Thursday, February 23, 2012

Appetizers and Desserts...

Well, I've discovered it's super convenient to have all these recipes on my if I happen to be at mom's house and don't have my recipe book with me, or if my sister calls for a recipe, it's all in one place ready for referencing.  That said, I've decided to add a few appetizer and dessert recipes from my jewelry party in December, so I have them recorded somewhere other than scraps of envelopes and buried in my sent emails.  I'm just putting them all in one post, since I usually make more than one of them at a time anyway.  I don't have calories for these, nor would I ever look them up.  Holidays and parties are calorie-free zones, my friends.  lol.  Here we go :)

Here's a picture of my table setting from my jewelry at least you have an idea of what it all looks like:

Feta Bruschetta

This is my own recipe, for once.  I had seen a lot of bruschetta recipes that just weren't quite what I wanted, so I created my own with all my favorite parts of a whole bunch of different recipes.  It was really good and has been made 3 or 4 more times since Christmas by my family. 

- 1/4 c. butter, melted
- 1/4 c. + 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
- Baguette, sliced relatively thin
- 2-3 oz. Crumbled Feta
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T. fresh basil, minced
- 6-8 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

Mix tomatoes, basil, feta, garlic, and 3 T. olive oil together in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving.  Mix butter and olive oil together in a small bowl.  Brush sliced bread with butter/olive oil mixture, and put on a baking sheet in the oven under the broiler until toasted.


Cranberry-Jalapeno Dip

This is a Pinterest specialty, and it's delicious.  The original recipe is at Jamie Cooks it Up if you're interested in checking it out.  It's super duper easy too, which is a plus :)

1 - 12 oz. package fresh cranberries
1/4 c. green onions, chopped
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped (I usually use less than this cuz I'm not a huge cilantro fan)
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. cumin
2 T. lemon juice
Dash of salt
2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened

Chop up cranberries in food processor or mini processor.  Combine all ingredients except cream cheese in  bowl, and store in refrigerator for at least 4 hours (this is brings out the sweetness in the cranberries as the sugar starts to break them down).  When ready to serve, spread cream cheese mixture on a plate and spread cranberry mixture on top of cream cheese.  Serve with crackers.


Union Square Bar Nuts
We made these for a bridal shower a few years ago, and they've been a go-to ever since.  I gave out little tins of them for Christmas presents a couple of years ago too.  Yum.  They're originally from the book Nigella Bites, by Nigella Lawson.  Also, quick and easy :)

18 oz. lightly salted assorted nuts (I like to use the Emerald ones)
2 T. coarsely chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. brown sugar (dark or light is fine...I usually use dark)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread nuts on baking sheet and toast in the oven till light golden brown...about 8-10 minutes.  In large bowl, combine rosemary, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter.  Thoroughly toss nuts in spiced butter.  Serve warm or let cool before storing in a lidded container.


White Sugar Cookies
I, personally, think these are the best cookies in existence.  My friend gave me the recipe last year, and I've made them a bunch of times for holiday parties, etc. since.  The recipe should make about 4 dozen, and from my experience, they don't last long.  lol :)  They're really easy to make, nearly impossibe to mess up, and absolutely NOT diet food.


- 1 c. white sugar
- 1 c. powdered sugar
- 1 c. oil
- 2 sticks margarine
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups flour

- 1 stick margarine
- 1 lb. powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. butter flavoring
- 3 T milk (to desired consistency)


Cookies - Mix all ingredients and bake 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees.  Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Frosting - Mix all ingredients till smooth.  Spread over cooled cookies.


And that's all for tonight...I'll save pumpkin squares and wassail for another day :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Parmesan Hashbrown Cups...

Ahhhh...more cupcake-shaped food...told you I had some tunnel-vision going on.  Ah well.  The original recipe is at The Yummy Life, and looked too tasty to pass up.  (It is, by the way...I had extras, so I tried one while I was waiting for the next round of cupcake-shaped food to bake).  Not much explanation needed for this one...I'm has potatoes...'nuff said.  I had a bunch of extras, so I packed them up in ziploc bags, and I might just eat them as a hashbrown for breakfast too :)

Parmesan Hashbrown Cups
12 Servings, 101 Calories Each


1 (20 oz) bag Simply Potatoes shredded hash browns
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 c. grated parmesan
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper (I think I probably used more than that...I love pepper)
2 T. olive oil


Mix everything together.  Spoon mixture evenly into 12 muffin cups (I didn't grease them and they came out fine, but I was using a non-stick pan, so you might want to do that) and press gently with the back of a spoon.  Bake 60-75 minutes at 350 degrees.  Let rest for 5-10 minutes before carefully removing from tin. 

I'm serving them with my tuna cups for a total of 385 calories each serving. 

Taco Cups...

So I was apparently obsessed with cupcake-shaped food when I wrote my menu plan this month.  I don't know what I was thinking exactly...I think Pinterest may have brainwashed me into it.  At any rate, while I'm super happy with what I made, it definitely affected my timeline today a lot...I only have 2 cupcake tins, and 1 oven, so I felt like I was waiting for a lot of the day.  Broke my own rule about being conscious of how many items are done in the oven vs. stovetop vs. crockpot.  Oh well...reminder noted.  :)  Anyway, on to my next cupcake-shaped food...taco cups!  These turned out looking delicious and got super crispy (haven't gotten to try them yet, but I don't doubt they'll be yummy).  Downside: I'm sure it'll lose a decent amount of crispiness upon reheating.  However, I was really in the mood for tacos, and decided I didn't care.  lol :)  Sooooo...I'll let ya know how it all turns out in a couple of weeks.  It'd be a cute idea for a party or something...have some salsa, sour cream, lettuce shreds on the side to put on top.  The original recipe, on Plain Chicken called for a can of black beans, which would probably be great if you're into that sort of thing, but I'm not so I skipped it.  Here's my version:

Taco Cups
12 Servings, 203 Calories Each


1 lb. ground beef
2 c. shredded cheddar
1 packet Taco Seasoning
24 wonton wrappers
2/3 c. water

Brown ground beef on stovetop.  Drain and add taco seasoning and water.  Mix and simmer another 5-10 minutes.  Spray muffin cups with cooking spray.  Line each cup with a wonton wrapper.  Add a layer of meat and a layer of cheese.  Repeat layers.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and the wrappers are crispy. 

I'm having mine with a corn muffin for a total of 373 calories each serving :)

Bouchons Au Thon (Tuna Cups)...

So I stumbled across this recipe in a book...not a recipe book, exactly...more of an autobiography, actually.  It's from a book called A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg.  The chick who wrote it is obviously inspired by food, and food plays a large part in a lot of her memories, so she recaps stories about making these recipes with family, friends, loves, etc. and then includes the recipe at the end of each story.  There's like, a million tasty looking recipes in there (although this is the only one I've gotten to so far), and it's a really fun, interesting read too.  Check it out if you get a chance :)

Bouchons Au Thon (Tuna Cups)
4 servings, 284 Calories Each


1 - 6oz. can tuna, packed in water, drained well
1 c. shredded Gruyere
1/3 c. sour cream
3 T. tomato paste
3 eggs
1/4 c. yellow onion, chopped fine
1/4 tsp. salt
2 T. Italian parsley, chopped fine (I've tried Italian seasoning, and also dried parsley, in the past and those both worked fine too...I just happened to try fresh this time, because I was using Peapod for the first time and wanted to check out the produce)


Mix everything together in a bowl.  Transfer it to a greased muffin tin (it'll make 8 cups...I usually have 2 per serving).  Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes until they look set on the top and sides.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes before carefully removing from muffin tin.

I'm serving mine with hashbrown parmesan cups (recipe later) for a total of 385 calories.

McCoy Lasagna...

I'm not certain that this lasagna recipe is unique to our household, but I DO know that everytime I make it for someone, they look me like I just fell off the back of a truck on its way to the loony bin. It's non-traditional lasagna, for sure. But I can ALSO say, that every last one of those people who looked at me like I was nuts while I was making it wound up loving it...and most asked for the recipe afterwards. So...yeah. I prefer it to more traditional lasagna with ricotta. Plus it's easier and faster. And I LOVE easier and's my favorite thing :)

McCoy Lasagna
8 servings, 435 calories each


- 1 lb. ground beef (the leaner the better...I use 95%)
- 1 can peas
- 1 tub cottage cheese
- 1 bag shredded cheddar
- 1 bag shredded mozzarella
- 1 jar pasta sauce
- 1 pkg. dry lasagna noodles (you're really only using 8 or 9 noodles)
- Seasonings (your preference)


Brown the ground beef on the stovetop. Add pasta sauce and seasonings to ground beef (here's where the lean part comes in...if you didn't use super lean, you'll need to drain it yourself a step!) and simmer 10-15 minutes. Now it's time to start layering!

1st Layer - Dry Noodles....yes, you read that right...dry...we're keeping it fast and easy here!

2nd Layer - 1/2 of ground beef mixture
3rd Layer - Cottage Cheese (to taste)
4th Layer - Peas (to not drain peas...the extra liquid is important for helping cook the noodles)
5th Layer - 1/2 bag of shredded cheddar
6th Layer - 1/2 bag of shredded mozzarella
Repeat Layers

Do yourself a favor and put the whole pan on top of a cookie sheet...I promise you from experience, it's no fun if it cooks over in your oven. Cover with foil (make sure to tent the foil, or you'll just melt it into all of your cheese) and bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes. And whatever you do, make sure to let it cool before you cut it, or it's going to be a mess!

It's a good size portion, so I'm not adding a side to this one. Enjoy :)

Potato & Corn Chowder...

For a little while in college, I worked at a restaurant.  The chef there periodically made this corn chowder with bacon, and it was amazing...he literally only did it like 1 day every couple of months, and everybody went crazy for it when it actually popped up on the menu, myself included.  But that was a long time ago, and I had since kind of forgotten about corn chowder...until Pinterest arrived :)  So I found this Potato & Corn Chowder recipe on Mama Loves Food and I was competely obsessed with it all winter.  I decided to make it one more time before it starts getting much warmer outside, since it's a happy, cozy little recipe.  Potatoes, corn, bacon...what's not to like?  The original recipe called for celery...I don't really do celery unless it has peanut butter and raisins on it (I know...I'm a child sometimes), so I skipped that.  I also skipped the seasoning salt in the original and added my own seasonings.  Just personal preference :)

Potato & Corn Chowder
8 Servings, 325 Calories Each


1 box pre-cooked microwave bacon, crispy and crumbled
6-7 sm/med Russet potatoes (don't bother peeling them), diced into 1/4"-ish cubes
8 cups frozen corn
1 med/lg sweet yellow onion, diced fine
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
4 c. chicken stock
2 c. half & half
Seasonings (your choice)


Put everything EXCEPT the half & half into the crockpot, set on low, and let it cook for about 10 hours (the original  recipe says you can do it on high for 6 hours if you don't have that kinda time).  Blend with an immersion blender (or pour it in a regular blender) to the texture you like (I leave mine pretty chunky).  Add the half & half and cook, uncovered, for another 15-20 minutes. 

I'm having mine with a crescent roll (packaged separately in a ziploc bag, obviously) for a total of 425 calories :)

Tuna Noodle Casserole...

There's always going to be those classic dishes from your childhood that are go-to comfort food items.  For me, tuna noodle casserole is right up there on that list.  I've been harassed on previous occasions about the use of too much processed food in this meal, but you know what?  I don't care.  lol :)  It's yummy, the calories aren't too bad, and it's not like I'm eating it three meals a day, so whatever!  One sidebar before the recipe:  1) Normally I use Roasted Garlic Cream of Mushroom Soup, but I completely forgot when I was ordering my groceries.  It's good either way, but it's nice to have the extra boost of flavor.

Tuna Noodle Casserole
6 Servings, 310 Calories Each


- 1 Box Mac & Cheese
- 1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 1/4 c. Margaine
- 1/4 c. Milk
- 1 Can Peas, drained
- Seasonings (I usually add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes)

Prepare mac & cheese according to package instructions (cook it to the low end of the recommended time, because it'll be going into the oven afterwards).  Into prepared mac & cheese, mix in cream of mushroom soup, peas, and seasonings.  Bake at 350 degrees for about a half an hour, or until the edges are bubbling and it starts to brown a little bit on top. 

As I said in my meal plan post, I'll be serving mine with a crescent roll for a total of 410 calories :)

I Love the Internet...

I love the internet.  I'd say at least twice a day, I thank my lucky stars that it exists.  Besides the excessive amount of Googling I do, there's also Facebook, Pinterest, and a whole host of other social networking sites that I look to for inspiration, creativity, and communicating with people who I don't often get a chance to see due to scheduling and/or distance.  I do a lot of online shopping around the holidays too, because as someone who works retail, my patience with the holiday insanity wears thin pretty quickly if I don't.

So anyway, on to the point of this "I love the internet" rant:  I ordered my groceries from for the first time ever this week.  If you know me, you know that I positively DESPISE grocery shopping (which, incidentally, was part of the incentive in my once a month cooking escapades to begin with).  All other forms of shopping I pretty much shopping is like hell on earth for me though.  Sooooo, after talking to a friend of mine who's husband delivers for Peapod, I decided to just do it.

So I typed up my list in the little quick list thing and clicked through to select the items I wanted from the list, all of which took about...15 minutes.  I selected sale items when I could, and after I totalled everything up, I realized it pretty much costs exactly the same as my normal in-store grocery shopping, if not a little less.  I set my delivery time for 8pm-10pm, they texted me about 10-15 minutes before they got here, and when my groceries arrived, they were brought right to my door and unloaded in the kitchen in the span of about 6 minutes.  I gave the delivery guy a $20 tip (it says tipping is optional on the website, but personally, when people deliver stuff to my house because I'm too lazy to go get it myself, I think they deserve a good tip). 

Anyway, it was AWESOME...all in all, including the time to unpack and put groceries away, it was about a 30 minute time investment, as opposed to the normal 2-2 1/2 hours.  The produce and everything looks even better than what I usually buy at the store.  PLUS, even AFTER the tip, I came in $25 under my normal monthly budget.  Winner!  Yep, love the internet.  :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

March Menu Plan...

Well, the time is drawing near for monthly cooking to commence once again.  I'm planning on doing all my cooking Wednesday after I get done getting an oil change, and going to work for a couple of hours on my day off...yep...we'll see if it all gets done.  Anyway, here's the, etc. coming Wednesday or Thursday, hopefully...items with an asterisk(*) I haven't made before, so I'll post an update on success (or lack thereof) after I get done cooking and have eaten them a couple of times.  As always, calories are approximate based on look-ups of individual ingredients at 


Corn and Potato Chowder (325 calories) + Crescent (100 calories) – 425 Calories Total, 8 servings
Taco Cups* (203 calories) + Corn Muffin (170 calories)  - 373 Calories , 12 servings
Tuna Noodle Casserole (310 calories) + Crescent (100 calories) – 410 Calories Total, 6 servings

Lasagna (435 calories) + No Side – 435 Calories Total, 8 servings
Tuna Bouchons (284 calories) + Hashbrown Parmesan Cups* (101 calories) – 385 Calories Total, 4 servings


Apple Pie Oatmeal Breakfast* (115 calories, 8 servings)
Muffin 2 pack (280 calories, 12 servings)


15 Wheat Thins + 1 Laughing Cow Cheese Wedge (175 calories)
Cuties Orange (45 calories)

And that's all for tonight :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Status update on recipes...

Well, I've been meaning to do this for at least a week now, but I figured I'd post an update on how the new recipes turned out, how they're reheating, etc.

1) Chicken Caesar Sandwiches - Pretty good.  They reheat just fine, and I really like the taste.  I think I almost like them better cold though, so I might just make a half batch next time and eat them for a couple of days in a row instead of freezing them for later.

2) Cheesy Quinoa Casserole  - Eh.  I haven't been able to determine if I'm having such an issue with these because it was originally billed as mac & cheese and they're sooooo not, or if I actually wouldn't like them if I hadn't had any previous expectations.  It tastes fine, and it reheats fine, but I'm just disappointed everytime I take it out of the freezer.  And I'm developing a texture issue with it.  I don't think I'll be making it again, at any rate, and I may or may not toss the last few I have left, although I HATE doing that...I just don't think I can deal with it anymore.

3) Potatoes ala Boulangere - LOVE!  Reheats well, tastes great, definitely making them again.

4) Petite Lasagnas - LOVE!   I really like these, they reheat really well, and they've inspired me to consider more cupcake tin entrees.  I'll definitely be making them again.

5) Corndog Muffins - Yummy comfort food.  Reheats well.  I'll make them again.

6) Baked Oatmeal with Fruit - Very good...I've discovered I'm sort of partial to having it for dessert with a little ice cream on top instead of for breakfast though...whoops!

7) Hummus - As with the quinoa, I think I'm mostly disappointed that it's not exactly what I thought it was going to be.  The more I had, the more it reminded me that it wasn't exactly what I had wanted.  I'll be trying a new recipe next time.

And that's all...just figured I'd let ya'll know how it turned out :)