder and it came out to 4 points per serving (2 without the cashews). I serve it over basmati rice that I cook in chicken broth. I think the original was from epicurious, but I'm not sure, it was about 5 years ago that this was passed onto me, so who knows!

Red Curried Tofu
2 tsp dark sesame oil
2 cup red onion(s)
1 cup bell pepper(s)
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp table salt

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp red curry paste

14 1/2 oz Del Monte Diced Tomatoes, No Salt Added
12 1/4 oz Nasoya Lite Firm Tofu
1/4 cup cilantro
1 oz dry-roasted cashews

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper; saute 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in curry, coriander, turmeric, and salt; cook 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and the next 4 ingredients (soy sauce through tofu). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve the tofu mixture over rice, and sprinkle with cilantro and cashews.

Chicken Dip

This recipe came from my friend Christy years ago, she swears she wasn't the one who originally made it for our group...but she was = ) It's one of those recipes that is absurdly simple (3 ingredients!), and it may even sound a little weird, but it's reaaaaaaaaaaaaally good. Plus it's great on a toasted bagel for lunch if you have any left over.

A year or so ago, I took it to a party and gussied it up...I shaped it into a ball and rolled it in pecans, and served it with those yummy rosemary Triscuit crackers. Excellent!!!

Chicken Dip
(Source: Christy!)
1 can of chicken, drained
1 block of cream cheese, softened
1 packet of ranch dressing mix

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, chicken and 1/2 the packet of dressing mix. Mix thoroughly to break up chicken and combine well. Add more dressing mix if necessary.

Slow-Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

I have seen this recipe all over blogs for the last couple of months. It sounded great, and I figured it would be good tailgate food for a chilly day in Pittsburgh. It did not disappoint! Everyone liked it, and there was pretty much nothing left (and I doubled the recipe!) We served it on toasted hamburger buns - fresh off the grill!

I seasoned the pork before I put it into the crockpot...just salt, pepper, garlic salt. I think next time I might carmelized some onions to mix into the meat after it's cooked...or even toss onions in with the pork to cook.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle root beer
1 (18 ounce) bottle your favorite barbecue sauce

Place the pork tenderloin in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily, 6 to 7 hours. Note: the actual length of time may vary according to individual slow cooker. Drain well. Stir in barbecue sauce. Serve over hamburger buns.

S'more Brownies

Ok so I found this on It looked yummy, it sounded yummy....and the end result was yummy but not without making a few um...emergency tweaks. I read the reviews and took some of the suggestions given. And that's where things went awry.

One reviewer suggest to cover the dish with foil when you add the smores topping so it doesn't brown too much. I did that, and when I pulled the dish out of the oven, the marshmallows had completely melted into the brownies. It looked like I had a mess on my hands. I thought for a second and figured I'll add more marshmallows, put it back in the over and let them get puffy. If it sucks, well...I will just pitch them and nobody will be any wiser. It was pretty, even it it was difficult to cut. I would suggest putting the marshmallows on at the very end to avoid a melt-y mess.

I was going to classify this as low-fat, since I used applesauce and egg beaters in the brownie mix...but I figured with all the chocolate on top and the sugar from the marshmallows, maybe that wasn't such a good idea. = )

S'more Brownies
1 (21.5 ounce) package brownie mix
6 graham crackers (I used low fat)
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
8 (1.5 ounce) bars milk chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used semi-sweet chunks)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Spread into a greased 9x13 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, break graham crackers into 1 inch pieces and toss with miniature marshmallows and milk chocolate. Set s'more mixture aside.

Bake brownies for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove, and sprinkle the s'more goodies evenly over the top. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow brownies to cool before cutting into squares.

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

This recipe is from my friend Michelle, who got it from someone I have no idea where it originally came from. But it's super easy and damn good...and what isn't good when wrapped in bacon. 'Nuff said. Here's the basic recipe, you can tweak it to your hearts content. I have made them with a few different cheeses - sharp cheddar, pepper jack - and have used both center cut and peppered bacon. Oh, and I have also used reduced fat and non-fat cream cheese and reduced-fat cheese and these have flown off the plate!

I'll post pics as soon as I can find the USB cord for the camera. It's MIA...and may have gotten pitched in a cleaning frenzy OR one of the cats made off with it and it's under a couch or bed as we speak.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
16 jalapenos (get a decent size so you can stuff 'em)
1 lb bacon
1 block of softened cream cheese
1 cup of shredded cheese
Salt, pepper, garlic (optional, but I think it's yummy)

Cut the pepper open by slicing 3/4 of the way thru the top and down the center (on one side want to keep the pepper in tact if you can). De-seed the pepper and remove the whitish rib from inside (that's where the heat is...i tend to keep a little seed in there because we like them hot!).

Combine cream cheese and shredded cheese. Season to taste. Stuff peppers with cheese mixture. Be careful not to over-stuff as the cheese will ooze all over your grill.

Wrap each pepper with a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.

Grill until bacon is crispy. Let cool a few minutes after you take them off the grill or you'll have 3rd degree burns on your tongue = )

Annual Steelers Tailgate

Once a season, my two brothers, their wives, Norm and I and a rotating group of Steeler-fan friends get together for a big tailgate and go to the game. Good time, good times. There's always lots of food, even more beer, and even more trash-talking. This year was no exception!

In preparation for the Steelers vs. Browns game, emails were flying fast and furious...tailgaters mapping out the all important details for the day. Lots of discussion about what kinds and how much beer and what we could bring that we could toss in the turkey fryer. My brother, Mike, brings his turkey fryer and makes a giant batch of wings with his homemade wing sauce (and won't give us the recipe)...and thought this year would be good to fry up whatever he could put into there. Peirogies were the extra of choice for the year. How fitting for a game in da 'Burgh! My other brother, Matt, brings his old Weber grill...that only gets trotted out for this annual tailgate. Sometimes it's more for heat than actual cooking - especially after the game - but always comes in handy!

Little did we know how much it would come in handy. There were so many problems with the fryer, the oil never got hot enough, the gas tanks, well....tanked. One ran out, the back up never had a good enough flow to keep the heat up. All the while, the wings were just boiling away in a big vat of not-quite-hot-enough oil. Mike pulled some wings out and put them on the grill, hoping that would do it. They just fell apart. (not that it stopped people from eating the pan full of disintegrating wings...the sauce is THAT good).

So the guys put the pot on the very hot grill, hoping that would work. That didn't work either. Mike was more than a little heartbroken about the whole thing. At least he had Browns fans to make fun of...and thank God the Steelers won!

Anyway....I had made bbq pork sammiches, bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers, potato salad and smore brownies (recipes to follow!)...and we had hot dogs and other munchies (danni's chicken dip), that kept us plenty satisfied until game time!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Fettuccine with Shiitake Mushrooms & Basil

This was our Halloween dinner. Norm cooked while I handed out candy to a paltry 21 trick-or-treaters. I was so disappointed! We've lived here for almost 3 years, and have never been home for trick or treat night. I was excited to finally be home to hand out candy...and then practically nobody came. Oh well! We had TONS of candy leftover. I took a big bucket of candy into work with me, and sent Norm to work today with 3 additional bags. At least it's all out of the house (except for the couple of kit kats and PB cups that I squirrelled away for case of an emergency) and I won't be tempted to eat my weight in fun size candy bars.

But I digress...about the pasta! It was delicious. Norm decided to make a couple of modifications that turned out to be fantastic....he added a little bit of white wine to de-glaze the pan after cooking the garlic and mushrooms. Speaking of the mushrooms, our grocery store didn't have just shiitake mushrooms, but had a nice 'shroom mix of cremini, shiitake and oyster that we used. Then at the end, added some halved grape tomatoes and a sprinkling of crumbled goat cheese. We finished every last bite, it was that good = )

Fettuccine with Shiitake Mushrooms & Basil
(Source: Eating Well)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine or spaghetti
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, divided

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil for cooking pasta.

2. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 9 to 11 minutes or according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

4. Add the pasta, the reserved cooking liquid, Parmesan and 1/4 cup basil to the mushrooms in the skillet; toss to coat well. Serve immediately, garnished with remaining basil.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 311 calories; 11 g fat (3 g sat, 6 g mono); 9 mg cholesterol; 44 g carbohydrate; 13 g protein; 8 g fiber; 307 mg sodium.Nutrition bonus: Fiber (28% daily value), Calcium (14% dv).2 1/2 Carbohydrate Servings

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pork Tenderloin With Gorgonzola Sauce

Ever since I saw this recipe on, I've been waiting for just the right occasion to bring it out and wow dinner guests. The occasion happened this weekend when Norm's parents came over for dinner to meet the new kitty - Mr. Mittens. Norm wanted to have some sort of boring old pork...but noooooo! This was a great opportunity to bust out the fancy sauce. And wow was it good!!!!! I think everyone had seconds, and everyone raved about the sauce. We served the pork with said lucious sauce with steamed asparagus (friggin' yummy with the sauce) and baked potatoes (for his mom).

To be honest, I was scared that the sauce having an entire cup of gorgonzola was going to be overpowering, but it wasn't. The cheese, paired with the cream, wine and broth was a really delish combo. I already have plans to use the sauce on some pasta sometime...with some toasted walnuts and maybe some mushrooms. mouth is watering all over again! A couple of modifications to the recipe...Instead of roasting the pork in the oven, Norm tossed it on the grill, and I used fat-free 1/2 & 1/2 in the sauce instead of the whipping cream.

I didn't get a chance to take a pic at dinner. His parents don't know about my obsession with taking pictures of my food, and I'd rather not explain it (hee hee) sooooo I'll snap a pic tonight as I'm having this for dinner tonight.

Pork Tenderloin With Gorgonzola Sauce
(Source: Recipe Zaar, originally from Bon Appetit)
1/4 C Dijon mustard
1T olive oil
1 T dried thyme
2 3/4 lb pork tenderloins

1 T butter

1 T
all-purpose flour
1 C whipping cream
1/4 C
dry white wine
1/4 C
reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 C crumbled
gorgonzola (about 4 oz)

For the pork: Oil a large rimmed baking sheet. Whisk the Dijon, olive oil and Thyme in a small bowl. Sprikle the tenderloins with salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add pork and sear until brown all over, about 10 minutes. (I just used Pam in a frying pan to sear the meat)

Transfer seared pork to prepared baking sheet. Spread Dijon mixture all over the pork. (Can do this a couple of hours ahead and refrigerate until your ready to cook).

Preheat the oven to 425°F Roast pork until internal temp is 150, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and stand for 5 minutes. (We grilled it for about 20 minutes or so, until the internal temp was 150)

Meanwhile prepare the sauce.
Melt 1 tbsp butter in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the cream, white wine and chicken broth. Boil until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, whisking frequently, about 1 minute.

Add Gorgonzola and whisk until the cheese is melted and smooth, about 5 minutes.

Slice pork onto plates. Ladle over the sauce. Pass additional sauce seperately.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Trader Joe's Cuban Mojito Sauce

Mmmmm yummy!

This jar of Cuban Mojito Sauce has been burning a hole in my cupboard since I bought it a few weeks ago. I saw a few blogs with recipes using it, and it looked so good! Here's what I did with it....kind of a mix of what I saw on blogs and what TJ's had posted on their Web site. I served it over Basmati rice, that was cooked in chicken broth, and lime wedges.

Cuban Mojito Sauce with Chix, Black Beans and Veggies
(Source: adapted from a Trader Joe's Recipe from their Web site)

6 chicken tenders, uncooked
1/4 C flour
salt & pepper
a healthy pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
caribbean seasoning
1/2 Red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 of a large onion, diced (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 T Bacardi Limon rum
1 habanero pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can of black beans, rinsed
1 jar of Trader Joe's Cuban Mojito simmering sauce
Cooking spray
spray butter

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and pre-heated over medium heat. Mix flour, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, caribbean seasoning. Dredge chicken tenders in flour mixture and put in heated pan. Spray the chicken with butter spray. Cook for about 3 minutes, and flip spritzing the other side of chicken with butter. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until chicken is browned on both sides and cooked thru. Remove from pan. Keep warm

Re-apply cooking spray. Add chopped red pepper, onion and habanero to pan. Stir-fry until tender (about 3 minutes). Add garlic, cook one more minute. Deglaze pan with rum. Add black beans and sauce. Stir to combine. Add chicken back to the pan. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes until bubbly.

Just a note, this was probably enough sauce/veggies for 4 people. Can't wait for leftovers!!!

Monday, October 22, 2007


I tried a new dip for the weekend at my parent house, too. I originally saw it on (from and also on Beantown Bakers's blog. It has a lot of my favorite things...cream cheese, cheese, BBQ sauce and most importantly bacon. Just about anything made with bacon is A-OK in my book! I took home most of the recipe ingredients except for the tomato and green peppers, because my mom always has them on hand. Not this time! So this was minus a few ingredients. It was good, but not a home-run winner. I think I'll try it again but with the tomato and pepper, and maybe a few modifications.

2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese (I used the 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I used Jack Daniels Spicy BBQ Sauce)
1 pkg. (2.8 oz.) Real Bacon Recipe Pieces (I used a package of pre-cooked bacon, crisped in the oven for a few minutes, then choped up)
1 small tomato, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1-1/2 cups Shredded Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese

Spread cream cheese onto large platter or bottom of pizza pan; drizzle with barbecue sauce.Top with remaining ingredients.Serve with your favorite crackers or chips.

Spooky Sugar Cookies

So my neice, Taylor, asked me a week ago while I was babysitting her if I had any Halloween cookie cutters. Curiously I said yes, why do you ask? She said because she wanted to bake cookies with me when we were at Gramma's house. Who am I to deny a 5 year old a cookie baking and decorating experience???? My neices are my best kitchen helpers and for the last couple of years we've made everything from cookies to cupcakes to pies to anything they could "help" with...and the older they get the more fun it is to have them in the kitchen with me.

Saturday morning Taylor was up bright and early, ready to get cookin'! So we mixed up the dough (an old school betty crocker sugar cookie recipe from one of my mom's cook books), only to read at the very end that it had to chill for an hour. Panic in the kitchen!!!! An hour to a 5 yr old is apparently multiple lifetimes...60 minutes is an excrutiating amount of time. I heard "is it an hour YET" more times than I can count. Soooo while the cookie dough was chilling, I had to find another activity. So we made soft pretzels (thanks to Amber's Delectable Delights!). Her pretzels were shaped as good as mine by then end of this exercise!

I also brought with me black and orange icing, halloween mix M&M's, Autumn mix dark chocolate M&M's, candy corn and white icing to decorate the cookies. Taylor told me very matter of factly that purple was also a halloween color, so I mixed 1/2 the white icing into a lovely shade of lavender for her. She also got increasingly better at cookie decorating by the time we were done. Good times!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Chick Pea Crunchies

I started making this fun little snack years ago when I first started eating "healthier". I think I found the recipe on originally. However, this is one of those recipes that I just start tossing a bunch of spices together, and just "loosely" following the recipe now. They are perfect when you need something a little crunchy and you can adapt the spices to create a lot of different flavors.

I am making these to take home with me this weekend, since they are one of my dad's favorite snacks. Well, and one of my sister-in-laws, too! They always end up fighting over them, so I'm going to pack them each their own container, so that they don't have to share = )

Here's what I did this time....

3 cans of chick peas
curry powder
chili powder
cayenne pepper
sea salt
black pepper
garlic salt

Preheat oven to 400F.
Drain chick peas well (I rinse them well, too). In a large bowl, toss chick peas with spices to your taste. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown and crispy, stirring occasionally.

PB Brownie Bites

Norm and I are headed to my parents house this weekend for our annual Fall family get together - AKA the Halloweenie. My brothers, and their wives, and their kids (6 of 'em...3 nephews and 3 neices) are coming, too. It'll be a weekend full of food and fun stuff! We always have a big fire in the fire pit and roast hot dogs and marshmallows.

The younger kids (my oldest nephew who is on the brink of teenagerdom is too cool to participate any more = D) bring their Halloween costumes and do a little parade around the house...and my parents put little treat-filled little pumpkins around the yard and let them go and find them. The big kids get to sip on my dad's mulled cider.

So in preparation for the weekend, I'm making a few treats. The first being Brownie Peanut Butter Bites that I found on I had my eye on these suckers for a while, but if I made them without having a place to take them, I'd eat all 48 of these little beauties. What I'd like to do to serve them is to top them with a little whipped topping and decorate them with some candy corn or something festive. That is IF I can keep them out of everyone's hands long enough to do the decorating!

1 package of brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies, the family size box)
1/3 C hot water
1 egg
1/4 C oil
48 miniature peanut butter cups.

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix brownie mix with water, egg and oil. Beat well until blended. Fill paper-lined mini-muffin cups about 1/2 full with batter. Press one peanut butter cup into batter in each cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until brownie is set (I baked mine for about 13 minutes). Cool completely.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Seafood Enchiladas

A bit of an experiment. I am still undecided if it was successful or not. Norm had been wanting to make seafood enchiladas for ever. We've actually had it on a weekend menu a few times, but for some reason (like Steeler post-game tailgating) or another (take out sounded much better than cooking) it never happened.

So I searched for a good recipe to try...and found this one on It came highly rated, and I took some of the suggestions by the reviewers to double the sauce, and to spice it up. The sauce tasted great before I assembled the enchiladas and baked them. But it curdled during cooking. Still tasted good, but definitely wasn't the prettiest thing to eat. I'll have to do some doctoring to this the next time I try it!

I served it with some fat-free refried black beans, a side of my own made-up recipe for "spanish rice" - brown rice, cooked in chicken broth with some salsa, chili powder, cumin, and garlic. And topped the enchiladas with chopped tomato, avocado, and black olives.

Seafood Enchiladas
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 pound fresh crabmeat
1/4 pound shrimp - peeled, deveined and coarsely chopped
8 ounces Colby cheese (I had red. fat shredded mexican blend on hand)
6 (10 inch) flour tortillas (I ended up with 7 6" whole wheat tortillas)
1 cup half-and-half cream (I used fat free)
1/2 cup sour cream (i used fat free)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

As per the suggestions of other reviewers, I also added 1 can diced mild green chiles, 1 tsp of chili powder, 1 tsp of cumin and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper to the sauce).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large skillet, saute onions in 1 tablespoon butter until transparent. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in crabmeat and shrimp. Shred the cheese and mix half of it into the seafood. Place a large spoonful of the mixture into each tortilla. Roll the tortillas up around the mixture and arrange the rolled tortillas in a 9x13 inch baking dish.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine half-and-half, sour cream, 1/4 cup butter, parsley and garlic salt. Stir until the mixture is lukewarm and blended. Pour sauce over the enchiladas, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday Morning Breakfast

Today is one of the first Saturdays in a long time that we could sleep in, and not have anywhere to go...and sit in the living room, watch TV and enjoy our morning coffee and a big breakfast.

So we sat and refereed our cats...there's been quite a lot of fur flying the last couple of days as they are getting used to eachother. The litte one is quite the instigator, and is getting very brave in invading Dallas' personal space, lol. And the Dallas gives it right back to him, trying to flip over his water bowl and keeping him trapped under the table. Good times, good times! = )

Here's what we had...eggs benedict on whole wheat mini bagel bread (no english muffins), some potatoes with peppers and onion. No recipe really, as (oh the horror!) this was pretty much all pre-packaged. **sigh** The sauce was from of a mix and the potatoes are from Ore-Ida. Convenient and lazy - yes - but ohhhh so easy.
I got a multi-pan as a wedding gift that has a egg poaching insert. It makes the most perfect looking eggs - hence the picture.

It's one of our favorite breakfasts, and it was delicious! Now it''s time to get on with the day!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

So since our freezer is going to explode from being overstuffed with goodies, we are trying to make an effort to clean it out a little and using up some of the things that are taking up so much space (like the little single serve ice cream sundaes that I had to have...yum!). We had a package of 3 lonely pork chops in there that I was just going to bread and bake in the oven. That was until I saw this recipe on a blog called What Recipe? that looked I threw caution to the wind and decided to try it.

One tiny snag called for 1/2 C of balsamic vinegar. I only had 1/4 c. BUT I also had this bottle of orange infused balsamic in the cupboard that I've been dying to try but the hubby doesn't care for fruit with meats and things so I had to be sneaky. I didn't tell him what was in it until after he tried it and said it was good = )

So here's the recipe with my modifications....I served this with roasted broccoli and cauliflower (tossed with EVOO, salt, pepper, a little garlic roasted at 425 for about 20 minutes) and some mashed potatoes. I'll upload the pic when I get a chance!

Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops
(Source: What Recipe? Blog by Catherine)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (I used 1/4C regular balsamic and 1/4C orange infused balsamic)
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp butter (used spray butter to make it a little lighter)
1 tbsp olive oil (used Pam instead)
4 pork loin chops (I had 3 chops, trimmed)

Mix together the broth, vinegar and honey in a medium bowl. Set asideHeat pan over medium heat. Add butter and let melt until it starts to brown. Add in olive oil.

Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Dredge through flour and place in pan. Sautee 4 minutes on each side or until mostly cooked through. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Deglaze the pan with the balsamic sauce. Using a whisk, loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add the pork chops back in, turning occasionally to coat on all sides. Simmer until the sauce has reduced to about 1/4 cup. Plate the pork chops, drizzle with sauce, and serve.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Senor Mittens

I haven't had many blog worthy food/meals to share lately. I spent all of last week sick with a horrible cold, then a busy weekend...hoping to get back on track and back into the kitchen this week! So until then, I'll share something else...we have expanded our little family!

Norm and I have felt badly for our cat, Dallas. We adopted her 3 years ago from Animal Friends as a tiny 8 week old kitten. In hindsight, we probably should have gotten one of her brothers or sisters along with her. She is an awesome cat, keeps us enterained and is cute as a button (but I may be biased). She has been a little lonely. Everyone from the lady that cat-sits for us when we're on extended vacations, to the vet, to seasoned cat owners, told us that Dallas probably needed a companion. So we finally bit the proverbial bullet and got her a little buddy.

So the fun begins!!!
This is Mittens - AKA Senor Mittens. He's a 5 month old spazzy tabby. He hasn't stopped purring since we adopted him on Saturday, nor have I seen him actually sleep...he just bounces around all over the place, chasing everything in sight. He makes a lot of noise for something so tiny. He is also a complete attention whore! He lets you know, in no uncertain terms, that YOU need to pay attention to him, NOW, lol. We're trying to introduce them slowly to make the transition as easy as possible. Dallas is NOT happy, there was lots of hissing and growling the last couple of days, and spend the last 2 days being reallllllly angry with us, but she's coming around. Mittens, on the other hand is adjusting quite easily and plays with all of Dallas' toys and eats her food ... adding insult to injury to our eldest cat. *sigh*

Mittens also has a cold, and there's nothing quite so pathetic as a kitten sneezing on you. = )

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Butternut Squash with Shallots and Sage = OMG Good

So as I was wandering thru Trader Joe's the other night, I saw they had butternut squash all peeled, deseeded and cubed up...I couldn't be happier. If nothing else I'm allllllll about convenience! Now to figure out the perfect thing to make with it. Ravioli was probably out of the question because I don't think I could convince the hubby that if he'd try it, he'd like it. I wasn't in the mood for anything too it would have to be a savory side dish of some sort.

I found this recipe on and I knew it was gonna be a winner! Besides the butternut squash that was now safely tucked away in my fridge, I had all of the ingredients on hand (bonus!) Definitely a great fall dish! Our house smelled so good while this was cooking that I couldn't wait for dinner. We had it with grilled salmon and a side of pasta and a good bottle of wine...a keeper! I think the dash of balsamic at the end really makes the dish. Yummy! There's barely anything left over, bummer since I was looking forward to this for lunch.

DH made the comment that our food has gotten much prettier since I started taking pics of things we make. Actually, it's my plate looks prettier since that's the one I take the picture of! = )

(Source:, Gourmet October 2005)
2 tablespoons olive oil (I used 1T)
3 shallots, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (3/4 cup)
1 (1 3/4-lb) butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (4 cups)
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or water
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage (I used at least 1 t)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook shallots and squash, stirring, until shallots are softened, about 5 minutes.
Add broth, brown sugar, sage, and salt, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar, pepper, and salt to taste.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

It's a Gnocchi Night!

I found this recipe while browsing thru blogs and it looked fantastic. Now I just needed to convince the hubby that he would like it. He "thinks" that he doesn't like pasta with anything other than a red sauce or an alfredo sauce. I tried to get him to try my aglio e olio one night when we were out for dinner and he turned it down, saying there was "no sauce." *sigh*

So I kinda sprung this on him tonight...saying we were having gnocchi with sausage. I figured at least if he thought there was something Italian that had sausage in it he'd be game. I think he was skeptical at first (took a tiny serving and hoped for the best). Then went back for seconds and thirds. Ladies and gents....we have a hit!

I made a couple of slight modifications from the original recipe (as posted on a blog titled "Delish" - how could it NOT be good?????). My modifications are noted below...

Gnocchi with Sausage & Spinach
(Source:, adapted from Real Simple Magazine, March 2007)

2 9-ounce packages refrigerated gnocchi (or a 17.5-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi) *I used 1 pkg of whole wheat gnocchi
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped *I used maybe 1/3 c chopped onion
1-2 Italian sausages (~1/4-1/2 lb), casings removed * I used 2 hot Italian turkey sausages
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
7-ounces baby spinach *I used probably 3 oz total
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
*1/4 c white wine
*1/4 c chicken broth (in place of reserved cooking liquid)
*hot red pepper flakes

Cook the gnocchi according to directions, drain. Meanwhile, heat sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, crumbling with a spoon until browned, 5-7 minutes. Add the onion & garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add wine to deglaze pan. Let cook 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach, salt, and pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Add the drained gnocchi, chicken broth, let heat thru. Add Parmesan and toss. Add red pepper flakes to taste.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chili Night

Even though the weather is still a little warm, it's Fall and that means Chili! Norm and I like spicy foods, so we really kick the heat up a notch in our chili with the addition of some habaneros, a little cayenne and a couple of dashes of Tobasco. Coupled with some basic bisquick butter milk biscuits (i topped them with some butter and a little garlic salt and parsley) and a salad, we had ourselves a great dinner!

Ann's Easy Chili
(Source: me!)

1/2 lb extra lean (95% lean) ground beef
2 habaneros, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 C diced white onion
1 can diced tomatoes with jalapenos
1 can diced tomatoes, chili style
1 can tomato paste
1 can Bush's chili style beans
1 T chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 t cayenne powder
salt and pepper and hot sauce to taste

Brown ground meat in cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add garlic, habanero and onion. Cook until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and spices. Let simmer 20 minutes until thickened.

I like my chili over whole wheat macaroni, topped with shredded mexican cheese blend, sour cream and a dash of tobasco....yum!

Dinner in a Pinch

Normally when we plan meals for the week, we make sure we have everything on hand. And normally we have a supply of staples on hand. However, even the best laid plans can, lol. So it was a little strange when we went to make dinner on Tuesday night (pasta with grilled shrimp) found we were without one of the main components of the meal! No pasta sauce. Not one single jar. I know, I can't believe I wouldn't make sauce myself - being Italian and all. But we found this spicy red pepper sauce from Classico that's yummy, we doctor it up with a mix of spices and away we go.

But since there wasn't any pre-made sauce to be hand, we had to ge by in a pinch. I did have a can of diced tomatoes with basil in the cupboard, and a can of tomato paste, so I made my own. The hubby was a bit skeptical, to say the least, but it turned out delish! Here's basically what I did...sometimes when I cook I just toss things in and don't measure.

Quick Pasta Sauce
(Source: me!)

1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 C diced white onion
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
1 tsp (approximate) Italian seasoning
salt, pepper, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, hot pepper flakes - to taste
1/4 C cabernet sauvignon (wine makes everything just a little bit better)

Sautee onion and garlic in cooking spray. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, spices to taste, and wine. Let simmer for until thickened (approx 15 minutes).

We had the sauce over multigrain pasta, topped with grilled shimp seasoned with cajun seasoning, salt and pepper.

Thinkin' Pink with Steely McBeam

So my fraternity's Alumnae group (Zeta Tau Alpha, Steel City Chapter) does an annual event at Heinz Field where we distribute pink ribbons before a Steelers home game. This year, the Steelers organization really helped us to promote the event, and put a blurb about us on their game day info email that they send out to the fans as well as hooking us up with the local radio station during their pre-game broadcast to promote the event. Woo hoo! So I made my radio debut on Sunday.

We handed out nearly 6K pink ribbons to fans around the stadium and collected $90 in random donations that will go to our BC awareness programs nation-wide (our primary purpose is simply to hand out ribbons to support for breast cancer education and awareness - people just kept giving us money!) We also got a picture with Steely McBeam. I have reallllly mixed feelings about Steely...Pittsburgh in no way shape or form needs a mascot. Since this is the Steelers 75th season, they ran a content to name the guy. Let's just say that Steely is NOT a popular addition with the vast majority of Steelers fans - myself included. But since he had a pink ribbon on, a photo op couldn't be passed up!

A Visit From My Parents

Wow, it's been so long since I had some time to do some blogging! Now I'm playing catch-up....

My parents came in for the afternoon from Johnstown last Saturday to have lunch. We haven't seen them since the wedding over two months ago, so it was nice to catch up for a little bit.

For lunch I made a yummy breaded pork chop recipe that I tried a couple of weeks ago from Eating Well magazine. The original recipe called for a pork tenerloin, trimmed into cutlets. I used chops instead. It was definitely a keeper! I had that along with some roasted red potatoes (just halved, mixed with EVOO, salt, pepper and garlic and roasted), and a tomato/zucchini gratin (from the Food Network) and baby spinach salad. For dessert we had pear pie served with some vanilla cool whip.

Golden Baked Pork Cutlets
Source: Eating Well Magazine

1 lb pork tenderlion, trimmed
1/2 C dry breadcrumbs
1 t sugar
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t salt
4 tsp canola oil (I used EVOO)
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
4 tsp cornstarch

Preheat oven to 400 degrees farenheit. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cut tenderloin into 4 long thin "fillets" (hold chef's knife at 45 degree angle and perpendicular to the tenderloin)

Mix breadcrumbs, sugar, paprika, onion powder and salt in a shallow dish. Drizzle with oil and mash with a fork until the oil is thoroughly incorporated. Lightly beat egg white with a fork in another shallow dish. Sprinkle cornstarch over the pork slices and pat to coat evenly on both sides. Dip the pork into the egg, then press into the breading mixture until evenly coated on both sides. (discard leftover egg and breading mixture)

Place pork on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until just barely pink in the center and an instant read thermometer registers 145 degrees, about 14-16 minutes.

Tomato and Zucchini Gratin
(Source: Emeril Lagasse,

1 pound Creole or beefsteak tomatoes, 1/4-inch slices
1 pound zucchini, 1/4-inch slices (I used zucchini and yellow squash)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped mild herbs (basil, chervil, tarragon, etc.)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Salt and pepper
Garnish: parsley, Essence

Preheat the oven 400 degrees. Lightly grease four individual gratin dishes with olive oil. Season each slice of the tomatoes and zucchini with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. In a small mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs, herbs, cheese and remaining olive oil. Mix thoroughly. Season the bread crumbs with salt and pepper. Alternate layers of the tomatoes and zucchini in each gratin dish. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top the vegetables. Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Garnish with parsley and Essence.

**I also had some cippoline onions that I sliced up and layered with the veggies. Overall the dish was 'ok'. I personally didn't think it had a lot of flavor, but everyone really liked it.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I had some very ripe bananas on the kitchen table that I really needed to do something with. I decided to try a recipe for Banana Crunch Muffins, which I got off the a Weight Watchers message board that had been in my "must try" pile of recipes for a long time. They were good...not great...but good enough to be a nice subsitution for breakfast this week in place of my usual Kashi granola bars. Maybe next time I'll doctor up the recipe a little and add some raisins, bran and some almonds to it to give them a little more oomph.

Banana Crunch Muffins
Source: message board
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup Kashi GOLEAN crunch cereal
½ cup splenda
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large bananas, mashed
½ cup skim milk
¼ cup egg beaters
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray In a medium bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients In a large bowl, combine all of the wet ingredient. Stir into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin tins.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Pear Pie

Yum! Wow, I'm not a baked fruit person, but I had an urge to bake today (something about the cooler fall-like weather that we are having this weekend) so I found this recipe on

My father-in-law's birthday was today and we had him and my mother-in-law over for lunch. We made some of his favorites, grilled marinated veggies and grilled salmon and baked potatoes and brought out the pie for dessert. Norm was more than a little skeptical about the pie. In his words, "Ew that doesn't sound good." But he was the first to say how good it was! His parents even took the rest of the pie (except for a piece that I saved for Norm and me). This recipe is a keeper!!!

I made some adjustments to the original recipe, per recommendations from the Web site. Here's my adjusted recipe:

Source: (Pear Pie III)
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
4 pears - peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup white sugar (or 1/4 cup splenda blend for baking)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon almond extract
2 eggs, beaten
Dash of ground cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Press the pie pastry into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Flute the edges. Place the pear slices in the pie crust with the small ends toward the center. Layer additional pieces on top, after you've finished the first layer.
3. In a medium bowl, mix the butter and sugars together until smooth, then beat in the eggs one at a time until light and fluffy. Stir in flour and extracts. Pour over the top of the pears.
4. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, until pears are soft and custard is set in the center. Cool completely before slicing and serving.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Start...

Woo hoo!
My first adventure in the world of the blog = )

What's to come...some recipes (who doesn't love food, right?), some samples of my craftiness, (lol, I fancy myself a creative person), some thoughts and some general "stuff" from our lives in good old Pittsburgh, PA.
A little about me...
I live in Pittsburgh with my husband, Norm, and our crazy cat, Dallas (aka The Gatto). We just got married in July and I'm going thru some serious wedding planning frenzy withdrawl. I did a ton of DIY project for the wedding...everything from wedding invitations, programs, favors and placecareds to rehearsal dinner invites and out-of-town welcome bags for our wedding guests. I loved it! It really gave me a creative outlet - something I thoroughly enjoy, but also something that I do NOT have in my profession. So now that the wedding is over, I'm hoping to keep my creative streak going with new projects at home (scrapbooking, cardmaking and other crafty goodies) and some culinary adventures in the kitchen!
Norm and I both love to cook. You'll often find us at meal time cooking side by side, whipping up delicious dishes. I get a kick out of finding new recipes to try and challenged my making things as healthy as possible to fit in with our healthy eating plan. I'm luck to have a guy that lets me experiment in the kitchen and doesn't complain (much) about the ever-growing stack of cookbooks on the bookshelf = )