Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Marshmallow Vanilla Frosting

This recipe has to be my favorite decadent dessert ever.  I don't like the texture of pumpkin pie but love the taste, and this was positively delicious!

Original recipe:

Pumpkin Cheesecake

"For crust:
·        Nonstick vegetable oil spray
·        2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 9 ounces)
·        1 cup pecans (about 3 1/2 ounces)
·        1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
·        2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
·        1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For filling:
·        4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
·        2 cups sugar
·        1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
·        5 large eggs
·        3 tablespoons all purpose flour
·        1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·        1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
·        1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
·        1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
·        1/4 teaspoon salt
·        2 tablespoons vanilla extract

For topping:
·        2 cups mini marshmallows or large marshmallows cut into 1/2-inch cubes
·        1/4 cup whole milk
·        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·        1/8 teaspoon salt
·        1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Grind cookie crumbs, pecans, brown sugar, and ginger in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter; using on/off turns, process to blend. Transfer mixture to prepared pan; press onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of pan. Bake crust until set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool completely.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in pumpkin. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating on low speed to incorporate each addition. Add flour, spices, and salt; beat just to blend. Beat in vanilla. Transfer filling to cooled crust. Bake until filling is just set in center and edges begin to crack (filling will move slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool 1 hour. Run knife around sides of pan to release crust. Chill cheesecake uncovered in pan overnight.
Stir marshmallows and milk in medium saucepan over low heat until marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. Cool marshmallow mixture to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Add sour cream to marshmallow mixture; fold gently just to blend. Pour topping over cheesecake and spread evenly, leaving 1/2 inch uncovered around edges. Chill to set topping, at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Cheesecake can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled."

I was lazy, and mixed 1/2 cup lowfat sour cream with one tub of Marshmallow Fluff and a Tbl. of Vanilla Bean Paste.  Perfection of the taste buds.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pomegranate Spinach Salad

Potluck size:

10-12 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed & spun dry
1.5 cups Salted Caramel Walnuts, chopped
1 cup Pomegranate infused Craisins
1 cup Feta Cheese(or Bleu Cheese, my fave)
Pomegranate Dressing(recipe follows)

Combine spinach leaves and dressing JUST before ready to serve.  Top with walnuts, Craisins, and Feta Cheese.

Pomegranate Dressing:
2 Tbl. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Tbl. Dijon Mustard
4 Tbl. Pomegranate Infused Vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tbl. honey
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 tsp. soy sauce

Whisk all ingredients well.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Shake or stir well before using.

Salted Caramel Walnuts

The caramel flavor comes from the brown sugar.  They're crunchy, sweet, and the kosher salt balances them out perfectly!  Don't skip the course kosher salt.  I will try sea salt next time just to be different.  And yes, I can tell the difference, I love kosher and sea salt.  Do yourself a favor and throw out your plain old iodized salt and make the switch, you use less and it tastes SO much better.  

3 cups walnut halves
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar(unpacked)
course kosher salt

In a large non-stick pan combine walnuts and sugar.  Stir constantly(a slim silicone spatula works great for this) over medium-medium/low heat until walnuts are heated through and sugars are liquified into a deep brown(but not burnt).  Watch closely as you will need to stay in front of the stove top the entire time.  Pour out onto a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil.  Spread out.  While still warm sprinkle with kosher salt.

I'm using these for a spinach, cranberry, feta salad with pomegranate vinaigrette.  You can also store them in an airtight container when completely cool.  Be careful not to burn yourself when you sneak a warm one, because you will not be able to help yourself.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ravioli with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

No fat grams were left out in this little impressive dish.  Don't hesitate to substitute fat free or lower fat versions though if you're trying to be reasonable.  This came from some leftover ingredients floating around in the fridge so even the amounts are eyeball estimates.

2 lbs. fresh or frozen jumbo ravioli, cooked and drained.
Bring large pot of water to boil, add about 2 tsp. kosher salt.  Boil according to package directions. Turn off heat when done, but do not drain.  Reserve a little pasta water for sauce.

2 Tbl. olive oil or butter
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
5 cloves garlic minced
kosher salt, fresh ground pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 Tbl. sugar
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup canned pumpkin puree(not pie mix)
1 cup whipped cream

Heat large sauce pan on medium-high heat, add olive oil to pan, diced onions, and spices.  Saute until onions are near translucent and then add sugar.  This will help caramelize the onions, just watch closely so they don't burn or it will make the sauce bitter.  Add garlic and a little broth until garlic is tender.  Whisk in remaining broth and pumpkin.  Simmer on low for a few minutes.  Strain raviolis from water and slip gently into pumpkin mixture.  Add pasta water if needed to coat all raviolis.

Serve with grated parmesan cheese and candied pecans.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

2010 Thanksgiving Menu

Turkey:  Brined in PW Favorite Brine
Balsamic Green Beans
PW's Cornbread Sausage Stuffing(minus the apples)
Mashed Potatoes with Cream Cheese
Pretzel Jello Salad with Blackberries
Jannet's Rolls
Homemade Orange Cranberry Sauce

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake
Bobby Flay's Pumpkin Bread Pudding(added white chocolate chips to mine)

Turkey:  Brined for less time because it is injected with a solution, just overnight.  Rinse again, season inside cavities.  Put neck in bottom of pan with 1 onion wedged into 8 slices.  Cover bottom of pan 1/2".  Cooked upside down on rack for one hour at 375.  Flip over for remaining time, truss and cover with melted herb butter(fresh parsley, rosemary, kosher salt, black pepper, white pepper, and French Thyme).  Add a foil tent and reduce heat to 325' for 3-4 hours.  Remove foil tent last hour or remove tent and turn on broiler for a few minutes to brown up the top of turkey.

Potatoes:  Added 1 whole cube of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter, milk, salt & pepper to taste.

Stuffing:  Used PW's recipe ingredients, minus the apple.

Rolls:  Doubled Jannet's recipe.  Makes 64 rolls!  Divide dough between 4 9x9 baking pans.  Before baking, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Bake 15-20 minutes.

Balsamic Green Beans

This year I decided to try adding my favorite way to saute onions and mushrooms with the green beans and I'm glad I did!

8 slices of bacon
2 lbs. green beans
1 onion, diced
several Tbls.-1/4 cup good Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tbl. brown sugar
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
sliced almonds

Cut bacon into small 1" pieces and put in a medium size stock pot.  Add diced onions.  Cook on medium-high heat until bacon is cooked through and onions are almost translucent.  Add approx. 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar and cover.  The liquid will help cook the onions.  Put lid on.  Check often as you do not want the onions to burn, then it becomes bitter.  When onions are translucent remove lid and add remaining balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, salt & fresh ground pepper to taste.  Cook on low until liquid is reduced by half. 

Trim ends of green beans and cut in half, into bite size pieces.  Rinse well and steam in microwave cooker until fork tender but still bright green(about 6 minutes).  Drain beans.  Add mixture to onion/bacon mixture and toss to coat well.  Add sliced almonds and mix well.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rootbeer Cookies

My FAVORITE cookie. Rootbeer extract is hard to find, but I have found it online.
Rootbeer Cookies
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 c. buttermillk
1 tsp. root beer extract
1-3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix brown sugar, butter, and egg until fluffy. Stir in buttermilk, rootbeer extract, flour, soda, and salt, and mix until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour. Heat oven to 400'. Place cookies 2" apart on cookie sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes. Let cool on rack and glaze with recipe below.

Rootbeer Glaze for Rootbeer Cookies
2 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. butter, softened
1-1/2 tsp. root beer extract
2 Tbl. hot water

Mix powdered sugar and butter. Stir in rootbeer extract and hot water. Place wax paper under cooling rack. Spoon glaze over the cookies. This glaze will do a double batch of cookies.

Dana's Grape Salad

3-4 pkgs of red and green seedless grapes(just get a good mix of each)
8 oz cream cheese, softened (Fat-Free OK)
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix and enjoy!

Cranberry Delight Salad

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (either regular or light)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 can (16 oz) whole berry cranberry sauce
1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple
3/4 c chopped pecans
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

In a large mixing bowl, combine cram cheese, mayonnaise and sugar; mix well. Stir in cranberry sauce, pineapple with its juice, and pecans. Fold in whipped cream. Pour mixture into an 8x8x2 inch pan. Freeze until firm. Let thaw 5-10 minutes before serving.
This is copied from the Lion House Desserts cookbook, however, I usually use a graham cracker crust instead, shortbread is my favorite, and I double up the lemon mixture. You can never have too much lemon custard in my opinion. This is the dessert I'm "expected" to bring to Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers.

Lion House Lemon Truffle Pie

Baked 9-inch pie shell
½ cup water
2 Tb. Sugar
1 egg
1 Tb. Cornstarch
1 Tb. Sugar
Zest of ½ lemon
1 ½ Tb. Fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tsp. butter
1 cup vanilla chips
1 8-oz. package cream cheese
½ cup whipped cream, sweetened
1 Tb. Toasted almonds

Put water and 2 Tb. Sugar in saucepan and bring to a boil. In a large boal, mix egg, cornstarch, 1 Tb. Sugar, and zest of lemon. Slowly add hot water to egg mixture in bowl; then pour entire mixture back into pan. Heat until thickened, stirring often. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and butter. Stir until mixed and cool.

Pour 2/3 of filling in bowl. Add vanilla chips to the filling remaining in pan. Stir until chips are melted. Place cream cheese in bowl. Add filling with vanilla chips to cream cheese and beat together. Spread this mixture in bottom of pie shell. Spread remaining 2/3 of lemon filling on top. Chill for 2 hours.

Top with whipped cream and garnish with toasted almonds or sprinkle toasted almonds over whipped cream and serve on side. Makes 1 pie.

One Dish Turkey/Chicken & Stuffing Bake

Great for leftovers!

1 1/4 c. boiling water
4 Tbl. butter or marg.
4 c. seasoned stuffing mix
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 can(10 3/4oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/3 c. milk
1 Tbl. chopped fresh parsley.

Mix water and butter, add stuffing, mix lightly. If using leftovers, skip the water/butter/stuffing mix, and just measure out cooked stuffing, about 6 cups.   Spoon stuffing across center of 3 qt. shallow baking dish. Arrange chicken on each side of stuffing. Sprinkle paprika over chicken. Mix soup, milk, and parsley. Pour over chicken. Cover and bake at 400' for 30 minutes or until chicken is done.

Mashed Cauliflower

1 lg. head Cauliflower
1 pkg. cream cheese
milk or half and half
salt and pepper

Steam cauliflower until very soft, add cream cheese and mash with a potato masher with with tines that are close together. Add milk or half and half until you reach the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper. Serve just as you would mashed potatoes. Can also be topped with grated cheese, bacon bits, chives, etc....

If you like, add a few wedges of Laughing Cow Cheese.  Yum!

Potato, Mushroom, Sausage "Stuffing"

4 Tbl. Olive Oil
3 shallots, finely chopped(or 1 c. sweet onion)
3 cloves garlic
3 lb. mashed potatoes(russet, red, or gold)
1 1/2 lb. portabello mushrooms, chopped
3 lb. sweet Italian Sausage
2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 c. finely chopped chives
1/2 c. Italian parsley
2 tsp. thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste

Over med. heat, combine 2 Tbl. oil, shallots, and garlic. Saute until soft. Add shallots and garlic to potatoes. Over med. heat combine 2 T. oil and chopped mushrooms. Saute until golden brown and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add to potato mixute. Cook Sausage, breaking it up so that it isn't clumped, about 5-7 minutes. Add to potato mixture. Add rosemary, chives, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper, and mix throughly. Cover with foil and cook at 325' for approximately 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 10 minutes. If using dried herbs, cut measurements by half. This replaced the traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas stuffing in our family. It seems like a lot of steps, but it's SO worth it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blueberry "Crack" Cookies

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter flavored shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp. real vanilla

2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda

1 package white chocolate chips
2 cups frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350'. In large mixing bowl cream brown sugar, sugar, shortening, eggs, & vanilla on high speed for about 1 minute, scrape sides of bowl as needed to incorporate all the ingredients.  Add oats, flour, salt and baking soda and mix well.  Add white chocolate chips and fold in slowly with mixer.   Fold in frozen blueberries just until mixed.  Immediately scoop onto parchment lined cookie sheets, 2" apart.  Bake at 350' for 11-13 minutes, or until slightly golden brown.  Let rest 5 minutes and then remove to cookie sheet.  Refrigerate any leftover cookies, but know, these are best eaten warm.

The kosher salt really makes this recipe amazing, just a hint of salt that makes all the flavors explode.  You'll see why, this why this recipe is "Blueberry Crack", and you'll never look at blueberries the same way again.  And since I added real fruit, they're totally healthy ;)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Dump Cake

1 large(1lb. 14oz) can pumpkin puree
4 large eggs
1 can(12 oz.) evaporated milk
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin spice
1 package spice cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans(optional)
1/2 cup or 1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick spray.  In a large bowl whisk together pumpkin, eggs, milk, sugars, and pumpkin spice.  Pour into pan.  It will be runny, but it will set up.  Sprinkle evenly with dry spice cake mix.  Sprinkle nuts of you want to use them.  Drizzle melted butter evenly over cake mix, the more even, the better.  Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or when it doesn't "jiggle".  If it starts to get too brown while cooking cover with a loose sheet of foil.  Allow to cool.  Serve with ice cream(butter pecan is the best) or whipped cream.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cauliflower Leek Soup

2 leeks
1 sweet yellow onion, diced
1 large head cauliflower, diced
Vegetable or chicken stock
Seasonings:  Fresh grated black pepper, white pepper, bay leaf, ground mustard, nutmeg(all to taste)

Discard any leek leaves that look questionable.  Slice leek lengthwise down the middle and then into half moons.  Place in fine sieve strainer that fits inside another bowl.  Cover with water and soak.  Rinse several times to remove all sand.  Pour all ingredients into large crockpot.  Add enough stock just to cover veggies.  Cover and cook on high 4 hours, turn to low another 2-3 hours.  Remove bay leaf.  Using an immersion(stick) blender puree until smooth, it helps if you use a potato masher first to break up large pieces.  Optional toppings:  bacon pieces, Parmesan cheese, shredded chicken, pumpkin seeds, a drizzle of flavored olive oil, etc....

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ratatouille over Drunken Beef

1 large yellow onion(or Maui), diced
approx. 1 cup chicken, beef, or veggie stock
2 firm eggplants, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced(or 1/4 cup minced chopped from jar)
1 Tbl. dried oregano
fresh ground black pepper
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 packets Stevia(or any other sweetener, sugar)
2 med. zucchini, diced
2 yellow crookneck squash, diced

Prepare all veggies ahead of time
Spray large pot with non-stick spray, add diced onion and 1/4-1/2 cup broth.  Cover and simmer until onions are nearly translucent.

 Add eggplant, peppers, spices, garlic, and remaining broth.  Mix well, cover, and let simmer for approx. 10 minutes.  Stir often as eggplant begins to reduce in size.

Add stewed tomatoes and stevia and mix well.  Bring mixture to a boil and simmer about 15 min. 

Add zucchini and squash and mix well.  Cover, and let cook for 5 minutes.

 Mix well again, remove from heat and let sit 15 minutes.

Zucchini will also reduce in size, and should be slightly al dente.

(Use veggie broth and omit beef for vegetarian Ratatouille.)   Serve over couscous, quinoa, or rice for a starchy base.

Paleo would not use sweetener.  I used homemade beef stock

Drunken Beef
1-2 cups red wine(NOT cooking wine)
Any lean steak(such as London Broil) with all visible fat trimmed
5-6 sprigs Rosemary, fresh, cleaned
2 cloves pressed garlic
Seasonings:  Onion Powder, Black Pepper, Salt(optional)

Spread steak out on a large cutting board and season both sides, rubbing in spices and garlic.  Place in large crockpot and pour wine over, enough to cover the meat.  Turn on Low for 6-8 hours, until meat begins to fall apart when pressed with fork.  Remove from crockpot and rest 20 minutes.  Shred for serving.  Serve approx. 4-5 oz. beef on place and smother with Ratatouille.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Politics & Sundays...

I go to church on Sunday to renew my covenants I made with the Lord partaking of the Sacrament, and to be uplifted and edified.  Politics and government do not fall under either of those categories. 

I have way too many pet peeves, but ranking up there, my number one right now, is discussing politics in church.  Zaps the Spirit right out of the meeting.  I'm the Bishop's wife and I not only want to be there, but I really need to be there as well.  And when I hear politics or government being discussed I want to just go home and put on nice soft music.  It's like someone just popped my Spiritual bubble.  It starts off my week with a nasty taste in my mouth.  Sunday is the first day of the week for us and when I feel that way it makes the rest of my week stink.

Even when I walk by two people discussing government or politics I feel like I'm walking passed a heated argument.  Even if they agree, the conversations are naturally heated and temperaments are visible in body language and audible in voice tone and inflection.  Definitely not spiritually uplifting.  Conversation in the church should comfort and be around the Lord.  Regurgitating highlights of radio talk show hosts excited comments, best be done at another place, on another day.

I know He sees all of these in the public sector as His children as well, so I feel it best not to demean or talk down of any of His children.  I think we all agree that some/much of what is read on the internet or said over the air is embellished or unfounded.  You might be interested in this ARTICLE regarding why we believe even obvious lies.  The best quote, "Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Catching up...

It's been a while, I've been terrible about blogging lately.  Now that the kids are back in school though, I've been trying to find my new rhythm.  So far it's been all about doctors appointments since my old pulmo left town and so did his wife who was my primary care, and then getting my foot well enough to go back out in the work force.  The foot has been S-L-O-W.  But, I see a hike at the end of the tunnel.  No surgery still, but we're one step away from it.  But I'm pretty confident in this, it's called EWTS, and I have to go to the bay area to have it done.  So, in the mean time I decided to find a way to liquidate all of my craft supplies and use my new sewing machine that I've hardly touched since I got it.  I'm working on jewelry, purses, wallet key chains, and some whatnots to list in an Etsy store.  When I get it up, hopefully the end of the week, it'll be here: .

Here are a few pics:
And here's the "PROTOTYPE" of a key chain/wallet I'll be adding too.  That was just some old fabric to practice on and work out the kinks.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

12-15 small pickling cucumbers
2 cups cold water
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 Tbl. sugar
1 Tbl. kosher salt
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
about 10 twists of fresh ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, sliced

Scrub and rinse cucumbers.  Put cleaned cucumbers in a large ice bath(lots of ice) and let set for at least half an hour.  In a measuring cup add remaining ingredients except garlic and stir often to dissolve sugar and salt.  Remove cucumbers from ice bath, cut ends off and quarter lengthwise.  Put pickles in large gallon size ziploc type bag.  Add garlic and cold pickling mixture to bag.  Add fresh dill, jalapeno, citrus peels, or other flavor enhancers if you like. Refrigerate for 2 days before eating.  Will keep for 1 week after pickling is done.

I'm not a pickle fan, but I saw someone make some on t.v. and thought these looked easy enough and worth a try.  I'm SO glad I did!  What I did learn is that the ice bath is crucial to keeping the pickles snap crisp.  And they are!  I picked up these organic pickling cucumbers at our local farmers market.  

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Broccoli Salad

1 lg. head broccoli, cut into small pieces
6 oz. dried cranberries
1 pkg. chopped walnuts
1/2 cup reduced fat bacon pieces(such as Hormel)

1/2 bottle Maple Farms Fat Free Raspberry Dressing
1/2 bottle Maple Farms Fat Free Poppy Seed Dressing
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 lg. clove garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp. sriracha sauce
1 tsp. reduced calorie soy sauce
1 packet stevia sweetener
3 packets True Orange

Combine salad ingredients in large bowl and set aside.  For the dressing, combine all ingredients in blender until smooth.  Pour over salad and mix well.  Let sit for at least an hour in refrigerator and serve.

I didn't realize Maple Grove had high fructose corn syrup listed in it's top ingredients.  Next time I make this I'll be trying another brand.  If you prefer a creamier broccoli salad you can also add light mayonnaise.  This is unbelievably high in anti-oxidants and fiber with just a little guilty but lower fat bacon.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back to School

You can almost hear the sass in their attitudes.  Not kewl for mom to take back to school pictures.  

And someone asked who was going to take a picture of Mermaid so I stole this from her Facebook page.  Mermaid's friend on the left, and Mermaid on the right.  Already started school on the Central Coast.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spicy Peanut Shirataki Noodles (WW=4pts)

4 oz. sliced, cooked boneless skinless chicken breast (130 cal./2 fat/0 fib.)
1 package Shirataki Noodles (40/1/4)
1 Tbl.  Better n' Butter Peanut Butter (50/2/2)
1 tsp. reduced sodium soy sauce (3/0/0)
1 tsp. Gourmet Garden Cilantro Blend(5/0/0)
1 tsp. minced garlic(use less if you're not a fan of garlic) (0)
a few drops each of sriracha sauce, sesame oil, and liquid Stevia(if you prefer it a little sweet) (approx. 10 cal)

Rinse noodles and squeeze out all liquid, set aside.  Spray a non-stick skillet with a light coat of non-stick spray and heat pan to medium heat.  Heat chicken breast slices in pan.  In a small bowl with a tiny wire whisk, combine the remaining ingredients.  Add a little water to bring the sauce up to 1/4-1/3 cup liquid.  Set sauce aside.  Add noodles to chicken and stir until noodles are heated through and "dry".  If you don't squeeze out all the liquid the noodles will taste gummy and feel slimey.  When noodles and chicken are heated through add sauce and mix well.  Let reduce a little until slightly thickened.  (238/5/6)=4 pts. on Weight Watchers.  Make without chicken(108/3/6) = 2 pts. (13 TOTAL carbs, 5 NET carbs)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Golden Butterscotch Blondies

1 stick butter flavored Crisco shortening stick (Or ½ cup shortening, ½ cup Nucoa marg.)
1 C packed brown sugar
½ C sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp baking soda
2 ½ C all-purpose flour
1 package butterscotch chips
Gold Glitter Sugar for decoration

Preheat oven to 350' and spray a 9x13" pan with non-stick spray well, set aside.  Cream "wet" ingredients together(includes both sugars) until creamy and smooth.  Add flour and baking soda all at once and mix until combined.  Pour in butterscotch chips and mix.  Spread mixture evenly in 9x13" pan.  Sprinkle top with Gold Glitter Sugar.  Bake for approx. 23 minutes, until golden brown on top.  Let cool.  Use a knife and go around edge of pan to make sure bars are not stuck to pan.  Flip onto cutting board and cut into pieces.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blackened Chicken

6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Halves, pounded thin
3-4 Tbl. Olive or Canola Oil
2 Tbl. Paprika
1 Tbl. Cayenne Pepper(you can use less but we like a lot of heat)
1 Tbl. Dried Oregano
1 tsp. Salt(kosher or sea)
1 tsp. White Pepper
1 Sprig Fresh Rosemary, chopped
1/2 tsp. Ground Thyme

To De-Glaze Pan:
1 cup red wine
2 Rounded Tbl. Brown Sugar
1/2 Stick Cold Butter, Sliced into Tablespoons

Bring chicken up to room temperature, about an hour on counter.  Combine the spices together and spread evenly on the bottom of a 9x13" pan, reserving some.  Press each side into the spices until well coated and rub reserved spices into chicken.  Set aside.  Using a large non-stick skillet turn heat on to medium/medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, until pan is hot.  Add oil and when "ripples" start to appear it is hot enough.  Add chicken, spread out as even as possible.  If chicken doesn't fit well in pan you may need to do this in batches.  DO not move the chicken around, just leave it alone.  Cook about 7 minutes on one side.  Flip and do not move the chicken around again, it's tempting, but you can do it.  Turn heat down to low-medium.  Juices should run clear if you cut into it after about 5 minutes.  Put lid on and turn off heat.  Let rest about 10 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan. 

To De-Glaze Pan:
After removing chicken from pan, turn heat back up to Medium.  Add wine and scrape drippings and spices from pan while bringing the mixture to a boil.  Add brown sugar and let reduce by about half.  Remove from heat.  Add one pat of butter and mix until incorporated.  Add another pat and mix again, repeat until all butter is incorporated.  Pour over chicken if desired.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Favorite Salad Dressing

We love Melissa D'Arabian from Food Network's Next Food Network Star.   I've started making my own salad dressing for all of my salads now.  I use a lot less olive oil though, or even some homemade chili oil or white truffle oil.  It has SO much flavor!  Sometimes I'll throw in a splash of agave nectar or honey, even a packet of Stevia to have a sweetened dressing.  Play with your vinegars too!  Rice Vinegar is REALLY good.  I also use a golden balsamic almost daily, and champagne vinegar.  And try different mustard types, Jack Daniels is good, and there's a cranberry mustard that is really tasty too.  Just play, it's really hard to go wrong!  The soy sauce was a surprise, but I found it really does make a difference.  Yummmmm!



Mustard Vinaigrette:

  • 1 garlic clove, sliced in 1/2
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Small splash soy sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


3 cups mixed greens, the darker the better (not iceberg)

Rub the inside of a large wooden bowl with the garlic clove and then either discard it or save it for another use. Put the mustard in the bowl and whisk in the balsamic vinegar and soy sauce (a French secret!) vigorously for about 10 seconds to get a creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle in the olive oil as slowly as possible with 1 hand while whisking as quickly as possible with the other hand to emulsify. Lay the salad greens on top of the dressing and toss just before serving.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rootbeer Cookies

1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 c. buttermillk
1 tsp. root beer extract
1-3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix brown sugar, butter, and egg until fluffy. Stir in buttermilk(you can also use milk curdled with vinegar or lemon juice equaling the same amount), rootbeer extract, flour, soda, and salt, and mix until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour. Heat oven to 400'. Place cookies 2" apart on cookie sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes. Let cool on rack and glaze with recipe below.

Rootbeer Glaze for Rootbeer Cookies
2 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. butter, softened
1-1/2 tsp. root beer extract
2 Tbl. hot water

Mix powdered sugar and butter. Stir in rootbeer extract and hot water. Place wax paper under cooling rack. Spoon glaze over the cookies. This glaze will do a double batch of cookies. 

Another easy option is:
1 box yellow or spice cake mix
1 tsp. rootbeer extract
1 egg
1 stick of melted butter(but not hot)
Combine all ingredients.  Use a cookie scoop to get equal portions.  Flatten with the bottom of a flat glass that has been dipped in sugar.  Bake at 350 for 11-12 minutes, don't let the edges brown.  Let cool and spread with the same icing as above or add a bit more powdered sugar to thicken it up.  Spread a generous amount on the bottom of one cookie and sandwich with the bottom of another.  These are best if you let them sit overnight.  Good luck with that though.  :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

PW Blackberry Cobbler

We've sent the kids to pick wild blackberries around the neighborhood the last few days.  We've had them over pudding, over ice cream, in salads, etc...  But today I challenged them to get enough to make a pie.  Well, I didn't really feel like make pie crusts, so I looked up The Pioneer Woman's recipes and she had many possibilities.  I used THIS recipe, Blackberry Cobbler #1(doubled).  If only there was smell-a-vision. 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

20 Years....

The 4th of July is a special anniversary for Mr. D and I.  He proposed to me 20 years ago, standing in a giant cheeseburger float, wearing a hula skirt and a bikini top in Cayucos' 4th of July Parade.  This year, we left the parade with one less child, leaving her behind to go to school there.  It was an emotional week, but it's all good.

We started off the week going to Hearst Beach and hung out with old ward members, it hardly felt we've been away for 3 years.  It's always fun to visit with old friends, in fact we NEED to visit our old friends, they are family.

While we had some time we headed a little farther up the coast to San Simeon.  The gates were closed to the lighthouse so I had to take the pics from there.  Then on the way back down to the beach we pulled over to see the Elephant Seals, they're always so impressive even though all they seem to do is lay out on the beach and snore and snort.

Then the boys and dad went on a hike out at Montana de Oro, even Grandpa went.  You'll notice the "extra", that's my nephew, A, who LOVES Avatar.  He's visiting Grandpa & Grandma for the summer.

 Then we ALL headed over to Montana de Oro for Mr. D, his brother C, and his daughter, Long Lashes to go try to do an ocean entry dive.  It's not the greatest place to go, but it can be done.  They got there and there were no waves, it looked perfect.  But, by the time we gathered all the dive stuff out of the back of the car and they started getting geared up, the waves were curling and it wasn't exactly the best conditions.

 Mr. D went in first and now looking back I probably could have gotten some great training pics as to how to attempt an ocean dive under these conditions.  But I pulled my camera down and missed it.  But, you can tell by the look on Mr. D's face, he was WIPED out, literally. 

 So then Mr. D helped C and Long Lashes get into the water and they did it!!!  Yay!  But then he had to try again.  Long Lashes sister was such an awesome help!  She's always looking for an excuse to get wet anyways, but she really is always just right there to help. 

 Mr. D ALMOST made it.  A few more tries and he called it quits.  With all those added weights and the waves, it really sucked the breath out of him.  We saw C and Long Lashes heading back in anyways.  They couldn't dive, the water was too choppy.  So, Mr. D helped them in.  Long Lashes had to take her tank and vest off to get back in.  It was tough getting back in with the currents, and one of her fins also broke.  :( 

 C wanted his fins off NOW.  lol  They packed it all up and headed over to Morro Bay where they could just slip into the water.  The rest of us packed it in and headed for a pool since we knew it would be much safer.  Like there was anything we could do anyways at the beach for them. 
 Little A couldn't resist burying himself in the sand.  LOL  I'm still cleaning it out of the back of car ;)

 Marco!  Polo!  Marco!  Polo!

 The Parade:  Cayucos, CA

 This lady was just smiles ear to ear and a huge bounce to her step.

 The SS Sea Shanty!!!!

 The Yellow Submarine Meanies

 The Whole Gang

The Brothers:  C and Mr. D

 Carol brought out this, tons of ice cream, loads of whip cream and lots of spoons :) 

And then, we hugged, I cried, and we drove home without our big girl.  Thank goodness for texting and Facebook, and unlimited long distance calling.