I love to cook but I feel like I am always making the same 5 things for dinner and that gets old quick. I decided to start this blog to make myself try new recipes. The goal is that I will find a recipe, try it out and then post it on the blog for others to try and review. I will also post recipes that I have yet to try, but look like they might be good. If you have a recipe that you would like to see posted on the blog, email it to me, or leave it as a comment.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Creamy Fresh Tomato Soup

This year I decided to try my hand at growing a few things. I started with tomatoes because, well they are very basic, you water them, they grow. I figured I could do that! I also have always wanted to grow my own herbs. They are so expensive at the store and never stay fresh long once they have been picked so I also planted some basil, chives and parsley. The parsley totally bombed, it got about an inch high and stayed that way all summer long. The chives are doing well, I toss them in little things here and there. But what I am really excited about is the basil I grew. I love basil, in just about everything. I actually wish Scentsy would make a basil scented wax, I would use it everyday! Anyhow, I got all my plants going and then all of a sudden I had tomatoes everywhere. Every bowl in my kitchen was spilling over and I was eating them as quickly as I could. I had to come up with a way to use these tomatoes! So here it is: Creamy Fresh Tomato Soup. I made a huge batch and froze it in 1 pint mason jars (the perfect serving for the hubby and I). In the future I think I may just use freezer bags, but the mason jars stack nicely in the freezer and I just pull one out in the morning, put it in the fridge and by dinner I have soup ready to heat up. It is truly delicious and so satisfying. Enjoy!
Creamy Fresh Tomato Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (about 2 onions)
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
8 cups vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped (about 8 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish, if desired
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 cup half and half OR 1 cup heavy cream
Croutons, crusty bread, (or a grilled cheese sandwich) for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.
Add the cream to the soup. Process it through a food mill into a bowl, or in a blender or food processor in batches. If you use a food mill, discarding only the dry pulp that's left. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves and/or croutons. Keeps in the freezer for up to 6 months, maybe longer, but you will probably eat it all too fast to ever know! Enjoy!!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lemonade Icebox Pie


1 graham cracker pie crust (store bought or use recipe below)
8 oz. cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup undiluted lemonade concentrate
1 tub whipped topping
yellow food coloring

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in the sweetened condensed milk until blended. Beat in the lemonade concentrate and 2-3 drops yellow coloring. Fold in whipped topping. Pour into crust, cover and refrigerate until set (1-2 hours).
*NOTE: If you make the graham crust yourself, you have to let it cool completely before adding the lemonade filling, otherwise it will melt everywhere... Not good!

Graham Cracker Pie Crust:
8 Graham crackers, crushed
2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. in a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs and the brown sugar. Gradually add the melted butter, stirring until well mixed. Press into the bottom and sides of an ungreased 9 inch pie dish. Bake 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before filling.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Brownie Berry Pizza

1 package fudge brownie mix

1 tsp almond extract

1/3 cup sliced almonds

1 package plain cream cheese (8 oz.)

1 tub whipped topping

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 lemon for zesting

Fresh mixed berries

Prepare brownie batter according to package directions adding almonds and extract. Spread onto well greased 14 inch pizza pan or rectangle baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and 1 tsp of lemon zest until smooth and creamy. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over cooled crust to within 1/2 inch of edges. Top with berries and additional lemon zest. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Oldies, but Goodies

This weekend I had a few of my favorite girlfriends over and made some yummy dips. They are some of my old favorites.
Bruschetta: (Thanks Kristyn for teaching me how to say it right!)(The 'ch' makes a 'K' sound)
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
4 tbsp fresh chopped basil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Serve with thinly sliced toasted bread.

Artichoke Spinach Dip:
24 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
2 14 oz cans Artichokes, drained (the packed in water kind, not marinated)
1 10oz box frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze out excess water
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Heat cream cheese in the microwave in 30 second increments until smooth. Mix in remaining ingredients. Put in broiler safe baking dish. Top with another half cup of Parmesan cheese and put under broiler until cheese is melted and golden.

Serve with chips or toasted pitas.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tex-Mex Rice and Bean Casserole

cooking spray
1 cup(s) canned yellow corn, drained, or frozen, thawed corn kernels
1 tbsp canned green chili peppers, chopped, mild or hot
15 oz canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup(s) cooked brown rice, fresh or day old
3/4 cup(s) shredded Mexican-style cheese
3/4 cup(s) fat-free sour cream
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp scallion(s), chopped (dark green part only)
2 tbsp shredded reduced-fat Mexican-style cheese

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 2-quart glass baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine corn, chilies, beans, rice, 3/4 cup of cheese, sour cream, chili powder, salt and pepper; stir in scallions.
Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese. Return to oven and bake until cheese melts and casserole is slightly bubbly, about 10 minutes more. Let stand for 5 minutes to firm up before slicing into 6 pieces. Makes 6 servings.

Weight Watchers POINTS: 4

***Change the beans or cheese to your liking: white or black beans, reduced-fat cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheeses all work well. If you want to brown the cheese more, place the dish (make sure it's broiler safe) under the broiler for a minute or two. I used a whole can of diced green chilies instead of just a tablespoon, because we really like them, it was great!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

2 1/2 cup(s) water, divided
1 cup(s) uncooked white rice, long grain-variety
2 tsp olive oil
1 3/4 cup(s) red onion(s), chopped, divided
1 medium banana pepper, cubanelle or other sweet pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
31 oz canned black beans, two 15.5 oz cans (undrained)
1 tsp table salt, or to taste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2/3 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, chopped, divided
1 medium lime(s), cut into 6 wedges

In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil; add rice and cook as package directs.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 cups of onion and all of the pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and oregano; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in beans and their liquid, remaining 1/2 cup of water and salt; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for flavors to blend, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar and 1/3 cup of cilantro.
To serve, spoon beans over rice; sprinkle with 1/4 cup of remaining onion and 1/3 cup of remaining cilantro; squeeze fresh lime juice over top. Yields about 3/4 cup of beans and 1/2 cup of rice per serving. Makes 6 servings.

POINTS Value: 5

*** There is way to much cilantro in this recipe for my tastes, but I did like a little sprinkled on top. I drained the beans to cut down the sodium, but I added a little extra water.

Chili Beef Tacos

2 tbsp chili powder, or Mexican seasoning
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion(s), chopped
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
8 oz uncooked lean ground beef (with 7% fat)
8 oz canned tomato sauce
8 oz canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
8 item(s) Old El Paso Regular Taco Shell(s), or equivalent product (about 1/3 oz each)
4 tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
4 tsp cilantro, fresh, chopped

Toast chili powder and cumin in a medium skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add oil to skillet and heat; add onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add beef and cook until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and beans; cook 5 minutes more or until heated through. (Note: To turn up the heat, toss in some chopped chipotle peppers with the tomato sauce.)

To assemble, fill each taco shell with 1/4 cup of beef mixture; top each with 1/2 tablespoon of sour cream and 1/2 teaspoon of cilantro. Yields 2 tacos per serving. Makes 4 servings.

Weight Watchers POINTS:6

Monday, March 9, 2009

Italian Chicken and Orzo

2 4oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. dry oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
cooking spray to coat pan
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp minced red onion
1 cup cooked orzo pasta

Pound chicken to an even 1/2 inch thickness between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pat chicken breast with oregano and pepper, coating both sides. Brown chicken in a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray. Remove chicken from skillet. Add tomatoes to skillet and scrape up any browned bits. Add chicken broth and onion. Return chicken to skillet. Spoon tomato mixture over chicken to baste. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, turning chicken once, until chicken is cooked through. Turn heat up for the last few minutes to reduce sauce slightly. Serve over 1/2 cup of orzo for each serving. Spoon extra sauce over chicken and orzo.
Makes two servings.

Weight Watchers POINTS value: 5

My husband and I recently joined Weight Watchers; from now on recipes will include POINTS values. This recipe is from the weight watchers website. The original recipe called for whole wheat orzo, which I didn't have so I used regular white pasta. If you use whole wheat the POINTS value is 4 instead of 5. I only had Spanish style diced tomatoes on hand, but it still turned out great, just a little spicier than if I had used Italian style diced tomatoes.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cookies till You're Content

I LOVE TO BAKE!!! I've decided to start adding new cookie recipes as well as new dinner ideas to my blog. I got a wonderful cook book this weekend and I can't wait to start using it!

Easy Lemon Pasta with Chicken

1 pound penne pasta
2 chicken cutlets, cut into fingers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain well.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large grill pan over medium high and add chicken. Grill until golden and completely cooked. Remove to a plate and slice.
Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to a saute pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute until fragrant 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and turn heat off. Mix all together.
Remove pasta to a large bowl. Add chicken to the warm pasta and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle in chopped parsley. Add the juice of 2 lemons and mix. Before serving top with Parmesan.

*** I hope you like lemon if you try this recipe! I would recommend adding the lemon juice a little at a time and testing it to get the flavor you want. I put all the lemon juice in at once and it was to strong for me.

Rio Grande Spice Rub Strip Steaks

4 sirloin strip steaks (8 to 10 ounces each) 1 inch thick
1 1/2 tbsp dark chili powder
1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 large red onion, cut into 4 thick slices
Olive oil to coat onion
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill to high heat. combine spices for rub and rub well into steaks.

Coat red onion slices with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Grill steaks and onion slices about 5 minutes on each side, remove from heat. Let meat stand for about 5 minutes. Top with grilled onion rings and serve.

*** Go easy on the spice rub! A little goes a long way with strong flavors like these. The spice rub recipe made enough for twice as many steaks as the recipe calls for.

Pasta al Forno

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound penne rigate (with lines)
softened butter, for baking dish
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 pinches cinnamon
6 slices bacon, chopped and extra crispy
1/4 to 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Put a pot of water over high heat to boil. when water boils add salt and pasta. Cook pasta to al dente (soft on the outside with a little crunch on the inside), about 7 minutes. Once pasta water comes to a boil preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Butter a medium size baking dish or casserole. Ad olive oil to a medium skillet over medium heat. cook onions and garlic in olive oil 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Add cream and season sauce with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Add chopped bacon to sauce and stir with cooked pasta to combine. Adjust seasonings and transfer pasta to baking dish. cover pasta with cheese and place in oven. Bake until top is lightly brown and pasta is bubbling, about 10 minutes. Serve hot from the oven.

*** This pasta was so very good. The recipe makes enough for a 9x13 pan which fed my family for a week! Just go easy on the cinnamon, the flavor is really enhanced when you bake it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

UPDATE: Zucchini Parm Crisps

I made the zucchini parm crisps (recipe below) to go with dinner last night and they were SO good. My husband hates zucchini and he even gobbled them up. They are a must try! So good!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

I just found this recipe on the food network website. I have to run to the store and get some zucchini, but I will definitely be making these soon! I'll post an update about how they turn out later.


Cooking spray

2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound total)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (3/4-ounce)

1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs

1/8 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and a few turns of pepper. Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove with spatula. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Whiskey Chicken

4 cloves garlic - peeled

1 tsp. olive oil

2/3 cup water

1 cup pineapple juice

3 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon (2-3 Tbsp)

1/2 small onion - FINELY diced

1 Tbsp. Jack Daniels Whiskey

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Slowly saute garlic cloves in olive oil over low heat until tender; set aside.

Bring Water, pineapple juice, teriyaki, soy sauce, and brown sugar to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to low.

Press sauted garlic with the flat edge of a knife to create a paste; stir into sauce along with remaining ingredients. Simmer sauce for 45 minutes stirring occasionally.

Brush glaze over chicken and grill.

****I used chicken tenders and marinated them in the glaze for about 8 hours. The recipe makes enough glaze for about 4 pounds of chicken. If you don't use it all at once it keeps well in the fridge for about three weeks.