Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September Recipe (Pt. 2) Update...

This was a real winner of a month as recipes go...I've sincerely enjoyed all of them so far :)  Here's the synopsis of each for ya:

Pork Sausage Apple Loaf
Ummm...yum!  This is delicious.  I'm glad I used the spicy sausage...gave it a little kick.  It was hearty and tasty and ooooooh, so much like fall.  I'll definitely be making it again...and keeping the concept in mind for other combinations :)

Turkey Pumpkin Casserole
This was good.  The pumpkin didn't really come across as much as I was expecting it to.  I'm not sure I'd make it didn't wow me.  But it was definitely tasty and I'll happily eat the rest of what I have of it. 

Sweet Potato-Topped Shepherd's Pie
Again, I think, why the heck didn't I think of this?  It was freaking delicious.  I think the blend of the sweet potatoes and yellow potatoes was wasn't quite as sweet as it would have been with just the sweet potatoes, and it was creamy, but not too liquid-y thanks to the yellow potatoes.  It was a nice balance.  Love it, and I'll be making it again for sure!

Taco Beef Bake w/Cheddar Biscuit Topping
My favorite of the Mexican casseroles so far, I think.  This may or may not be because of the tasty biscuit topping...I do love pretty much all bread.  It had a nice amount of spiciness...not too hot...and the corn added a nice little bite of sweet too.

Baked Chicken Panzanella
This was really good.  It smells even better.  Yum.  As I said when I posted the recipe, I forgot to drain the tomatoes, so the croutons lost most crunch that I would've liked.  Still...if I reheated with the lid off, it still got a little crunch to it.  And to be honest, even if it had no crunch at all, it'd still be tasty.  Not too heavy, but still filling. 

Aaaaand, that's all for the recipe update this month :)  Back for cooking after vacation!

October Menu Plan...

Okay, this month is going by in the blink of an eye.  One week from today I'm heading out for a spectacular Vermont vacation for 12 days.  Then I'll only be back for a week and a half before I go out of state for another 4 days.  Because of all this craziness and my work schedule thrown in, I'm planning way out in advance.  I've got to have my grocery list all ready to go BEFORE I got on vacation so I can have groceries delivered the day I get back and cook later that week.  Crazy!  Anyway, I know I haven't done the recipe update from the last group of recipes yet, but I'll be getting to that shortly, I promise :)  I cheated again and took recipes from sources that already had calories figured...primarily Cooking Light and Betty Crocker.  I can't help it...I'm too busy this month...maybe November :)  As usual, new recipes are marked with an asterisk.  Here's what October is going to look like:

Asparagus and Ham Casserole* (250 calories) + Twice Baked Potatoes (250 calories) = 500 calories per serving

Polenta Lasagna* (335 calories) + Garlic Bread (253 calories) = 488 calories per serving

Provencal Beef Stew* (271 calories) + Biscuit (170 calories) = 441 calories per serving

Chunky Potato-Crab Chowder* (265 calories) + Crescent Roll (100 calories) = 365 calories per serving

Impossibly Easy Cheesy Meatball Pie* (370 calories) + Potatoes ala Boulangere (117 calories) = 487 calories per serving

Next up...recipe update!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sweet Potato-Topped Shepherd's Pie...

Betty Crocker Month continues! :) I've had a thing with sweet potatoes lately. I love ordering them at restaurants, but I just can't find the right way to utilize them at home. So I saw this recipe and thought it sounded like a perfect opportunity to combine them with a dish I already love...shepherd's pie (hey, I'm Irish...don't be so surprised). This one was a little more labor intensive than the previous two, although still not too bad. I used fresh thyme instead of dried...not really for any reason in particular...I'm not die hard about fresh herbs or anything. Honestly, it was like $1.00 cheaper to get the little bundle of fresh instead of the jar of dried, and since I pretty much NEVER use thyme, I decided I didn't want a jar that was never going to get used anyway cluttering up my cabinets. I also used ketchup instead of tomato paste...not intentionally...Peapod apparently decided to substitute the tomato paste that I ordered with a strawberry Yoplait yogurt (that's pretty close, right?), and I didn't feel like going out by the time I realized it. I used a little shy of the recommended amount, since ketchup runs on the sweet side. And last but not least, I didn't peel the Yukon gold potatoes (lazy!) to save some time, and I didn't whip the potatoes totally smooth...I kinda like it a little more rustic and chunky. Anyway, once again, you can find the original recipe at Betty Crocker. Here it is:

Sweet Potato-Topped Shepherd's Pie
8 servings - 250 calories each

1/2 lb. ground beef
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 c. carrots, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (14 oz.) reduced sodium, low fat beef broth
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 T worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. dried thyme (or a little more if you're using fresh)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 tsp. flour
4 1/2 tsp. water
1/2 c. frozen (thawed) spinach, squeezed to drain
3 c. cubed peeled Yukon gold potatoes
3 c. cubed peeled sweet potatoes
1/3 c. milk
2 T. margarine

In a medium skillet, cook beef, onion, carrots & garlic 5-7 minutes until beef is browned. Drain and return to skillet. Stir in broth, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, thyme, and 3/4 tsp. of salt. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. In a small bowl, mix flour and water...stir into beef mixture. Cook 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. In a separate pot, add potatoes and enough water to cover them. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain. In a bowl, beat potatoes, milk, butter, and remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt until smooth. Place beef mixture in greased casserole dish. Top with potato mixture, and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until potatoes begin to brown.

I'm serving mine with a biscuit for a total of 420 calories per serving. Enjoy!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pork Sausage Apple Loaf...

Yep, still feeling the fall thing.  I'm sort of obsessed with putting apples in savory dishes...I don't know why, but every time I see a recipe with that combo, I want to make it immediately.  I must've had some amazing dish like that at some point in my life that made a subconscious impression, but I don't remember it.  Anyway, I'm not a huge fan of rolling out dough (it doesn't fit with the "I'm lazy" image that I'm working on this month at all), but it looked so yummy, I decided it would be worth it.  I have to warn you, when you're putting the filling on the dough, it looks like WAY more than can possibly roll up in there...don't worry though, it all fits :)  And, one more time for the month, you can find the original recipe at Betty Crocker!  Thanks again, Betty, for all the help this month! 
Here we go:

Pork Sausage Apple Loaf
8 servings - 390 calories each

2/3 c. water
3 c. Bisquick
20 oz. pork sausage (I used spicy breakfast pork sausage)
1 c. diced apple
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 c. dried cranberries
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. shredded mozzarella
(The original also said, maple syrup, if desired...I'm not sure why exactly you'd desire it, but by all means, if you do, go right ahead!)

In a large bowl, mix bisquick and water...knead until smooth, cover, and set aside.  In a skillet, cook sausage over medium high until browned (4-5 minutes).  Add apple and onion, cook an additional 1-2 minutes, then drain.  Return mixture to skillet, then stir in cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Place dough on a flat surface and roll out to 10x14 rectangle.  Spoon sausage mixture onto center of dough and sprinkle with cheese.  Pat mixture out to about an inch away from the edges.  Brush edges with water.  Starting with the long side, roll dough over sausage mixture into a loaf.  Pinch edges to seal.  Put the loaf on a cookie sheet and cut 4 small slits in the top.  Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown.  Let cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

I'm serving mine with Cream Cheese Corn for a total of 510 calories per serving.  I'll keep you updated on how it turns out later this month with the recap post!

Turkey Pumpkin Casserole...

Can you tell I'm ready for fall by this recipe?  Fall is my favorite thing.  I like the colors, the smells, the temperature (oh, how I love the temperature!)'s good stuff all around.  (Except the allergies...fall allergies are the WORST!).  So I saw this, and thought,'s still irritatingly warm for mid-September...let's just stay inside and pretend we're further along on this fall business than we really are.  You can find the original at (surprise!) Betty Crocker!  I didn't add the celery it calls for...I do NOT do celery (major texture issue).  The lone exception to this rule is celery with peanut butter and raisins on it...don't ask me why that one's okay...I really don't know :)  lol.  Anyway, the recipe (as I made it) below:

Turkey Pumpkin Casserole
8 servings - 350 calories each

**I forgot to put vegetable oil in the picture**

Turkey Filling
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 c. chopped onion
3 c. chopped turkey (I used the Carving Board turkey from the deli area...hello, lazy!)
2 jars (12 oz.) turkey gravy
1 pkg (12 oz.) frozen mixed vegetables
1/4 c. canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. pepper
Biscuit Topping
2 1/4 c. Bisquick
2/3 c. milk
1/4 c. canned pumpkin (again, NOT pumpkin pie mix)
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning

Cook onion in oil over medium high heat about 2 minutes.  Stir in remaining filling ingredients.  Sppon into 9x12 baking dish.  In a separate bowl, mix all biscuit topping ingredients.  Drop biscuit mixture on top of filling in spoonfuls.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes until biscuits are nicely browned.  Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

I'm serving mine with Parmesan Hashbrown Cups (not pictured)* for a total of 451 calories per serving :)

Taco Beef Bake With Cheddar Biscuit Topping...

So I was having a major blonde moment when I was making this dish and learned something very important.  I will share this tidbit of knowledge with you, in case you ever have a blonde moment yourself...perhaps you can save yourself some stress.  The thing I learned is this:  If you have a casserole dish that has a little line in it...a little line that looks like a hairline fracture perhaps, but it doesn't FEEL like a crack (let's be honest, it was only a brief passing thought and you barely checked, because you weren't paying much attention...a new Maroon 5 song was on darnit!)...DON'T USE THAT CASSEROLE DISH!  Argh.  So that little line made a perfect tiny fracture right across the bottom of the dish and proceeded to leak into my oven...lovely!  It didn't really even separate...just leaked right on through that tiny, barely visible crack.  Thankfully, pretty much all of the food was still good...just scooped around that little section (it would've probably all been fine, since there were no pieces, and it looked like everything matched up perfectly with no missing bits of glass, but seriously...I may have had a blonde moment, but I'm not crazy!  lol).  Thankfully I got back in from walking the dogs before the smoke alarm went off...I don't think my apartment building neighbors would have appreciated that AT ALL at midnight.  Crisis (mostly) averted after I put another pan underneath to catch the leak, and got the windows open and fans on.  So...remember...just because it doesn't FEEL like a crack doesn't mean it's not a crack!  lol.  Man, I'm having one of those days.  Anyway, on with the can find the original at Betty Crocker.  Here it is:

Taco Beef Bake With Cheddar Biscuit Topping
6 servings - 460 calories each

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 c. salsa of your choice
2 c. frozen corn
2 c. Bisquick
1 c. shredded cheddar
2/3 c. milk

Brown beef over medium high until browned, stirring occasionally.  Drain and put back in skillet.  Stir in taco seasoning, salsa & corn, and heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.  Pour mixture ungreased casserole dish.  In a separate bowl, mix bisquick, cheese & milk into a dough.  Drop in spoonfuls on top of the meat mixture.  Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  And that's it! 

*It doesn't look like there's a crack all the way across the top end of the dish does it?  I assure you, there is.  You can barely see it (even in person), but it leaks like a sieve!*

No side dish this time, since the calories were already high enough, and the serving size was decent.  You could probably get 8 servings out of it and add a side dish if you wanted to, though.  I'll let you know how it turns out with the update later this month :)

Baked Chicken Panzanella...

Guess who's a little lazy this month?  That's's me!  Not only did I pick recipes that were on Betty Crocker because they had the calories listed already, but they also tend to be a lot less labor intensive than some of the more *ahem* "foodie" sites out there.  Whatever...I like a good 20 step recipe somtimes...when I have time...and preferably when I'm cooking for more than just myself.  But it's good to have a recipe on hand that takes literally 6 minutes to prepare and not much more to cook.  And this is the recipe for THAT :)  You can find the original at Betty Crocker.  Here we go!

Baked Chicken Panzanella
6 Servings - 290 calories each

2 cups chopped cooked chicken (I bought the kind in a bag for salads...cuz I'm lazy this month!)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with garlic, onion & oregano, drained (I may have forgotten to drain)
1/4 c. sliced green onions
1 pkg. (5 oz.) Italian seasoned croutons
1/4 c. Italian dressing
3/4 c. parmesan cheese
1/4 c. sliced fresh basil leaves (Peapod was out of stock, so I added some Italian seasoning instead)
Seasonings to taste

Put the chicken in the bottom of an ungreased 11x7 baking dish.  Layer tomatoes, seasonings, green onions, and croutons on top of the chicken.  Drizzle with Italian dressing.  Cover and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Uncover, add parmesan cheese, and bake and additional 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with basil (if you have it!).  And that's it!  Couldn't be easier, right? 

I'm serving mine with a piece of garlic bread for a total of 443 calories per serving.  I'm slightly less optimistic about the croutons staying crispy due to the fact that I forgot to drain the tomatoes, but I'm still feeling okay about it.  I think it'll be tasty either way.  I'll let you know when I update later in the month.  It smells delicious for sure :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Mixtape Mayhem...

Yes, I still call them mixtapes even though they're CDs and/or playlists.  So sue me.  It's nostalgic, dammit!  :)  Reminds me of when I used to sit by the radio for half the night trying to tape my favorite song while it was on and being irritated when it got cut off by the next song or the obnoxious announcer talking over it.  But alas, those days are gone.  *sigh*  Onward with the days of ever-so-convenient music at the click of your mouse!  Oh iTunes, the time you could've saved me had you existed in my youth!  Anyway, now that I'm done ranting about the reason I was unable to bring the title of this post into the current decade (Possibly even century?  When did we get rid of cassette tapes again??), let's get to the reason for this post. 

As I'm sure I've mentioned in some previous post, I'm a teensy bit addicted to music.  I swear if my satellite radio were to stop working at this point, I would probably have a meltdown on my way to work.  That said, I do still enjoy putting all my current favorites together and listening to them obsessively until there's new music on the radio again (It's amazing how long current hits stay current, isn't it?  There's still one running constantly at number two on the weekly countdown that I had on a mix I made 6 months ago, for pete's sake!  Where's the new stuff?!?).  Anyway, so when I get tired of what's playing (or when the songs I'm obsessed with aren't playing enough for my liking), it's off to iTunes to put togther a mix.  While initially irritated at Apple presuming to know what I like, I'm finally willing to admit that I love the Genius feature that tells me all the other songs I might like based on the songs I'm currently addicted to...I've found some really good stuff that way.  So for the last couple of years, I've been making a mix once a season or so, plus a very special Christmas mix every year (I get tired of the same old Christmas tunes...there's a lot of random other stuff out there to be found!). 

Anyway, so tonight I had a full-on music marathon and downloaded everything for my newest driving mix as well as everything for this year's Christmas CD (I'm sorry...I work retail...Christmas comes early for my kind).  I'll spare you the details of the Christmas Mix (for now), but I'm terribly excited about my new driving mix and thought I would share.  Feel free to despise every song on it...I won't be offended or even remotely swayed by your opinion :)  lol.  Here goes:

Fall 2012 Driving Mix

1. Blow Me (One Last Kiss) - Pink
2. Kiss You Inside Out - Hedley
3. One More Night - Maroon 5
4. Soldier - Gavin DeGraw
5. Too Close - Alex Clare
6. It's Time - Imagine Dragons
7. Some Nights - Fun.
8. Whistle - Flo Rida
9. Little Talks - Of Monsters and Men
10. Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen
11. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together - Taylor Swift
12. Home - Phillip Phillips
13. Daughter - Loudon Wainwright III
14. Distance (feat. Jason Mraz) - Christina Perri
15. Stay Awhile - Ryan Star
16. Hall of Fame - The Script

Enjoy :)  Oh, and if have your own "genius feature" and think of some awesome song you think I should know about, by all means, leave me a comment!