Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Philly CheeseSteak/French Dip Sandwiches



  • 1 pkg sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 sweet onion sliced thin
  • 1 green pepper sliced thin
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can beef consomme
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound thinly sliced deli roast beef
  • 8 slices provolone cheese
  • 4 hoagie rolls, split lengthwise


  1. Saute onions for 10 minutes in a small amount of butter or olive oil.  Then add in mushrooms and green pepper for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  2. Heat beef consomme and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat to make a rich beef broth. Place the roast beef in the broth and warm for 3 minutes.
  3. Slice hoagie rolls and place face up under the broiler until lightly toasted.  
  4. Arrange the meat and veggies on the hoagie rolls and top each roll with 2 slices of provolone. 
  5. Turn the temperature down or lower rack and broil sandwiches just until the cheese just begins to melt. Serve the sandwiches with small bowls of the warm broth for dipping. Serves 4.
I recently found out that I am anemic so was looking for a beef recipe to add a little iron into my diet.  Since Natalie's husband doesn't eat beef, I gave them deli turkey instead of the roast beef (and obviously no dipping sauce) which made the meal more like a turkey "cheesesteak".  Emma really loved her sandwich (no veggies), and Roger ate two huge sandwiches.  I served these with sweet potato fries (nothing fancy, just from the freezer section in the grocery store).  Easy and hearty!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows - OR - 4 cups  miniature marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 5 cups Rice Krispies® (I don't recommend you skimp here and go name brand) 
  1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter until melted. 
  2. Add cereal. Stir until well coated.
  3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. 
  4. Melt 1/2 c chocolate chips and 1/4 c butterscotch chips on low in a saucepan.  Drizzle on top and let cool.
  5. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.
I made these for a potluck lunch at work.  They were definitely a hit.  They aren't too heavy and have a great mix of texture and flavor.  This is a fun and easy way to snazz up a classic dessert to make it seem a little more special.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Trinidad Stewed Chicken


  • 2 pounds of boneless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. Mix the green onion, cilantro, garlic, onion, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Marinate the chicken for up to 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Heat the butter in a deep pot over medium heat. Stir in the sugar, and cook until the sugar has melted into a nice golden brown syrup. Add the chicken pieces, and brown while turning continuously. (If any of the brown sugar clumps up due to the cold chicken/marinade, don't worry, it melts/dissolves in the next step).
  3. Pour in coconut milk and pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the ketchup.
  4. Mix cornstarch with 2-4 tablespoons of water prior adding to sauce to thicken. 
  5. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve chicken with the sauce over rice (try coconut rice). 

I found this recipe (which I modified) from allrecipes.com.  I am a sucker for recipes with coconut milk and was also lured in by all the great reviews it had.  I modified a few things as I went and also from reading reader reviews and suggestions.  I was really excited about the end result and will definitely be making it again!

Coconut Rice

  • 2 cups Thai jasmine-scented white rice (note that other types of rice, such as brown rice, will not work for this recipe)
  • 1 cup good-quality coconut milk (not "lite")
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp. dry shredded coconut, unsweetened or sweetened (baking type)
  1. Place rice in rice cooker. Add the water, coconut milk, salt, and shredded coconut. Stir well (use a plastic or wooden utensil to avoid scraping off the non-stick surface). Cover and set to cook.
  2. Once your rice cooker switches to "warm" mode, allow another 8-10 minutes for rice to finish "steaming". This will ensure your coconut rice is fully cooked and pleasantly sticky.
  3. Gently fluff with chopsticks before serving (some of the shredded coconut may have risen to the surface - just stir it back into the rice). Taste-test it for salt, adding a little more until desired flavor is achieved.
For a recipe for the stove top: http://thaifood.about.com/od/thaisnacks/r/thaicoconutrice.htm

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chinese Chicken Fried Rice

  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup frozen sweet peas
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked, cubed chicken meat
  • 4 cups cooked brown long grain rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice seasoning
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots and onion to saute until semi-soft, then add celery, bell pepper, frozen sweet peas, Chinese Five Spice, and 2 tablespoons soy sauce and stir-fry for 5 to 6 minutes.
  2. Stir in cooked, cubed chicken and stir-fry another 5 minutes. Then add rice and stir thoroughly.
  3. Finally, stir in scrambled eggs and 1/3 cup soy sauce, heat through and serve hot. 
NOTES:  In the original recipe from allrecipes.com, the reviews suggested adding the Chinese Five Spice seasoning for more flavor.  I'm so glad I did - it's a blend of cinnamon, anise, fennel, ginger, clove, and licorice root = delish.  I adapted the recipe only a tiny bit to make it healthier (lower sodium + sub brown rice).  Additionally, you must know that the prep for this takes a LONG time.  Even though I bought pre-cooked chicken breasts from my local deli, chopping the veggies and chicken for this dinner club meal took 2.5 hours.  Actual time cooking took a bit less than 30 minutes.  I tripled the recipe above for dinner club.  If you're only making this for a group of 4 or less, prep time will probably be cut by 1/3.  Further, brown rice is awesome and wholesome for this recipe, but is best if steamed in a rice cooker.  Use the least amount of water called for considering the quantity of rice you're steaming, because the fried rice is supposed to be "dry" not sticky.
I served this with chopped cashews, chopsticks and fortune cookies :).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


  • Ritz crackers
  • Peanut butter - creamy or chunky (I prefer the chunky)
  • Chocolate chips (any kind you prefer - I have made them with milk chocolate and semi-sweet)
  • Oil or shortening to thin chocolate with
  • Smear peanut butter between 2 Ritz crackers to make a 'sandwich'
  •  Melt chocolate chips on low heat in a saucepan stirring frequently.  You can use oil or shortening (I actually use olive oil) to thin the chocolate.
  • Using tongs or forks, dip peanut butter sandwiches in chocolate and tap to remove excess chocolate.
  • Set on cookie sheet with wax paper or saran wrap to let set up.  Place them in the refrigerator or freezer to speed this process up.
  • Enjoy!
These are almost too easy to even call a "recipe" but in my mind, a great recipe isn't about hard or complex.  The best ones are taste amazing and are also simple to make. My friend, Carrie, made these and brought them to a baby shower.  Everyone devoured and raved about them!  She shared her recipe and tips with me.  Of course, the real taste test for me is at home.  So, I made them for Rog and Emma.  I had them setting-up in the garage freezer and realized that the two of them were sneaking in to eat them... by the time I took them out to serve... they were already half gone!  I guess that says it all!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pan Roasted Chicken with Garlic Potatoes and Green Beans


  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lemons, 1 thinly sliced, 1 juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound trimmed green beans
  • 8 small red potatoes, quartered
  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a large baking dish or cast-iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer in the bottom of the dish or skillet.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper; add the green beans and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the green beans and arrange them on top of the lemon slices. Add the potatoes to the same olive-oil mixture and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, arrange the potatoes along the inside edge of the dish or skillet on top of the green beans. Place the chicken in the same bowl with the olive-oil mixture and coat thoroughly. Place the chicken in the dish or skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Pour any of the remaining olive-oil mixture over the chicken.
  3. Roast for 50 minutes.
  4. Serve with warm bread.
The longest part of this recipe is the roasting time. Otherwise, it takes very little prep and tastes delicious. I will warn you though, the lemon taste is strong, so if you don't like lemon, this recipe isn't for you!

Chicken Cacciatore


1  pound  skinless, boneless chicken breast tenderloins
1  teaspoon  dried oregano
1/2  teaspoon  dried basil
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/4  cup  dry red wine
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
1 - 32 oz can tomato sauce
Non-fat cooking spray
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2  cups  sliced cremini mushrooms
3/4  cup  chopped orange bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped white onion
16 oz. organic, whole grain Cappelini pasta (or linguine or any pasta you like)
1 T - EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 cup  (about 4 ounces) shredded Mozzarella cheese


Heat slow-cooker (crock pot) to 300-350 degrees.  Add in first 8 ingredients, through tomato sauce to slow cooker and simmer while preparing the remaining ingredients.
Heat a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic, mushrooms, bell pepper and onion to pan; saut├ę 5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. When all are lightly browned, remove from heat and add to the slow cooker.  Cover and continue to simmer 30 minutes.
Boil water in a large saucepan, add EVOO, and prepare pasta according to package instructions.  When the pasta is al dente, remove from pan and rinse with warm water in colander.  Turn off heat on slow cooker.  On dinner plate, serve 1/2 cup pasta topped with 1/2 cup chicken cacciatore.  Sprinkle with cheese, and fresh basil if desired.  I also served steamed broccoli and whole grain French bread with this dish!

BBQ Chicken Pizza


  • 1  14 inch pizza crust * I actually got a 14 inch pizza crust from a local pizzeria.  Not a huge fan of Boboli, but you could use that or your favorite pizza crust recipe.
  • 1+  cup  tomato chutney *see recipe below
  • 3  cups  chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breast - I used a rotisserie chicken.
  • 1  cup  diced plum tomato
  • 2 heaping cups shredded extra-sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1/3  cup  chopped green onions


  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Place crust on a baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 3 minutes. Remove from oven; spread chutney over crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border.
  3. Top chutney with chicken. Sprinkle diced tomato, cheese, and green onions evenly over chicken. Bake at 450° for about 12-15 minutes or until cheese melts and crust is desired crispiness (may depend on the thickness of your crust, probably less than 10 minutes for a Boboli crust). Cut pizza into wedges.
Note: If you can't find tomato chutney, make your own. Combine 2 cups diced plum tomato, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 3 tablespoons cider vinegar, 1/8 teaspoon Jamaica├▒ jerk seasoning, and 1 minced garlic clove in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook 30 minutes or until thickened.  This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light.

Well, this was a learning process!  Many reviewers of the recipe raved about the tomato chutney recipe which I went ahead and made.  It was really good and had a nice contrast of flavor with the extra sharp cheddar cheese... but, I would say that if you're in a time crunch and looking for a quicker alternative, your favorite BBQ would also work great.  You could also do a variety of sauce/topping options and let people in your house make their own pizza.  For dinner club, it ended up being a little challenging to deliver.  I got pizza boxes from Fat Daddy's pizza (thank you!) and delivered the crust that way - also wrapped in saran wrap.  After making our pizza as my test case, it was clear that I should not try to top the pizzas prior to delivery and should just include ingredients for families to assemble themselves.  This would also keep the dough from getting soggy if they decided not to cook/eat right away.  I will definitely go with this idea again, but not 100% sure I would take the time to make the tomato chutney again.  Fun for kiddos to help make the pizza - Emma loved that!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Almost Reeses Bars

  • 2 c peanut butter (chunky or smooth - chunky is my favorite)
  • 3/4 c butter
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 c chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet)
  1. Melt butter.  Add the peanut butter and brown sugar.
  2. Remove from heat and gradually add powdered sugar.  Using hands, mix thoroughly.
  3. Spread peanut butter mixture on the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 pan. 
  4. Melt the chocolate chips over low heat and stir constantly until smooth.
  5. Spread chocolate evenly over peanut butter mixture.  
  6. Place in a refrigerator until the chocolate has set up.  Cut into small pieces (much smaller than brownie size) and enjoy!

I actually got this recipe from a student of mine who used this recipe as the basis for her demonstration speech. (I made only a slight modification) Really easy to make and always a hit for the Reeses lovers.  Seems like whenever I take this somewhere people are asking me for the recipe - always a good sign! Enjoy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chicken Shawarma (Chicken Gyro)

  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 large (or 4-5 small) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • 2 tablespoons tahini *I found this in the Kosher section of the supermarket
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
Remaining ingredients:

  • 6 (6-inch) pitas
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 18 (1/4-inch-thick) tomato slices (large tomatoes, more if using smaller tomatoes)
  • 1 cucumber quartered and sliced thin 
  • 1/4 red onion sliced thin 
  1. Combine chicken marinade ingredients and chicken breasts and let marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature.  Then transfer chicken breasts and marinade to deep skillet to cook through.
  2. Remove breasts from marinade and slice thinly.
  3. In another bowl, combine sauce ingredients and mix well with a whisk.
  4. Serving options:
  • Grill or broil pitas and top with veggies, chicken, and dollop of sauce (as shown in picture).
  • Open pita and stuff with veggies, chicken, and dollop of sauce
  • Make a mixed "chopped salad" with veggies, chicken, and sauce.  Broil pitas and either tear chunks off to scoop salad with or cut up pita into "chips" and broil to eat as a side along with salad.

Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish of garlicky meat or poultry served on pitas. This chicken version is flavored with a savory yogurt sauce, really similar to the gyro.  This dish is very light and healthy.  After making it, I wasn't feeling really confident that my family would go for it.  But to my pleasant surprise, hubby had seconds and Emma's plate was clean (she didn't try the sauce, and no onions for her).  We had some difficulty eating it the "tostada" way which is in the picture I took.  We found it much easier to go the chopped salad route, mixing all the veggies, chicken, and sauce together, and then using the pita shell like a scoop.  This also mixed the sauce in really nicely.  I made some modifications to this recipe that I originally found in Cooking Light.  If you're into light and healthy or a fan of the flavors of the middle east, I think you'll really enjoy this recipe.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chipotle Black Beans


1- 16 oz. can of black beans
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced white onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
non-stick cooking spray
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon Cholula Chipotle flavored hot sauce


Spray a medium sized sauce pan with cooking spray.  Saute bell pepper, onions and garlic in bottom of sauce pan.  Drain some (~1/4 cup) of the bean "juice" into the sauce pan when sauteing is finished.  Drain the remaining juice from beans and rinse beans.  Stir in the beans and add chipotle hot sauce to the sauce pan.  Simmer beans mixture on low for 15 minutes.  Serve warm.  These beans go well with the BBQ Pulled Chicken Sliders from this blog!

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sliders


32 oz. Old South bar-be-que sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1-1.5 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6-8 slider mini buns
6-8 slices pineapple
8 oz. fresh, raw spinach leaves


Combine bar-be-que sauce, ketchup and pineapple juice in crock pot.  Add the chicken and slow cook at 250-300 degrees for 7-9 hours.  

When bar-be-que chicken is done, turn off crock pot.  Remove chicken from the crock pot and shred it on a cutting board.  Place the chicken back into the bar-be-que sauce until ready to eat.

Prepare mini buns by slicing in half and toasting.  Spoon 1/4 cup of pulled chicken on bottom mini bun.  Layer fresh spinach and pineapple on top of chicken, place other mini bun on top.  Gobble!

Disclaimer:  I got the idea for these sliders from my Cooking Light magazine.  The recipe in the magazine called for a quick-cooking stove top method with a homemade bbq sauce.  I wanted to use the slow cooker and my favorite bbq sauce, Old South - but my husband accidentally bought the "spicy" version. Knowing I was cooking for my two pregnant friends,  I added some ketchup and pineapple juice, hoping to tone down the spice factor.  However, these little sliders packed a punch!  I loved them, but if you don't like spicy food - purchase your favorite milder bbq sauce or make one.  As you can tell from the picture, I made a side dish of chipotle black beans and organic tortilla chips.  Check out the chipotle black bean recipe too.