Sunday, December 26, 2010

Killer Flank Steak and Ultimate Twice Baked Potatoes

Killer Flank Steak

  • 2 lb. flank steak
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/2 T dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  1. Place steak in a covered container or ziploc bag.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over steak.  Marinate at least 20 minutes at room temperature or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator, turning occasionally. 
  2. Grill over medium coals for 6 minutes.  Turn and grill for an additional 6-8 minutes until cooked to desired doneness.  Slice thinly on the diagonal.  Serves 3-4.
I love this recipe, not only because it is so easy and quick, but because the marinade is extremely flavorful (also a great chicken marinade).  You can also do this under the broiler in your oven, but I think it's best cooked on the grill. This recipe comes from the Junior League Gold n' Delicious cookbook.

Ultimate Twice Baked Potatoes

  • 6 large baking potatoes
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (3 T reserved)
  • 1 c light sour cream (can also use non-fat plain yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup non-fat milk
  • 1-2 t salt
  • 1-2 t pepper
  • 1 c sharp cheddar cheese, grated (4 T reserved)
  • 8 green onions, sliced (2 T reserved)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bake potatoes in preheated oven for 1 hour.
  3. When potatoes are done, allow them to cool for 10 minutes.  Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; save skins.  To the potato flesh, add bacon, sour cream, milk, salt, pepper, cheese, and green onions.  Mix until creamy.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the potato skins.  Top with reserved ingredients (cheese, bacon, and green onions).  Bake another 15 minutes.
I pack the potatoes skins pretty full, so although I use 6 potatoes (you would assume that leads to 12 twice baked potatoes), I get 8-10. The presentation is great and it makes a potato side dish feel much more special with very little extra work. This recipe is adapted from

Vanilla Yogurt and Triple Berry Trifle

  • 2 package(s) (10 ounces each) frozen strawberries, thawed, strained, and juice reserved
  • 1 package(s) (12-ounce) frozen raspberries, thawed, strained, and juice reserved
  • 1 1/3 cup(s) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup(s) heavy cream
  • 3 container(s) (16 ounces each) nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt, such as Chobani
  • 40  ladyfingers
  • 2 tablespoon(s) orange liqueur (optional), such as Cointreau
  • 1 package(s) (16-ounce) frozen blueberries, thawed and drained
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together raspberry and strawberry juices with 2/3 cup sugar and cornstarch. Boil until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whip heavy cream to stiff peaks; set aside. In a large bowl, combine yogurt and remaining 2/3 cup sugar. Fold in whipped cream.
  3. Break ladyfingers in half. Place half of them in a 2-quart glass bowl or trifle dish. Drizzle cookies with 1 tablespoon liqueur, if using, and dollop with one-third of yogurt mixture. Spoon half of berries over yogurt mixture, then drizzle 3 to 4 tablespoons thickened juices. Layer another one-third of yogurt mixture over berries, followed by a layer of remaining ladyfingers. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon liqueur and dollop with remaining yogurt mixture. Top with remaining berries and 3 to 4 more tablespoons thickened juice. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours, before serving.
 I brought this to a dinner get together.  The recipe appealed to me because I wanted something a little lighter.  I did NOT use the liqueur when I made it.  I also substituted half of the blueberries with huckleberries we picked this summer up at Schweitzer.  People really seemed to enjoy this dish, plus the presentation was beautiful even though I didn't have a trifle dish.  This would easily serve 8-10 people. I got it from the Country Living magazine.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Turkey Meatballs in Marinara w/ Cheese Tortelloni

(yield = 40 meatballs)

1 pound extra lean ground turkey breast
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 c. Panko bread crumbs (fine)
1/4 c. fresh or 1 tbsp. dry parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Mix together all ingredients from above.  Roll mixture into 1 inch balls.  Heat large skillet to medium and coat skillet with non-stick cooking oil (I used olive oil spray).  Brown meatballs on both "sides" and set aside.
Marinara Sauce:

1 (16 oz.) can diced, stewed tomatoes
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 cup chopped Bella mushrooms
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/4 c. chicken broth
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Saute onions and mushrooms in a skillet on medium-high heat in butter, until softened and golden.  Stir together all remaining ingredients and pour into a large crock pot, set at 300 degrees.  Add sauteed onions and mushrooms to marinara sauce, plus browned turkey meatballs.   Cook in crock pot on 300 degrees for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, decrease crock pot temperature to simmer for 4-6 hours.

1 pound cheese tortelloni, dried
6 cups of water
dash of salt
1 teaspoon extra light olive oil
1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

30 minutes prior to dinner time, prepare cheese tortelloni.  Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot on the stove top, on high with salt and olive oil.  When water is boiling, add tortelloni, reduce heat to medium-high and continue low boil for 12-15 minutes.
 After tortelloni is prepared, layer tortelloni on a dinner plate, top with marinara sauce w/meatballs and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.  Enjoy with a delicious spinach salad and whole wheat rolls!
Recipe adapted from

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chocolate Bon Bons

This yummy treat is my nephew's favorite Christmas goody, so I make it every year.  I got this recipe from my colleague, Karen, many years ago.  Happy Holidays!

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup shredded coconut
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1/2 package chocolate bark for baking
1/2 package butterscotch chips


Mix together graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.  Stir in shredded coconut, powdered sugar, peanut butter and vanilla until thoroughly mixed together.  Roll batter into 1 inch balls and place on parchment paper, on a baking sheet and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Melt chocolate bark and butterscotch chips together in the microwave, starting at 1 minute on high, and add 15 seconds as needed.  Bark and chips should be completely melted, but not scorched or lumpy.

When balls are chilled enough, roll balls in melted chocolate/butterscotch mixture, covering completely and place on parchment paper to set.  Usually sets within 15-30 minutes.

Want to add extra pizazz to these treats?  Sprinkle chocolate bon bons with chopped nuts or coconut before they set.

Makes about 5 dozen bon bons.

Breakfast Frittata

Recently we attended a festive Christmas brunch with lots of our healthy triathlete friends.  I wanted to bake a breakfast treat that is delicious and nutritious for my friends, so I thought of this tried and true frittata recipe.  

1 pound ground turkey, beef or breakfast sausage (your choice)
1 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
non-stick olive oil spray
18 eggs
4 oz. can of diced green chilies, drained
1 zucchini, diced
8-10 mushrooms, diced
1 large baking potato, diced
1 + 1/4 cup colby/jack cheese, shredded
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray skillet with olive oil and add ground turkey, herbs and spices.  Cook until ground turkey is browned, set aside to cool.

Beat all 18 eggs, add green chilies, zucchini, mushrooms and potato.  Whisk together and add colby/jack cheese.  Finally, add the browned ground turkey to the egg mixture.

Spray 9 x 13 glass baking pan with olive oil.  Pour the egg mixture evenly into baking dish and top with a cup of cheddar cheese.  Cover the pan with foil and bake for 1:10.

Chicken Curry Soup

  • 1 c cooked wild rice (I generally use a wild rice blend)
  • 8 c chicken stock (do not use broth)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 1/3 c pineapple juice
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 3/4 c + 2 T flour
  • 4 c diced chicken
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 t fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 t fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 t cumin
  • 4 t curry powder
  • 2 t sambol (red chili paste)
  • 1/4 t finely ground black pepper
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 c diced celery ribs
  • 1/2 c olive oil
Toppings:  toasted coconut, toasted sliced almonds, chopped peanuts, lime zest, crushed pineapple, and/or mango chutney

  1. Begin cooking wild rice as instructed on the bag/box.
  2. In a large saucepan or stock pot, combine chicken stock, bay leaves, coconut milk, and pineapple juice.  Bring to a boil (watch this carefully - when it boils, it will overflow quickly).
  3. In a separate pan, melt the butter until it bubbles and then slowly add in the flour making a roux.  Stir until it bubbles and is foamy, then add to broth mixture and stir to thicken.
  4. Keep the broth on a low simmer to continue thickening while you prepare the chicken.
  5. Preheat a stockpot with olive oil.
  6. Add black pepper and chicken to the stockpot, cook until 3/4 done.
  7. Add onion to the chicken and cook until transparent.
  8. Mix together spices and then add them to the chicken mixture.
  9. Stir, saute lightly and finish with the heavy cream.
  10. To combine the ingredients, add the stock to the chicken mixture.
  11. Add the celery (still raw and crunchy) and the cooked wild rice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  12. When serving, top with toasted coconut or other ingredients as you choose.

Nothing to say other than this soup is fabulous and is probably one of the most requested dishes I make.  I use two stock pots and actually double this recipe, freezing leftovers. It's a great dinner to serve when you have company, especially with a cool little tray with all the fixins for toppings.  If you haven't tried chutney, I highly recommend giving it a 'go' for this recipe.  You won't be disappointed! The recipe comes from the Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, WA.  

Pulla Bread

This sweet cardamom coffee bread, traditionally comes from Finland, and was often served in my home at Christmas time (my dad's dad was Finnish, my maiden name is Seppä).  I have memories of braiding pulla (pronounced poo-lah) with my Grandma Seppä, my dad and my step-mom as a kiddo.  I also remember my family making lots of pulla and delivering it to friends and family over the holidays.  This was the first year that I've been able to share the tradition of making pulla with my daughter, Emma.  She takes great delight in braiding the bread!

Although Grandma Seppä never ever used a bread machine to make hers, I will humbly admit that this recipe and "project" turns into something very do-able with the aid of the dough cycle.  Although the process itself from start to finish is quite time consuming (about 3 hours), there is very little hands-on time.

  • 1 egg and 1 yolk (save white for glaze)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 T butter
  • 4 1/2 T sugar
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t cardamom
  • 3 c flour
  • 1 T yeast
  • 1-2 T sugar for glaze
  • 1-2 T slivered almonds for glaze
  • Put all the ingredients in the bread machine pan and set the cycle for white bread DOUGH.
  • After cycle is finished, punch down, cut dough in thirds, and let rest for 5 minutes
  • Roll each third of dough into a 20 inch rope and braid ropes togther, tucking ends under
  • Place braid on buttered cookie sheet
  • Cover bread and let rise in a warm place until about 50% larger in size
  • Brush with egg white, then sprinkle with almonds and sugar
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • When making these for gifts, I often divide the dough into 9 pieces to make 3 smaller loaves from one batch of dough.
*This is delicious served warm or toasted with butter and a cup of coffee.  Enjoy and Hyvää Joulua!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas


2 boneless chicken breasts
1 box Rice a Roni Mexican rice
2 cups Mexican cheese blend
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large can enchilada sauce (red or green)
6 taco size tortillas
sour cream (I use light)
guacamole (I love the packaged kind from Costco)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly spray the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish and pour about 1/4 of the enchilada sauce in.
3.Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Place chicken breasts in water and boil for 15 minutes or until no longer pink. Boiling the chicken makes it much easier to shred.
4. While chicken is boiling, make rice according to directions. I use the "less fat" directions on the side of the box and substitute EVOO for butter.
5. When chicken is done, use 2 forks to shred it.
6. Combine chicken and rice. Mix in beans.
7. Mix in 1 cup cheese and a spoonfull sour cream.
8. Roll the mix into tortillas and close both ends. Lay in baking dish, folded side down. Lay enchiladas side by side until dish is full.
9. Cover with remaining enchilada sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
10. Bake at 350 until sauce is bubbling (about 25 minutes).
11. Top with sour cream and guacamole. Enjoy!

This is a great dish to make if you're serving a crowd! When I triple it for dinner club, I only use 2 boxes of rice and 2 cans of beans. Otherwise, it's too much of each of them. I also make 7 chicken breasts instead of 6.

This recipe was adapted from my friend, Darci's, recipe, as well as Jessi's recipe.

New England Clam Chowder


  • 2 8-ounce bottles clam juice
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 3 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped celery with leaves (about 2 large stalks)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 large Costco can (51oz.) chopped sea clams, drained, juices reserved
  • 1 1/4 cups half and half
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco


Bring bottled clam juice and potatoes to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add onions, celery, garlic and bay leaf and sauté until vegetables soften, about 6 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes (do not allow flour to brown). Gradually whisk in reserved juices from clams. Add potato mixture, clams, half and half and hot pepper sauce. Simmer chowder 5 minutes to blend flavors, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before serving.)

This makes either 8 cups of soup, or 4 bowls.  I tripled this recipe for dinner club + extra.  Would be especially well presented in sourdough bread bowls (you have to order these from a bakery with a little advance notice). Incredibly easy and very well received!  It would be a great special occasion meal.  I know someone that uses this recipe for their Christmas Eve dinner every year.

*This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit

Lentil Sausage Soup

Confession:  I don't really like lentil soup... that is... until I tried this one.

We were at a holiday party at the Rein house and this soup was the main course.  Reluctantly, I poured some in my bowl and decided that I wasn't going to be rude and eat up.  I instantly fell in love with the healthy and flavorful taste.  Immediately, I was begging for the recipe, which Gerry so graciously made me a copy of.  I've been making it ever since.  It's so hearty and heart healthy too.  Did I mention how easy it is? Flove!


  • 1 pound French green lentils (recommended: du Puy) *I just use the regular lentils from the grocery store
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 4 cups diced yellow onions (3 large) * I use the frozen pre-chopped onions
  • 4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (2 leeks)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves *don't skimp on the fresh here!
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups medium diced celery (8 stalks)
  • 3 cups medium diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
  • 3 quarts homemade chicken stock *I use Wolfgang Puck chicken stock from store (don't use broth)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 pound kielbasa, cut in 1/2 lengthwise and sliced 1/3-inch thick * I use turkey kielbasa to make it even healthier
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine or red wine vinegar  *I use red wine vinegar
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving


In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Check the seasonings. Add the kielbasa and red wine vinegar and simmer until the kielbasa is hot. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

This recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa, serves 8-10, and leftovers freeze beautifully.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

BLAT Wraps


  • 8-10 slices turkey bacon (I think the turkey bacon at Costco is by far the best!)
  • 4 (10 inch) flour tortillas (my favorite are wheat tortillas from De Leon Foods)
  • 4 tablespoons Ranch-style salad dressing
  • 1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 4 T shredded cheddar cheese (optional)


  1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until crisp. Chop and set aside. 
  2. Combine turkey bacon, avocado, tomato, and ranch in a bowl and stir gently coating with the Ranch dressing.
  3. Warm tortillas in microwave oven for 30 to 45 seconds, or until soft. Layer the lettuce and the bacon/tomato/avocado/ranch mixture, topping with optional cheese.  Roll the tortilla around the ingredients and serve immediately. 
If you don't plan on serving right away, keep the ingredients separate.  You could also layer each item as well, serving more like a burrito (shown in photo), but we like the pre-mixed version better.

This recipe is super fast and easy, which is one of the reasons I chose to make it coming off a swim meet weekend and going into a crazy holiday week.  It doesn't take much prep time at all and is a sure crowd pleaser.  My hubby and daughter are big fans - always cleaning their plates.  This recipe was adapted from

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Enchilda Lasagna


1 pound ground turkey OR 2 skinless/boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
1 - 10 oz. can of black beans
1 small can diced green chilies
1 can sliced black olives
1 zucchini, sliced and halved
2 cups of colby/jack cheese, shredded
1 - 10 oz. can mild enchilada sauce
12 small corn tortillas
1 large tomato, diced
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1/3 cup light sour cream OR non-fat Greek yogurt
fresh avocado OR 1/3 cup guacamole sauce


Brown the meat and then add taco seasoning plus water, bring to a quick boil on medium-high heat.  Drop temperature to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from heat when the taco seasoning has condensed and successfully joined the meat as no "sauce" remains.  If using chicken breasts, wait until chicken has cooled and then chop into bite sized pieces.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare a round or square glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Spoon a thin layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.  Layer "lasagna" from bottom of the pan to the top in this order: corn tortillas, enchilada sauce, meat, black beans, zucchini slices, black olives, green chilies, cheese and then repeat 2 more times.  After topping the final layer with cheese, pour remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the top.  Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for 15 minutes more, or until cheese is melted.

Serve enchilada lasagna with chopped romaine lettuce, freshly diced tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole - if you desire.

There are many additional vegetables you could add to this dish and/or take certain ingredients out of this dish to make it your own.  Since I made this dinner for my two pregnant friends, I chose not to add onions or red pepper to spice it up - although I think those additions would be tasty.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baked Chicken Parmesan


  • 8 thin chicken cutlets
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs (I used Italian bread crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 24-ounce jar marinara sauce
  • 1 pound sliced mozzarella


  1. Heat oven to 400º F. Season the chicken with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Place the flour and eggs in separate shallow bowls; in a third shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan. Coat the chicken with the flour, then dip in the eggs (letting any excess drip off), then coat with the bread crumb mixture, pressing gently to help it adhere.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in batches until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
  4. Pour the marinara sauce into a large, shallow baking dish. Top with the chicken and mozzarella.
  5. Bake until bubbling and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
I served this dish with whole wheat spaghetti noodles and used the marinara in the baking dish as sauce. Super easy and delicious!

Recipe from Real Simple

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies

My husband loves him some sweets, and if you know Greg - this is a HUGE understatement.  I like them too, but I don't have the metabolism of a teenage boy.  So, I modified the standard cookie recipe to make it lower-fat and cholesterol, less sugary, and more fibery!


*2 1/3 cups total flour (1 + 1/3 cup whole wheat baking flour + 1 cup white flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
*1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter + 1/2 cup of plain, non-fat yogurt or applesauce (I prefer yogurt)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
*1/3 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
*2 tablespoons of milled flaxseed + 6 tablespoons warm water (whisked together)
1 + 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda and salt.  Beat butter into brown sugar and agave nectar mix + vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  After briskly whisking flaxseed + water together, add to large mixing bowl and beat well.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cooking sheet.
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until tops are golden brown.  Cool in pan for 3 minutes, then transfer cookies to cooling rack for desired amount of time.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

* A few notes: the healthier substitutions were=> whole wheat + white flour mix for 2 + 1/3 cups white flour; 1/2 cup butter + 1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt for 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter; 2 tablespoons flaxseed + 6 tablespoons water for 2 large eggs; and 1/3 cup agave nectar for 3/4 cup white sugar.  You can mix and match any or all of my preferred substitutions.  

Also, I have found that using all of the above listed substitutions works better as pan cookies (pictured), than as drop cookies.  For pan cookies use the same recipe, but grease a 9 X 13 rectangular pan.  Spread prepared dough into pan evenly.  Bake for 20-24 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool in pan on wire rack.
Makes 2 dozen bars.

Hot Pesto, Mozzarella, Chicken Sandwiches

Please excuse the ghetto paper plate!  I forgot to take a picture of my sandwich at dinner last night, so I had to settle for a remake when I ate my leftover sandwich at lunch today.

  • 4 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup pesto sauce (homemade or premade)
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4  teaspoon  pepper
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh or dried parsley
  • 1  teaspoon  olive oil
  • 4  kaiser rolls
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • 4 pieces of sliced part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1  large tomato, thinly sliced


Combine pesto and mayonnaise in a small bowl, stirring to blend.  Refridgerate.
Slice chicken breasts in half width-wise.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, sprinkle with salt, pepper and parsley, and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan, and let cool slightly.
Preheat broiler.
Cut kaiser rolls in half horizontally. Place rolls, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Broil 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove bread from pan. Spread pesto mixture evenly over cut sides of bread. Arrange the chicken evenly over bottom half. Top chicken with sliced mozzarella cheese. Place bottom half on baking sheet, and broil 2-3 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven and arrange spinach and tomato over cheese, and cover with top half of bread. Eat and enjoy!  I served mine at dinner with baked, lightly salted, sweet potato fries.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Veggie Bath Time

It's weekly tubby time at my house on Sundays. I swear it's not the only day we bathe, but it is the day I wash, dry, and package up all the fruits and veggies for the week.

As many of you know, I am a teacher. I make meeeeeelions and meeeeelions of dollars teaching the future leaders of America. (Sarcasm font inserted here). Seriously, I just got an email last week from Mrs. Leena El Amin who has a project for me worth 7.5 million pounds. YES! It's my lucky break - FINALLY!

So with my loads and loads of money, I struggle with shopping and buying organic. Obviously, organic/food co-op/homegrown is the way to go - but since I am trying to eat fresh (which is expensive anyway), buying everything organic is unrealistic. I try to prioritize, but one of my "tricks" is to wash everything in a cold water-vinegar bath. I fill up my sink 1/2 to 3/4 full depending on how many fruits and veggies, and dump about 4 c of white vinegar. Dump in all kinds of veggies and fruits (even works with berries and lettuce). Let soak for about 15 minutes, rinse and dry well.

This soak helps remove pesticides and bacteria. If you look at the leftover water, well don't, cause it will kind of make your stomach turn. Or maybe you should... to motivate you to do it every. single. time.

After I do this, I put everything in baggies and containers for the week. I'm floored at how much longer everything lasts!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Triple Berry Scones

Sometimes I like to send a little extra treat for Tiffany and Jessi when I deliver dinner.  Tonight I chose to make scones for their breakfasts tomorrow.  All they have to do is lightly warm the scones in the microwave and sip a delicious cup of coffee or tea!  


1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tbsp. cold butter
1/2 cup fresh or frozen & thawed blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries or whatever berry is your favorite  (I baked mine with the triple berries frozen mix from Costco, thawed first)
1/2 cup cream, buttermilk, OR non-fat plain or vanilla yogurt (this is what I used)


Preheat oven to 425.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add in the butter, slice by slice, mixing as you go.
Mix in the yogurt, blending well
Gently stir in the fruit
Form dough into a ball, place on a greased/cooking sprayed baking sheet and pat down into a circle about 1/2 to 1/4 inches thick.
Sprinkle with sugar and cut into 8 segments.
Bake at 425 degrees for about 16-20 minutes or until edges are slightly crisp and the top is lightly browned. Drizzle icing on top after cooled if desired.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Using both andouille sausage and juicy pink shrimp, jambalaya is like a spicy surf-and-turf. To save time, buy frozen peeled shrimp and thaw in the refrigerator or under cold, running water.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)


  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • 1  cup  chopped red bell pepper
  • 1  tablespoon  minced garlic
  • 12  ounces  andouille sausage, sliced (they also make a chicken/turkey version)
  • 1  cup  uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1  teaspoon  paprika
  • 1  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  teaspoon  dried oregano
  • 1/2  teaspoon  onion powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 1/4  teaspoon  garlic salt
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 2  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4  cup  water
  • 1  tablespoon  tomato paste
  • 1/2  teaspoon  hot pepper sauce
  • 1  (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3/4  pound  peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley


Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, minced garlic, and sausage; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add rice and the next 7 ingredients (through bay leaf); cook 2 minutes. Add broth, water, tomato paste, hot pepper sauce, and diced tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

Add shrimp; cook 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Stir in parsley.

This recipe was adapted from Cooking Light.  Roger had seconds and told me that this was one of his favorites that I've made, so definitely wanted to share the recipe.  Very easy and all in one pot for quick clean-up.  A little spicy for kiddos though.

Cashew Chicken with Ginger Infused Rice Pilaf

I made this dish for the first time a few weeks ago, because I wanted to create a dish with a few of my husband's favorite ingredients.  Greg loves cashews, chicken and spicy food.  Hope you like it too!

Cashew Chicken


  • 3  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce, divided
  • 2  tablespoons  white wine
  • 4  teaspoons  cornstarch, divided
  • 1  pound  skinless, boneless chicken breast tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2  tablespoons  oyster sauce
  • 1  tablespoon  honey
  • 2  teaspoons  saffola oil, divided
  • 3/4  cup  chopped onion
  • 1/2  cup  chopped celery
  • 1/2  cup  chopped red bell pepper
  • 1  tablespoon  grated ginger
  • 2  minced, in water garlic clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2  cup  chopped green onions (about 3 green onions)
  • 1/4  cup  chopped dry-roasted cashews


1. Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce, white wine, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, and chicken in a large bowl; toss well to coat. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch, broth, oyster sauce, and honey in a small bowl.
2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken mixture to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from pan. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and cayenne pepper; sauté 1 minute. Return chicken mixture to pan; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth mixture. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. 

Rice Pilaf

1 tablespoon saffola oil
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 cups water
1 cup long grain white rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


Heat saffola oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and grated ginger to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in water, long-grain rice, and salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.  Arrange 1/2 cup rice pilaf on plate and top with 1/2 cup chicken mixture.  Add cashews and green onion as desired.
Adapted from

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cranberry Orange Almond Biscotti

Tiffany and I (Jessi) had no idea what we were doing embarking on our first biscotti making adventure, but we knew we wanted to make something special for parent volunteers and our building staff to let them know how much we appreciate them without breaking the bank.  For our gifts, we decided to go with a coffee theme and went with a Starbucks VIA 3-pack along with some homemade biscotti.  Now to make the biscotti...

Cranberry Orange Almond Biscotti


  • 1/2 cup light olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (if you can find the orange craisins, those would be even better!)
  • 3 cups sliced almonds
  • 2 heaping tablespoons orange zest
  • Optional: white chocolate


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oil and sugar until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts, then beat in the eggs. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder; gradually stir into egg mixture. Mix in cranberries, nuts, and orange zest by hand.  
  3. Divide dough in thirds. Form three logs on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or greased with olive oil. Dough may be sticky; wet hands with cool water to handle dough more easily.  
  4. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until logs are light brown. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. (Cover with towels to help keep from cracking).
  5. Cut logs into 3/4 inch thick slices (we used a bread knife to gently saw slices). Lay on sides on parchment covered cookie sheet (or sprayed with olive oil). Bake approximately 10-15 minutes, or until dry; cool. Optional, dip ends in white chocolate and cool in refrigerator to harden. Makes about 30 large biscotti.  Freezes well!

 Have kids that like to help in the kitchen?  Zesting the oranges was a great job for miss Emma.

Here are our "logs" - we fit all three on one cookie sheet.

 Since we were mass producing, we needed to use some of these baking pans to cook the cut biscotti in.  We sprayed with olive oil as we didn't have any parchment paper and it worked great!

We tried dipping our first batch in white chocolate.  Loved it.  We had a hard time getting the chocolate to harden until we put it in the refrigerator.  Worked like a charm!
We found and adapted this recipe from and were very happy with the taste as well as how easy it was to make.  We give it two thumbs up!